Surfing Newport Beach

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Surfing Newport Beach Surfing Newport Beach

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

Today Newport Beach is considered the uncrowned jewel of the fabulous Orange County Gold Coast, the glamour and glitz center of the West Coast. But the Newport Beach you’re going to find in this book is quite different. It’s the Newport Beach before World War II—a lively, lusty, beach resort where rum runners openly docked and unloaded their illegal brew, where drinking, gambling and dancing paid the bills. It was a city that was hell on wheels from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then it went into hibernation the rest of the year except for a brief awakening during Easter vacation. It was a city where every weekend during the summer there was some aquatic event which included wave riding, but not the kind you think of today. Aquaboarding was the “common man’s” way to tackle the ocean, standing on an aquaplane board, holding on to an attached rope and being pulled by a boat—an early ancestor of water skiing.

Back then surfboards were big and heavy; the most famous surfer of the age, Duke Kahanamoku, rode the waves of Newport Bay in a canoe, and when he could he borrowed an actual surfboard from his friend Felix Modjeski, grandson of famous Polish actress Madame Helena Modjeska, who owned a beach cottage nearby. Eventually Duke and some of his friends brought their own surfboards to Corona del Mar and left them at the Sparr Bathhouse (the boards were too heavy to carry back and forth) starting what would become one of the first surf clubs in the United States—the Corona del Mar Surf Club. It was this club that initiated the first surf contest on the mainland—the Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship in 1928, but even then canoes were featured in the main events!

Paul & Claudine Burnett at book launch, Aug. 2013

Paul & Claudine Burnett at book launch, Aug. 2013

The surf changed as the bay changed. In the 1920’s an 800-foot cement jetty was constructed off the rocks at Corona del Mar. It was a body surfer’s treat. You could get into a wave at the end of the jetty on the channel side, ride in next to the jetty for an 800-foot long adventure, climb up a chain ladder, run out on the jetty and do the same thing all over again all day long. Unfortunately, it was difficult for boaters to get through the channel due to sandbars and the waves. Alas, a new jetty, completed in 1936, destroyed the perpetual surf at Corona del Mar.

Surfing also changed with innovations to surfboard construction. With these newer, lighter boards more people were drawn to Newport and Corona del Mar (across the bay from Newport) to enjoy the fabulous surf of the 1920’s and 30’s.

Aug. 21, 2013

The audience at Sherman Library and Gardens.

It was in Newport Beach that the phenomena of Southern California surfing took on the persona it has today. That may be why so many surf manufacturers such as Quiksilver, Volcom and Hurley made their homes here—they wanted to be close to the roots of their trade.

Read about the Great Rescue of 1926 by Duke Kahanamoku and others, the rum runners of Balboa and the evolution of Newport Bay.  Pioneering surfers such as George Freeth, Tom Blake, the Vultee brothers and Pete Peterson helped make a name for the city in surf culture.  Authors Claudine Burnett and her surfer husband, Paul, have delved deeply into the past sharing stories that will give readers never-before-revealed facts not only about surfing but Newport Beach and Corona del Mar history as well.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE BAY 

