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Excerpt: Tom Blake Surfing 1922 - 1932

To put it simply: because Tom Blake was, we ar e . The extraordinary co ntribu tions of thi s one man to the lifestyle we call surfing are alm ost imposs ibl e to gauge . They're too broad, to all -encompassing. Surfi ng is a sport steeped in legend and its tim elin e has been peop led with plenty of classic character s who embody everything we demand from a hero: courage , ski ll, vision and elan. Blake is no exception. The differ ence is t hat he built this tim eline w ith his own two hands. Thomas Edward Blake 's ini tials ar e at the root of so many innovations and influ ences as to almost be taken fo r gr anted . A dozen or so other m en might have eventually don e verything Blake did singularly. Even a partial li st of his acco mpli shm ents is overw helming. In
1 9 2 5,

he becam e mod ern surfing's first surfboard design er, li ving in Hawaii and m ethodically

studying the ancient art form, restor ing and repli cating the alaias and o los, then making them better. \Vhil e hi s contemporaries r od e straight to the beach on redwood planks, he experim ented with bottom rockers, tai l configurations and routed decks for increased lightn ess. In Surfriding Champi onships using hi s new design. In
19

1 9 2 6,

he invented the first

hollow surfboard, effectively cutting th weight of board s in half, then in 19 2 8 won the first Pacific Coast 3 1 he introd uced the first commercially manufactured surfboard as well as the sports first "model": th e "Tom Blake Ap proved" surfboards and paddleboards built by Roger s Manufacturing in Veni ce, Cali f. On on e of his m odels, he won the inaugural Mainland -to -Catalina paddleboard race . In 1 9 3 5, Blake was the first to put a fin on a board. He invented and m arketed the first sail board. He w rote and had published the first- ever surfing book:
Ha waiian Su:Jboards. In 19 30, he built t he first waterproof cam era housing to be used for surfing, and hi s

photos t hat eventually ran in Natio nal Geographi c and the Los Ange les Tim es were the genesis of all modern surf photography. Whil e in the Coast Guard during World War II , he surfed and padd led and taught ocean r escue up and down the Eastern Seaboard, introducing thousands to the sport . He was the first to surf Malibu. But these are just the statisti cs, and Tom Blake's legacy is mu ch more than records and photos and better boards. His greatest contributi on was the life . O ur life . Unlike the Muscle Beachboys and the happy Hawaiians he learned from, Tom Blak did n 't ju t surf, but mad e a li fe of surfing. And w hile the great Duke nobly represented a spiritual link to his an cient Hawaiian sport, it was Blake who provid ed the mod ern model for all who cam e after. And now here we are at the end of the century - a century of surfing he shaped more than anyone- we sti ll look like him , we still dress like him, and we still surf like him . Sam George "The 25 Most Influential Surfer s of t he Century : 1900 - 1999" Surfer Magazine , O ctober 19 9 9