Tom Carroll "1999 Surf Champion"

PHOTO: Courtesy Dan Merkel

Corky Carroll, the original pioneer of professional surfing, was the first person to be paid to surf and the first to receive endorsements. He won nearly all the events that awarded prize money during the early years of competitive surfing.

Carroll started surfing in the mid-‘50s in Surfside, California while in first grade. He competed professionally from 1959 until 1972. During that time, he racked up five United States Championships, three International Professional Championships, an International Big Wave Championship, a World Small Wave Championship, and, as he puts it, “a bunch of other less glorious sounding titles.” Over 100 in all.

He was named “Best Surfer in the World” in a Surfer magazine readers poll in 1968. Carroll holds the distinction along with David Nuuhiwa of being inducted for both the Surf Champion and Local Hero for the Surfing Walk of Fame.