     Early Days to the 1910s

     The 1920s

     1930-1941

NEWPORT BEACH BEFORE SURFING

     Native Americans, the Spanish and Farmers

     A City Begins

SURFING ARRIVES

     The 1900s and 1910s

     The 1920s

CORONA DEL MAR SURF CONTESTS

     First Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship – 1928

     Second Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship – 1929

     Third Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship – 1932

     The Mystery Pacific Coast Championship Contests – 1934 & 1936

GOODBYE CORONA DEL MAR: OTHER SURF CONTEST LOCATIONS

     Sixth-Ninth Pacific Coast Surfboard Championships – 1938-1941

     National Surfing and Paddleboard Contests – 1938 & 1939

     Pacific Coast Watermen’s Championship and World War II

SURFBOARDS

     Surfboard Evolution

     How to Ride a Surfboard

OTHER WAYS TO RIDE THE SURF

     Canoe Surfing

     Bodysurfing

     Aquaplaning

     Auto Shoes

     Surf Sled

     Pillowcase Surfing

NEWPORT BAY & SURFING TIMELINE

INDEX

A

Alamitos Bay 14

Allen, Chuck 90

Anaheim 14, 32, 42, 80

Anaheim Landing 36

Aquaboarding 9, 109, 115-116

Army Corps of Engineers 16, 24

 B

Bailey, Jim 87, 88, 89

Balboa 22, 25, 39, 40, 44, 50, 51, 54-55, 58- 59, 60, 63, 64, 79, 91, 109, 110, 113, 115, 124, 125, 127, 128

Balboa Bay Palisades 66, 67

Balboa Fun Zone 63, 126

Balboa Island 9, 14, 37, 40, 54, 91, 109, 123

Balboa Palisades Club 68- 69, 79

Balboa Pavilion 39, 40, 51, 54, 58, 59, 124

Balboa Peninsula 9, 13, 14, 17, 22, 34, 35, 37, 39, 54, 58, 94, 123, 124,125, 126, 127

Balboa Pier 34, 39-40, 82, 114, 115, 121, 124, 128

Balboa Theater 59

Ball, John “Doc” 75, 82, 89

Bal Week 10, 59, 79, 127

Bayer, Adolph 86, 88

Bay Island 14, 51, 124

Beach, Lansing 24

Beal, Mac 78

Beard, A.D. 89

Beckett, Jack 76

Beckett, Paul 76

Beck, Kenneth 90

Beckwith, Fred 109-111

Belshe, Gene 101

Berry, Jack 61

Bertolet, Carroll 56

Bitter Point 19, 20

Bixler, Alvin 91

Blackie’s surf spot 57, 119, 121

Blake, Tom 21, 58, 69, 70, 71-76, 86, 89, 99-101

Bland, Myron 61

Blom, Walt 89

Bodyboarding 94, 95, 115, 125

Bodyboards 43, 118

Bodysurfing 10, 27, 78, 80, 81, 93, 94, 109, 113-115

Brown, Don 81

Brown, Fred 110

Brown, Matt 78

Burton, Wally 56, 80

Butler, Charles 88

 C

Cabrillo, Juan Rodriguez 35, 84

Campbell, Don 90

Canoeing 9, 10, 17, 35, 43, 48, 50, 52, 54, 55, 70, 76, 93, 97, 109, 110-113, 115, 124

Cappy’s Cafe 15-16, 19, 20

Carey, Charles 81

Catalina Island 33, 35, 60

Chapplett, Henry 60

Church, Homer 110

Clark, J. Ross 38

Collins Island 91

Collins, William S. 38-39, 91, 110, 124

Cornell Company 67, 125, 126

Corona del Mar 9-11, 13, 14, 22, 23-31, 33, 34, 35, 44, 45, 50-51, 52, 53, 54-58, 60, 65-85, 91, 92, 93, 97, 101-103, 109, 112, 113, 115, 119-120, 124, 125, 126, 127

Corona del Mar Bathhouse. See Sparr   Bathhouse

Cravath, Gavvy 61

Crispin, Thayer 89

 D

Dale, Dick 11, 59

Dana Point 57, 86

Dawson, Ralph 33, 34, 127

deGroot, John 121

Deraga, Antar 60, 61, 80

Dole, Sanford 47

Dredging 17-18, 21, 30-31, 64, 81, 82, 83, 127

Drownings 23, 60, 61, 83

Drummond, Ron 97, 113, 115

E

Eaill, R. 76

Earthquake 32, 81, 127

East jetty. See Jetties: Corona del Mar

East Newport 22, 51

Edgar, Bill 88

Edrington, H.E. Jr. 29

Ehlers, Tom 90

Elections 15, 16-17, 18, 23-24, 30, 32, 40, 64, 81, 91, 125, 127

Everett, Boyd 67, 125

Eyestone, Merle 87, 89

F

Farwell, Steve 7, 57

F.D. Cornell Company. See Cornell Company

Fishing 38, 40, 47, 54, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64, 84, 127

