Summer 2011

Surfing Photographs From the Eighties Taken by Jeff Divine

Lauren O'Neill-Butler


As brand-name gear, advertising, and competitive championships changed the look of surfing for the MTV generation in ways both brilliant and vulgar, it was a cruel (endless) summer for some. Sage surf photographer John Witzig spat, “This new generation has no experience of the laid-back hippy trip. Being cool is uncool.” (Was surfing ever uncool?) A new book by Witzig’s contemporary Jeff Divine, photo editor of the Surfer’s Journal, presents yet another point of view. A follow-up to 2006’s Surfing Photographs from the Seventies, Divine’s latest volume is from the 1980s and shot mostly on color-saturated Kodachrome 64 in Southern California and on the North Shore of Oahu, a tribute to the decade (and the film) with Zinka Zinc, Ray-Bans, and attitude to spare: “I’m dissatisfied. I’m displeased. I’m mean. I’m fucked!” Thus, in 1988, spoke eighteen-year-old Hawaii native Sunny Garcia, one of the first “high-performance” surfers to emerge during this period from an incredibly talented handful of young Turks, Florida’s Kelly Slater and Australia’s Mark “Occy” Occhilupo chief among them. Soak in the beaming bleach-blond kids in their Body Glove suits, the Afro dudes carrying their nine-foot-six Town & Countrys, and the blistering, washed-out crowds on the beach. Despite Garcia’s punk posturing, the future of surfing looked bright—that is to say, Day-Glo.

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