Dick Metz "2023 Surf Pioneer"
The Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point would become the blueprint for the lifestyle and culture that was to soon blossom around the planet.
Born in Laguna Beach in 1929, the Dick Metz story goes all the way back to early days of California surfing. His father ran a restaurant in Laguna, and when the era’s Hollywood stars would find their way down to the beach for a long weekend, the Metz family would serve them.
PHOTO: Dick Metz Archives
“I used to play with Shirley Temple on the beach on weekends,” Metz recalls. “She was the same age as I was, and her folks would stop at the restaurant.”
It didn’t take Metz too long to find his way onto a surfboard. By seven years old he was hanging at San Onofre with legends Peanuts Larson and Hevs McClelland. He eventually graduated from Santa Barbara State College in 1953 before serving in the army.
Landing back in Laguna in 1954, with the post-World War II surf scene booming, Metz teamed with his pal Hobie Alter for the launch of the Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point. It would become the blueprint for the lifestyle and culture that was to soon blossom around the planet.
Which brings us to another area event that’s going down on August 14, the Vissla Dana Point Surf Shop Challenge will be going down from 8:00 to 4:30pm at Salt Creek. Killer Dana will be looking to defend their title, while iconic shops including Hobie, Infinity, Jack’s and Girl In The Curl—who’s presenting the women’s division—will be on hand to try and upset the local power balance.
“Going all the way back to those early days of Hobie, the Dana Point area has always had a rich surf shop tradition, and it’s important to celebrate that,” says Eric Diamond, who’s president of the Dana Point Surf Club and is the one organizing the event. “Surf shops are way more than a place to get wax or a new leash, they’re the cornerstones of our surf community.”
Speaking of passing on information, back to Metz. In 1958, he hoped a freighter from California, landing in Tahiti. From there he spent the next three years wandering and looking for waves. Eventually landing in Africa, one evening he arrived at Victoria Falls.
PHOTO: Bobby Zee Images
“I looked out the window, it’s one in the morning, there were a couple of fires and two or three little huts. Of course, no lights, nobody around, no buildings of any kind, just little huts,” Metz remembers.
Dick Metz, 1959, at Cape St. Francis, home of “the perfect wave.” PHOTO: Dick Metz Archives
It’s at this part in Metz’s story where serendipity steps in. His driver was bound for Cape Town, and rather than sit alone in the dark, he made his way to the coast. Linking up with John Whitmore, widely considered to be the father of South African surfing, Metz ended up checking out a lonely spot called Cape Saint Francis. The waves weren’t anything spectacular, but he logged the information in his memory bank.
Returning to California, another of Metz’s friends, filmmaker Bruce Brown, who’s studio was based in Dana Point (in the building where French eatery Bonjour is today), was about to set out on an around-the-world movie project. Metz casually suggested Brown give Cape St. Francis a check since most of the South African surf map had yet to be filled in at this time.
“If we had arrived in Victoria Falls in the middle of the day, I might have got out and stayed and not gone to Cape Town and Mike [Hyson] and Robert [August] might not have scored perfect Cape Saint Francis in The Endless Summer,” Metz smiles. “It’s funny the way the ball bounces.”
Metz spent much of the ‘60s living in Hawaii running the Hobie shop in Honolulu. He also launched Surfline Hawaii with Dave Rochlen, as well as opened other Hobie shops on both the West and East coasts. And as mentioned, he also founded SHACC along with Spencer Croul.
Metz (left, in hat) landed in CapeTown and was taken in by Whitmore (right, sitting) and family on the back end of a ‘round the world hitchhiking tour (1958-1961) PHOTO: Dick Metz Archives
PHOTO: Bobby Zee Images
Dick Metz standing in front of Hobie Surfboards in 1961, Hawaii’s first surf shop. PHOTO: Dick Metz Archives