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  • Andrew Cowell

SEA OF JOY

I still remember my feelings, as if it were yesterday. The anxious anticipation of sitting in the dark, dank, antediluvian Huntington Beach Surf Theater, awaiting the curtain to rise on Australian filmmaker, Paul Witzig’s third film chronicling the nascent shortboard revolution.



The air choked with smoke and the sniff of cannabis. The unruly crowd -- the youth rebellion -- flicking bottle caps at a virgin screen. The house lights dim. The vulgarity of the prior moment now a hush as celluloid images of the pied pipers of the revolution: Nat “The Animal” Young, Wayne Lynch, and Ted Spenser, are seen traveling to exotic locales, riding their extremely short surfboards in never before seen waves. With every turn and tube ride, the once unruly crowd erupts in hoots and whistles of euphoric rhapsody. Never again would surfing’s tempo and melody be sung as a series of straight-line whole notes. Witzig, along with Young, Lynch, and Spenser brought a new song to the world, and the instruments to play it.


Where Witzig’s previous two films, The Hot Generation and Evolution, showered a hungry youth, ripe with desire and societal change, with the potential of what could be; the Sea of Joybirthed a fully realized child, the shortboard, a gift to surfers the world over. For more on the Shortboard Revolution visit the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center’s exhibit, Go Faster.


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