The Third Annual
Malibu Invitational
Surfing Contest

Malibu Pier - John Kiewit
 Photo of Malibu Pier - by John S. Kiewit
LBJ is here to stay, along with an escalating war in Viet Nam. Gas goes up to 30 cents a gallon and a pop band called the Beatles appears on the Ed Sullivan Show. Most of California's current population is yet to be born (or migrate from God knows where, and tobacco smokers can still light-up without being treated like lepers by rabid hoards of self-righteous smog junkies.

In 1964 development continues to transform the San Fernando Valley into a vast, flat Midwest suburb, while citrus, beans and pickup trucks reign unchallenged in Oxnard and Ventura. Further down the coast, Santa Monica officials join with oil companies to promote plans for an offshore ‘causeway’ that will stretch across the bay from Ocean Park to Point Mugu and destroy every surf spot in-between, including Malibu.

Malibu still retains the fading charm of a sleepy coastal village, with just one traffic light between Topanga Canyon and Oxnard. There are no universities, no big shopping centers, no exclusive tennis clubs, no civic complex, little crime and even less pollution. It is yet to become ‘The Valley’s Swimming Pool’ and, except for the odd summer weekend, you still can still walk across the PCH without risking your life. Longboards rule, leashes haven’t been invented and wetsuits are only wetsuits and not a major fashion statement. But, as Bob Dylan warns in his 1964 hit, “The times they are a-changin’.”

When KHJ-TV approached the Malibu Surfing Association about televising their Third Annual Invitational Contest it represented a huge challenge. Until then, only the occasional surfing event had enjoyed brief television coverage. This would be the first time that a major contest would be the focus of a ninety minute ‘Television Special’ and there was no one the MSA could ask for advice.

Malibu Surfing Association logo

The logistics were staggering and MSA’s powerhouse president, Butch Linden, took on the challenge of organizing the contest without blinking an eye. All I had to do was concentrate on my job of liaising with the program’s producers and co-hosting the event with Stan ‘The Man’ Richards of KHJ-TV.

My first meeting with Stan and the boys took place at the station’s Hollywood studios. There were all these show biz types looking me over like a visitor from planet Malibu. It was as if Mr Magoo had walked into a windowless room with Mickey Dora, Johnny Fain and their agents. And I was the one wearing the glasses.

Sure! I was nervous as hell. But it soon became clear that there was no reason to be. Despite their brilliant smiles and perfectly styled hair, they were simply pros doing a job. And I? Well, I was their tour guide to the strange ‘world of surfing’.

Photo of Mickey Muñoz by John Severson

Someone had given Stan a copy of Peterson’s Surfing, which must be the worst surfing magazine ever published. So I suggested he get a hold of the magazine I worked for, Surfguide, and our main competitor, Surfer. At our next meeting he had pages of questions about surfing terms like hang-ten and cutback. But for some reason, he was particularly fascinated by the Quasimoto - the stance invented by Mickey Muñoz. The Quasimoto consisted of crouching near the nose of the board like a hunchback, with one arm extended forward and the other stretched behind. It looked great in the famous Surfer photo of Muñoz by John Severson. But it was not the kind of thing you’d actually do unless you knew you were being photographed.

It was frustrating. No matter how hard I tried to tell him otherwise, Stan had somehow convinced himself that the entire point of surfing was to hang-ten and do Quasimotos all day. So whenever I saw him, he’d say things like, “Let’s safari on down to the Bu for some Quasimotos.” Or, “Hey Man, been hangin’ any ten with your cutbacks lately?” All I can say in his defense is that he was from New Jersey. I rest my case.

Contest - long shot
Contest photographs for Surfguide Magazine by Ron Stoner

The day of the contest finally arrived and the surf was next to flat. I’d arrived just before dawn and the KHJ-TV mobile broadcast bus was already parked up on the PCH next to the entrance. The crew was laying cable all over the place and the director was talking to MSA officials about where to put the cameras. 

You could tell by the sunrise that it was going to be a beautiful day. But what about the surf? “Hope this doesn’t spoil any Quasimotos,” said Stan. What the contest lacked in surf, it more than made up for in performance. Which isn’t surprising when you consider that many of surfing’s all time greats were competing that day.

To quote Surfguide Magazine, “Robert Patterson arched through wave after wave, standing on the nose, to win the contest with a total of 130 points in the finals. Second was MSA President, Butch Linden, with 129 points. JoJo Perrin was third with 127 points.” Mike Doyle was fourth, Rusty Miller fifth, Mickey Muñoz sixth and MSA’s Roy Seaman was high point man for the day with 145 points.

