Corky Carroll

Legion of babes redefined sport

Surfing these days is wide open for anybody of any size, shape, age or form. The equipment is light and easy to deal with so people from small children to old fat dudes like me can handle it. But back in the early days of what is called "modern surfing" this was not always the case.

They call the "modern" surf area from the time of the advent of the lightweight balsawood board, when people started to be able to maneuver a little bit, to the present. That would have been early- to mid-1950's forward. But the fact is that the wood boards and even the early foam boards were not all that light or easy to get around.

You didn't see many girl surfers in those days. The ones who did were real pioneers.

The first one that I can think of that really made a name for herself would have been Marge Calhoun. Marge was a beautiful, long-haired blond babe from Laguna Beach. She went to Hawaii and rode some sizeable waves at Makaha Beach and surfed in the International Surfing Championships over there.

She also had two daughters who were both top surfers in their day. Candy was the most famous and won many championships. Candy was also a world-class body surfer.

Then came Linda Benson. Linda totally dominated women's surfing for years, starting with winning the Makaha International in 1959 at the tender young age of 15. Linda, along with Mickey Munoz wearing a blond wig, did the surfing for Sandra Dee in the original "Gidget" movie. She went on to win every surfing title there was and became a true living legend in surfing.

I just surfed with her at the spot in front of my house and was amazed that she looks and surfs almost exactly the same today as she did then. The girl has stood the test of time better than about anybody I have ever seen. She is still a great surfer on any level.

Then came Joyce Hoffman. Joyce is the daughter of the infamous Walter Hoffman, early big wave rider and known as the "Godfather" of the surfing industry. Joyce, known to her family and friends as "Boo," took over from Linda Benson in the mid 1960's as the top female surfer in the world. She was unstoppable as a competitor and, along with Linda, was one of the first females to invoke the "I hate it when a girls surfs better than me" phrase from many a male waterman.

Margo Godfrey came on the scene in the later 1960's. Margo was in a league of her own from the very beginning. At 13 we all knew that she was extraordinarily. Margo had a beautiful style that was not only feminine but also totally functional and contemporary. She surfed hard and stylish, like the best men surfers, but with the grace of a girl.

She was the best in the world for longer than I can remember -- possibly the greatest woman ever when all is said and done. It's impossible to compare then to now and all that, but Margo was amazing. She later married Steve Oberg and for a lot of her career was known as Margo Oberg.

They moved to the island of Kauai where she opened a surfing school on the south shore, near the town of Poipu. On any given day you can still see little Margo tucking herself into some monster barrel at any of the best surf spots on the island. Guys paddling out will be muttering, "Holy Cow, did you see that? It was a CHICK!!!!"

Along the way there was also a supporting cast of some really talented girl surfers. Joey Hamasaki was one of them. Joey had a great style and was one of the best of the girl noseriders during the great noseriding era of the mid 1960's. She was kinda like a female David Nuuhiwa when it came to that part of surfing. Joey was from Hawaii but lived in Dana Point.

Some others were Nancy Nelson, Margo Scotton, Linda Merrill, Betty "Banzi Betty" Carhart and Judy Dibble.

These were the early girl pioneers. They would lay the groundwork for the great surfchicks to come after them such as Rell Sunn, Jerricho Poplar, Lisa Anderson and all the rest.

Thanks to them we now can enjoy sharing the surf with so many beautiful surf babes today.