As the year ends, we remember Buzzy Trent

Buzzy Trent, legendary big-wave surfing pioneer, has passed on to

ride the big wave in the sky. Trent quietly passed away in his sleep

on Sept. 27.

Known for being one of the first California surfers to make the

transition to the powerful waves of Hawaii, Trent is greatly

responsible for inspiring surfers worldwide to become big-wave

surfers. Years after he rode his last big waves, the name Trent is

still synonymous with big-wave surfing.

Big-wave surfing, back in the day, was wild and crazy by anybody’s

standards. For one thing, very few surfers knew about it, let alone

did it.

In the early 1950s, Trent was blazing new territory by surfing the

giant waves of Makaha and later the North Shore of Oahu before anyone

had even heard of Makaha or the North Shore of Oahu. Along with a

handful of other surfers such as the Preece brothers, George and

Henry, and George Downing, Trent spent time exploring previously

unridden spots such as Sunset Beach, Avalanche and Laniakea. At the

time, no one knew if the powerful, giant waves of the North Shore

could actually be surfed. Trent proved they could.

On Nov. 27, 1953, a Honolulu photographer named Skip Tsuzuki took a

famous Associated Press photograph of Trent, Downing and Woody Brown

surfing a big wave at Makaha that went worldwide. This was the first

big-wave surfing photograph that had that kind of distribution. This

photograph, as well as the big-wave surfing stories that followed,

inspired the first wave of California surfers to move to Hawaii.

Big-wave surfers such as Pat Curren, Greg Noll, Peter Cole and Fred

Van Dyke all followed in Trent’s footsteps.

Big-wave surfing has come a long way since those early days. Back

then, the lineups were empty and there were no lifeguards coming to

get you if something went wrong. The surfboards were crude and heavy

by today’s standards and it would be years before surfboard leashes

would be invented. If a surfer lost his board, there was only one

choice - swim.

Today, when the North Shores waves are up, so are the crowds.

Somehow, surfing big waves with 30 or more other skilled surfers

seems a lot safer than going it alone. It’s a lot more comforting

knowing others are out there with you, just for the fact that, should

something go wrong, there is at least the possibility someone may

come to the rescue.

In addition, nowadays there are plenty of lifeguards to keep a

watchful eye on big-wave surfers. If a surfer wipes out and looses

his surfboard, chances are a lifeguard using a high-speed personal

watercraft will be there to make the rescue before a surfer has to

swim 20 feet.

“What we do in life echoes in eternity,” said Maximus in 160 A.D.

As new generations get turned onto surfing, if they stay at it long

enough, sooner or later they will come across the name Buzzy Trent.

Trent was an explorer, a leader and a pioneer. It is a lot easier to

think about surfing big waves once you have seen someone else do it

first. Trent showed the surfing world how it’s done. One can only

imagine the courage, and supreme confidence, it took to break the

big-wave surfing barriers Trent did.

Although Trent has left the planet, his legacy continues. There will

be bigger waves to ride, new surfing spots to discover and new

challenges to be met.

Life, like a wave, only lasts so long. Every surfer only has so much

time on the planet and then, like a wave that reaches the shore, time

returns once again back to its origins.

Life is too short not to go for it while you can. Trent’s life will

continue to inspire and motivate not just surfers, but everyone, to

catch the big wave of their own dreams.

There are no waves too big to surf. There are no dreams too big to

catch. Just like Trent, trust yourself, and if you really want

something, go for it. But, if you do, give it 100 percent, give it

all you have.

Somewhere in the universe, the waves must be going off. If they are,

Trent will be there to show others how to ride them.