Soundings: Season 1 Episode 6

Dave Parmenter

The surfer-shaper-writer-critic on surfing “then” versus “now,” and how to keep riding waves interesting in mid-life and beyond.

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Surfing magazine once described Dave Parmenter as “the most interesting surfer in the world.” In a 1988 Surfer interview, he railed poetic against the loss of surfing’s purity, saying that young surfers were concerned only with “stickers and freebies [and] their first sponsorship deal is put right up there with losing their virginity. In the meantime, they’re missing out on surfing. Competing is just a tiny sliver of what the sport has to offer.” From 2005 to 2008, Dave wrote a monthly fiction-humor column for Surfer called “Everybody Surfs.“ He’s written several pieces for TSJ.

Dave’s formative years were spent riding cold, empty, heavy waves on California’s Central Coast. Later, he would move to Hawaii. I knew him on the road. He traveled with many books, was something of a loner, and exuded a Clint Eastwood sangfroid. I was fascinated and a little intimidated by him. Once, he lent me a board after I broke mine. When I went to return it he said, “Keep it.” I reached for my wallet. “No, definitely not,” he said.

Dave and I ran the gamut of topics, starting with his most current wave-riding interest: outrigger canoes across open-ocean swells. We also discussed his relationship with the surf world, surfing “then” versus “now,” and how to keep riding waves interesting in mid-life and beyond.—Jamie Brisick

Find more of Dave at

Produced by Jonathan Shifflett.
Music by Little Wings.

Feature image by Andrew Kidman.