Flint, Bixby & Company 35-36

Floods 14-18, 30, 32, 34, 123, 125

Ford, Alexander Hume 43

Fransworth, Ralph 61

Freeth, George 43-50, 71, 95, 105-106, 124

Fry, E. 76

Fullerton 32

G

Gambling 9, 40, 55, 58, 59, 109

Gardner, Robert 19, 22, 55, 114

Gates, John 89

Genoves, Vincent 48

Grannis, Don 88

Grannis, Leroy 88

Granston, Chauncey 80

Griggs, Earl 61

Groins 25, 26-27, 29, 30

H

Hackett, Merton 87

Hale, Owen 56, 60, 61, 62

Hall, J.H. 87

Harbor Island 14, 37, 123

Harper, Helen 80

Harrison, Ethel 77-78, 80

Harrison, Lorrin “Whitey” 27, 31, 56, 57, 75, 77, 82, 85, 86, 87-88

Hart, George 67, 124, 125

Hart, Victor 113

Hawaii 29, 35, 39, 41, 43-47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 60, 64, 67, 69, 70, 71, 77, 79, 80, 91, 95, 96, 99, 104, 107, 113, 124, 125

Hawkins, Mary Ann 90

Henry, Bill 60

Henry, Tom 60

Hermosa Beach 77, 87, 88, 91, 121

Herwig, Bill 56, 61

Higgins, Bud 56, 101

Hock, Fern 61

Hock, Fred 61

Hollywood Athletic Club 70

Horner, Arthur 90

Hubbard, Walton Jr. 29

Huber, A. 61

Huffman, Helen 80

Hunt, Allen 80

Huntington Beach 14, 17, 19, 56, 85

Huntington, Henry 38, 47

Huntington Park 81

Hurricane of 1939 32-34

I

International Star races. See Yacht racing: International Star

Irvine, James 35, 37, 41, 67, 123, 124

J

Jarvis, Harold 69

Jetties

    Corona del Mar 10, 23-29, 30-31, 33, 50, 56, 64, 78, 80, 82, 83, 92, 93-94, 102, 113, 119-120, 122, 127, 128

    Peninsula 17-18, 19, 20-21, 23-27, 30, 33, 50, 54, 60, 64, 70, 81, 82, 93, 94, 119, 121, 122, 125, 126, 127, 128

Johnson, Albert 61

Jones, William 109

K

Kahanamoku, Duke 9, 16, 21, 23, 44, 45-47, 48-54, 55, 56, 58, 60-63, 68, 69, 70, 71, 73, 76, 97, 101, 102, 103, 106, 124, 125, 126

