‘Bustin’ Down the Door’ gets busted

Gary Kewley
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Friday - November 07, 2008
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Freddy Pattachia slices up a wave in Brazil before heading home for the Vans Triple Crown

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers! Welcome to November! The 25th annual Xcel Pro Championship wraps up by Friday. Of course, that also means the Billabong Pipeline Masters is not far off either (Dec. 8-20). But I get ahead of myself. Hey, while I’m at it ... Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Though this year has gone by faster than you can say “surf,” I’m pumped to be in the liquid mix. Yes, we’re still awaiting the Waimea Bay-size swells, but we can be stoked with what we’ve had so far: about eight swells since Sept. 15 - including two days of up to 10-foot perfection.

It’s prepping us for what’s coming, as all the BIG boys and girls are frothing for some serious play. They’re flying in now - the best surfers on planet Earth. And the focus is more than points - it’s prestige! Right next to the Foster’s World Title is Hawaii’s trio ... no dispute. You hold one of these titles and you’re etched into surfing’s history book. It’s all going down in our beautiful back yard - the famed, fabled North Shore.


 

I can’t wait to see how our highest-rated Hawaiian surfer Freddy Patacchia (No. 11) is going to finish. His highest rating was his first year at No. 15. Not bad ... not bad at all. He’s goofy foot and loves Pipe ... and it’s in his back yard. He’s going to be charging hard.

I heard through the grapevine both Irons brothers are taking a breather this year. Wow, I’m bummed, but I understand. Andy and Bruce have done so much for our sport and stoke for so many years. Thanks, guys. Enjoy your free surfs, family and friends. And please come back when you’re ready.

Speaking of current pro surfing ... I’d like to step back and take another perspective about its origins in the early 1970s. The story was portrayed recently by surfing icon Shawn Thompson (‘77 champ) and his movie Bustin’ Down the Door. Yes, a handful of daring visionaries from Australia and South Africa did have a huge impact during this period of birthing true professional surfing (not getting a real job).

But was the whole story/picture told? I’ll leave it up to you to decide via your own research. But I’d like to share a few words I had with Hui He’e Nalu founder Eddie Rothman. He was interviewed in the movie a lot; he’s a classic North Shore character with valid views. He was there through it all in the ‘70s, as were dozens of talented, world-class “Hawaiian” surfers.

GQ: What were a few things Bustin’ Down the Door left out?

EDDIE: They left out that Reno Aberilla won the Smirnoff at Waimea ... one or two of the other guys might have made the final, but how’s the disrespect? Not to mention that when Eddie Aikau went to their country he couldn’t even ride on the bus or eat out at a restaurant. Or that Michael Ho and Dane Kealoha got “piled” in their country ... but Rabbit Bartholomew, etc., only mention the slaps they got here.


GQ: I heard about that.

EDDIE: Ian Cairns took Dane Kealoha’s points away two years after I pummeled him on the beach ... making the difference between World Champ and No. 2 (1980). That’s why we had a club party and presented him with the trophy. These guys had too much control over the process at that time.

GQ: That’s mind-blowing ... we would have had a Hawaiian champ 13 years before Derek Ho.

EDDIE: You know who the inventor of modern-day surfing was and is? Buttons Kaluhiokalani! (360s, airs, switch stance ...). He was the man - not Martin Potter, Matt Archibald, Christian Fletcher. Not the ones in the movie. And Shawn Thompson’s not the hero he’s making himself out to be. There are more stories that balance the truth out. But just give credit where credit’s due, you know? Respect.

GQ: Last words ... Somehow the extent of the Hawaiians’ influence was omitted from the BIG picture in Bustin’ Down the Door. When you think about it, why did the world descend on Hawaii’s North Shore? Why was surfing and winning there the ultimate test and proving ground? It’s simple and obvious - they had to! We had the best/heaviest surfers and surf. Our guys and our waves set the standard to measure by. Only by matching or surpassing this standard could you claim true pro-world class status and make a living.

Anyway, the world would only pay attention (and money) if you “handled” in Hawaii. It was foundational for true respect. And, in the end, that’s all Hawaii asked for - come share our waves and let’s build our pro-surfing dreams together.

Just let our surfing and our waves do the talking. Don’t brag and mislead.

It sounds like a fair view to me. GQ, dropping In 4 U!

 

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