Soundings: Season 4 Episode 8

Jock Sutherland

On riding switch, finding his way to Pipeline, the recipe for a perfect trip, Waimea’s mechanics, clean living, the virtue of humility, and enlisting in the Army.

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One of the shortboard revolution’s seminal figures and a Pipeline pioneer, Jock Sutherland hails from a family of water people: His mother swam the northern coast of the island of Molokai, a journey which she later detailed in her 1978 book, Paddling My Own. His father, a World War II navy officer, was a seasoned kayaker, fisherman, and surfer. Sutherland and his family moved to Hawaii from Long Beach, California in 1952, where he learned to surf on one of his father’s old planks. He began riding for Greg Noll as a teenager, and went on to place second at both the 1965 Makaha International Junior Surfing Championships and the Ocean Beach World Contest in 1966. In 1967, he won the Duke Invitational. In 1969, he won Surfer magazine’s Surfer of the Year award. In 1970, he left surfing to join the US Army at the height of Vietnam. At 74, surfing remains an integral part of Sutherland’s day to day life. In this episode of Soundings, Sutherland sits down with Jamie Brisick to talk about turning points in surfing’s evolution, living with Jeff Hakman in Maui, the psychedelic resurgence, why he enlisted in the Army, being incarcerated for drug smuggling, myth-busting, and Waimea’s mechanics. 

Produced by Jonathan Shifflett.
Music by Farmer Dave & the Wizards of the West.

Feature image by Tom Servais.