Charles Allbright and A. J. Stout introduced surfing to Long Beach in 1911 after surfing in Waikiki where Stout was a hotel manager. They brought surfboards back from Hawaii and began surfing the Waikiki of California, which at that time was Long Beach. The famed flood control channel offered a shallow bottom and long rides, with several miles of great beach breaks to the south.
In July 1913, Duke Kahanamoku, while visiting Los Angeles, was invited to surf in Long Beach. His surfing demonstrations inspired locals to take up the sport. Surfing in Long Beach was born.
By 1933 Long Beach had adopted City Ordinance No. C1195 restricting surfboard riding to certain areas.
On Sunday, November 13th, 1938 the city of Long Beach hosted the first National Surfing and Paddleboard Championships, inviting surf clubs from California and Hawaii. Long Beach Surfing Club was formed and took part in this event. The event started with a half-mile paddleboard race through the surf. Women as well as men competed. It was the surfing championships, however, that were to be broadcast live over radio station KFOX that attracted most of the attention. 20,000 people crowded onto Rainbow andSilver Spray Piers and the beach in front of the Pike to view the 140 competitors. Preston Peterson and Mary Ann Hawkins of theDel Mar Surfing Club won in the national paddleboard division, but lack of heavy surf postponed the surfing competition until December 11, 1938. The surfers, however, couldn’t disappoint the crowd who had come to see them perform and the radio audience who were listening. A trial open surfing event was held with John Olson of Long Beach winning the competition.
On December 3rd, 1939, the city once again hosted the National Surfing and Paddleboard Championships. “Booming out of the fog blanket on the crests of curling breakers that saturated onlookers, the Hermosa Beach men nosed out the defending trophy holders of Manhattan Beach by 10 points. Venice Surfing Club was third and Long Beach Surf Club, fourth. Gene Smith, member of the Hawaiian Surfing Club, which traveled here from the islands, competed alone against the teams after his two teammates A.C. Spohler and Jack May, withdrew in the face of the unusual weather conditions. He finished fifth against the heavy odds.” Individual surfing honors went to Long Beach Surfing Club members John Olsen who finished first, Alvin Bixler, second, and Bob Reinhardt, fourth. Gene Smith of Hawaii came in third. (1939 December 4. Press-Telegram)
Unfortunately there would not be any other national surf contests held in Long Beach, war had broken out in Europe and soon the United States would be involved. The breakwater would be completed in the harbor in the 1940′s and the U.S. Navy would come and makeTerminal Island their home. After the war the surfers who returned from battle would find that there were no more waves in Long Beach, the breakwater had seen to that. But love of surfing still continued and members of the club surfed some of the beach breaks in the southern part of the city and north Orange County.
By 1958 interest in surfing was again on the rise and one of the original members of the 1938 club endeavored to renew the clubs vitality. Bob Reinhardt worked with local surfers to grow a younger membership.
By 1963 there was such a proliferation of Surfing Clubs that the United States Surfing Association was divided into districts.District 5’s boundaries extended from the southern border of Palos Verdes Estates down to the northern border of Oceanside. There were 23 registered clubs in District 5. The District directors were Robert Moore, Mickey Munoz, Kit Horn, Hobie Alter andTim Dorsey.
Along with the Long Beach Surf Club, there were eight clubs with Long Beach addresses: Holo Kai, Makaui, North Long Beach Surfers, Poseidons, Southland Girls, West Shore Surfers and Wipeouts.
Here’s a list of the other clubs from District 5 in 1963. Some are still around but who remembers the others? B-5’s of Rossmoor-Los Alamitos, Bohemian Surfing Assoc. and Goat Hill Surfers of Newport Beach, San Onofre Surfing Club, Salt Creek Surfing Society of Dana Point, Buena Park Surf Club, Beachcombers of Orange-Santa Ana, Furr-Burr Surf Club of Sunset Beach,Haggerty’s and Palos Verdes Surfing Clubs from Palos Verdes, Seal Beach River Rats, Shorebreak Surfing Club and West Coast Surf Club of San Pedro, Southern Shores of Anaheim and Tritons.
