THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SURFING

While the rest of us have been surfing, working, going to school, sleeping, eating and generally living our lives, Matt Warshaw, writer, historian and all-around surf cleric has spent the past four years amassing “The Encyclopedia of Surfing” the first excerpt of which is to be a monthly column printed here. Published by Harcourt and set for release in October, Warshaw’s EOS tome represents a monumental effort: 800 pages and 500,000 words, including a 7000 word history of surfing and five appendices, including every surf mag, movie and book ever released. The Herculean task finished, Warshaw is now free to pursue other passions, chief among them the search for the perfect six-foot right tube. The rest of us can read and learn…

Aaberg, Denny
Good-natured surfer/writer/musician from Pacific Palisades, California; best known as co-writer of Warner Brothers’ 1978 surfing film Big Wednesday. Aaberg was born (1947) in Boston, Massachusetts, and moved with his family at age two to the west Los Angeles town of Pacific Palisades. By the time he began surfing in ’59, as a 12-year-old, his older brother Kemp was regarded as one of California’s top surfers. Aaberg’s involvement in the sport branched out as he played guitar for the soundtrack on Innermost Limits of Pure Fun, a 1970 surf movie, and contributed a song to Big Wednesday — a movie inspired by “No-Pants Mance,” a 1974 Surfer magazine short story written by Aaberg that looked back at his wave- and beer-soaked salad days at Malibu in the early ’60s. The sandy-haired Aaberg continued to serve as keeper of the Malibu flame, appearing in the ’87 documentary The Legends of Malibu, and describing in detail Malibu’s characters, scene and rituals in “Tres Amigos,” a ’94 Longboard magazine feature. “Malibu was rough theater,” Aaberg wrote. “In ancient Greece, plays lasted all day, beginning at dawn and not ending until dusk. Malibu was the same way.” See also Big Wednesday.

Abigail, Cyclone
Long-duration South Pacific tropical cyclone that produced more than two weeks of high-quality surf off the east coast of Australia — particularly south Queensland’s Gold Coast – in late January and early February 1982. Cyclone Abigail was a meteorological oddity in that it tracked south, parallel to the Queensland coast, faded briefly, strengthened, looped back out to sea and made a second pass virtually identical to the first. The Queensland surf season that year was already above average, with a six-day swell arriving around Christmas, and a nine-day swell lasting from early to mid-January. The national weather service identified Cyclone Abigail on January 20th, and two days later the surf at bellwether Gold Coast pointbreak Burleigh Heads was four-foot and tubing. By the 27th, Abigail had moved closer and was bombarding the Gold Coast with non-stop overhead surf, accompanied by clear blue skies and brisk offshore winds. As native Queenslander and 1978 world champion Wayne Bartholomew noted, surfers from across Australia’s east coast were now funneling into the Gold Coast. “The jockeying and jostling bordered on comical,” Bartholomew reported in a surf magazine article. “You had to ride like greased lightning with a permanent scowl on your face, and often you’d expend so much energy intimidating the hundred-or-so shoulder hoppers that you’d outrun the wave and miss the tube altogether.”

By the 30th, Abigail had moved still closer to the Gold Coast, increasing the wave size, but also bringing torrential rains and mixed-up seas; by normal cyclone standards, the storm should have fizzled out at this point. Abigail instead moved back out to sea, dropped to the southeast, intensified, turned once again and made a second, even stronger run toward the Gold Coast. This time Kirra was the focus of attention, and the storied Gold Coast pointbreak delivered hundreds of high-speed tuberides over a four-day period, before Abigail finally unwound on February 7th.