***Updated 12 April 2016*** Added 1976 Rich Myers Underwater Diving segment in California – Malibu section.
***Updated 13 April 2016*** Added 1977 Rich’s Maui mates with their vehicle pic in Hawaii – Maui section.
Yallingup water man Rich Myers is a man of many talents. In the 1980s Rich was a world class Professional Surfer and Windsurfer and #1 Pro Californian Wave Sailor. He lived in southern California & Hawaii and was a windsurfer designer, tester & instructor and a writer/correspondent for Wind Surf Magazine.
He has made annual trips to the Hawaiian Islands since 1973. And has extensive surf exploration knowledge of California, Mexico, France, Spain, Portugal, Fiji, South Africa, Cook Islands, Maldives, Mentawai’s & Sri Lanka.
His skills and interests include Windsurfing, Surfing, Wrestling, Hooka Diving, Volleyball, Dirt Bikes and Modelling.
Rich moved from Hawaii to Yallingup in 1990 but continued to travel back and forth from Hawaii until he settled in the SW in 1994.
This is the first part of Rich’s surf-travel-misadventure trilogy.
Part 1. California – Mexico – Hawaii (late 1960s-79)
Part 2. Hawaii – California – Fiji – Mexico – South Africa – Cook Islands (1980-89)
Part 3. Yallingup WA (1990-present).
Part 1. California – Mexico – Hawaii (Early 1960s-79).
California – Malibu
Rich was born in 1955 & raised in Southern California. His dad was a professional baseball player (Catcher) with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Rich – My dad was good at team sports, I have always been more of an individual. Dad taught me how to swim. He used to throw me into waves at the Newport Wedge and Huntington Pier. The waves were gnarly and I was scared…but I learnt quickly.
I’ve always been accident prone. My mum told me my very first accident was when I was born.
Photos: (Left) Early 1950s Rich’s mum and dad at San Pedro Southern California. (Right) 1959 Rich age 3 or 4, moments before falling off monkey bars. Photos courtesy of Rich Myers.
Rich learnt to surf at Santa Monica Pier. From the late 1960s to 79 he surfed competitively in southern California at beaches including Newport Beach Jetty & Malibu. He competed in contests against Buttons Kaluhiokalani (Haw), Mark Warren (Aus) and other top surfers from around the world.
Rich – I wasn’t really interested in competitive surfing, but tried it for a year or so to get boards & stuff. I’m more into the art of surfing like Reno Abellira (Haw). I like to flow with the ocean and do my own thing.
Rich’s Surfing Competition Record
1980 2nd Place Pro Series Contest Zuma Beach.
1979 1st Place Natural Progression Team Contest
1979 2nd Place Charterhouse Challenge
1979 Quarter Finalist – Sunkist US Pro Invitational (see contest review below)
1977 3rd Place Mens W.C.S.A Open
1977 3rd Place Mens PAC West Open
1977 Quarter finalist – Solona Beach Open
1972 3rd place Juniors – Huntington Surf Classic
Image: 1979 Sunkist Malibu US Pro Invitational event was covered by Surfer Magazine. Buttons Kaluhiokalani (Haw) won the event. Malibu local Rich Myers made the Quarter Finals. Image courtesy of Mike Perry & Surfer Magazine.
Rich – Zuma Beach was my favourite Californian surf break. It is a solid beach break like Rabbits at Yallingup.
Photos: 1970s Rich surfing Zuma Beach California. Photo courtesy of Rich Myers.
Rich – I started underwater diving at Malibu in 1976.
Photo: 1976 Rich with cray & fish catch at Malibu California. Rich Myers pic.
Rich was a champion wrestler at High School from 1969-72.
Rich – My life revolved around surfing. I only did wrestling at High School when I wasn’t surfing.
In 1972 Rich’s sister painted an image of Rich winning a wrestling match at High School. The painting was based on a sports photograph. (See below)
Image: 1972 Painting of Rich (in black) winning at wresting. Image courtesy of Rich Myers.
In 2008 Rich was inducted into the US National Surfing/Wrestling ‘Ironman’ Hall of Fame. US surfer/windsurfer John Geyer nominated Rich for the Award. At the time John Geyer was the 5th best wrestler in the world. He is also a Hall of Fame inductee.
Image: 2008 Rich’s National Surfing/Wrestling ‘Ironman’ Hall of Fame award. Courtesy of Rich Myers.
Hawaii – North Shore
In 1973 Rich made his first surf trip from California to Hawaii’s North Shore.
Day 1. North Shore.
