Four Surfers You Should Know

Posted: Feb 06,2013 Written by  Mike Reynolds

George Greenough, circa 1967, crushing on one of his famous single fin flex spoons.
(From Encyclopedia of Surfing)

George Greenough
Hands down—THE most influential surfer of all time. And the guy was a kneeboarder!  An eccentric genius, Greenough blew the doors off convention back in the late sixties.   Perpetually barefoot and sporting a bowl cut way past its prime, he single-handedly revolutionized board and fin design, water cameras and boats.  There was no limit to his tinkering and the sport owes him free frosties for the rest of his days. 

If there’s one example of this guy setting us all on the right path, it’s his infamous Velo board.  Space age even by today’s standards, the Velo was George’s foray into flex and how it translated into speed and maneuverability.  He could actually bend the board to the wave’s curve to create propulsion, as well as,  turn the craft on a dime.  And this was 1967.  Look at footage of him riding against any other surfer of the time and it looks like someone hit the fast forward button on George’s part. He’s like a feckin’ rocket off the bottom and all style off the top.  George’s influence is immeasurable and his accomplishments could never be completely listed here. Just do yourself a favor and Google him whenever you get the chance. 

Whitey Harrison
A contemporary of Duke Kahanamoku, Harrison was a Californian smitten with surfing and all things Hawaiian. He surfed heaps of spots that are now lessons in crowd chaos and was an early influence in board design. But the reason I like him so much is because when he decided to go to Hawaii in the ‘30s, he stowed away on a freighter, got caught, was sent back to California and immediately stowed away again.  The whole ordeal took weeks, but he pulled it off and got to live in his own personal nirvana.  You don’t hear shit like that anymore.  And it’s rad. 

The Xcel Core Files Series behind the scenes look at New Jersey Surfer Mike Gleason.

Mike Gleason

Gleason’s been flyin’ the Jersey flag in a big way the last several years, in particular.  Not only has he been on the biggest winter swells back here at home (getting more tube time than anyone), but he’s also been charging Hawaii.  His efforts culminated last year in Surfing Magazine naming him one of the Top 10 Most Underrated Surfers.   On top of that, Gleason’s a brick shit house who’s a good guy.  Groms, if you need an example of a man-sized hack, look no further than Gleason.  He’ll make you think you’re in the middle of a rain storm. 

Mark Occhilupo
Occy’s all sweet now, commentating for the Billabong contests and giving props and smiles like they grow on trees.  He’s loved by millions and mothers seek him out to kiss their babies.  But he wasn’t always like that. When Occy burst onto the scene in the eighties, he was a brash, Australian, power surfer that called Americans ‘wankers’.  And by Americans, he was clearly pointing at our golden boy, Tom Curren, 3x world champ and ultimate stylist.  But you had to give it to him because he ripped SO friggin’ hard.  He was less style and more balls-to-the wall with every single move and he was all Andy Irons before Andy was even done crappin’ in his Pampers.  Plus, I haven’t even talked about Occy’s fall from grace and phoenix-like rise back to a World Championship.  That’s another crazy story…