Kahanamoku, Sam 52

Kalami, Sol 78

Kayaks 80, 82, 85

Kerckhoff, William 69

Kerwin, Fred 87

Kerwin, Jim 87, 88, 90

Kinner, Ralph 89

Klotz, Barney 78

Knight, Harold 110

Kressley, Paul 24

L

Laguna Beach 50, 55, 56, 81, 127

Langer, Ludy 113-114, 125

Larsen, Philip 61

Lavagnivo, Gladys 87

Leenhouts, Grant 77

Lenkeit, Erwin 88

Lido Island 14, 30, 37, 39, 123

Lifeguards 47, 48, 58, 60, 61, 77, 80, 93, 101, 118, 126

Lighthouse 60, 126

Lindbers, Verne 89

Linda Island 14, 31

Lindberg, Vincent 57, 87, 88, 89

Lind, John 90

Lippincott, Gardner 75, 82, 85

London, Jack 41, 43, 44, 47, 104-105, 122

Long Beach 52, 53, 55, 60, 89-91, 92, 93, 113, 118, 126

Los Angeles Athletic Club 49, 62, 65, 69, 70, 76, 77, 115

Lugo, John 33-34, 127

 M

Manhattan Beach 87, 89, 90, 91

May, Jack 91

McClain, E.E. 61

McDermott, William 61

McFadden, James 35, 37, 38, 123

McFadden’s Wharf 38. See Newport   Pier

McGrew, Jim 89, 90

Modjeska, Helena 9, 51, 124

Modjeski, Felix 9, 51, 52, 80, 124

Morris, Edgar 61

Morris, Frank 61

Morris, John 61

Mott, Ellsworth 61

Movie stars 84, 108, 121

 N

Native Americans 35, 109

Newbert Protection District 15, 124

Newport Bay 9, 13-18, 21, 25, 29, 32, 35, 36, 41, 42, 50, 77, 81, 84, 110, 115, 123, 124, 125, 127

Newport Beach 9-11, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37-42, 44-45, 47, 50-51, 54-56, 58-61, 63-64, 67-68, 77, 79, 80, 81-83, 91-92, 109-110, 113, 119-128

Newport Harbor 10, 19, 30, 31, 33, 37, 50, 55, 60, 64, 69, 70, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83-84, 92, 114, 122

Newport Harbor Chamber of Commerce 30, 80

Newport Harbor Yacht Club 29, 51

Newport Island 30, 31

Newport Landing 36, 37

Newport Pier 34, 35, 37, 38, 82, 114, 119, 121, 123, 128

Numbered Streets surf spots 121

 O

Olson, John 90, 91

Olympic Games 21, 44, 48-50, 52-53, 113

 P

Pacific Coast Highway 13-14, 16, 19, 32, 37, 50-51, 55, 57, 63, 67, 68, 126, 127

Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship.  See surf contests:        Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship

Pacific Electric rail line 24, 39, 40, 47, 50, 55, 124

Paddleboarding  35, 76, 77, 80, 85, 86-87, 89-90, 93

Paddleboards 43, 57, 71, 72, 74, 75, 100-101

Palos Verdes 77, 82, 88, 89, 90

Parsons, Joe 86, 88

Parton, Reggie 93

Patterson, Richard 81

Paul, Holmes 65

Peterson, Arlene 87

Peterson, Preston “Pete” 75, 80, 82, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 93

Plummer, Charles 61

Point surf spot 121

Port Orange 41-42

Prado Dam 32

Prieste, Haig 52-53

Pyle, Jack 56

R

Railroad 24, 25, 32, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 47, 50, 55, 64, 123, 124

Ralph, Houghton 77

Redondo Beach 47, 69, 70, 77

Reinhard, Bob 90, 91

Rendezvous Ballroom 11, 58-59

Reynolds, Jim 88

River Jetties surf spot 121

Riverside 39, 60, 61, 68

Roach, Eleanor 87

Rogers, George 81, 83

Rum runners 9, 22-23, 57, 113

S

San Clemente Island 35

Sandbars 10, 14, 21-22, 23, 25-26, 30, 35, 36, 39, 51, 52, 58, 61, 64, 123

San Diego 24, 29, 36, 41, 49, 50

San Francisco 24, 41, 69

San Onofre 33, 82, 85-89

San Pedro 42, 51, 52, 55, 79

Santa Ana 15, 37, 38, 39, 50, 78, 123

Santa Ana River 13-20, 32, 35, 119, 121, 124, 125

Santa Monica 42, 69, 79, 80, 86, 90, 93

Schoneman, Florence 52

Schoolyards surf spot 121

Sea Cove Village 67, 68, 69

Seal Beach 34, 36, 65

Sheffield, Thomas 57, 61, 65-66, 68, 69, 75, 76-77, 78, 79, 80

Sherman, H.L. 14

Shipwrecks 33, 61-63, 126, 127

Shutt, T. Bennett 113

Silver, Bob 92

Simms, Columbus 52

Sizemore, Ted 80-81

Skimboarding 121

Smith, Gene 78, 91

Sneed, Edward 61

Soilander, Albert 51

South Coast Yacht Club 50, 51, 124

Sparr Bathhouse 10-11, 23, 56, 57, 65, 66, 68, 69, 75, 76, 79, 126

Sparr, William 65, 66, 67-69, 126

Spohler, A.C. 91

Squires, William 61

Stose, Clem 29

Sunset Beach 34, 80

Surfboards 9, 10, 23, 33, 43, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 95-108

