Aloha O’e Dick Catri 1938-2017

Dick Catri has passed away. Dick made an indelible mark on the surfing world that may never be equaled. Dick was a pioneer, a visionary, an unrivaled promoter of Florida and East Coast surfing. At times he was a pirate and a scalawag. He was idolized by many and resented by some as well, which is often the fate of Greatness.

Dick first came to the Space Coast, specifically Melbourne beach, and said “I want to live here” He then made the pilgrimage to the North Shore of Hawaii and was one of the early pioneers of the fearsome waves of Waimea and Pipeline. He met and befriended many surfers who became legends of the surfing world. He then brought his experiences back to Florida and began creating his own legends.

At the time Florida and the East Coast were considered to be a surfing backwater devoid of good surf or talented surfers. Dick quickly assembled a collection of high school kids who’s only thought was to hang out on the beach and surf and groomed them into the most formidable surf team on the East Coast. Dick’s message to them was that they didn’t need great waves to be the best. The best was in each of them.

Dick hit the road with his kids, first as The Surfboards Hawaii team-later as the Hobie Team. They entered every surf contest on the East Coast they could find and brought back nearly every trophy that could be won.

But his purpose was not to pillage and conquer just for his own gratification. He was saying- showing by example- to other young surfers “see what we have accomplished?  You can do it too.” So they did just that. Gary Propper, Mike Tabeling, Mimi Monroe, Jeff Crawford, Matt Kechele, Todd Holland, Kelly Slater and a nearly endless roster of east coast surfers owe a debt of gratitude to Dick Catri’s vision.

His influence on the surfing industry was profound. Hobie’s Gary Propper model  surfboard is the best selling signature label in history. Over 6.000 were sold- mostly on the East Coast. He was an early experimenter in new materials in surfboard manufacturing. He heard about a new space-age fabric called Kevlar in the 70’s and built the first surfboards from the material.

Dick, along with his partner John Griffin, organized what became the Easter Surf Festival, which ran for over 50 years. He fought to open Sebastian Inlet to surfing and it later became a state park.

Dick Catri was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 1996. His many accomplishments are too numerous to be contained in a short form. Ultimately his legacy will be how he inspired others to see greatness in themselves.

Dick Catri 1938-2017 Aloha O’e

 

article by John Hughes

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