Corky Carroll

Time flies when you're catching waves

Gee whiz kids, it's the end of yet another year. They say that as you get older, the years go by faster. I think that's true. For me, they seem to be flying by like leaves in a hot fall Santa Ana wind. Whoosh! It went from 1968 to 2008 in a flash. The last decade seems like a blink of the eye to me.

I have a friend who, every time I see him, says, "One day less."

I like to think of it as the other way around. One day more. I am just glad to still be here and still be vertical. Leaning a little bit yes, but still basically vertical. Every day I get more is just icing on the cake. I could never complain about my life, I have been so lucky. I don't have much to speak of in the way of things and money in the bank and all of that.

But I live a wonderful life surfing every day and living on the beach with a fantastic wife. I choose lifestyle over possessions many years ago and would not change a thing even if I could. So every day that I wake up and get to still be alive is just a bonus.

2008 in the surfing world can pretty much be summed up with two words. Kelly Slater. The dude is so far beyond amazing that they need to invent a new word to describe him. It would be something like "kafabnifacatacious." OK, I need to polish that up; it's a bit, too long.

But anyway, Kelly Slater has proved himself again and again to be the greatest of the greats. This year he won his ninth World Championship. Nine! Can he do 10? Only if he wants to.

The surfing industry, like most others, is not enjoying the best of times. I sure hope things turn around soon. For the surf industry as well as for the rest of the whole country. Come on Obama, show us a hard bottom turn and some big air in 2009.

We lost some great people this year. Two guys that made it all the way to 96 are Woody Brown and Bud Browne.

Woody was a legend of legends. He was an extremely fun dude to be around and was one of the great big wave surfers in the early years of big wave surfing. He was an ultimate surfing pioneer.

Bud Browne was like the grandfather of surfing filmmakers. He started in the 1950s with such great films as "Cat on a Hot Foam Board," "Spinning Boards" and "Gun Ho." Bud was known to always have the "goods." Other guys came along that made slicker movies, but nobody had better out and out raw surfing footage than Bud. He was da Man in the surf movie business.

We also said goodbye to local Orange County surf legends Mike Haley and Bill Holden.

Mike was the United States Surfing Champion in 1960 and part of the famous Haley surfing family of Seal Beach. Older brother Jack was champ in '59 and his son, also a Jack, went on to become a star for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bill Holden was a respected surfboard builder and one of the happiest dudes I ever met. I loved to see him coming. He was always stoked to the max. I wish more surfers could be like that. Too many of us lose sight of the fact that we are doing something amazingly wonderful and free. Bill never did, he had a built-on smile.

Also making pullouts in 2008 were famed Aussie surf adventurer Peter Troy, actor Sam Bottoms, who played the surfer Lance Johnson in the movie "Apocalypse Now," respected Kauai waterman Keoni Lucas, the son of the great Jimmy Lucas, and historical San Onofre surf hero Jim "Burrhead" Drever. Adios amigos, may your ride be as amazing as your lives here on Earth were.

On the other side of the slate, the good news is that there are still a lot of cool people that remain alive and surfing. Unfortunately there are probably more "Buttheads" than "Burrheads." But still there is hope. Heck, I just hope I am still here writing this column at the same time next year. And that you are still here reading it and still shaking your head and wondering why in the world they are still letting me get away with it. Happy New Year.