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merv larson : the new adam, 1970

Merv Larson : The New Adam
: First Annual End of the World Issue.
  Volume 11 Number 2, May 1970, pages 54- 9.

First Annual End of the World Issue was a highpoint under the editorship of Drew Kampion,

Pages 54-55                                                 

Page 54

Page 56

"Ladies and gentlemen ... in our au­dience tonight we have a man you all have heard about... a truly great American ... a mild-mannered indi­vidual ... a credit to his community . . . let's have a big hand for our special guest tonight. . . stand up and take a bow, Superman."

You can see for yourself when Rincon's breaking good, or Secos and Huntington when they're on.
He works out through the lineup on his butt, sitting on a foam cushion, buckled into his seat belt, working a double-ended paddle, with his feet stuck out in front of him and fastened into the stirrups of his surf ski.
If you paddle up to him and ask him what kind of a board that is, chances are he won't answer you.
Not because he's uptight.
Because he doesn't hear you.
For within the plas­tic shell of his helmet, Joe Cocker is wailing through "Hitchcock Railway."
And when he's listening to "Hitch­cock Railway," Merv Larson ain't pickin' up nothin' else.

Merv Larson is a lifeguard.
He's been doing it for fifteen years, since he was fourteen.
He likes it.
Spends his life in his Ford Vanette, a large mobile unit that he has outfitted to suit the needs of himself and his German Shepherd, Dingo.
At present, Merv is stationed at the Leo Carrillo State Beach Ranger Office, right where Mulholland hits the Coast Highway near Secos.
He has attained the ranking of Lifeguard Supervisor.
Merv Larson is no less amazed than you are that you haven't heard of him.
"I've been doing these things on the surf ski for four years, and all of a
sudden everybody is beginning to no­tice."
These things?
What Merv Lar­son does on his surf ski is as visually exciting, maybe even more so, than what Greenough is doing on his knee-board, or the top conventional surfers on their surfboards.
You might say that Nat Young and Jock Sutherland probe the outer limits of performance on their feet.
Greenough does it on his knees.
And Merv Larson?
He does it on his ass.

Merv Larson, the new Adam,
gets compressed from the excessive
"G" forces of this typically radical
bottom turn.

The surf-ski at work at Rincon.
Not to take anything away from it either, because for high-performance wave riding, nothing can quite top the ass as a good place to sit while riding a surf ski.
In fact, says Merv, "In three years, I've never had to swim.
Some people are afraid of these things be­cause you're strapped in, but the effect of a wipe-out is a lot less than it would be on a surfboard.
Merv surfed standing up from the time he began lifeguarding at fourteen until he took up the ski a little over three years ago.
And he became quite a good surfer.
Then he discovered the ski and found that whole new worlds of performance opened up.
"I still haven't found out all the places this thing will go yet."
He has, however, discovered quite a few.

"Skiing," says Merv, "is wetter than surfing; once you're on a wave you be­come a lot more involved.
Actually it's a cross between mat riding, belly-boarding and surfing.
The only thing

Page 57

the ski can't do as effectively as any of these is to change directions as quickly in some instances."
Still, the ski (at least as operated by Mr. Larson) can make turns of sufficient intensity to boggle your mind.

With the aid of the double-ended paddle, Merv can get into waves early, gain extra acceleration with the aid of the paddle, and come into his bottom turn with more G's working than any­body else in the water.
The ski is fin-less, so turning becomes a matter of masterful use of the paddle combined with clean edge control.
Merv's ski is all edge in the rear, and it works.
The closest thing to Merv bottom turning is Reno Abellira on his best day: low, deep and with ruler-straight water flow off the bottom of the board because of the high speed/high G combination.

The ski then draws a line straight out of the pocket to the shoulder.
Here Larson throws paddle and edge back into action, brings the ski screaming back around (shades of Nat) and charges back at the tube, banks off the underside of the lip (Billy Hamilton?), comes over with the crashing tube (much like Greenough), then drives out from under the white water, even when the wave seems impossibly far ahead of him, picking up speed in the flat out in front of the turbulence (ala Joey Cabell) which brings him back up into the pocket (Jock Sutherland).
And all without exaggeration, dear
reader (is it any wonder Merv Larson is the sole passenger aboard SURF­ER'S Time Capsule???
Without ex­aggeration.
"The thing that's going to eventu­ally make it for the skis," Larson says, "will be the man-made wave.
Then this'll turn into more of an acrobatic act.
You see, all
these things that I'm doing were invented three or four years ago: tumble turns, one-eighty turns, Eskimo rolls.
Eskimo rolls? (Could've  have sworn that was Eskimo Pies . . .)

