Dick Catri

Born in New Jersey, Catri [pronounced CAH-tri] moved to Miami as a boy. Upon graduating from high school in 1957, he began working as a beach attendant where he met a stunt diver named Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy, who later achieved infamy for stealing the Star of India, the world’s largest sapphire. The California native introduced Catri to surfing in the winter of 1957, and together they experimented with building boards and took surfing adventures through Florida and California. While Murphy and Catri’s escapades were far from pure, they never reached the level of grand larceny that Murphy did with his jewelry heist in 1964. By that time, Catri had already spent three seasons in Hawaii and was on his way to becoming a North Shore fixture, surfing everywhere from Pipe and Waimea to Makaha and working at Dick Brewer’s factory.

In the spring of 1964, Catri went back to Florida to quench the East Coast’s thirst for surfing. As the East Coast rep for Dick Brewer’s Surfboards Hawaii, Catri opened a shop in Satellite Beach and established a team of greats that included Gary Propper, Mike Tabeling, Bruce Valuzzi, Fletcher Sharpe and Mimi Munro, who soon Dick Catri 1960'sruled surfing contests along the Atlantic Seaboard. When Hobie made him a generous offer in 1966, the team switched labels and continued trouncing the competition. Catri was not only captain and coach for the Hobie squad; he remained a competitor and attended several U.S. championships. He was also inducted into the 1966 International Hall of Fame, represented the United States at the 1968 World Contest in Puerto Rico and surfed in the 1967 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational. His personal life was also winning during this period. He married his second wife, Shagg, and named a store after her in Indialantic. Though they later divorced, the couple had three daughters and Shagg’s Surf Shop still remains in its original location.

The rise of the shortboard movement in the late ’60s transformed Catri from a seller of West Coast brands to an East Coast manufacturer. After parting ways with Hobie, he started Catri Surfboards and became Clark Foam’s first East Coast distributor. More importantly, the ’70s marked Catri’s benchmark days as a contest promoter. Besides running the annual Easter Surfing Classic event he founded in 1965 with John Griffin (now a 36-year tradition known as the Cocoa Beach Easter Surfing Festival), the partners established the Sundek Classic and a new association, American Professional Surfing (APS). Over five years, the APS grew to become a 14-event tour with its own world tour stop, the $25,000 Florida Pro. It churned out East Coast talent like Matt Kechele and Charlie Kuhn before being eclipsed by the ASP in the early ’80s.

Soured by the experience, Catri once again focused his attention on coaching local amateurs, helping produce another crew of East Coast heroes, including WCT pro Todd Holland, Florida standouts Scott Bouchard, David Speir and Sean Slater, as well as Slater’s 7-year-old brother, Kelly. If it sounds like Catri’s direct influence stayed concentrated near Sebastian Inlet, it did, and rightfully so. Catri was one of the first to surf Sebastian, and when conflicts between fishermen and surfers resulted in a blackball ordinance, he successfully helped fight the law until it was repealed in the early ’70s. This preserved First Peak for future generations to fight over.

Today, Dick Catri enjoys a semi-retired lifestyle with his wife Terri just

Dick Catri Retired

Dick Catri Retired

miles from Sebastian. When not organizing the annual Easter Festival, Captain Catri stays near the water by running fishing charters and, like every respected godfather, speaks his mind about surfing, especially when it comes to his East Coast territory. — Matt

Written by Matt Walker

Taken from thesurfbus.com

Additional Resources:

You Tube Dick Catri Part 1
You Tube Dick Catri Part 2

Four Part Series about Catri

http://encyclopediaofsurfing.com/entries/catri-dick

https://www.surfguru.com/surfing-hall-of-fame/dick-catri-ec-surfing-hall-of-fame-profile

 

Comments

  • Catri shaped a board for me in 1976 , an 8footer from a Triple A template (surfboard hawaii). I have it still, and take it out on good days. Catri changed my life with this beautiful work of ART, thank you for being part of my world
    William

    William Lomitola24 March, 2017
  • RIP Dick, you are remembered fondly..

    Bob Waers15 May, 2017
  • We will not forget you Dick Catri. Or you Shagg. God bless you with the perfect wave. JESUS CHRIST is waiting for you.

    Jennifer Jones18 May, 2017
  • Met Dick Catri when I was surfing (and living next to) the Pier in 1969-70. Dick was leading the fight to open Sebastian to surfing and asked me to accompany him and a small group of local surfers to address the Brevard County Commission at a public hearing considering the future of Sebastian. Remember Lori Wilson was on that Board. That hearing was the beginning of the end of the Sebastian surfing ban… though it took more time to achieve outright repeal of the offensive and discriminatory county law.

    When I later asked Dick why he picked me to attend the hearing, he laughed and said, “Because you were the only other surfer I knew who owned a suit.” Five years later I graduated law school, worked for a decade with several environmental and land use planning groups on Long Island (NY), and had the opportunity to advocate and speak at hundreds of governmental meetings and public hearings.

    Eventually I was named Town Attorney for the Town of East Hampton (which includes Montauk) and helped that fabulous Town Board preserve thousands of acres of woods, wetlands, trails and beaches… while protecting key public ocean access points across the town for surfers and other ocean users.

    Thanks, Dick, for having confidence in me before I or anyone else did. Aloha.

    Russell Stein23 May, 2017
  • Mahalo to everyone for sharing your stories. There will never be anyone quite like Dick Catri again. We are all fortunate to have known him.

    John Hughes7 June, 2017
  • Arrived indialantic ’69 – Shagg’s was my shop – transition from 9’6 Gregg Noll ‘Cat, to a 9’Weber’, 7’6 G&S, 6′ Platic Fantastic, then, finally, custom boards by Dick for me & roommate Mike Clancey. Totally intimidated while trying to detail the 5’6 final shape – but Catri totally offered to shape a new board for me, when his 1st try didn’t match my preferences. 2nd board was always a favorite !! Worked great at Sebastian & M.Hole, Shark Pit, Melbourne Beach, always had fun with the board in Indialantic S.Break… Shagg,s smoothies, under their umbrellas, were an expensive treat, frequently, enjoyed, but all gear, suits, shorts, purchased there. ctari’s shape shop over in Melbourne was a dream visit at the time – many very cool visits to talk shape / design…..

    Best memories…. Thank you D.Catri !!!!

    Ron Smith16 June, 2017

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