       Hollow 71-72, 74, 75, 89, 99, 100-101, 106

Surf contests

       Corona del Mar. See surf contests: Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship

         Hermosa Beach 121

         Huntington Beach 85

         National Surfing and Paddleboard 89-91

          Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship 10, 30, 65-82, 85- 89, 109, 127

          Pacific Coast Surfboard Competition  73 

          Pacific Coast Watermen’s 93

          San Onofre. See Surf contests:Pacific Coast Surfboard Championship

          Seal Beach 65

Surfing 10,17, 21, 33, 35, 39, 41, 43-108

       Inner tube 116-117

       License fee 121

       Pillowcase 118

       Surf sled 117-118

Surfing clubs

     Corona del Mar 10, 30, 57, 69, 76,77, 79, 85, 126

     Del Mar 86, 90

     Hawaiian 91

     Hermosa Beach 91

     Hui Nalu 39, 53, 124

     Hui Nalu (Redondo Beach) 47

     Long Beach 90, 91

     Manhattan Beach 90

     Palos Verdes 82, 90

     Venice 90, 91

Surfing Heritage & Culture Center 44

Swartz, Lewis Earl 88, 89

Swedson, Clyde 70

Swimming 43, 47, 48-49, 65, 80, 82, 85, 93, 98, 110, 113-114, 115

 T

Thomas, Gordon 77

Thurston, Lorrin 71

Transpacific Yacht Race. See Yacht racing: Transpacific

Tucker, Cliff 75, 85, 88-89

Tudor, Harry H. 59

Two O’clock Kid 113

 U

United States Coast Survey 14-15

 V

Venice 47, 63, 90, 91, 117

Vieth, Vance 115

Vultee, Art 21, 44, 45, 46, 53, 60, 70, 80, 101, 102, 103, 124

Vultee, Gerard “Jerry” 53, 56, 58, 60, 61, 62, 70, 71-72, 73, 74-75, 76, 77, 101, 102, 103

 W

Water skiing 9, 115

Watkins, George 86

Watson, Denny 90

Watson, Keller 56, 75, 77, 78, 101

Wedge, The 20, 21, 25, 93, 94, 115, 119, 121, 126

Weissmuller, Johnny 52

Welsh, Freddy 117

West jetty. See Jetties: Peninsula

Westminster 14

West Newport 9, 30, 119

Wheeler, Bill 117-118

Wilkes, A.H. 86

Williams, Dennie 76

Williams, Rusty 58, 89

World War I 17, 50, 71, 80, 109, 115

World War II 9, 77, 80, 91-93

Y

Yacht racing 17, 51

     International Star 29-30, 64, 69, 127

     Transpacific 29-30, 64, 127

Yachts 9, 22, 29, 60, 83-84

                                                                                                           

EXCERPT

     Despite the signal beacons and lifeguards, Newport was fortunate to have swimming/surfing star Duke Kahanamoku, camped on the Corona del Mar beach the morning of June 14, 1925.  Duke was with some of his buddies (the Henry brothers, Bill and Tom; the Vultee brothers, Jerry and Art; Owen Hale; and Henry Chapplett), and together they performed what others would later call a miracle.

   The Hawaiian swimmer was just going out for his morning swim when he noticed the heavy ground swells which turned into tall-crested waves as they rounded the breakwater. Out in the breakwater, the forty-foot fishing yacht Thelma was in trouble. It had been chartered by a party from Riverside which had left Newport the previous morning bound for a day’s fishing out at sea.

