Morey '66 courtesy: The Encyclopedia of Surfing.
Morey '66 courtesy: The Encyclopedia of Surfing.

Tuesdays with Morey: An old surfer, a young surfer and life’s greatest adventure.

"I had never met a man as dynamic as Tom."

I met Tom in 2020 shortly before the pandemic.

My friend and owner of Tandm Surf introduced us and thought we would hit it off.

He was right.

We had lunch at a French bakery in North Beach, San Clemente equidistant from our homes, that first time. We talked for three hours. We covered everything from Velzy, noserider wing tip innovation, the invention of wakesurfing (which Tom stated he and a friend pioneered in Newport Harbor 20 years before it’s perceived inception during a long flat spell), aerospace, coding, Hugh Masekala, boogieing, parenting, and faith.

I had never met a man as dynamic as Tom. Tom had what one could call a magnetism and contagious energy, even at 85. When he gave me his number and told me to keep in touch, I took that request seriously.

Not wanting to appear too eager, I waited a week to give him a ring. His response my call was surprisingly to come to his house for a hang. I arrived with his favorite pastry, a Napoleon, not wanting to arrive empty handed, unsure of how to handle myself.

Tom made it easy, he asked me to take a seat, and opened computer where he showed me his newest passion project, Hometown Aerospace. He couldn’t see that well so while I looked over the materials in his computer, Tom waxed for over an hour about the democratization of aerospace and air travel. He showed me videos of his prized “power bowl”, an impeller based propulsion system where an impeller draws air into a bowl and expels the air along the edges, controlled directionally with rudders. He showed me prototypes of mono wing aircraft he had designed from card stock. Tom told me he envisioned a world where everyone had home build dirigibles thusly lessening traffic on the 5 northbound. It was at that point that I understood this man thinks way bigger than I do and was probably a genius.

Over my next few visits with Tom, we flew a lot of paper airplanes. Every time I arrived Tom had designed and created a new plane from card stock. He would talk me through the design and then he would show me how it worked. Sometimes the planes flew a few inches from the floor propelled from the rear by a box fan. Other times they glided across his North Beach apartment, other times they Kamikazed off his balcony. Each model had been thoughtfully drawn out on card stock and precisely measured for days before being built.

Over more visits, we shifted from airplane to surf design. I shape my own equipment, nothing special, just CNC cut Aku files for San Clemente beach breaks. Tom was quick to either clown on me or truly try to innovate. Several times I left Tom’s place with duct tape folded to a fin type structure, cut vertically to produce serpentine “water breaks” all over my board. I was too skeptical to give it a go, unsure of whether he was serious or clowning on me.

Most profoundly, after many hangs, I introduced Tom to my 5 year old son who has Autism. Tom said “cool”, slapped him five, and then told me about how the autistic brain was better in many ways, which I already knew, but nobody had ever told me. In fact, my own parents told me that my sons condition was “tragic” despite being gifted with the ability to construct geometric masterpieces from magnatiles and having a keen interest (bordering on obsession) in surfing. Tom watched my son, to the best of his abilities giving his limited vision, and praised his water awareness, gave him high fives, and told him he was awesome. Tom saw my son for who he is, met him there, and appreciated what he has to offer this world.

This is all to say that herein lies the beauty of Tom-he was a man that could get a 30-something to play with paper airplanes for weeks on end. He painted the future in broad strokes. He was a guy that left you quizzical, not knowing if he was fucking with you by sending you to the beach with a board covered in duct tape or if he was sincere in his designs. He accepted everyone at face value, no matter what.

Tom’s impact is palpable, as my son refuses to stand up, and only wants to boogie.

I am grateful that I got to know Tom for who he was, a kind and innovate prankster, even if only for a couple short years.

Waikiki surfboard racks set spectacularly ablaze for second time in less than two years: “We saw the flames all the way from Aloha Towers. I asked my husband, ‘What if the whole island catches fire?'”

A total loss.

Ten Honolulu Fire Department resource units responded to reports of a fire near the Moana Surfrider Hotel at 11:18 Sunday morning. When they arrived, they found flames “clinging” to the walls of the Honolulu Police substation and the Moana Surfrider, bursting forth from the Waikiki surfboard racks occupying the space in between.

It took less than an hour to extinguish the blaze and no injuries were reported except every surfboard finding shelter in those racks was completely destroyed.

It was the second time in two years that the racks have been targeted, last burning to the ground on February 27, 2020.

“It’s more than just a rack — it’s a community,” local surfer Theresa Strange told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She lost a 10’6 glider shaped by Todd Ponder as well as a 10′ Nuuiwa. “It’s hard to get a spot so people tend to stay for years. The rent is roughly $25 to $45 a month and there are roughly 525 boards here.”

In the 2020 fire she lost a Takayama and a board shaped by Midget Smith.

“The board becomes an extension of yourself because you spend so much time with it,” she continued. “If you have a really good one it’s irreplaceable. There are nuances that make up each board that are translated from the shaper to you. I’ve had boards at the surfboard lockers for years,” Strange said. “In 46 years, this is only the second time that there was a fire — once in February 2020 and now.”