Rich – On arrival we drove straight to the north shore from the airport. It was a long drive on minor roads back then. By the time I got to Sunset Beach I was frothing and ready to go. It was 6-8ft and stormy but I paddled straight out. Only Hawaiian legend Eddie Aikau and I were in the line-up. Eddie kept dropping in on me, he was very friendly true Hawaiian Aloha saying “thank you”. I was so stoked to be there. Later that day, I surfed Pipeline with another Hawaiian legend Jeff Crawford. I couldn’t see the rock bottom at Pipeline because it was overcast and just went for it. This was just day 1. I loved Hawaii’s north shore and stayed all winter. Next time I surfed Pipeline it was sunny and I could clearly see the bottom when dropping in, then I realised its scary!
Other Hawaiian memories
Rich – I stayed at Kammieland located between Rocky Point & Sunset. The surf film Fluid Drive was being filmed with Aussies Peter Townsend and Ian Cairns. I met Howard Owens from WA while there. He was the first guy I saw with an Aussie surfboard. I remember he told me my Pat Rawson shaped board was no good. A lot of my boards ended up on the rocks at Rocky Point, we didn’t have leg ropes. British surfing champion Rodney Sumpter sold me his old car.
Unfortunately I don’t have any Hawaiian surf photos as my step-dad threw them out when he cleaned out the attic.
Mexico – Puerto Escondido
In 1979 Rich surfed the ‘Mexican Pipeline’ at Puerto Escondido on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
Rich – Puerto Escondido was rugged back then, there was no airport and the locals were poor. Stealing was a problem. Banditos & drug people frequented the area. My surf training at Zuma Beach in California helped me to quickly adapt to the heavy Mexican beach break. I have surfed waves with a 30ft face at Puerto Escondido. When it was big I rode my 8ft gun board and it felt like a 5’10” twinnie. I went so fast down the face that I couldn’t turn at the bottom.
On his 1st trip to Puerto Escondido, Rich seriously damaged the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee in a surfing accident.
Rich – There was a 20ft face on the waves this day (see photo below). I was inside the tube on a big wave when it closed down on me & tore the ligaments in my knee. It wasn’t the biggest wave I rode that trip.
After the knee accident, I returned to Malibu California for out-of-the-water rehab. My girlfriend Kelby Anno was the top female windsurfing champion in the world (flat water sailing). She had her photo on the cover of Life Magazine. While on rehab, I watched her sailing and caught the wind sailing bug, but I wanted to windsurf waves.
Photo: 1979 Rich Myers surfing Puerto Escondido beach break. Photo courtesy of Rich Myers.
Rich made four surf trips to Puerto Escondido from 1979 to the 80s.
Rich – I’m a bit of an outcast & love surfing on my own. I also love animals & made friends with three outcast animals who lived on the beach at Puerto Escondido.
1. Francis the mule had a “mange’ skin infection & was in poor condition;
2. Tripod the three legged dog; and
3. Arnold Ziffel the painted pet pig. Named after the pig in Green Acres TV series.
Photos: 1980s Rich & his animal friends at Puerto Escondido. Photos courtesy of Rich Myers.
Top: Tripod the three legged dog & Rich tube riding.
Bottom: Arnold the painted pig.
Rich seriously injured sensitive body parts in another surfing accident at Puerto Escondido…..he’s accident prone!
Rich – I wiped-out on a 5ft wave. When I came up to the surface, I didn’t have a leg rope & I couldn’t see my board. Unbeknown to me, it was compressed under water. Then the nose of the board shot up like a rocket & hit me in the nuts. The impact severed my trunks and body parts. I floated to the beach covered in blood…I was in mucho pain.
My friends threw me over Francis the ‘mange’ mule and dragged me back to our bungalow. They threw peroxide over my inflamed parts and I thought I might never have children. (Yep, he did).
My mates then took me to a Mexican witch doctor by taxi. At first the witch doctor’s assistant wouldn’t sell pain killers to us Gringo’s. So I showed her ‘my swollen eggs’ and she quickly changed her mind and gave us 100 Valium tablets. Unfortunately I only got 2 of the 100 pain killers, my mates took the rest.
In 1984 Rich’s surfing, sailing & accident history was documented in an article titled “No obstacle too big for Rich Myers” in the New Californian newspaper.
Image: 1984 New Californian newspaper article – courtesy of Rich Myers.
Hawaii – Maui
In 1977 Rich moved from California to Maui in Hawaii. He lived at Napili Bay near Honolua Bay and surfed lesser known surf breaks away from the crowds.
Rich – Windmills is a super shallow surf break on the island of Maui. If you don’t make the tube you end up on the rocks. It wasn’t crowded.
Photos: 1977-80 Maui Hawaii pics. Photo courtesy Rich Myers.
Top: (Left) 1977 Rich surfing Windmills on his single fin. (Right) Early 80s Rich windsurfing in Hawaii. Bottom: 1977 Rich’s Maui mates with their car.
Rich – I continued to travel between Hawaii and the US mainland where I was based at Malibu.
Rich Myers’ Surf-Travel-Misadventures Trilogy Part #2
Hawaii – California – Fiji – Mexico – South Africa – Cook Islands (1980-89)