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It's been a banner year at Waimea. There have been too many "all-time" sessions to count, the Eddie was done well before Christmas, and it's hardly let up since. At the moment, Shane Dorian and Mark Healey find themselves frontrunners for the Billabong XXL paddle-in award for a wave that Shane is sure is the biggest he's ever paddled into. And even with all that action, no matter how many seasons and sessions go by, no matter how many drops or disasters we've beared witness too, it never gets old. Photo: Andrew Shield

Should you stay or should you go? That's always the question when ambling down an uncharted highway. The safe bet may be right in front of you, but don't you owe it to yourself, as a surfer, to see what's around the bend. New Zealand is chock full of these instances. Photo: Logan Murray

When I think back on the '70s it seems like it was the last call for kneeboarding. The endangered species was shrinking rapidly into the '80s, and was all but gone by the '90s.  What happened? It was so popular , or so it seemed, with pods of riders at any given spot.  I've always thought the interest stemmed from all of the media about George Greenough in Surfer and the photos of him laying it over with the fin out at Honolua, Lennox and Rincon. Any photo shoot would always include the odd knee boarder getting a good set wave. Terry Hendricks was always out a La Jolla Shores, and there was always two or three out at Blacks. The Huffmans controlled Big Rock, Buddy McCray and Ron Fredirico roamed from V-Land to Backdoor, and Peter Crawford was getting pitted at North Narrabeen. There was nothing more stunning than to see a competent kneeboarder like Steve Lis go to places on a wave, with speed, that no surfer could do.  Up at Newport Ron Romanosky made a living off shaping the boards until his business fell off in the '90s. Am I wrong? Where have they all gone? A friend of mine reported a rare sighting while in the Mentawai's. A boat pulled up to where he was surfing and off jumped eight kneeboarders. As they say, you don't see that everyday. Photo/Words: Jeff Divine

At this moment the photog's thought bubble would read. "Got it! Scroll back, scroll back. Got it! I'm so glad I'm not hanging on the beach with the other dinousaurs, I know the mag will use this one. Looks like a cover! There are so many photogs out here. Here's a set. Oh shit, hard right, away from impact zone, not too far, dive, who did I hit under water, there's a radical barrell, too far away. Another giant set. Cramp in leg. It's twitching. Out too long. Still 189 shots left on the card. I'm swimming in. Wait for the lull. Swim as hard as you can. Pick a four-footer. Body surf. Cannon shot onto the sand. Down load and send. Then get depressed with the $20 web sale." Photo: Pat Stacy.

Foam stack and finished shape, Gary Linden Surfboards, Oceanside, CA. Conducting the transformation from molded plastic chemicals to organic handmade wave riding tool is ironic and addicting. That the shapers become popular cult figures is understandable when one considers the sensations delivered via the use of the instrument they craft. A quite eccentric female physician once instructed me when asked whether doctoring was art or science, “It is a practice!” Photo: Divine

The set-up allows you to sneak up so close to the mayhem that the wave’s aquatic concussion can be felt vibrating your lower intestines. The world’s most stunning wave phenomenon, Teahupo, Tahiti, when big, is a one-of-a-kind experience. The deep water channel from shore to reef is adjacent a shallow coral shelf that at the outer corner of the reef line, takes in-coming swells full force, then catapults them into ungodly massive symmetrical tunnels that man has discovered can be ridden. The deep water shuts down the wave power so that, right there it’s death, while safely here you can almost reach out and touch it. Going out in a boat and absorbing that scene is a true life experience that can be had for money. Riding one of those waves is infinitely more costly. Photo: Joli

Ozzyings Nat Young, Midget Farrelly and Wayne Lynch sharing a casual moment in the late 1960s. Nat, after his world contest win in 1966, was the dominant male surf figure of the period: usually self-assured, outspoken, often obnoxious, a brilliant surfer. Midget, equally brilliant, was the more internalized one who was offended by how he was being perceived by media and became reclusive in his later life, same as his American surf idol Phil Edwards, and Wayne, then the boy wonder modernist, now the elder statesman, still surfing esthetically well as his life’s major opus. In fact, all three are. Photo: Dick Graham

