The world’s always had a romanticized vision of the freesurfer. Somehow, the word and the title embodies keeping the best parts of surfing pure and innocent. No contest jerseys but enough talent that the rest of us know they’d win heats at will if they so chose to. Still, the idea of building a life and career of riding waves without needing to rack up numbers on a scorecard is like our sport’s version of knighthood. Pull it off and you’re forever a legend.
So how did Frankie Oberholzer become one of the OG freesurfers of the world? Nearly three decades ago, Frankie and Tom Curren were largely responsible for gifting us with Rip Curl’s The Search. His talent put him in place to trot all around the globe, finding remote waves, living the life most surfers only dream of, and essentially creating a vision for that life to become a tangible career path as we know it today. Frankie didn’t create the livelihood, but he was a part of a movement that made it real.
“Just one of those brilliant surfers,” Curren says of Oberholzer’s talent and presence. “He kinda pushed my surfing as well because I saw just so much potential and you know, he was just really firing. And I was able to benefit from that.”
Frankie’s love for surfing is still undeniable. The guy can’t seem to punctuate a sentence with anything but a smile and a laugh. And he has a way of keeping things so simple it feels profound. “If you’re a surfer, enjoy it. That’s it,” he says.