The Inertia Founder
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Ricky Grigg Surfs Waimea Bay

Ricky Grigg, with impeccable style, surfs Waimea Bay.


The Inertia

We received tragic news last night that legendary waterman, Ricky Grigg, died in his home in Hawaii.

Grigg was widely known for his big-wave exploits, fearlessness and style in large surf, and commitment to education and the ocean. Born in Los Angeles in 1937, Grigg was a frontiersman for big wave surfing – pushing boundaries in the ocean as well as on land. Grigg, most recently a professor of Oceanography at University of Hawaii, was, and possibly still is, one of the most well-educated surfers to have such a tremendous impact on the sport. Grigg earned a B.S. from Stanford, a Master in Zoology from University of Hawaii, and a Ph.D in Oceanography from La Jolla’s Scripps Institute. In 1971, Grigg discovered gold coral, and five years earlier, in 1966, Grigg won the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational. He received no prize money for his victory, but rather the respect of the Duke and the global fraternity of wave riders at large.

“A lot of us had a real barroom-brawl attitude, almost vicious, about catching the biggest wave,” Greg Noll said of the big wave surfing community of his time. “With Ricky, it was more of a playful thing. He had a real love affair with the ocean.”

“Surfing started me on an endless pursuit of knowledge about the sea,” Grigg told the LA Times in a 2000 profile piece. “It builds on itself. The more you know, the more questions you can ask…The ocean is the medium of my life. Has been since I was born.”

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Learn more about Ricky Grigg in his autobiography, Big Surf, Deep Dives and the Islands: My Life in the Ocean as well as in the Encylopedia of Surfing, and please leave warm thoughts and remembrances below.

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