Dorian’s ’49 Studebaker passing through the San Onofre gate, circa mid-’50s. From when the Surf Club started in ’54 on, the entry gate was guarded by young surfers from inner-circle Onfre’ families, as it was a plumb job. Every parking spot was considered the private turf of a member family and you would be asked to move if they arrived after you. The membership was capped at 1500 and there was quickly a five-year wait-list. When ’Nofre became State park in 1971, the private beach went public but the Club maintained a stewardship role and voice in the State’s use policies, and you still get stink eye if you park indiscriminately. Photo: Paskowitz

Dr. Dorian Paskowitz’s humble home for he and his wife (their sole abode) parked at San Onofre, draped for privacy, circa mid-1950s.

Sand bottom beach breaks hold a special place in the hearts of surfers. Generally not as much the object of traveling surfers as the point breaks are, they are every bit as rewarding and yet, aside from frightening power, present less of the abject fear that hard structure such as rock reef, headlands, and pier pilings cause. The waves of Hossegor, just north of Biarritz on the southern French coast have proven to be one the surfing world's finest such wave zones, not crowded at the moment shown. Photo: Jeff Divine

Caron Franham holding a Tom Morey circa-’70s experimental "Auga" style board, with removable fin boxes. In his day, Morey has tripped on Peck Penetrators, early removable fin systems, air-lubricated vented bottoms, soft, pliable materials, channels, wings, eye brows, lashes, and spray-on non-skid deck coatings to name a few on the tip of his iceberg.  True, some of his inventions lie in a corner gathering dust. However, his flexible plastic foam boogie board introduced the joy of wave riding to more human beings than anyone or anything has before or since. A lesser-known fact these days: in his prime, Morey was also one of the best, most stylish, most intelligent surfers in the world. It is still discernable when he rides. Photo: courtesy of Barry Markowitz

San Clemente, 2007. Herbie Fletcher in his studio with painted surfboards. Encouraged to pursue art by his big time NY artist/surfer/ filmmaker friend Julian Schnabel, Herbie has begun a prolific output. Just visible in the foreground and to the right are floor sculptures comprised of arrangements made from broken surfboards from along the side of Herbie’s old Pipeline house. That the boards were actually broken at Pipeline and arranged by surfing legend Fletcher gives them a certain cache to New York collectors to whom Julian reportedly recommended the purchase of the rustic assemblages for as much as $30,000. Photo: Jeff Divine

San Clemente, 2008. Aussie transplant shaper Hamish Graham’s channel bottom on the rack in the Surf Ghetto. The City Fathers strongly resent there being an area known as the Ghetto within their municipality. They actually cringe when they hear it, but they misunderstand the implied soul of the situation. Areas near the ocean with good surf and relatively low rent attract surfboard shapers, glassers, and sellers as inhabitants. That San Clemente has still such a zone is what has contributed to its deep and continued surfing roots. No ghetto-no soul, bro! Photo: Jeff Divine

Miller's Point, a remote break between Timor and Bali (that's a big space, Jeff). Explains Divine, “When it's small it's like Malibu. When it's medium it's like Swamis. When it's big it's like Honolua Bay. There're monkeys in the trees and all over the beach and the fishing in the bay is incredible.” Photo: Jeff Divine

The view through the lens of Jeff Divine’s camera lets us examine a cluttered wall in master shaper Jim Phillips’ bay at the Bahne/Channin factory complex in Encinitas, a building housing a long history of board building in North County. Always one of the most revealing places one can look in our funny little surf culture is a shaper’s wall. The litter pretty much defines each shaper’s interests and passions as well as tools of choice. No two are exactly alike yet all have things in common, phone numbers, surf photos, and each is a shrine of sorts to the art form of the handmade surfboard. Photo: Jeff Divine