Written by Dick “Mez” Meseroll — It was another two years in the making but only took a suspenseful 30-minute reveal ceremony on the floor of the September Surf Expo just moments ago at the East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame’s (ECSHOF) booth to finally find out who would be among the next 11 East Coast legends to be inducted at the upcoming January Surf Expo.
Selected from an exclusive pool of 50 nominees, getting your name called for actual induction means having some serious, impactful bona-fides on your resume to enter the small but slowly expanding ring of East Coast legends begun in 1996 at the behest and inspiration of Greg “Da Bull” Noll, who is a towering legend among all legends.
Just getting nominated for the ECSHOF is quite a high bar to push yourself over and an accolade unto itself as the East Coast surfing community has plenty of their own who leap over that hurdle easily. But getting “the call” to actually enter the Hall as an inductee means you’ve truly pushed yourself into rarified air with a momentous, career-defining moment and accomplishment to be extremely proud of.
So hot off the press of the floor of September Surf Expo and the ECSHOF booth just moments ago as announced by Class of 2016 inductee Hunter Joslin is another ESM exclusive as we proudly reveal, welcome, and introduce the Class of 2018, who will be officially enshrined during the 2018 January Surf Expo with further details available soon.
Bill Johnson (Florida) — Stellar amateur and pro competitor and later top-flight shaper. Three-time ESA champion (1984, 1985, 1986) , #1 seed in the Junior Men’s and Men’s division on the World Champion US Team, 1986 US Champion. After a short stint in pro surfing, Bill decided to pursue shaping as a career and began working for Rusty Preisendorfer in San Diego as the lead shaper for his pro team. In 2001, Bill was the designer/shaper for Floridian CJ Hobgood’s successful World Championship campaign. Since, Bill has gone out on his own, becoming one of the most respected shapers in California creating top-notch equipment for many of today’s demanding WCT and WQS performers like Ben Bourgeois, Dean Morrison, Taj Burrow, Alex and Koa Smith, Jamie O’Brien, Gavin Gillette, Malia Manuel, Claire Bevilacqua, Serena Brooke, Dylan Graves, Brian Toth, and CJ and Damien Hobgood.
David Nuckles (South Carolina) — One of the most stellar competitive careers in East Coast history. A six-time ESA champion in Boys, Juniors, and Men’s spanning a six-year amateur career. Also a US champion in 1979 in Juniors and placed 2nd the same year in the Men’s division, winning the super heat. Also represented the US in the world contest in South Africa in ’78, helping the US team to an overall 2nd-place. Winner of the Katin award in 1980. Turned pro that year competing in numerous events all over the East Coast and winning the prestigious Record Bar Pro event in 1982. Today, David is still very active in the ESA and currently coaching two very good surfers daily, Cam Richards and Nate Dorman. Yes, he is giving back to the sport of surfing daily. An inspiration to all around him.
Ben Bourgeois (North Carolina) — Benjamin Charles Bourgeois was born in Ocean City, New Jersey, to a businessman father (Chuck owns a surf shop in Wrightsville Beach, NC, after selling a highly successful sporting goods chain) and a waterborne mother (Priscilla was a platform diver and taught swimming at Camp Lejuene). Ben was immediately immersed in the water and by age three, he was surfing. Unable to hoist his board to the ocean, Priscilla became his caddy as he entered and won contests as a tike in New Jersey. Twice an East Coast and once a US champion, Ben’s initial international exposure came with winning the 1995 Quiksilver World Grommet Contest in Bali. Despite the showing, he was still a relative unknown in 1996 when he overcame Taj Borrow, Andy Irons, and the Hobgood brothers to capture the Juniors division of the ISA World Games at Huntington Beach. Then longtime supporter Quiksilver upped the ante and Ben set out to navigate the WQS juggernaut. Following just two years of WQS education, Ben reached a formidable goal and in 1999, securing a position on the World Tour (a feat he would duplicate in 2007). Throughout the next decade, Ben traveled and surfed WCT and WQS events leaving a remarkable list of accomplishments. Ben retired from competition in 2008 and continues to be an influential part of East Coast surfing.
Debra Swaney (Florida) — Debra is yet another of the great Jacksonville Beach surf community and one of the greatest East Coast women. Her 39 years of surfing has given her many adventures and numerous personal accomplishments, a few of of which include being a two-time US champion in 1986-1988, four-time East Coast Champion in Women’s 1985-1988, along with local and statewide accolades too numerous to mention here. In 1988, she competed in the world contest and placed 13th. More recently, she’s become very active in the surfing community as one of the founders of Sisters of the Sea. Currently, Debra involves herself in family life and is active in the EPIC surf clinics for women. Still surfing today, she also enjoys traveling to the family surf house in Costa Rica.
