RIP Les Williams

Les Williams, pioneering California surfer and president of the San Onofre Surf Club died Friday, July 20th, at the age of 76, while vacationing in Kauai. Les was one of the poster boys for Californian surfing in the '50s and '60s; he even graced the cover of the Beach Boys' album Surfin'USA.

Les is responsible for the popularity of "{{{Malibu}}} boards," which are the equivalent of our modern day longboard. In 1950, Les borrowed a board from Joe Quigg that was built for his wife-to-be. The board was smaller, lighter and narrower than boards of that time, allowing Les to run circles around surfers with larger bulkier boards. He also spent much of his life competitively surfing in the United States Surfing Championships, where he ripped his way through heats from 1966 to 1997.

In 1952, Les helped found the San Onofre Surfing Club. Devoting nearly his entire retirement to the club, Les was on the board of directors much of the time, and eventually became the club's president. In that position, Les used his love for the ocean to help keep the beach clean, safe and enjoyable for others. He was instrumental in organizing both the beach's annual surf contest and his favorite, the annual luau.

Les was a great pioneer of surfing and he shaped our lifestyle from its early days until his untimely death. His passion for surfing was evident in his actions both in and out of the water. Les Williams, one of surfing's great watermen, San Onofre will surely miss one of its original guardians.

A paddle out to celebrate the life of Les Williams is set for September 12th, at Surf Beach in San Clemente. Add your own remembrances of Les at the San Onofre Beach club blog: