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Posts tagged ‘shortboard revolution’

sharron weber: the secret surfer

In the late 1960s and early 1970s there came a significant shift in surfing from the stylish noseriding of classic longboarding to the more slashing, vertical turns of the shortboard era. Easily making the transition from longboards to the new, shorter boards, Sharron Weber was one of the stand-out surfers of her era. She won two world championship titles before largely disappearing from view. This is the mostly forgotten story of two-time world surfing champion Sharron Weber. A slightly different version of this story originally ran in The Surfer’s Journal 29.4. I am grateful to Sharron for sharing her story with me in a series of early morning interviews before she headed off to work at The Tire Warehouse in Lihue.

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On a Sunday afternoon in the early fall of 1972, Sharron Weber won her second world title in San Diego, California. Small lefts rolled through the lineup at the Ocean Beach pier, where locals had nailed the broken pieces of David Nuuhiwa’s favorite board. It was some kind of protest, whose significance no one quite remembers. A crowd watched from the beach as Weber ripped her way to victory on her red, Gerry Lopez-shaped Lightning Bolt.

The plain-spoken owner of a tire store in Lihue, Kauai, Weber was one of the most brilliant surfers of her era. But you would never know it. Unless, that is, you were there.

“She was a big part of this very special period in surfing where surfing was finding a new identity,” said Gerry Lopez. “She was one of the avante-garde.”

Raised in Hawaii, Weber evolved into one of surfing’s innovators, pushing the sport in ever more radical directions. As much as her better-known male peers, Weber embodied the shift from the longboard surfing of the 1960s to the dynamic style of the shortboard era.

In her brief contest career, Weber won six Hawaiian state titles, the 1969 U.S. Championship at Huntington Beach, and the world championships in 1970 and 1972. But by the time Margo Oberg won the first women’s professional world title in 1977, Weber was changing tires at her warehouse. Her time in competitive surfing had already ended.

She is one of the pioneers of women’s surfing. “I’m a secret surfer,” Weber said with her characteristic dry humor. “I’m known in your magazines as not being known.” She shined briefly and brightly. Then she disappeared back into her life, leaving only ripples behind.

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