   The Thelma, a five-ton craft partly owned by Jeff Cravath, Philadelphia baseball star, was nearing the end of the breakwater into open sea when the first grounds swell loomed dead ahead. The swell, as it gained momentum, merged into a mountainous wave and crashed over the bow, smashing through the heavy plate glass of the engine-room flooding the compartment and stopping the engine. Practically all the Riverside fishermen were swept overboard with the first wave and were struggling in the midst of the torn wreckage and pounding waves. Another wave quickly followed in the wake of the first, which swept the boat its entire length, sending rigging overboard into a maelstrom of confusion. It then pitched the boat on its side.

   Encumbered by heavy clothing, the Riverside men were thrown from the boat which started to sink almost immediately. They hadn’t had time to put on life preservers before the small boat was caught broadside in the teeth of three tremendous breakers and rolled completely over three times from starboard to port on the sands of the shallow Newport sandbar. Only a few were able to reach the upturned craft and cling safely to the keel.

   On the near-by beach were Duke Kahanamoku, Antar Deraga, captain of the Newport lifeguards; Charles Plummer, lifeguard; Thomas Sheffield, captain of the Corona  del Mar Swimming Club; Gerard Vultee, William Herwig and Owen Hale, who immediately went to the rescue.

   Battling with his surfboard through the heavy seas, Kahanamoku was the first to reach the drowning men. He made three successive trips to the beach and carried four victims the first trip, three the second and one the third. Sheffield, Plummer and Deraga were credited with saving four; while other members of the rescue party waded into the surf and carried the drowning men to safety as Kahanamoku brought them shoreward. Fred Hock, A. Huber, Frank Morris, Myron Bland, Fern Hock, Ellsworth Mott, William McDermott, Earl Griggs, Jack Berry, Philip Larsen, Albert Johnson and Edward Sneed were rescued, several of them near death when they were brought to shore. The drowned were William W. Squires, Riverside; Ralph Fransworth, Riverside; John and Edgar Morris, Arlington, and E.E. McClain, father-in-law of John Morris.

   Captain Porter of Newport Beach expressed the belief that at least eight or ten more would have drowned had not Kahanamoku and Deraga been ready with immediate assistance. “The Duke’s performance was the most superhuman rescue act and the finest display of surfboard riding that has ever been seen in the world, I believe,” he said.

   When asked how he managed to rescue so many, Kahanamoku replied: “I do not know. It was done. That is the main thing. By a few tricks, perhaps.”

   A few days later (June 18, 1925) the Edgewater Club of Southern California announced they were inspired by Kahanamoku’s performance and “surfboard riding,” which made possible Kahanamoku’s sensational rescue. Henceforth, surfboard riding would be taught on an extensive scale to members of the club. Surf riding had gained honor and respectability.

   Years later Duke Kahanamoku remembered the experience:

   Big green walls of water were sliding in from the horizon, building up to bar like heights, then curling and crashing on the shore. Only a porpoise, a shark or a sea lion had any right to be out there. From shore we suddenly saw the charter fishing boat, the Thelma, wallowing in the water just seaward of where the breakers were falling. The craft appeared to be trying to fight her way toward safe water, but it was obviously a losing battle. You could see her rails crowded with fishermen who, at the moment, certainly had other things in mind than fishing. Mine was the only board handy right then—and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to use it…

   It was obvious that the Thelma had capsized and thrown her passengers into the boiling sea. Neither I nor my pals were thinking heroics; we were simply running—me with a board, and the others to get their boards— and hoping we could save lives…”

    The Hawaiian Society of Los Angeles would present the Duke with a medal for heroism on September 4, 1925, before a large and enthusiastic assembly at the Alexander Hotel. On Christmas Day 1925, the Los Angeles Athletic Club would honor its hero with a gold watch. Thirty-two years later, three of the grateful men whose lives had been saved, thanked the Duke in person before a national television audience on NBC’s “This IS Your Life.” The embarrassed Duke simply replied, “That’s okay.”

 

 

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