For nearly five decades, the legendary WindanSea Surf Club (WSC) has traveled the world in search of the perfect wave, nabbed countless trophies and accolades in their sport and helped enrich their community through service projects, including annual Day at the Beach events in which the club invites homeless and disabled children to surf, frolic and barbeque by the sea.
The club also helps keep people safe and on course during the annual La Jolla Rough Water Swim, and participates in various community beautification projects.
“It’s like we’re one big family,” said Debbie Beacham (nee Melville), a 1982 women’s world champion surfer who joined the WSC in the late ’60s. “It’s beyond competition and community service. WindanSea is our playground, and we all enjoy it together, and we take care of each other. ... Our kids grow up and become best friends.”
Now, the roughly 175-mem- ber club that inspired several films (including 1964’s “Muscle Beach Party”) and documentaries (1969’s “The Fantastic Plastic Machine”) will get its due with a six- month, 50th anniversary exhibition at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside. The exhibit includes photos, trophies, surfboards, vintage WSC clothing and memora- bilia such as a wooden key to the City of Honolulu the club received during a trip to Hawaii just months after its inception.
The exhibition opens June 8 in connection with the museum’s annual gala and fundraiser, during which eight commemorative WSC surfboards with the club’s “Five-O” logo will be auctioned off.
The club will hold its 50th anniversary party Sept. 14 at the Catamaran Resort in Pacific Beach.
Road to Malibu
The bond Beacham speaks of was forged in 1963, when Chuck Hasley approached fellow surfers Mike Hynson, Skip Frye and Bill Caster about forming a club to compete in the Malibu Surfing Association Invitational.
Surfers from across the state were eager to join the competition, as the famous break at Malibu’s Surfrider Beach (today Malibu Lagoon State Beach) was to be altered for use as a yacht harbor (the surfers prevailed and in 2010 it became the world’s first surfing reserve).
To participate in the contest, however, Hasley and his friends first had to belong to an established surf club.
With some creative promotion by local public relations professional and surfer Thor Svenson (who became WSC’s first executive director), the four surfers convinced Malibu Surfing Association’s president that they were in fact a legitimate club, and were allowed to enter the competition.
After recruiting an impressive crop of surfers to join them, the nascent club crammed a chartered bus with surfers (and beer), making the trek to Malibu around 4 a.m., Aug. 25, 1963.
Though legend has it that several WSC members were too hungover to compete in some of the day’s first events, “WindanSea went there and totally dominated,” recalled surfboard shaper and longtime WSC member Hank Warner, who credits the club with helping change the image of surfing in the 1960s.