Mickey Muñoz "2006 Surf Pioneer"
Big wave forerunner and small wave trendsetter
PHOTO: Courtesy of Sharon Marshall
PHOTO: David Nuuhiwa, Skip Frye, LJ Richards, and
Mickey Muñoz is a pioneer in more ways than one. Aside from being part of the original crew that braved the elusive Waimea Bay in 1957, his newfangled approach to waveriding led him to trademark his own maneuvers and stances. Being bred on the long lines of Malibu, his small wave antics were backed up by his love for the Hawaiian juice. After all, he’d been making annual island pilgrimages since 1954.
Born in New York City in 1937, his family relocated to Santa Monica, California when Muñoz was 6. He began surfing at age 10 and soon was the one to watch during the early days in Malibu’s lineup. He always had a hankering for trying new things. During a spontaneous, fun-loving session at Sacres in 1959, Muñoz set up for the shorebreak like a matador waiting for the approaching bull — spawning his patented stance known as the “quasimoto.” He continued to keep things fresh and new, soon inventing maneuvers called the “misterioso” and “el telephono.” He was also cast as a stunt double for Sandra Dee in the 1959 movie Gidget.
Aside from being a stunt man, big-wave pioneer and small-wave innovator, Muñoz was also a stellar competitive surfer during the 1960s. He finished runner up in the 1962 and 1963 West Coast Championships and took third in the 1964 United States Championships. In 1965, he received a prestigious invite to the inaugural Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, won the Tom Morey Invitational noseriding contest, claimed second in the U.S. Championships and took fourth in the World Championships.
While most of his peers were slugging it out on 10-foot noseriders, Muñoz was spotted experimenting on the 6'8" he shaped for his son. He also built boards for Hobie Surfboards. Despite his entrenchment in the budding SoCal surf scene, Muñoz remained true to the original stoke of waveriding during the ’70s and ’80s before resurfacing in the early-’90s to the legendary icon status he truly deserved. Presently, Muñoz continues to design surfboards and lives in Capistrano Beach. He has two children.