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Crystal Voyager (1973)

Crystal Voyager – a surfing biography about legendary design innovator and photographer George Greenough – is one of the most beautiful surfing movies ever made and one of the most successful.

Greenough’s search for uncrowded waves drives his construction of a 37-foot ocean-going yacht that he claims is virtually unsinkable.

With his surfing friends Richie West, a Californian, and Nat Young, Australia’s world champion surfer, Greenough takes to the cold Californian water, searching for undiscovered waves.


Crystal Voyager was the first surfing film biography and the first to concentrate largely on one surfer.

Greenough’s innovations had helped revolutionise surfboard design in the 1960s, but the film concentrates on his efforts to capture the perfect surfing footage, from the perfect platform – his own boat.

The last 23 minutes of the film contains his legendary short film Echoes, composed entirely of extraordinary slow-motion footage shot inside the curl of the waves, the camera in a waterproof housing strapped to his back, with music by Pink Floyd.

The film took the surfing road movie, a well-established genre, to the water, with a camera strapped to Greenough’s back.

Riding his famous kneeboard (known as ‘the spoon’) Greenough’s footage from under and inside the waves gave the film an extraordinary immediacy.