welcome to the 4th episode of the second series of our podcast.
Today with us is the legendary surfer, talented shaper and surf icon, Greg Noll!
In our interview we discussed with Greg about surfing Waimea and Sunset, his friendship with Miki Dora and Phil Edwards, surfboards and much more!
I would like to thank his son Jed for making this interview possible!
You can find the episode in the major podcast platforms (like Spotify, iTunes, YouTube) or read the interview below (please forgive us if there are spelling mistakes)
TTOS: Aloha Greg, welcome to the show, where are you today?
Yeah, I’m sitting here looking out my window. We live right on the Smith river and there’s Redwoods national forest across the river. So there’s no houses in any direction that you look. It’s a pretty calm place
TTOS: I really like that, we need calm and peace in these days with the political unrest and coronavirus and so many bad things. I guess you are in a beautiful place and that’s important right?
Today, we’re going to talk about a lot of things. ….the first question that I have for you is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
I think maybe to have a love for the ocean, if you’ve got the feelings for the ocean, she usually treat you right in exchange, you know?
TTOS: Yes, definitely, a lot of people have a lot of love for the ocean and and this is important, you know, to preserve it because nowadays with pollution and other things we are putting it in danger, a big part of it….. I agree with you
Talking about the ocean, you were one of the one the first one to serve Waimea…..do you remember that first wave you took over that?
Yeah, I do remember that “mother..” we were just kids and we were surfing Sunset and our boards were not made for Waimea at all, there weren’t enough wide and short.
I remember taking off on our wave and getting about halfway down, went sideways and free fall the rest of the waves. I hit my shoulder, my left shoulder and this must have screwed up some of the ligaments or something because I still have trouble with that shoulder today. That was my first wave Waimea.
TTOS: It doesn’t forgive, right? If you still have pain today…., did you train, at that time, for big wave riding? You were doing something particular or you are just like getting a board and doing it?
Basically we just surfed our balls off, you know, I was in the water so much at the time….
On an average day, when there was surf at Sunset, we would get up in the morning and we’d be there at eight o’clock and surf till about one, get out of the water, I had peanut butter and bread and juggle water in the car.
I’d make a couple of a couple of sandwiches and go right back in the water and surf till dark, so there’s nothing better than that you for getting in shape.
In those days we never really thought about training, we were basically just fun hogs having a good time.
TTOS: Yeah. It was just natural, right? You didn’t need all the training that they’re doing today… it was just, you were surfing so much that you were trained naturally…..
I understand 50 years ago, surfing was apart of a counter-culture, right? In your opinion, today is still the case?
In my days, people thought we were from another planet or something because we surfed and that we were some kind of diseases that need to be eradicated, but, even today it’s gained more acceptance for sure, you know, with the big contests and all the money and bullshit involved.
But, I believe, it is still hard for people to understand, when we did the Riding Giants, it was a movie for Sony, we traveled all around the country and the same question would come up: what is it that makes surfing so special, give up your job and dedicate your life to just surfing.
They just still don’t understand it….
You know, one day, I was in New York and looking out the window, all these little people down there look like ants, and they (the press) were asking me this question…. I got so tired of answering it, so I just told them that, if you don’t surf, you’re never going to know the feeling, and if you do, you don’t have to ask the question.
So all you poor bastard sitting there I feel sorry for you….and the guy, Stacy Peralta, that did the movie was just cringing , but, you know, we ended up, getting good reviews because the critics weren’t used to being talked to that way.
TTOS: I believe that, being straightforward and direct, is a rarity and, usually with the press,you’re expected to answer what they want you to answer and , maybe, that made the difference….
Exactly. Right. That’s right
TTOS: If we look at today, people define you as a surf legend, do you agree with this? what made you so unique in your opinion?
Do I consider myself a surf legend? I gotta be honest with ya. I was just a kid having fun and I would just, I I’d say I was more of a fun hog than a legend, I just surfed because I loved it and whatever happened happened, I’m a little amazed at all of this attention, you know, to somebody that was just having fun, doing what they love doing, and they make a big deal out of it, but…. Whatever…
TTOS: What, what made you so unique?
That’s a hard question…..I don’t know what made me so unique.
I think there was just a handful of guys surfing then and we had a lot better chances of rising to the top of the food chain, because there wasn’t very many of us.
Nowadays, there are so many people in the water and it’s hard for somebody to stand out.
But,as far as being a legend, that’s just a word.
