R.I.P. Yancy Spencer III

Gulf Coast Surf Legend Dies at the Age of 60

In the shaping room at Innerlight, early 1970s.

In the past two weeks the surf world has lost two legends in the form of fabled photographer Leroy Grannis and surf icon Jimmy Blears. Yesterday, a third name was added to that list when the “godfather” of Gulf Coast surfing, Yancy Spencer III, died of a heart attack in Malibu. He was 60 years old.

Spencer began surfing during the mid 1960s along the Florida’s Gulf Coast. By 1970 he possessed a full-fledged profile as a professional surfer. He was successful competitively (in 1972 he won the East Coast Pro in a field that included the likes of David Nuuhiwa and Dale Dobson), and made frequent appearances in magazines and films.

Perhaps best known for his presence in the surf industry and community along the Gulf Coast, Spencer opened Innerlight Surf Shop in 1972 in Gulf Breeze, a small town near Pensacola. In the years that followed, Innerlight expanded to include several locations in the surrounding area, which still serve as a gathering place for local wave-riders.

As reported by the Pensacola News Journal, Spencer came ashore yesterday after experiencing chest pains in the lineup at Malibu while on a trip to California. He then dialed 911 and called his daughter, before suffering a massive heart attack on the beach. Known for his spirituality and his excellent health, the loss has sent shockwaves throughout Pensacola and the surf world at large. He is survived, among others, by his brother, John Spencer, his wife, his daughter Abigail, and his two sons, Yancy IV and Sterling. SURFER would like to offer our condolences to all his family and friends, and express our sorrow for their loss.