The East Coast Surfing community is in mourning today, after the news that legendary North Carolina photographer and board builder, Mickey McCarthy has passed away.
For the better part of four decades, McCarthy has been deeply involved in the Outer Banks, North Carolina surf community. In the 1970s, McCarthy opened New Sun Surfboards, building some of the best equipment in the area. At around the same time, McCarthy, whose father had been interested in photography, began documenting the surf scene, shooting photos up and down the Outer Banks, sending the occasional submission to the West Coast mags. When Tom Dugan and Dick Meseroll began working on the first issues of Eastern Surf Magazine in the early 1990s, McCarthy was their go-to lensman in North Carolina, his remarkable images of the deep brown, draining sand pits from Buxton Jetty to the Avalon Pier gracing the covers, posters, and spreads of that magazine for the next twenty-five years.
“The surfing world lost a true friend and inspiration today,” the folks at Wave Riding Vehicles posted on a beautiful black and white, taken by Patrick Ruddy, of McCarthy, barrel-chested and happy as always, shooting in the water at the Outer Banks Pro. “Mickey McCarthy has been behind the lens and planer, focused on all things surfing, since the beginning of East Coast surfing. You will be missed brother.”
Thousands of young East Coast surfers, myself included, were lucky enough to meet McCarthy at the thousands of amateur contests he dedicatedly covered. Nearly anyone who ever donned a singlet at any major ESA or NSSA event surely has a McCarthy shot somewhere deep in their archive. And it wasn’t just young, talented surfers he encouraged with his work. Countless young surf photographers, inspired by McCarthy’s remarkable dedication to documenting a scene many didn’t see the potential in, and mining it for some of the most beautiful surf images ever taken on the East Coast.
“Mickey 2M McCarthy was a huge inspiration to me and so many other surf photographers on the East Coast,” wrote photographer Matt Lusk. “He always had a huge smile on his face and would pull the trigger for anyone. Guy never missed a shot. He had a huge heart and was so passionate about surf photography and the Outer Banks surf community. One of the nicest most genuine humans I’ve ever met. He touched the lives of so many and will be greatly missed. Thanks for everything, Mickey! Rest In Peace, legend. #2M”
After suffering a heart attack earlier in the week, doctors discovered an almost entirely blocked coronary artery. A stint was placed in the artery, which cleared the blockage. According to Eastern Surf Magazine, McCarthy was “reporting to friends and family on Wednesday in his hearty Southern drawl that he was feeling great and ready to go home. But complications resulted in Mickey’s tragic passing Friday morning.”