Buzzy KerboxAug 11, 2021
Legacy Isle Publishing 2019
Who is the most interesting man in the world? The guy from the Dos Equis beer ads? Nope, it’s Buzzy Kerbox. This haole kid from O’ahu, Hawai’i burst into the professional surfing scene as a teenager in the mid-1970s and won the World Cup of Surfing in 1978, one of the first surf contests to be broadcast on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”. Buzzy was part of the generation that invented the idea of being a “professional surfer”. In 1979 he was in Australia on the professional surfing world tour when he got a message to call a certain Bruce Weber in New York City. The famous fashion photographer has seen a photo of Buzzy in a surfing magazine and wanted to fly him to New York as soon as possible to shoot him for Vogue. This surfer, who still hates to wear shoes, soon became a top model working with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson. As Buzzy continued to compete as a pro surfer, Ralph Lauren personally selected him to be the face of Polo. By the 1990s, Buzzy had retired from professional surfing but continued to seek out adventure in the ocean. He and famed water-man Laird Hamilton had some hair-raising antics in Europe, including death defying paddleboard crossings of the English Channel and an ill-fated paddle from Corsica to Elba. The two then went on to pioneer tow-in surfing, revolutionizing big wave surfing. At age 60, Buzzy competed in the infamously grueling Moloka’i to O’ahu paddle board race.
Buzzy has written an autobiography, Making Waves. The book is a gorgeous collection of photographs, memoir, journal entries, history, and interviews. His surf stories will thrill people who don’t even know which side of the board to wax. For other conversations about the history of surfing, check out my interviews Scott Laderman, Chas Smith, and Peter Maguire in the New Books Network archives.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.