This incredible documentary set the surfing community afire on its release in 1969, receiving more acclaim than Bruce Brown’s Endless Summer (1966), the pioneer in surfing films.
After a controversial defeat in San Diego by Australian Nat Young, nine American surfers (members of the WindanSea Surf Club) head to Australia – via the South Pacific – for a rematch.
They stop in Fiji on the way, where they are the first surfers, and in New Zealand.
But the movie also depicts a generation of youngsters searching for themselves, using surfing as a mode of expression.
Current world champion Nat Young – a burly 18-year-old – acts as the on-screen moderator, explaining youth’s search and using the sea as the answer to their puzzling questions.
Young maintains that one cannot really understand the sea until caught up in the raging beauty of “the curl”, with his narration accompanied by breathtaking photography.
For four chilling minutes, the viewer is taken inside the curl to witness the roaring, violent, pounding ocean from a viewpoint never before photographed.
It is perhaps the most impressive and breathtaking portion of the film.
Young also introduces the audience to a man he considers to be the greatest surfer in the world, unheralded George Greenough – a lanky, self-reliant 25-year-old Californian living in Australia.
Greenough is described as the driving force behind the surfing scene and pictured as the most fluent, graceful surfer in the world.
But his main purpose in surfing is to develop a board that will meet all the challenges the sea has to offer.
His stubby, five-foot, ultra-thin board with a flexible fin is demonstrated in the film with Young narrating the various moves, turns and terminology.
Surfings new fads are discussed including the pros and cons of the short and long board, the different styles of riding and – most importantly – the v-shaped hull as opposed to the flat hull.
Brilliant photography combined with split-screen varying colour effects and careful editing made this epic motion picture an experience to remember.