Big Surf at Makaha, Circa 1953

Jim Fisher, a powerful swimmer, was on the Lowell High School (San Francisco) swim team in the early 1950s. The first time I ever went swimming in the ocean was when Jim and I went across the Great Highway from Fleishhacker Pool after a swimming meet, and went body surfing. It changed my life — the blue sky, the blue water, the waves…

After graduation, Jim went to Hawaii and, along with other haole California surfers, surfed the biggest waves they could find. I realize that this photo is blurred and scratchy, but It’s one of my favorite surf shots. There’s just something about it that grabs you. Jim said he almost drowned on the wipeout that ensued.

6 Responses to Big Surf at Makaha, Circa 1953

  1. Maui Surfer says:

    Back in the 50’s, the outstanding surfer at Makaha was George Downing.
    Here is a link with a pic of George at Makaha in 1954.
    George was the real deal, quite a contrast to the self promoters of today.

  2. Maui Surfer says:

    more on surfing Makaha in the 50’s
    including the most famous surf picture ever
    Woody Brown, Buzzy Trent and George Downing, Makaha Point, 1953
    (all 3 of them on the same wave)
    also includes George’s famous Rocket, 10 ft x 20 in with fin and first ever fin box

  3. Maui Surfer says:

    that was Wally Froiseth (not Buzzy Trent) in the threesome
    and it was 1955, not 1953

  4. Lloyd Kahn says:


    Who the heck are you? You from NorCal/SoCal? We have a lot in common. Ever get to the SF Bay Area? Email me at

  5. Maui Surfer says:

    Buzzy Trent, Makaha, filmed by Bud Browne

  6. Ron Moore says:

    Maui Surfer,
    Sorry, but you are incorrect in your comment referring to “the most famous surf picture ever”. The original image that you are referring to is of George Downing, Woody Brown, and Buzzy Trent at Makaha in 1953 and taken by Scoop Tsuzuki. It is thoroughly documented as such and very obvious to the people who knew the three individuals. My wife, Anna Trent Moore is the daughter of Buzzy Trent and we have an original copy of the photo stamped and signed by Scoop who also identified the surfers on the back of the print.

    Ron Moore
    Bud Browne Film Archives

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