An email exchange, inspired by the above photo, between those who frequented the Ventura coast in the ’60s:
This is the spot where Dave went through a near-death experience at 18 years of age. This is the biggest I have ever seen Overhead photographed.
Sam Cammack, my shaper, is a big-wave guy who spent 10 years in Puerto Escondido. He started out in ding repair at Natural Progression in SM Canyon, now runs the glass shop for Patagonia. Sam makes a few boards on the side for friends and long-time customers, his label is SUENO. He is a master craftsman. One of his favorite spots is the Overhead. He just told me a story of a huge day, barely making it out with one other guy. They got caught by a cleanup set. The other guy disappeared and Sam's leash broke. Miraculously his board popped up a short distance away. After some frantic swimming and paddling he tied a knot in his leash and managed to catch one bomb. Getting back on the beach through the shore break was another adventure.
Several unique stories surround this surf spot. Early on, 1960 or so, word was out that Johnny Fain took a big wipeout there and although he came up, after a hard time getting to the surface, (he said he had to expell air to see which way the bubbles wet and then he followed) his board never surfaced. In an effort to understand the take-off at the Ventura Overhead, he and several of his buddies (Tommy Zahn, Joe Quigg, I believe) went out and dove the take-off spot to check out the bottom with masks and fins. One of the oddities they discovered was that the bottom rock formations were in the shape of a breaking wave. This sort of explained to them that was the reason it jacked up and then threw out when taking off. Then, after the wave broke on the deeper side of the rock lip, a person or a board could get caught under the shelf. After learning that the "fun factor" diminished for me somewhat.
The Flea and I used to surf there all the time on the way to Rincon. Our usual ritual was to paddle out at the same time, time it so one of us was on either side of the peak. We would hoot at each other looking through the tube! Buzzy Trent took me out the first time and showed me the lineup and how to ride there. He was fearless. I was not. It took lots of go-outs-wipeouts to sorta figure it out and get over the fear. Lots of adventure surfing there. One of the "manhood" rites you had to go through was standing on the narrow bridge leg that straddled over the tracks while a train passed directly under you. I have seen grown men go to their knees crying in terror. Under the bridge was a "hobo" camp with cave messages scribbled on the walls. One of them said, "It cannot be conquered. It cannot be conquered. Overhead can not be conquered!"
Right, Buzzy Trent was one of the guys who dove the take-off spot to check out the bottom. I really like the hooting book-end surfers thru the tube! Mickey, who does that???