At time, it is unclear how the fire began with some witnesses blaming the homeless and others on rival surfing concessionaires.

The fire could be seen wide and far and worried both residents and visitors alike. Mandi Wojcicki, vacationing from Battle Ground, Washington told the Star-Advertiser, “We saw it all the way from Aloha Towers. We were nervous. I said, ‘What if the island catches on fire?’ My husband said, ‘Mandi, it’s a big island.’”

In truth, it is not. It’s Oahu and hopefully the perpetrators will be soon found.

Lifesavers break year-long silence on fatal Great White attack at Snapper Rocks and describe sliding door moment that nearly put a group of kids at the exact spot, “It was like a bus was coming through the water and took him underwater.”

The scene was “chaos” as spectators came to look while “others ran away screaming.” 

Last September 7, Nick Slater, forty-six, just finished work for the day, was shredding the little warm-water runners from Snapper through to Rainbow on his Morning of the Earth twin when he was hit again and again by a fifteen-foot Great White.

The first fatal hit on a Gold Coast beach since shark nets were installed more than sixty years earlier.  

As Longtom (RIP) wrote at the time, 

“Shallow water, it would have been waist deep on the tide. Clear water. Can’t pin mistaken identity on the shark. It must have come in like a polaris missile from the amount of water it displaced. There was no delicacy in the attack. The footage shows clubbie skis, three or four of them heading his way, to the rescue, I thought. But they didn’t respond.Others seemed to not notice, or scatter.Despite the crowd, an utterly lonely way to die.”

Dead long before he was dragged onto the beach. 

Now, more than a year after the attack, the clubbies on the skis, Iain Rogers and Geoff Carlin, along with Kane Haley, who’d just beached his ski and who split to get an ATV with first aid supplies, have spoken about the hit.

The fourth clubbie, Jason Baker, the man who paddled into the maelstrom to try and rescue Slater, is still too rattled to talk about it. 

Haley says he’d just wrapped up a training sesh with the local junior lifesavers, nippers they call ‘em in Australia.

Most times they’d head back out for a surf but, instead, he told ‘em to shower and go home.

It’s a decision he’s thought about ever since. 

“We nearly always had a surf after training,” Haley told the Courier-Mail. “And that’s exactly where we would have paddled back out. It’s such a sliding doors moment because if something had happened to one of the kids who had put their trust in me, I don’t know what I would do.”

Carlin, Rogers and Baker were on their skis after a training run to North Kirra and back when they saw Slater paddle over a wave before being hit “by an underwater bus.” 

“It was so quick,” said Carlin. “It was like a bus was coming through the water and took him underwater.”

Baker went to Slater; the others went to the beach for help. 

The scene was “chaos” as spectators came to look while “others ran away screaming.” 

Haley, whose daughter was surfing at the time, says he took a few days away from the beach but has since returned with this kid. 


“There’s not a day goes by that it’s not present,” he said.


I am a sick man, I am a spiteful man, I am an unattractive man, I believe my liver is diseased, however, I am also at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch feasting on a cornucopia of ill-deserved waves!


The World Surf League will not want to read this, though it will, and you will not want to either but the trigger warning rests in the title. I am sick man, spiteful man, diseased liver, possibly, etc. And yes, I am currently at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch feasting on ill-deserved waves.

The amount of industrial farm dairy manure I’ve tossed Lemoore’s way has been Hall of Fame worthy. The number of cow pies lobbed from Cardiff-by-the-Sea nearing number of pitches thrown by the great Nolan Ryan through his 27-year career though I haven’t been all wrong.

As a venue for Championship Tour events, it is terrible.


As a wave to surf, it is fun and the surf journalists who surfed, here, far better than me some three-years-ago can all attest except for Nick Carroll who was forced into a party wave situation by the great Vaughn Blakey.

But as a learning canvas, it is… perfection.

Kelly Slater, Adam Fincham’s brainchild showcases every single flaw in ones game, every kink, every joint right out of place but, when feasting, ramming wave after wave after wave down gullet, those can be ironed out one at a time. Arm first, head second, legs sometime after sensible, organic lunch.

Surf Ranch, you see, now videos every single wave and they are available for review directly.

Brooke, brilliant surf team supervisor, with nose for hard truths and easy explanations, walked me through the turns, opening shoulders, double hand dragging barrel to square etc. and I’ve known these truisms all my surfing years but have never actually tried to do anything about these fault in my stars. Who has the time for that sort of nonsense in the ocean, where good waves are actually more precious than all of the Instagram followers in the world, especially when the spectre of a full blown, lifelong acceptance, love even, of intermediacy has taken root in our culture?

Not me.

Until yesterday.

And today.

Many kinds left to work.
Many kinks left to work. Much more wave to climb.

A gluttonous, unjustified bacchanal just gorging on wave after wave after wave with wife, friends, Surf Ranchers, but it would be even more spiteful to leave it on the table, no? More sick and unattractive to continue top turning with both arms out front, shoulders closed and head looking wrong, yes?

More as the story develops.

Morey was real good on the skins and uke, too.

