HOT SEAT: Wilbur Kookmeyer

It’s ironic that one of the most legendary characters to have repeatedly graced the pages of SURFER Magazine throughout its 45 year history was not a glamorous, highly-skilled professional athlete like Kelly Slater, but a goofy, uncoordinated, buck-toothed beginner whose mighty, naive struggle to reaching surfing coolness was chronicled every month. For a period of ? years, the world got a black and white glimpse into the misadventures of a bed-headed grommet by the name of Wilbur Kookmeyer. We watched as Wilbur tried to master the basics at his local break, worked the counter at his neighborhood shop, and struggled to strike a balance between school and his passion for surfing. But then, suddenly and without explanation, Wilbur went MIA. Disappeared without a trace. And after a few years hiatus (and a dire search by a crack team of private eyes), we finally tracked Wilbur down again, and rumor has it that he’s coming back to share a new series of adventures with us. To get to the facts, we got Wilbur on the horn to discuss his past, his disappearance, and his future. –Brad Melekian

Can I speak with Wilbur Kookmeyer?
This is Wilbur, who’s this?

This is Brad; I’m an editor at SURFER.
Ha! Ha! Very funny. I know for a fact that the only editor at SURFER isn’t Brad…it’s Ed! I wasn’t just born yesterday.

No, “Ed” is just an abbreviation for…
Come on, who is this?

Uh… Okay, okay, this is Ed.
Hey Ed, what’s up?

So Wilbur, we haven’t seen you in a long time. Is it true that you got your butt kicked in Hawaii and had to lay low for a while?
That’s not true, and who ever told you that, she was a liar! You tell those Roxy girls the next time I see them… uhh… never mind.

So, what have you been up to lately?
Uh, you know the usual stuff. I built a submarine and sailed around the world with my trusty dog Fido, and we hit all the exotic spots like Teahupoo, the Mentawais, Tavarua, the Maldives and Ring Kong.

Okay, I’ll play along, tell me about this submarine.
It’s pretty handy on surf trips, I can sneak up on highly localized spots, no problem. I even use it for tow-in surfing out at Cortes Banks. The only problem is that it maxes out at 5 mph, which can be a bit sketchy when the waves get over 50 feet.

So have you started riding retro-boards?
Oh yeah, I built this time machine a I went back to 1974 and I picked up a few boards while I was there. You know, some eggs, fishes, wingers, stingers and bonzers.

Do those boards work?
Not really. You see, to really make them work right you need a beavertail wetsuit, and I forgot to pick one up while I was there.

What do you make of the new surfboard technology?
Oh, you mean those Costco jobbers? As soon as I heard they were selling them down at Costco, I went down there and I asked if they were looking for any team riders and they told me yes and for a nominal fee of $45 I could be on the team.

That’s not a team rider fee, that’s the membership dues.
Oh… (pause) but I did get a killer deal on a three-year supply of toilet paper.

So what does the future hold for Wilbur? What are your plans?
Well, I’d like to invent some revolutionary surfing product, make a zillion dollars, go on the world tour and become the world champ. That’s my five year plan, but first I gotta finish lame old junior high school.