Last night was the closing of the Honolulu Surf Film Festival sold out—and it was a sellout. We were honored that the demigods of surfing turned out to see Bud Browne’s Surfing the ’50s and share some of their memories and aloha with the audience. Ricky Grigg, Peter Cole, Gerry Lopez, Anna Trent Moore, George Downing and Kimo Hollinger (pictured above, left to right) all agreed that the most important thing about surfing wasn’t being the best or winning competitions, but enjoying the freedom and creativity of the sport.
George Downing also talked about the true meaning of aloha, recounting a story from when he taught surfing in Waikiki. A woman who managed a hotel said that the staff needed to learn about the concept of aloha. George said he had replied that the way to understand the true meaning of aloha is to spend time with Hawaiian people. “Aloha isn’t something you learn,” he told her. “It’s something that’s deep inside you.” He also shared one of his best memories: Once, a customer complained to management about the hotel service, food, towels, and everything else—but then said that riding on one wave was the best experience he had ever had and one that he would never forget. George said it was a compliment he would always cherish.
Ricky Grigg talked about dropping down a wave at Makaha (on 10-foot boards). He said that it was the most terrifying thing and yet the most exhilarating experience he had ever had because there was this powerful force of water behind him and he didn’t know whether he would survive it. This made him feel more alive than ever. Ricky told theater director Gina Caruso that he was a kid when he first met Buzzy Trent, who was a neighbor. He said that Buzzy was like a god to him (he looked like a Greek god, too), and that Buzzy said, “Hey, you, come with me.” It was something to be chosen to surf with Buzzy Trent.
Natural funny man Kimo Hollinger talked about his family history and how his nine siblings all surfed, while Peter Cole talked about his close friendship with Buzzy Trent. One story he shared was about how all the guys at that time would follow Buzzy, George, and Ricky around and it would be harder for them to catch waves. So they would tell their hangers on they were going to a certain location, then go surf somewhere else.
Mr Backdoor, Gerry Lopez, told some very funny stories about his first surfing experiences. “Gerry’s very zen,” says Caruso. “He sat on the stage and smiled the whole time—and this was after he paddled from Molokai to Honolulu the same day! He loved seeing his old buddies.” Lopez may have emigrated to Bend, Oregon, but this was his fifth visit to Hawai‘i this year.