East Coast surfing pioneer Dick Catri passed away at his home in Melbourne, FL, on Monday morning due to complications from a recent series of strokes. Sometimes referred to as the Godfather of East Coast surfing, Catri played a major role in steering the sport’s burgeoning popularity on the right coast during the 1960s and continued to shape its development over the course of the next half-century.
Catri’s list of accomplishments is full of novel accolades. He was the first East Coaster to ride the Pipeline and Waimea. He appeared in Bruce Brown films. He opened one of the first surf shops in Florida and cultivated a team of East Coasters for Hobie Surfboards – including Bruce Valluzi, Gary Proper, Mimi Munro, Mike Tabeling, Larry Miniard, and Bruce Clelland – that could rival any Californian contingent of the day. He set the industry standard for surfboard shapers and helped kickstart the contest circuit on the east coast. In his later years, he mentored Cocoa Beach’s Sean and Kelly Slater, young up-and-comers at the time.
Catri was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame in 1966, and 30 years later was one of the first to be inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame. Late in his life, Catri worked as a boat captain, running fishing charters around Sebastian Inlet.
Catri was revered for his generosity, sense of humor, and positive outlook. He was lionized for his colorful, swashbuckling past — The first Floridian surf-star, Gary Proper said of Catri’s influence. “It always takes somebody to guide the way.”
Generations of surfers on both coasts owe Catri a debt of gratitude for helping light the way.
You can read Matt Warshaw’s comprehensive EOS entry on Catri here.