Welcome back to a new season (the 5th one!) of our podcast!
Today with us, from California, legendary surfer David Nuuhiwa
We discussed with him about his amazing life, surf, music and much more!
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TTOS: Aloha Mr. David, welcome to the show… where are you today?
I’m in Huntington beach at the US open surfing championship.
TTOS: Amazing moment to the there, it's fantastic…. how is it going for so far?
The contest is going good, besides not having too much surf….I guess it's going okay…
Because of the COVID everything went smaller, just now recently started to open up, little by little, we go back to the normal….
TTOS: What is the most important thing in surfing?
You know, it comes back to the Hawaiian history, when the Duke took it all over the world and showed the world what surfing was…. it was mainly about just having fun on a surfboard in the ocean, there was no cameras, none of that today’s stuff, and people really liked it. That's the most important thing I can think of…. nowadays it's all different, it's all about mechanical surfers in the water, they're pretty much all trained to do one thing, but the real important thing is they should just go out and have fun.
TTOS: Exactly! we have always to remember that! Most important thing is to have that smile on the face and take the family out and just relax and have a good day in the ocean.
You know, that's the way I was brought up.
I totally agree with you and if there were less cameras probably will be much better…if you look at Instagram today, you get the real meaning out of surfing, you know, when you go out and just relax and have fun and just ride a few waves…you don't have to compete with all the big guys…. I've been on that rail before and you it's fun, but after a while you get a little burned out on it.
TTOS: And you know, today everybody's posting videos of perfect waves, but not so many they're posting videos of wipe outs so it looks like the surf out there is always perfect and it's always great.
I grew up in Hawaii when I was a little boy and my dad used to be a beach boy, and that's how I started surfing, he allowed me to use those giant surfboards and I was probably about 35 pounds and I jumped on them…
TTOS: Let's talk about those giant surfboards, what was your first professional surfboard?
Was back during 1956, I was in Hawaii and I learned how to ride those and then, when I came to California, we started riding big surfboards, they weighed like 35 pounds and they were outta control, you would stand up, turn and the board went one way and you went to other way, because you were so light, you couldn't turn them.
Right after that period, we started playing around and got the boards down in size and all that so we could took off, going faster and doing more things….
TTOS: You were shaping your own boards, right?
No, I've always had shapers to make all my own boards, personal shapers, you know, that built most of my stuff. I had about six, seven different kinds of boards, you know, big, small, all different range.
TTOS: And was there one that you particularly liked?
I like 'em all because they are like in golf, there's a club that you can drive balls with and there's a club you put with, then there's the in between ones that you use to get down the, you know, more yardage and less yardage…
All my surfboards were pretty much geared like golf….
TTOS: Do you still have some of them or they just like disappeared with the time…?
Oh, no… I got married to a girl that now is my ex-wife and she sold them all…..
TTOS: In your opinion, what was the defining moment of your career as a surfer?
That would be when I was on the pier in Huntington beach and I was winning and I was a US surfing champion and I got a chance to meet the Duke. He had a Rolls Royce back in the day, they drove up on the pier and I was looking at the surf because I was gonna go in and I turned around and Royce with four really great surfers that he had with him from Hawaii. They were world champion surfer, Fred Hemmings, Joey Cabell, Butch Van Artsdalen and one more that was in the car, Paul Strauch…Those were Dukes four guys that we called “the four horsemen”.
They pulled the car to the side and they introduced me to Duke, you know, and I was just a kid and I just got done winning the us open…..
TTOS: Amazing, what a moment for any surfer…..during your career, during your life, you met a lot of surfers, was there a meeting that was particularly meaningful for you?
I traveled up and down the coast, so I met most of the best guys in the world, I met world champions guys like Nat Young from Australia and Felipe Pomar from Peru and a lot of good surfers, Mickey Dora, Dewey Weber, Hobie all the guys that were the top name guys on the west coast…..I met 'em all and I surfed for 'em all. I used to ride some of their boards….
TTOS: Not only great surfers, like you said, but also music celebrities, right?
Music became part of my life, probably, in the late sixties….I ran into a lot of people as I was traveling all over the world, New York and all over, I met a lot of interesting people….one of them was Jimmy Hendrix…. I did a movie with Jimmy Hendrix right before he died, we shot at Maui it's called “Rainbow Bridge”. I did the surfing in that and had a chance toknow him….he was quite a dude.
TTOS: What is your best memory of him?
