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The Endless Summer

Admit it. You’ve thought about it. Maybe even today. It’s okay. So have I. Others have too. Follow your heart. Gauguin did, in search of inspiration, art and “fish and fruit”. Follow the sun. Travel the world. The permanent vacation. The open road. The concept isn’t new. But, following the surf? When The Endless Summer was released in 1966, that idea was new.

It seems so passé now. Surfers are everywhere, on every continent, even Antarctica. But the global billion dollar surfing industry had to start somewhere ( Hawaii ) and it had to be globalized to make it what it is today. Movies like The Endless Summer made sure of it.

In fact, the documentary essentially helped to create a bonafide cinematic genre, the surf film, and a lifestyle. During the late 1960s and early 1970s surfers began scouring remote corners of the globe in search of adventure and waves, using travel as an excuse to surf, and surfing as an excuse to travel.

Shot over the course of three years, the film follows two Californian surfers, Robert August and Michael Hynson, on a globetrotting surf trip of a lifetime—West Africa, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti—mixed with scenes from Hawaii and California. Even today, some of their destinations seem a bit strange. Senegal , Ghana and Nigeria ? Not countries normally associated with the sport, but as the boys will attest, there is surf there, some of the best of their trip.

In South Africa , along whose southern tip the warm waters of the Indian Ocean meet the colder ones of the Atlantic, they surf the beaches of Cape Town and Durban . In between, in Cape Saint Francis in the province of Eastern Cape , Robert and Michael surf sand dunes and the perfect wave. That wave phenomenon, known to surfers as Bruce’s Beauties in tribute to Bruce Brown, The Endless Summer’s director, breaks only a few days a year. So make sure to do some research before you buy your ticket.

From this side of the millennium, in the age of films like Blue Crush and the Fuel Channel, surfing has long gone mainstream. In contrast, The Endless Summer serves as an excellent look back at the sport. Whether you own a board or not, it is still interesting to see surfing, and surfers, riding a huge swell of 1960s popularity.

The Endless Summer. With enough money and time, it can be done. The movie is proof. You just have to figure out how. Can’t be too much trickier than staying up on one of those huge Hawaiian waves, can it?


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