THIS SPREAD : COURTESY OF SURFING HERITAGE AND CULTURE CENTER / DICK METZ COLLECTION / SHACC . ORG
no buildings , there ’ s no hotels , there ’ s no gas stations , there ’ s no anything , but two little huts and a dying fire in the middle of it .”
So Metz decided to see Victoria Falls another time and ride on to Cape Town , South Africa . “ Now that decision … changed the surfing world ,” Metz says . That choice put him on a trajectory that would change his life and inspire the iconic surf flick “ The Endless Summer ,” as well as countless surfers to travel the globe beyond California , Hawaii and Australia in search of the perfect wave .
A SERENDIPITOUS MEETING Once they arrived in Cape Town , Metz exited the car about two blocks from the ocean and walked to the water . He spotted a guy and a makeshift surfboard that must have slipped away and was washing around in the shallows between some rocks . So , as common courtesy , Metz went to retrieve it .
“ And with that hat on and with the beard and this outfit — it ’ s the only clothes I had — I
said , ‘ Is this a surfboard ?’ I said , ‘ This is the ugliest surfboard I ’ ve ever seen .’ And he ’ s real indignant . He ’ s still in the water and he ’ s looking up at me and speaking to me in broken English . He says , ‘ Who the hell are you and what do you know about surfboards ?’ I said , ‘ Well , I don ’ t know a lot , but if you made this ugly sucker , I know more than you do .’ I was trying to get him to laugh . And so , finally , he started to laugh .”
They began talking and the local , John Whitmore , couldn ’ t believe Metz was from Southern California and had actually surfed there and in Hawaii . Whitmore had fashioned his board after one that was barely visible in a Waikiki beach photo from a Pan American World Airways calendar . There were no surf magazines or movies back then .
Metz ended up staying with Whitmore and his family in their beach bungalow , sleeping on their couch , having barbecues and partying with their friends , dreaming of starting a surfboard business together and falling in
love with Whitmore ’ s sister-in-law , 17-yearold Patty . Metz felt like he was home .
“ I ’ d been in black Africa and all of a sudden , I ’ m at the beach . Cape Town is the same parallel —[ but ] in the Southern Hemisphere — that Laguna is and the weather ’ s the same , pretty much ,” Metz says . “ The coastline , white sandy beach , rocky point : I thought I was back in Laguna . There ’ s white girls in bikinis . … [ It ’ s like ] I ’ m back home .”
Eventually , after seven months , Metz left to finish his trip . Whitmore , who worked at a used car dealership , arranged for him to catch a ride with one of the salesmen who was planning a drive up the coast . Metz wanted to check out Cape St . Francis at Jeffreys Bay , which is about 400 miles east of Cape Town . “ Usually , where there ’ s a point , like Dana Point [ and ] other points , … that creates surf ,” Metz says . And his hunch was right . He told the salesman to continue on his journey to Durban and Metz stayed and camped there , reveling in the standout surf spot he had
LAGUNA BEACH MAGAZINE 41