Obituary: Warshaw on supersonic surf inventor Tom Morey, “Tom was a bullshitter who knew he was a bullshitter, with a great sense of humor. Surfing doesn’t have a surplus of those people.”

"Tom looked at surfing and saw it as being infinitely flexible and funny and worthy of our time."

Two days ago, the free-thinking inventor of the boogieboard and one of surfing’s great gifts to the world, Tom Morey, died, aged eighty-six.

Ol Tom wasn’t in the best shape. He was blind and broke, despite the outrageous success of the boogie board, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this July.

A little earlier today, I asked surf history custodian Matt Warshaw to fill in the blanks. Who was Tom Morey and why did he matter.

DR: When I told you Morey died yesterday, you wrote back, That’s a big one. Why big?

Warshaw: The boogie made him the Johnny Appleseed in terms of spreading wave-riding happiness, so there’s that. But the thing that stands out just as much, for me anyway, is how Tom looked at surfing and saw it as being infinitely flexible and funny and worthy of our time. Lesser minds, especially in the late ’60s and ’70s, loaded the sport down with 15 varieties of philosophical bullshit and we had to drag that around for years. Tom’s view of surfing was bigger and broader than anybody’s, but he never lost touch with the fact that at the bottom of it all we’re just out there riding waves, and riding waves is fun, and that the serious stuff, the more profound stuff, is really just a byproduct of having a good time. You don’t aim at enlightenment by surfing, in other words. You aim for a good ride, a good pun, a long late-night bullshit design session with other surfers and a half-case of Zinfandel—and if you do that for enough years, enlightenment in one form or another will find you. Tom was smart as hell, creative, a bullshitter who knew he was a bullshitter, with a great sense of humor. Surfing doesn’t have a surplus of those people. We’re no longer producing them as fast as they’re dying off. That’s what I meant by saying that Tom dying is a big one.

In that old profile of Morey by Steve Barilotti you posted on EOS yesterday, he’s described as “perhaps the most revered and reviled man among modern waveriders.” Wild claim and maybe hard to believe, now, but back in 1996, hate for boogieboarding was acute. Did Morey ever talk about that side of it? 

Yeah, he talked about that in the article somewhere. He didn’t deny it. “Red ants and black ants will never get along,” or something like that. I was thinking, while reading Steve’s piece, that bodyboarders are nowhere near as hated as they were in the 1980s and ’90s. When I was at SURFER we did a Mike Stewart profile and I headlined it something like “Mike Stewart: Best Surfer in the World,” not “Best Bodyboarder,” and the hate mail rained down. That would not be the case today. Or rather, there would still be haters, but also plenty of defenders and various list-makers sharing their favorite non-WSL-Top-Five favorites.

Tom regarded his invention as important as the spoon, the printing press, yeah? 

That’s what he said. But that’s what I mean about Tom being a bullshitter. Or a salesman. I don’t know if Tom believed it, but you’d listen to him make the case and he could shift your view, for sure. He had that grinning-mad-professor charisma. Actually, I do think he did believe that about the boogie. Or, at least, that the world will be a better place in direct proportion to how many of us are out there riding waves. He believed that, and I do too.

How did he name the boogie? 

It was going to be called the SNAKE, short for Side, Navel, Arm, Knee, Elbow, which is a terrible and likely product-killing name, so he went back to his music roots and pulled out “Boogie” instead. Here’s another thing. There was a really popular novelty song from that time called Hey Babe, Ya Wanna Boogie?” and I’ll bet a hundred bucks Morey loved it, and loved calling his new craft a “Boogie” because that gave it the double-entendre, just like Simon had with his Thruster. Morey never, ever called it a bodyboard, God bless him. It was a Boogie till the end.

Real talk. Was it the little board or was it out-of-the-box thinking surfers who grabbed a kid’s toy who made bodyboarding? ie, Mike Stewart and co granting Morey a place in design lore by taking the boogie places it wasn’t mean to go. An accidental design breakthrough. 

In that little clip I posted yesterday of Morey riding his boogie in 1972 you can see he’s not just trimming out, he’s turning and pulling high and cutting back. So I don’t think he ever thought of the boogie as just a beginner’s board—although that was certainly part of it too. But Tom himself, visionary and all, no, I don’t he think had any idea Mike and the rest of those first-generation boogie savants were going to take it as far as they did, as fast as they did.

Talk about his genius to bullshit ratio . . . 

I wrote yesterday that said Morey’s genius-to-bullshit ratio was 2:3, but that was supposed to be 3:2. More genius, in other words. Of course, I’m no actuary.

He went blind in his last few years and was broke as hell. What happened, money-wise?

I don’t know. He didn’t talk much about those decisions, at least not on record, or at least not that I’ve read. But I always feel bad when people like that end up having to do a Go Fund Me, which means they have no health insurance, or crap health insurance, which makes me angry at our health care system but also angry at the person for not having health insurance.

Did surfing need Tom Morey? 

Sure. The silver lining of Tom’s death has been this great outpouring of affection, everybody sharing their memories of him. We still love our eccentrics, we still boogie with the oddballs, and I am so grateful for that.