The First Annual United States Surfing Association Surfing Contest, originally scheduled for November 23, 1963 (but postponed due to the assassination of President Kennedy), was held Saturday and Sunday, December, 7th and 8th at Salt Creek. Only surfers who were members of Clubs belonging to the USSA were eligible. In the Men’s Competition, the top three finishers were Long Beach Surf Club members: Corky Carroll 1st, Mike Doyle 2nd and John Peck 3rd. In the Women’s Final, Margo Scotton of the LBSC came in third, outscored by Joyce Hoffman and Judy Dibble, both from the Wind’nsea Club. Other heat winners from the club wereMark Martinson and Juline McGough. In the Mixed Paddling Relay event, teams were formed by random draw. Entrant’s names were pulled from a hat (2 girls and 3 men each.) The winning team was Jim Craig (Dapper Dan’s), Joyce Hoffman (Wind’nsea),Corky Carroll (LBSC), Mary Reinhart (LBSC) and John Peck (LBSC).
On Tuesday, February 16th, 1965, 14 members of the Long Beach Surf Club/Harbour Competition Team stepped off the plane in Lima, Peru. Greeting them were several hundred people including the local press and Mr. Eduardo Arena, president of The Club Waikiki, host for the 2nd Annual World Surfing Championships. The team traveled 9,000 miles and spent 18 days exploring the beaches and attractions of the area.
The contest was truly on an international level with teams from Australia, USA, France, Hawaii (USA), South Africa, Ecuador andPeru. Hometown hero Felipe Pomar won the Big Wave Contest segment earning the praise of all who competed against him. It was quite a sight to see the Peruvian crowd carrying Pomar around on their shoulders yelling “Felipe!” Other Big Wave finalists: 2nd Nat Young, 3rd Paul Strauch, 4th Mickey Munoz, 5th Fred Hemmings, 6th Mike Doyle, 7th George Downing and 8th Ken Adler.
The Hot Dogging (Men Only) division winner was Paul Strauch, with LBSC members Steve Bigler and 16-year old David Nuuhiwa finishing 2nd and 3rd.
The Women’s Final looks familiar: 1st Joyce Hoffman, 2nd Nancy Nelson, and 3rd Candy Calhoun.
The most exciting event of the meet was the Relay Paddling Race. The California and Australian teams were neck and neck all the way, with the So Cal (LBSC) four taking the event by one step on the foot race to the finish line. The winning team consisted of Doyle,Chew, Sumpter and Bigler.
Others making the trip under the LBSC banner included Tim Dorsey, sponsored by the Catalina Swimwear Company, Rich Harbour, Robert August, Jim Graham, Bill Fury and Mark Martinson.
In the early 70’s the surf club scene began to fade, not just in Long Beach, but throughout the state, the age of the soul surfer had begun. Henry Ford kept the club going until the early 80’s.
In the early 80’s members of the Peninsula Surf Team, headed by Bob Edmondson, were convinced by some of the early members of the club to attempt to revitalize the club once again. After a few years the club was back up and running. One of the main goals of the club was to support the community of surfing and bring the fun back to the sport.
The Long Beach Surf Club established itself early as female-friendly by supporting and promoting women in surfing. More and more women are being attracted to surfing. The arrival of professional surfing has helped this process. But the people who have been mainly responsible for this change in public attitude are the professional women surfers themselves.
Two shining examples of this are Jericho Poppler and Rell Sunn, two ladies who have worked hard at producing this social change. Jericho grew up in Long Beach, California, and Rell in Makaha Beach, Hawaii. In the mid 60′s, they were both regarded as strange, in the almost totally male-dominated sport. Jericho was 1970 U.S. Women’s Champion, and 1976 World Champion. She was also responsible for instigating women’s professional surfing. Rell, “The Queen of Makaha,” began surfing at age 4. She was Hawaii’s number one woman amateur surfer for five years, and in 1975 joined the first women’s pro tour.
We are proud to have Jericho and her family as current active members to the extent that she has been designated the Club’s Ali’i Wahini or in more familiar terms our very own ‘Surf Goddess’. She is just one of many women and girls actively participating in the clubs events.
For the last 22 years, the club has donated money from its now world famous Annual Summer Surf Party to various organizations, including Surfrider and the Bolsa Chica Wetlands fund. The club continued its contributions by funding a part of the production “Red Tide” by The Southern California Marine Institute and Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s plastic sea research. Each year the club provides assistance to Jericho’s Kids for Clean Waves and provides paddlers for auxiliary water safety for ocean swim competitions in the area.
In the mid 90’s the club went to a management team leadership with John Narz, David Stanfield, Mike Baker, ‘SurfBob’ Edmondson, Jans Baltgalvis and Rob Buchan heading the team. Today the Long Beach Surf Club is an active member of theCoalition of Surfing Clubs and takes part in numerous events.