Mickey McCarthy (North Carolina) — In late 2016, the East Coast and the surfing world lost a true renaissance man. In the words of ESM Co-Founder Dick Meseroll, “No other photographer did it longer or more hardcore with more commitment.” The New Sun shaper/shopowner/distributor stuff notwithstanding, it was 2M’s photography that really set him apart. The sheer timeline, consistency, and volume of work along with the focus he brought to the Outer Banks literally changed the way the world saw surfing in the Mid-Atlantic. He was one of ESM’s first and most loyal photogs with a consistency unique to him. Beyond those activities, there were the years of radio station surf reports, the talented local photogs he helped mentor and inspire, and other important contributions like starting the first local surfing website back in the 1990s, SurfTown.net. Then there’s all the slideshows he did gratis and dozens of other things he’s locally famous for. Most importantly, Mickey was always on it: every swell, every contest, every fundraiser, and every dingbat surfing function big or small that came around his beach. One of a kind dedication. He will be missed.
David Carson (Florida/NY/Southern California) — David Carson was recently named one of the top five most influential designers by Graphic Design USA. Beginning with his work as Art Director at Surfer Magazine in the 1990s, he has continued to expand the realm of graphic design since. His work can be considered post-modern, and he largely influenced the dirty-grunge movement in design trends of the ’90s. Carson started designing in the ’70s with no formal schooling in the field and has since focused heavily on typography and photography. His work became well-known to the larger world in the late ’80s and early ’90s through his cutting edge work at Skateboarder and Surfer. Later, he started Ray Gun, a lifestyle and music magazine, and went on to start his own design firm, David Carson Design. David has written and co-authored a handful of books characterizing design trends. David and his work have been featured in over 180 magazine and newspaper articles around the world, including a feature in Newsweek magazine and a front page article in The New York Times. The London-based magazine Creative Review dubbed Carson “Art Director of the Era.” The American Center for Design (Chicago) called his work on Ray Gun “the most important work coming out of America.” His work on Beach Culture magazine won “Best Overall Design” and “Cover of the Year” from the Society of Publication Designers in New York. Carson lectures extensively throughout the world, as well as at colleges throughout the U.S., including Cranbrook, ARTcenter, Notre Dame, RISD, and Cal Arts. He continues to be active in the surfing community. Clients include Quiksilver, Suicide Girls, Samsung, Adidas, Nine Inch Nails, Pepsi, and Toyota. In his recent work, David Carson has branched out into television and video as well, producing commercials, documentaries, short films, and more. Oh, and by the way, he was also a pro surfer in the ’70s. Selected by Apple as one of the 30 most influential Mac users in their history, Smithsonian Institute Magazine said, “(Carson) is one of America’s most important artists.” His work changed the public face of graphic design.
Greg “Grog” Mesanko (New Jersey) — Recently inducted into the inaugural New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame, Greg Mesanko is best known for his 28-year tenure as the standout surf shop in North Jersey. More than just a shop owner, Greg constantly involved himself in promoting the sport in his area with world-class ASP surfing events for seven years, which attracted visits from world-class professional surfers like Shaun Tomson, Cheyne Horan, Mark Richards, Rabbit Bartholomew, and many of the East Coast’s most talented athletes. But as a local business owner, Grog assisted thousands of surfers through the years, selling many thousands of boards, wetsuits, and other surfing products. Upon the recent sale of Grog’s Surf Palace, Greg has begun a second career as a product rep in the Northeast and continues to this day as a standout surfer and businessman.
Kevin Grondin (New Hampshire) — New England legend, longtime ESA competitor, official, standout surfer, and coach of the highly successful US surf teamthat won the 1996 World Surfing Games Team Title and the 1995 Pan American Championships Team Title. Coaching throughout the ’90s with Bruce Walker (2002 ECHOF inductee), Grondin successfully motivated surfers like the Lopez brothers, the Hobgood brotherss, Ben Bourgeois, Bryan Hewitson, Christel Roever, and many other young competitors to the top of the world’s amateur and pro rankings. Meanwhile, Kevin himself is a legendary surfer with multiple US Championships and nine East Coast Championship titles in numerous disciplines, plus numerous Iron Man awards.
