Greg Knoll “Da Bull” Rides His Last Big Wave at Waimea Bay RIP…

Gregg Knoll, Waimea Bay 1957

https://eos.surf/video/entry/video-greg-noll-makaha-69-from-riding-giants-2003/

https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/story/2021-06-29/greg-noll-south-bay-surfer-legendary-big-wave-rider-dies

I walked into Greg Knoll’s surf board shop in Hermosa Beach one day in the winter of 1960. I wanted to learn how to surf. Maybe little waves first at 2nd Street Hermosa…

Greg was a big surf dude, maybe 6’4 or so. I was under 6′ but not too little then. He seemed huge and looked meaner than shit back then…

It was a slow day at Greg’s surf shop that raining day. There was a good winter swell at Hermosa Pier. He just got back from his morning surfing off the pier break, he mused..

Greg seemed arrogant and confident like my Dad. But he was a mentor and teacher, I could see. I stuck around while he observed me looking at boards. Think he could see my passion and motivation to ride waves…

Greg started telling me a little about surfing. Body surfing, I was into, then. He pointed to one of his used boards. It was a big heavy 11′ fiber ‘n wood thing. I wondered how I would surf on a board like that…

Greg showed me the way. He said, “you need to first get some lessons at Hermosa Pier.” But, I needed to buy his used board for $30. That was big bucks back then…

So, I got $30 bucks from my paper route money, and got the board the next day. Greg got me lined up for some lessons in the coming days. He didn’t have the patience for small wave riding and no time for “that shit,” he told me with a wise ass laugh and smerky grin…

I got pretty good at surfing around South Bay waves between Hermosa, north to Ventura and south to San Clemente… Maybe 6-10 foot waves max. After that, I was hesitant…

I joined the Navy in 1963. It was a dream to be sent to Pearl Harbor after radio school in San Deigo in November 1963. I couldn’t believe that a kid like me could ever do something like that in a lifetime, really…

It was surfing that set me free from a life that seemed like endless emotional pain. It was surfing that made me feel whole. It was surfing that touched my soul…

Greg Knoll gave me my freedom to be a man. He showed me the way. I still dream of riding big waves on the shores of the Oregon Coast. It is these dreams that make me feel alive…

RIP Greg Knoll! You done good, my man. “Da Bull” rides again forever in my dreams…

Steve Sparks
Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

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