Surfer Inspiration: Doc Paskowitz

When imagining a surfer’s lifestyle, laidback beaches, hammocks, and relaxed attitudes come to mind. For that, we thank Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz: the man considered to be one of the earliest pioneers of the surf culture we know today. Doc spent nearly 25 years on the road, living in used campers and travelling up and down the coast of California.

Galveston, Texas, 1921: Dorian Paskowitz was born. Raised in a Russian Jewish immigrant household, Doc was encouraged to pursue a degree in medicine. At age 25, he graduated from Stanford Medical School with his doctoral degree. Though a skilled physician, Doc was unhappy as a doctor; after several years of practicing medicine, he moved to Israel for a year. Realizing he was happier here than he was in California, Paskowitz volunteered for the Israeli army during the Suez crisis. He was rejected.

Doc returned to America with a new sense of purpose. He and his third wife, Juliette, embarked on a transient, bohemian lifestyle. Nine children later, the family continued to live, travel, and surf together, living in a succession of camper vans. None of Paskowitz’s children were formally educated; Doc believed that formal education was dangerous to young minds (despite being a Stanford graduate and a professor at several community colleges). However, this health-centered lifestyle began to pervade surf culture at large.

The bohemian lifestyle adopted by surfers is attributed to Doc. His personal philosophy molded the ideals surfers now live and work by; despite the public perception of irresponsibility, he lived unapologetically.

Surfer Inspiration: Bethany Hamilton

If you’ve spent any time reading about surfing, you’ve likely encountered Bethany Hamilton. A titanic voice within the Hawaiian surfing community, Hamilton is known for her excellent competition record, distinct surf style, and—most notably—for surviving a devastating shark attack in 2003.

The attack happened when Hamilton was just thirteen years old; she was out for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach in Kauai with her best friend, Alana Blanchard. At around 7:30 in the morning, Hamilton took a short break from the waves, instead lying on her surfboard, her left arm dangling into the water. A fourteen-foot-long tiger shark attacked, severing her left arm just below the shoulder. Upon reaching the shore, Hamilton was rushed to a nearby hospital; by the time she arrived, she had lost over 60% of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock.

Coincidentally, Hamilton’s father was scheduled to have knee surgery that morning–he was already at the hospital when she and her friend arrived. Hamilton spent three weeks in recovery before being released. Later, the attacking shark was caught and killed; in 2004, the police officially confirmed the match.

Despite the traumatic attack, Hamilton returned to surfing just one week after her hospital release. She has since won several surfing competitions and athletic awards and has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show. Just a year after the attack, Hamilton published her story, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. Now twenty-eight years old, Hamilton is an accomplished athlete and activist.

 

Photo by Troy Williams.

The Best Places for High Wind and Speed Surfing

Whether you prefer the extra speed and thrill of windsurfing or you’re just interested in going faster on your traditional surfboard, some places are better than others for speed surfing. We thought we’d compile a video list of the best places around the world to go fast on a surfboard. If you’re going to be near one of these places, don’t miss out on what might be the opportunity of a lifetime: