Corky Carroll: I was born and raised in Southern California and still call Huntington Beach my main base. But for the past 13 years I have been living in Mexico, near Zihautanejo on the southern West Coast of Mainland Mexico. Very similar to Puerto Rico in the fact that it is tropical and warm. The surf is great here too.
Alejandro: What you do for a living?
Corky Carroll: My main profession is still as a surfer, although obviously I do not compete any longer. We offer all inclusive surf adventure packages here at our home where people come stay with us and surf with me. We offer use of boards and personal surf coaching if they want it, plus all food and drinks. I also have surfboard and SUP models with HOBIE that I have designed and a small line of clothing and coffee available online at Corkysurfco.com. Aside from surfing I also am a musician and have had two new albums released within the past year on DARLA RECORDS. Best of Corky Carroll came out early in 2016 and my newest and best album Blue Mango just came out. Plus I am a columnist for the Orange County Register newspaper in Southern California, which I have been for the past almost 25 years. It’s sort of a little of this and a little of that and somehow we make ends meet, at least most of the time.
Alejandro: Tell us your story.
Corky Carroll: Well, my story is pretty long. The short version is I grew up on the beaches of Southern California and became what most people consider the first professional surfer in the early 1960’s. My competitive career was between 1959 and 1972. I got involved in music in the late 1960’s and started playing in clubs and making records in the early 1970’s and still do to this day. I also worked for SURFER magazine for 10 years from 1976 to 1986. I did television commercials for MILLER LITE beer from 1982 to 1993. Was the voice of “Grubby Grouper” on Sponge Bob Square Pants. In movies “North Shore” and “Under the Boardwalk.” Did numerous other T.V. shows and commercials including Ocean Spray and Coke. I also played competitive tennis and was a tennis pro from 1989 to 1997. I have three kids; Clint, Kasey and Tanner plus one grandson, Cannon. Married to Raquel Sauza Carroll the most beautiful chica in el mundo, who I met here in Mexico. I am almost 70 years old and still surfing everyday and living on the beach. Life is good so my goal is to stick around doing the same thing for as long a God will allow me to. I am exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to be doing and with the exact person I want to be sharing it all with. I cannot complain much, life is good.
Alejandro: Tell us about your top moment.
Corky Carroll: Probably the highest moment for me in my surfing career was winning the SURFER POLL for top surfer in the World. Winning competitions is great but to actually be named as the best by a popular vote meant more to me and I look at that as my most prized achievement.
Alejandro: How long you been surfing?
Corky Carroll: Since about 1955. My first board was solid wood and weighed 2 kilos more than I did. I have seen a lot of changes through all these years. It has been an amazing ride.
Alejandro: How did you get into surfing? Any mentor?
Corky Carroll: Our house was right on the beach and so the natural thing to do was play in the ocean. Older guys would leave their boards on the beach, they were huge and heavy and nobody was going to take them. I would sneak the boards into the water when nobody was around and taught myself to surf that way. One day the older guys came to my dad and told him that either he buy me my own board or they were going to drown me. He had to think that one over, but in the end bought me my own board. The main mentors I had when I was growing up and becoming a competitive surfer were Mickey Munoz, Mike Doyle and Phil Edwards. Each of them had a major influence on me, as a surfer and as a kid growing up in a surfing environment.
Alejandro: Tell us about your surfboards and fins do you use?
Corky Carroll: Currently my surfboards are all between 7’6” and 8’0”, what I consider “midsize,” neither long nor short. Or maybe “old guy shortboards.” They are mostly quad fin set-ups. HOBIE is just getting ready to release a modern version of my 1969 model, the “Deadly Flying Glove,” which is a four fin. I am also deeply into Stand Up Paddleboards and have two models, the “933,” which is 9’3” and the “89-33,” which is 8’9”. They are both 33” wide and are designed for surfing. Next year we will release the “833,” which will be 8’3” and a five fin. As I am almost 70 years old now I find myself on the SUP more than my normal board.
Alejandro: Tell us about your competition history an your future goals.
Corky Carroll: I was United States Junior Champion in 1963.
United States Men’s Champion in 1966, 67 and 69.
United States Overall Champion in 1966, 67, 68, 69, and 70.
International Big Wave Champion in 1967. (Peru)
World Small Wave Champion in 1967 (Florida)
International Professional Champion in 1967, 68 and 69.
I also won the International Championship in Puerto Rico in 1967. ( I met Jorge Machuca there and gave him my board after the competition plus hooked him up with a sponsorship from HOBIE. )
Alejandro: Tell us about any extreme moment in surfing?
Corky Carroll: I was out with one other guy on the Northeast corner of Oahu and a giant day back in 1964; we were both only about 16 at the time. It was at an outside reef very far from the beach. The swell kept getting bigger and went from 20 feet to about 60 feet in less than an hour and we found ourselves a couple of miles from land and in big trouble. We hoped for a boat to come by and pick us up but none did. Somehow we managed to get back in during a lull between monster sets. I thought we were dead.
Alejandro: Your favorite spots
Corky Carroll: Tavarua in Fiji, Pipeline in Hawaii, Cottons Point in California, right in front of my house here in Mexico, Tres Palmas in Puerto Rico and Bells Beach in Australia.
Alejandro: Surfing tips you want to share.
Corky Carroll: Remember that you go surfing to have fun and be happy. Never forget that, no matter how crowded it gets or how many times the same pindejo drops in on you.
Alejandro: Any comment or advice for surfing community?
Corky Carroll: Travel all you can, get out of your local area and see what the rest of the world is like. For me that has been one of the best parts of being a pro surfer, it has allowed me to see and surf all over the world and experience all sorts of different cultures as well as different kinds of waves.