Skill Johnson (Maryland/Delaware) — Legendary early pioneer of the Mid-Atlantic, Skill began surfing in 1963 along with his brothers. Standout ESA competitor and influential surfer in his region in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Skill gave many inspiration with his stylish athletic approach. A member of the Hobie Team from ‘64 – ‘66 and the Weber Team from ‘67 – ‘72, Skill made the semifinals of the Atlantic States surfing contest in ’67 (with all the California guys there) — a BIG deal in those days. Dewey Weber walked up to Skill and said, “Skill, you’re the last Weber Team guy in the competition.” Skill went on to become Mens’s champ at the Mid-Atlantic Surfing Championships in Ocean City, MD, in ’68 and ’70 and won the paddle race five years in a row. The highlight on the East Coast for Skill was in 1973 at Cape Hatteras at the ESA Eastern Surfing Championships!, when he became East Coast champion in the Masters division. Skill moved to Hawaii in 1974 and became involved with the Hawaiian surf scene, beginning with his work at the Haleiwa Surf Center. While there, he started the Haleiwa Skateboard Club and also taught surfing, sailing, and the art of shaping and glassing. He worked at HSC for 15 years, and in 1977 helped Rell Sunn start the North Shore Menehune Surfing Championships. Skill became director the next year when Rell moved back to Makaha. Forty years later, Skill still runs the event. In 1986, Skill became involved with the Triple Crown of Surfing, Hawaii’s premiere pro events, and for 28 years he worked as Production Manager, MC, and Contest Commentator before retiring in 2012. Skill has also been contest announcer for the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay every year it’s been held. Once, Skill announced five world championships in one year: the Eddie, the Pipe Masters, the World Bodyboarding Championships, and the World Bodysurfing Championships at Pipeline. He has also served as MC and Commentator for the World Championship of Paddleboarding Molokai to Oahu race for 15 years.
Scott Busbey (North Carolina) — One of the founders of Natural Art Surfboards along with ECSHOF member Pete Dooley, Busbey also founded Natural Art Surf Shop and In The Eye Surfboards in Cape Hatteras. Scott spent his high school years building surfboards in his garage. A trip to New Jersey to work as a laminator for Kiernan Surfboards broadened horizons and soon after Scott partnered with Pete in their first “real” factory on Merritt Island. After a few years, Scott wanted to enjoy better surf conditions and with his wife Carol relocated to Cape Hatteras. Opening their shop in 1977, the Natural Art Shop has been a mainstay on Hatteras Island for 40 years. Scott’s natural talent and vast experience as a boardbuilder has inspired many of the Outer Banks ‘best builders like Lynn Shell and the late Mickey McCarthy. In Mickey’s words, “Scott Busbey was the force that provided me with artistic and scientific inspiration.“ An Outer Banks legend, Scott has been considered for decades the most important boardbuilding force south of the Bonner Bridge. A dedicated craftsman to the end, a few years ago Scott told Lynn, “If we got into the surf industry to make a lot of money, we would have gotten out a long time ago. We do this because it is part of who we are.”
Ford Alexander Hume (South Carolina/New York/Hawaii) — Relentlessly energetic promoter of the Hawaiian Islands and “the art of surf-riding” in the early 20th century; founder of the Outrigger Canoe Club, surfing’s first organized group. “Alexander Hume Ford is Hawaii’s best booster and the busiest man in the mid-Pacific,” Sunset magazine wrote of Ford in 1917. “You can’t keep the man himself still long enough to really photograph him.”
Ford was born around 1868 into a wealthy South Carolina plantation family, but orphaned at an early age. He grew up living with relatives. “As a boy,” Ford later wrote, “I used to sit in school idling away my time [staring] at the picture in my geography book of Hawaiian men and women, who, standing on the tiniest of boards, stood poised upon the crest of monster rollers.” As as adult, Ford wrote for the New York daily newspapers and magazines, produced children’s theater, and traveled extensively through Russia and China before settling in the newly acquired American territory of Hawaii in 1907. Ford, 39, fell in love with the islands and quickly became one of the territory’s most ardent political and cultural boosters. Nothing thrilled Ford more than the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing, which had suffered greatly during the previous century under the influence of Calvinist missionaries. Ford made himself a wooden plank board and took to the surf at Waikiki virtually the moment he arrived in Hawaii, practiced every day for four hours, and was riding alongside the native surfers three months later.
Ford helped organize the Outrigger Canoe Club in the spring of 1908, for the purpose of “reviving and preserving the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing on boards and in outrigger canoes.” The Waikiki beachfront club and its two grass-covered houses immediately became the hub of Hawaiian surfing. Its mostly white membership, however, led to the formation of a second club in 1911, Hui Nalu, consisting mainly of native-born wave-riders. That same year, Ford founded The Mid-Pacific Magazine, as another way to further promote the Islands, surfing included. Ford never married, and died in 1945. His memorial service was held at the Outrigger Canoe Club, and he was eulogized in the Honolulu Advertiser as “the livest live wire of all the Pacific commonwealth.” (Generous thanks to Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing for the bio)