The Eskimo roll is one of the amazing things that Merv Larson does in very critical wave-riding situations:
"It's done at the top of the wave so that , speed is minimized and my sinuses don't get filled with water.
It's not actually riding inside the tube; it's letting
the wave roll you over."
The result is freaky: Merv jamming off the bottom
blasting into the lip (Brad McCaul),

Actually, surf skiing started with is the Australians, but they never thought of the seat belt bit, so they were always getting blasted off their skis and sel-iec the lip comes over, Merv goes upside down, the tube collapses, squirts, and spits Merv out the end.
board riders tear out their hair.
All , quite simple.

dom made it out as far as the lineup, a The seat belt was Merv's idea, and is now used on all California surf skis.
As far as we know, Australians are still getting blasted off theirs.

Page 58      
Merv in the middle of a flailing, windmill 360° turn.

Strobes flashing, Larson carves far out on the shoulder. Photos: Glenn Fye.
Page 59

One of the hang-ups with surf skis is that paddling back out to the lineup is super fast.
This causes trouble with the prototype artisans:
"Five skis would fill Rincon on a good day," Merv la­ments.
"It's hard for ski riders to exist where there is a heavy surfing popula­tion.
If a skier isn't careful, he rides too much and guys get hostile.
You have to hold yourself back and let the surfers ride their share of the waves."

Merv Larson is also very concerned about preserving his amateur standing as a waterman.
He shuns commercial­ism, professionalism, and all the other dank corners of sell-out in order to maintain his amateur standing so he can compete in the Olympics in the Kl and K4 Kayak Flat Water compe­titions.
The Olympics is as important to him as anything in his life.

Yet Merv Larson considers his own greatest contributions to Twentieth Century Living to be his sound sys­tem.
The one that makes it impossible for you to get his attention in the water.
He carries a small waterproof pack with a super-quality transistor radio encased, runs a plastic tube into each ear pocket of the helmet with spe­cial ear insertion mechanism, and the rest of the world is replaced by Joe Cocker in his finest hours.

"Having the music," says Merv, "is so fine.
Like last week at Rincon.
It was small; there was a heavy crowd, and a lot of people were unhappy.
I had my music on, and it was running right, and everything else was separate from me.
I even got hit twice with other guys' boards and didn't mind.
The secret is to eliminate all outside sound.
It's not just enough to have the music.
You have to have only the music.
Then everything is fine.
Except when you roll a wave and the sound turns into a static fuzz while you're under water.
Then it's back onto music when you come up.

It has to be a fantastic experience to surf in a world of beautiful sound, with harmony, lyricism, and melody flowing over and reinterpreting all that goes on outside of your head.
It must be.
Merv knows.

What is especially exciting about Merv Larson is that he is a man alone in a world of tension, strife, conflict and chaos.
What is especially exciting is that he has created his own place in that world, both within himself and within his environment.
In fact, he has produced his own environment.
One in which he can operate free from hassles.
One in which his independence is the most important thing.
That's why, when you see him at Rincon on a good day, flowing with it all, you shouldn't get uptight if he doesn't respond to you.
You are simply not part of his environment.
You are not part of his life until he wants you to be.
What better man to survive the perils of the Time Capsule?
The perils of life in a New World?

Merv Larson's deep scars may never heal from this Rincon wall. Photo: Glenn Fye.

Page 77

Gerry Lopez opens up a track in the side of one of the thickest,
heaviest Pipeline waves of the winter.
He was eaten. (Brewer)

Page 82
Bill Hamilton racing under the perilous threat of Velzyland's hungry teeth. (Brewer)
Page 94

Jock Sutherland on one of his more casual bottom turns this particular day at V-land. (Brewer)

Page 95
Vinnie Bryan at Pipeline backdoor, foot in the slot
and high out of the water he flys. (Brewer)

Page 80

Jock Sutherland carving his initials
into a Pupekea face. (Brewer)
Page 84

Keith Paull like a rubber bird airborne in the Makaha backwash. (Brewer)

Page 129
Full Color Murals
Approximately 20" x 26" unless noted.     $2.00                   Tax and Postage Included in all Mural Prices

#18. Stockton Avenue (1966)

#33 Nat Young at Sunset Beach (1969)

#27. Greenough Tube.
(1967, Russell Hughes, Pt. Cartwright)

#38 Tom Stone Tube (1970)
Later a cover photo.
Other articles in this issue include:
George Greenough article, photographs of GG surfing at night and from The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun.
Toward Unencumbered Flight: Kneeboards, Spoons & Paipos..

Jacques Cousteau: Waves and the Silent World,4 pages.

Page 1

Hobie Surfboards
Page 2

WaveSet: Greenough Hollow
Page 9

Keyo Surfboards: Fin Box
Hansen S/b with Lopez, Hobie S/b with Micky Munoz, Bing S/b Maui Foil.
Page 30

Grg Noll Sbs: Johnny Fain.
Page 96

Surfboards Australia, San Diego.
Page 127

Page 134


  Volume 11 Number 2 May 1970

First Annual End of the World Issue.

Rory Russell falls victim to spatial 
relationships in this Pupukea pocket.
Photo: Art Brewer.
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2018) : Merv Larson : The New Adam, 1970.