TTOS: if you had to pick one moment that you consider a defining moment of your career, which one would you choose?
There was a day we had Makaha, that was a very big wave, it was probably 10 foot bigger than anything I’d ever surfed …. I would say that would be the kind of a defining moment.
I should’ve been surfing for over 20 years and when that day came along, I was there….we never seen anything like that and actually Makaha never broken like that again.
Today the guys are riding outer reefs and places now that get bigger and they’re getting bigger and bigger waves all the time, because they’re opening up more surf spots…. like that place that Garrett McNamara has ridden….Nazare in Portugal.
That place is huge and McNamara, the guy that rode it first all by himself with nobody around… that was kind of interesting.
TTOS: Definitely, …you need to have like a lot of courage…. It’s quite amazing.
You were saying that, at the beginning, you were just a handful of surfers, I would like to ask you a couple of, let’s say,best memories for two surfers that I particularly like , Miki Dora and Phil Edwards.
I spent more time with Miki, but they were both world-class surfers for sure.
Mickey was, you know, he surfed longer than Phil and he surfed at all over the world and he was such a character, he was a wild animal or something…. you couldn’t really be friend him or anything.
All you could do is coexist with him because he was so strange
TTOS: And Phil?
We’re all friends, we’re all good friends.
I don’t know why it is that the guys that ride that get really good in the surfing seem to have seem to be kind of eccentric and Phil, Miki were two guys that fit that description
TTOS: Looking at today,do you still have projects in the drawer that you would like to do and accomplish or not?
I’m pretty content, really.
I traveled all over the world, we’ve had the opportunity to see just about all the surf spots around the world.
People have been really nice to us and I was a commercial fisherman for a while, I did fairly well at that. My fondest memories are surfing and the guys I surf with.
I got nothing, no regrets whatsoever.
TTOS: I agree with you, having no regrets is so important in life.
We’re 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 that you ever ridden….
Well, I made surfboards for a living, so I’d have to say one of mine….
TTOS: Definitely…..You couldn’t answer otherwise. I understand.
Your favorite shaper, maybe somebody that, at the early beginning, was your inspiration.
I’d say that Joe Quigg was probably instrumental and more changes, from the Redwood boards that transition from redwood and the hollow boards to the modern day boards.
He’s kind of my idol as far as being a shaper, everything he does, he thinks about it, he doesn’t duplicate somebody else’s work, you know, but he’s pretty old now he doesn’t shape any more, I think the overall, I can’t think of anybody that was as good as he was
TTOS: Personal question, your favorite song/music
Hawaiian slack key, it’s a music that is originally started in Hawaii, I listened to it all day.
In fact, when the phone rang, I had to turn it off so I can hear ya.
( to Greg, you are right, amazing music!!!)
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot, as you said, you surfed all over the world almost….what is your favorite?
My favorite would have been Waimea Bay on a big day and then Sunset , it was kind of a place that you put your time and to stay in shape and preparation for Waimea, cause it only broke, you know, two or three times a year.
TTOS: Your favorite surfer today….
I don’t know, they’re so many guys that are good, but you know, there’s categories too, you know, like it is pretty hard to beat some of the, some of the guys that are riding big waves now
Kelly Slater, probably, is the dominating figure
There are also a handful of guys on the big waves riding side.
I wouldn’t want to pick one, one particular guy.
TTOS: The last question is a little bit unusual, it has nothing to do with surf surfing….we want to know your best relationship advice….
My best relationship in life, is a girl named Laura, she’s sitting over here doing her fingernails.
She’s the love of my life and, you know, she was there on the big day in Makaha, share that with me, she’s given me a bunch of great kids and been a been my lifelong partner.
TTOS: Yeah, definitely, so I guess, your advice is finding your soulmate, right? The one that stays with you and no matter what for all your life…
Right, without a good woman, man, life can be pretty miserable.
If you pick the wrong one, man then you’re in for a big hurt.
And just the opposite when you, when you get one that it’s meant to be a, I don’t want to sound too corny, but it can make all the difference in life.
TTOS: I totally agree with you. I totally agree with you and I hope to be as lucky as you, as you’ve been in finding like the best actually, I think I found, you know, it’s my wife.
When she will listen, I will get maybe some brownie points. I don’t know.
Thanks a lot, Mr Noll for being with me on the show today and I look forward to talk to you very soon!
If we talk again, it is just Greg!
TTOS: Thank you, Greg.
See you later!