It's about life -  not "lifestyle"
It was more than a passing shock this morning when I saw an email from an old surfing friend. I thought he was still in Paris, but the contents showed him oddly back in the groove. The subject header was "Dora Kicks Out", and I knew that could only mean one thing.

As this is being written on the morning of January 4, the sun shines brightly on Southern California. The surf is dropping and appears to be changing  from yesterday's near perfect direction to something a little more harsh. Thursday, January 3rd, 2002 saw some of the best waves I've managed to see in many months.

I fired off a roll of film, the results, if any, to start appearing here next week. The water had that clean green that made the whitewater look that much whiter. Here and there I would come across surfers who had managed to find places nearly all to themselves, while the points held goodly crews and the reefs waited for the tide to drop and cave-dwellers hoped the predicted winds wouldn't materialize.

I spent the most time yesterday at Surfer's Point, in Ventura. I'd long ago abandoned the place to seemingly thousands of other surfers, yet in my heart it's still my home break. I suppose you feel like that about any place where you spent years of your life. Somewhere in my files I have an article which included an interview with film director and former Malibu surfer John Milius, in which he called surfing "my small town". It was a great line, perhaps more true now than then.

Miki Dora died of pancreatic cancer at his father's home in Montecito, California, a ritzy ag/suburb of Santa Barbara, on January 3, 2002.

The King is Dead; now the Show Begins.

Unless I miss my guess we'll be hearing from the pretenders soon. For a cynic, the coming rounds of media coverage of the passing of the man who is perhaps second only to Duke Kahanamoku in terms of legitimate legend status should be interesting. Dora himself would no doubt have enjoyed the show - and since the die is cast I'd like to say here that I'm kind of surprised that he didn't run a fake death scam just to see what would happen.

Let the magazine people rub their hands in gleeful anticipation of full run sellouts. I see a bunch of reviews coming up in a couple of months...might even have to start a Dora section.

Anyhow, here's my Dora story.

1972-1973, California Street, Springtime. Sunny but water is cold enough for wetsuits, which everybody are wearing. One older guy paddles out wearing white trunks, tousled black hair, deep tan, on a clear board. The board is longer than most of that period, but with a contemporary shape as far as I could tell. There were plenty of waves, frequent enough to probably have been some kind of wind swell. On several occasions I was paddling out while the older guy caught waves and just ripped. He wasn't doing manuevers; just catching the wave, driving, trimming, and ...just surfing the waves. He surfed better than the waves, if that makes sense. There was  an obvious mastery, and an obvious level of performance above what I was used to seeing. I could also see little huddles of surfers sitting on their boards, and watching the guy.

"Dora...." I heard someone say as I paddled by.


There has been a lot of mysto action regarding this man, mostly of his own choosing. It doesn't matter now, I guess, but perhaps the real story of Miki Dora can now be told. I suspect it is more interesting than the fiction.

Nels Norene

Copyright (C) 2002. All rights reserved.