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Mickey Munoz – Talking Story with Mickey Munozmickey munoz no bad waves

 At first glance, Mickey Munoz’s new book No Bad Waves may come off solely as a surfing history book. But it’s not. While it is a book about surfing and surf culture, it’s also a personal set of stories that reflect the life and times of Mickey Munoz over a period of six decades. When one of the  first lines you read is that Mickey Munoz was one of the original six guys to conquer Waimea, you know that these stories come from a man who is a legend.

We’ve all seen the Quasimoto surf stance immortalized over the years in photos. Well, that would be Mickey Munoz, the soft spoken and quintessential waterman who has taken time out to perfectly combine words and pictures to really “show and tell” what his life has been and is still all about.  I was spellbound by these stories. Every what, where, who and why added more to my own life and how to live it.  His name, of course, precedes him.  He’s one of the greats whose spirit has impacted the lives of so many. This amazing 150 page book should be required reading just for the pleasure of it.  He has inspired countless others to change their mind set, to get their equipment dialed and to love life by really knowing how to live it to its fullest.

The forward by Yvon Chouinard, well-known founder of Patagonia, keeper of the environment and a legend in his own right, is a great read itself.  He played a large part in making this book possible by working  to really tell the story right. The book brings on quotes that are poignant, insightful, and totally dead on.  Taken separately and as a whole,  these words make you see some amazing parallels –  not just in surfing but in every aspect of life.  Here’s just a few.

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 “There are no bad waves, only a poor choice of equipment and a lousy attitude.”

Any book that opens with that mantra has to be good.  We’re living in a time when new trends finally seem to be catching on. People are riding funky boards of all shapes and sizes – from tiny fat boards to monstrous SUP’s.  Attitudes are changing and minds are opening to new, creative, and alternative ways to slide on water. Munoz has continued to spread his aloha and created the Mongoose Cup to educate and build harmony between different surf crafts in crowded zones like Southern California. He’s not one of those who, as they get older, get grumpier about the growing legions in our sport. He’s gone with the flow and put a positive twist on it. Pretty admirable stuff.

 “Any wave can be ridden if you combine the right tools with body and spirit”

As someone who has foolishly resisted using a longboard for as long as possible for the frequent marginal days we have here in the Northeast, this is great advice. One has to be flexible and open-minded when you look at a wave and know your board isn’t going to make it for or with you.  Munoz tell us so many stories in this book that one can’t help but be inspired. When you read his words, you know he not only believes, but more importantly, lives by them each and every day. Time tested and an inspiration for all of us in this day and age when tensions seem to be rising between riders of different crafts. Certainly a wake up call for me.

“Matching the board to the wave lets you flow instead of fight”

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Munoz was an early convert to the shorter board movement pioneered by guys like Bob McTavish. He was influenced enough to get back to the States to begin producing deep vee shortboards. He melded the theories of flow into board design and shaping, adventures in sailing and craftsmanship in boat building including an America’s Cup contender. He’s worked on boats for most of his adult life. The idea of flow goes far deeper then just hydrodynamics and this book demonstrates that depth from start to finish. Munoz has used flow as a positive guiding force both in the water and out.

“Attitude is the ultimate piece of equipment-no matter how good the wave or how tuned the board-a lousy attitude definitely ruins your day”

Isn’t this the truth? I’m sure we can all look back on days when all of the elements come together but maybe our attitude was not in the slot, resulting in a less than spectacular day. It benefits all of us that Mickey Munoz has lived to make the right attitude and the right gear come together for a smooth ride in whatever he does. His stories include some of the great pioneers of surfing that remain life long friends though it sounds to me that he’s never been comfortable getting too close to Dora and his shenanigans. On each page, you get a close look at the spirit that shines through in talking about great times with amazing people – family and friends.

“Surfing is dynamic and constantly changing: Flow with the power and dance with the wave.

“Dance with the waves.” What great words. Like the ocean itself, Munoz has always kept it fluid. The elements of change and spontaneity are, in my humble opinion, one of the biggest draws of surfing. One day it can be snowing, blowing 35 miles an hour off shore and it’s way overhead. The next day you’re surfing next to seals, it’s sunny and waist high. To me, this one quote reflects the whole philosophy of Munoz’s own life and the amazingly diverse interests and passions he’s adopted: from bear wrestling, serving as the point man on an underwater demolition team, straight through to surfing Hobie Cats on giant waves. The man is the definition of evolution. He’s so ahead of the curve as he moves into his 70’s and beyond. Golden years indeed! No question that life is always going to be too short. But as we evolve, as Munoz has, eternity is looking mighty good. Munoz’s stories have made me a believer that time is on our side.

 

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