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Joe Surf: 'The ride still continues' for Chuck Linnen

August 03, 2011|By Joe Haakenson
  • Chuck Linnen wearing his competition jersey No. 5 during the 1964 World Surfing Championships.
Chuck Linnen wearing his competition jersey No. 5 during…

Legendary surfer Jack Haley taught him how to shoot the pier. In turn, he taught Corky Carroll to shoot the pier.

You might call it surfing's version of "pay it forward," but for Huntington Beach's Chuck Linnen, it was simply a way of life.

Linnen will be inducted into the Surfers' Hall of Fame at 10 a.m. Friday, when his handprints and footprints will be set in cement in front of Huntington Surf & Sport on the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.

Linnen is one of four inductees this year, joining George Downing, Taylor Knox and Simon Anderson, an honor Linnen said is a tribute to his predecessors, who were the forefathers of surfing.

Truth be told, Linnen, 75, is one of surfing's forefathers himself. He was among the first Californians to venture to Hawaii and surf Oahu's North Shore. He was a finalist in the 1961 world championships in Makaha on Oahu and competed in a variety of surfing contests all over the world at a time when the sport's culture was only just beginning.

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"My first time on a board was in Hawaii in 1941," Linnen said. "I was there when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Three months into the war, my brother and I are walking the beach at Waikiki. We find the remnants of life rafts and ship-wreckings and we manufacture two Piper boards and started Piper-boarding Waikiki Beach."

But surfing took its time reeling in Linnen. He moved to Huntington Beach in 1970 after growing up in Long Beach and graduating from St. Anthony High School in 1955, where he was a standout football and volleyball player.

When he was in the water, Linnen was more body surfer than surfer, until one day while in high school he was invited by some friends to go down to Huntington and surf.

"But I'm just a body surfer, and they were board surfing," Linnen recalled. "So then we go down to Oak Street in Laguna. I borrowed this board and went out in the water, about ankle-deep water. I did a standing island (when the surfer stands upright throughout the ride). I brought the board in and this girl walks up to me and says, 'Boy, that was a great standing island. Do you really surf?' No, I don't. 'Well, you better buy yourself a surfboard.'"

So he did.

In 1954, Linnen bought his first surfboard — a Hobie, of course. He surfed whenever he could. Even while in the Navy from 1957-60, while stationed at Los Alamitos, Linnen would surf on the weekends.

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