As for spectators at the early events, "you had the guys hanging off in the bushes, smoking dope and calling bullshit on the whole thing."
Every Sunday afternoon, east of the international date line that is, Seattle-based former surfer Matt Warshaw emails subscribers to his online encyclopedia a thoughtful summation of a certain event or epoch in surfing.
Today is Pipeline Masters themed, and the email links at the end to an interview Warshaw made with the father of the Pipe Masters, and pro surfing, the former Republican senator, Fred Hemmings.
Oh, reader, it’s thunderbolt after thunderbolt.
“I wanted to develop a format that would look good on television so I could market surfing to a larger audience—to the average schmuck watching TV in Middle America,” says Fred.
“I didn’t kiss the surfing establishment’s ass. I was an outspoken critic of drugs, back when that wasn’t cool. ‘Do your own thing, man’ —all that stuff. Well, a lot of my friends died as a result of doing their own thing.” FRED HEMMINGS
On why he chose Pipe over Sunset or Makaha.
“I went back and talked to people in New York, TV people, business people, and surfing was a really hazy thing to them. I’m sure they wouldn’t have really understood what was going on with a guy riding a 10′ wave at Sunset or Makaha. Seen one wave, seen ’em all; this guy looks just like that guy. That kind of thing. So I wanted to sell them on something a little more challenging—and dangerous, to be frank. The Pipeline is so different from other spots. And back then, as a contest site, it was virgin ground. The reason I just had six guys in the first contest was because I didn’t want to create a situation where someone was going to get in over their head.
Why the surf media ignored his event, at least initially.
“I didn’t kiss the surfing establishment’s ass. l didn’t play ball with Drew Kampion and the rest of them. I was an outspoken critic of drugs, back when that wasn’t cool. ‘Do your own thing, man’ —all that stuff. Well, a lot of my friends died as a result of doing their own thing. Anyway, I didn’t see things the way the magazine folks saw ’em, and my contest was a victim of that.”
And the spectators?
“I did the best I could to hype the thing, but I doubt if there were any more than a hundred people on the beach—probably not even that. And then you had the guys hanging off in the bushes, smoking dope and calling bullshit on the whole thing. But we just went ahead and ran it, and all in all, I think it was pretty exciting.”