Dick Catri, the iconic East Coast surfer and board maker from Miami Beach, Florida died Monday due to complications from recent strokes. He was 79.
Born in Carteret, New Jersey in 1938, Catri and his family eventually found themselves in Miami, where he began surfing in 1957.
Catri’s first buddy through surfing was Jack Murphy, a convicted jewel thief, and murderer known better as “Murph the Surf.”
At 20 years old, Catri left Florida for Hawaii, eventually finding work on the North Shore in Dick Brewer’s factory as a ding repair guy. Catri became the first surfer from the East Coast to charge Pipeline and Waimea.
In 1963, a Hollywood production company arrived on the North Shore to begin shooting for the film Ride the Wild Surf, starring Barbara Eden, Tab Hunter, and Fabian. Catri worked as an adviser where he, according to Florida Today, “positioned the surfers properly and showed film crews which angles were best. He also was an extra in the movie.”
Catri was paid $1,500 for his work on the film and conceived the idea of going into business for himself.
He later moved back to Florida and with $500 opened Satellite Beach Surf Shop in 1964. Dick Brewer would ship his surfboards to Catri, and for every board, he sold for $125, Catri would make a commission of $3.50. He sold nearly 5,000 surfboards.
In 1967, Catri went back to the North Shore and placed second in the Duke Classic at Sunset Beach.
By 1968, he started Catri surfboards in Cocoa Beach, becoming Clark Foam’s first East Coast distributor. He also opened Shagg’s Surf Shop and put together a surf team including the likes of Bruce Valluzzi, Gary Propper, Mike Tabeling and Mimi Munro.
According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, in 1972 Catri was arrested and convicted of selling 200 pounds of marijuana to an undercover cop. He served 13 months in jail.
After being released, Catri co-founded the the Florida Pro (an original world tour event) and put together an amateur Catri Surfboards team that included Todd Holland and a young Kelly Slater.
Late in life, Catri spent much of his time fishing, even opening a charter fishing business. According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, he told Paul Holmes, “But I can still go out at Sebastian and the boys will let me have a few waves. As long as I don’t take too many.”
Catri passed in his home in Melbourne Beach, Florida. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.