Probably I was more shocked, that he was gonna do the movie and I was surfing in a movie and he was doing the music to it…..here's a heaviest guitar player and rock and roll star in the world and I'm booked in with him, that was really a honor for me to be around
TTOS: Things like that do not happen anymore…..
Those are the good old days…. I partied with a lot of them (musicians), Bruce Springsteen back in the New Jersey, I didn't know that he surfed, I met him at a friend of mine shop in long beach, New Jersey. The guy introduced me to him and it was Bruce Springsteen before he got real big, I met people like Eric Burton, you know, from the Animals, a friend of mine used to play music with the drummer of the Yardbird and all these different groups, you know, like Paul Butterfield, old blues player….
TTOS: you should write a book about how surf and music are interconnected….
I am writing a book and they're all in it!!!
TTOS: People, when they speak about you, they are referring to you as a legend…..do you consider yourself one?
Most of the guys who were legend, they're all gone, now I'm scared to pick up my phone every day because somebody is passing away, you know?
All the good guys that I used to run around with are gone, that is sad, but it is part of life…..
TTOS: you said, at the beginning, you had several shapers shaping for you, Bing Takayama, Hobie…
Dick brewer was another one, there was Hap Jacobs all the top name guys…. I had a chance to ride for most of them!
TTOS: if you had to share a memory of Donald Takayama, what would you pick?
He was like my little older brother, although I was taller than him, you know? He took care of me back then when I was a kid and I used to get, you know, gang up on the surfing industry. When the short boards came in, I was riding a fish and, one day, Donald asked me “Hey, you know what? The short boards are stopping all the older guys from going in the water, you know?.....would you be interested in doing a big push on longboards?” the short boards were coming in and the older guys have rode them all over the world giving up because they couldn't paddle them….
Donald approached me and told me “let's see if we can get the longboards back in the game”. We did stuff like that and it worked pretty good.
You know, there's a lot of long boarders and short boarders now, instead of just all shortboards.
TTOS: if there were only shortboard, that would not be completely fun right?
Like I told you at the beginning, you know?You gotta have fun with it, if you don't, you shouldn't be doing it exactly like everything else in life.
TTOS: We are going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind…
the best surfboard you ever rode….
There's three of them that come to my mind, one would be the Bing David Nuuiwa nose rider and the next one would be a Mike Hynson down rail surfboard that he made for me for the Jimmy Hendrix movie.
This is the difference between the Bing and the Hynson….when I had 10 boards made for me after I just got back from being on the road for like four or five months, Mike made me some boards and they were all down rail boards, while Bing they were 50/50 rails on them.
When Hynson made my set of boards, we're playing around with this, Mike came up with the down rail boards, they were flat on the bottom and the rails went down to the bottom of the board. Those were the first the down rail boards, very fast!
We came out with that and everybody laughed at us and said “that would never work” and then now you look at what everybody's in the water on….they're all riding flat down rail boards.
We were just a little bit ahead of time, you know, we were just trying show people that we do have stuff that really worked, but they weren't buying into it, but now, everybody's into it, you know? The boards went faster and then when they went shorter, came out with a board called “the fifth”, that was a twin fin board, it was small, stocky and went super-fast.
My design on that was through it was like a catamaran, you know, when the wind blows on it, you blow that outside, all out of the water and you just went fast.
We changed the fin setups, they really go real quick and the outside fin would come out of the water and you'd be in less drag, you know, as you turned and did everything…
TTOS: Best Shaper of all time…
One of my favorite shapers would be Mike Hynson, because he kinda changed the whole sport, when showing what the down rail surfboards were doing.
TTOS: Personal question, your favorite song.
Oh there's many of them, one would be Jimmy Hendrix “All along the watchtower”
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot?
I would say Fiji, cloud break in Fiji. I surfed there in a commercial for Budweiser once.
TTOS: Your favorite surfer of all time….
There's so many of 'em so many of them, they all had their own niche, you know, and they're all different. It's really hard for me….
One of them would be Takayama, as I grew up on him, Nat Young and Mike Hynson.
TTOS: The last question is a bit unusual….I want to know your best relationship, advice…
Keep surfing, it's healthy and you know, enjoy the sport…like I did, just have fun.
TTOS: Do you want to tell me more about this?
Yeah, we're gonna start that, it's a lot of retro stuff I did a long time ago with the surfboards.
The fish will be the first one that I'm gonna come out with and then we will be coming out with the whole thing, like t-shirt, shorts, all that stuff.
It's gonna be online soon….it's gonna be called David Nuuiwa surf company.