Hawaii Surfers Surfing Past 60
Silver Surfers: Meet five surf legends who, in their 60s and 70s, still hit the beach.
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Cabell started his surfing career in the 1940s, riding the rollers at Waikiki on a big redwood plank with a V-tail and no fin. Later, he moved up to a lighter, balsa-wood board shaped from a surplus World War II life raft. He liked staying at the cutting edge of surfboard technology, and when the shortboard revolution of the late ’60s supplanted the bulky longboards that had been the norm, he shaped a shortboard for himself that he called The White Ghost. He designed it for speed, which was a hallmark of his surfing.
Nobody flew across the steep face of a wave faster than Cabell, who tore down the line in a cannonball tuck, with feet and knees close together, like a downhill ski racer. The skiing stance came naturally to him. He was born and raised in Honolulu, but he went to college on the Mainland and discovered snow. He became a top ski competitor and developed a lifelong pattern of spending summers in the Islands and winters in Aspen, Colo. It was in Aspen that he opened the original Chart House in 1961, followed by others in California and then Waikiki, all with the same dark wood interiors contrasting with the bright aloha wear of the servers.
Cabell’s fitness regimen involves power walking the steep grades near his home on Wilhemina Rise, going on 15- to 25-mile bike rides, and working out in a one-man canoe. That’s on top of summer surfing and 120 days of winter skiing and snowboarding. And the diet that drives his highly-active septuagenarian lifestyle? “Lots of steak and seafood,” he says.
Sixty-three-year-old Gerry Lopez, master of the Bonzai Pipeline, left Hawaii a long time ago to raise a family in the high desert of Eastern Oregon. Two mountain ranges stand between him and the nearest surf spot. They haven’t stopped him from surfing.
“I go as much as I can, and I go a lot,” says Lopez, who has gotten deeply into standup paddle surfing these days.