Fourteen year old JoJo Perrin (MSA), was the contest’s biggest surprise, placing third in the finals and ahead of so many already established surfing greats. But, needless to say, the contest was a close one. And it was colorful.”

Surfing great L.J. Richards making the most of a small wave

Surfguide’s article goes on to describe the antics of Malibu’s undisputed ‘Wavemaster’, Miki Dora, who, “suffering from another skateboard accident, competed with six stitches in his foot.” Pushing the envelope as usual, Da Cat won his heat despite “befouling the progress” of fellow competitors Rick Irons and MSA’s Dave Rochlen. Then, “just for fun” he rode a twelve foot tandem board in the semi-finals and, at one point, Mickey Muñoz “jumped aboard to keep him company.” Those were the days my friends.

Meanwhile, back at the contest, Stan and I were seated at a round table with a big sun umbrella in the middle; our faces smothered in thick cake makeup that almost made Stan ‘The Man’ look tan. I can’t remember exactly how long the contest lasted, but let’s say it was six hours. So Stan and I were on camera the entire six, trying to provide enough material to edit down into the ninety-minute special.

The idea was to look at a tiny black and white monitor and make comments about the contest action as it happened on camera. The only problem was that it was nearly impossible to see who was riding the waves.

Fortunately, I could recognize many of the contestants by their distinctive surfing styles. But trying to sort them out by the numbered vests they were wearing was just not working and Stan and I had to wing it.

“Now who is that, Bob? Surfing that wave out there?” “Looks like Butch Linden on that wave, Stan. See ... he’s a goofy-footer.”

“A goofy-footer, Bob? Let’s tell our viewers what ‘goofy-footer’ means in the world of surfing, Bob.”

“Well Stan, a goofy-footer is someone who writes with his left foot - ha ha. Seriously Stan, a goofy-footer is a surfer who rides a right break with his back to the wave. Or, too put it another way, Stan, he surfs with his right foot forward, instead of his left foot, ah, forward.”

“I see, Bob. But why does he do it that way in the first place?”

Then, just when I thought things might be going more smoothly, there was a lull of some sort and the director suggested that I show Stan some surfing moves - on a brand new, unwaxed board, on the sand, on camera.

“We’ve seen a few of our contestants hang-five today, Bob. So how about showing our viewers what it looks like to hang-TEN.”

 “Sure Stan, you just ... whoops, it’s a little rocky up here ... you just walk up ... whoops ... to the nose of the board and ... whoops, I’ll just get back on the board and ... there. You just hang all ten of your toes over the nose, Stan.”

  “You made that look easy, Bob. But then I guess you’re an expert. Now let’s see how you do everybody’s favorite surfing stance. Come on, Bob, do the Quasimoto.”


Dora butt shove

Miki 'Da Cat' Dora sharing yet
another wave with his old pal, 
Johnny Fain (above).
Photo by Don James.
Mickey Muñoz
incognito (below).

Contest - Mr Moongoose

By that time, the combination of heavy makeup and heat from the light reflectors was starting to make me dizzy. As I crouched down near the nose of that unwaxed board - right arm stretched in front, left arm stretched behind - my life passed before my eyes. “That’s great, Bob. Really great! The Quasimoto, right here on television. GREAT!” Taking my cue, I stood up and passed out just as the camera switched back to Stan’s smiling face.

Contest - Doyle and Linden

Mike Doyle (left) and Butch Linden with their trophies.

Compared to the other contests staged in 1964, and despite the size of surf, the Malibu Invitational was considered to be the best organized contest of the year - especially in view of the total fiasco that will always be associated with the United States Surfing Championships at Huntington Beach.

Sadly, it would also be one of the last times surfdom would see heavyweight clubs like Malibu, Windansea, Long Beach, Hope Ranch and Dapper Dans meet in friendly inter-club rivalry.

Contest - Patterson Trophy

Winner Robert 'Bobby' Patterson.

Competition surfing was about to change. Major money was being thrown into the equation and The United States Surfing Association was about to sink into petty political bickering and self-destruct. The ‘world of surfing’ was beginning to take itself more seriously than a shortboarder on a beach lined with lenses. Surfing’s Golden Years were coming to an end.

The Third Annual Malibu Surfing Contest © Robert R. Feigel 1998, 2002 - All Rights Reserved


Buzz Sutphin with his first place trophy
after winning the 1965 Malibu Invitational Surfing Contest

Name of photographer unknown. Any information would be appreciated.

Sitting on the platform above Buzz at the far right is the late Eric Thornburg, who was himself a fine surfer and contest competitor. Both Buzz and Eric were members of the Malibu Surfing Association.