In 1966, the Surfing Championships Brought the World to Ocean Beach

by on August 18, 2022 · 4 comments

in History, Ocean Beach, San Diego, Sports

Crowds gathered for the World Championship surf contest in OB, 1966.

The third annual World Surfing Championships came to sleepy Ocean Beach in the late summer of 1966. And Eric DuVall, head of the OB Historical Society, has just compiled a wonderful remembrance of that event and those early days of surfing in OB and Southern California.

Here are some quotes from DuVall’s latest historical piece in the Pt Loma – Ocean Beach Monthly:

Earlier that summer, the fabulous San Diego Municipal Fishing Pier (Ocean Beach Pier) had opened to much fanfare and revelry.

In fact, the location of the pier had helped lure the World Surfing Championship finals to Ocean Beach. That and our “diversified foamy breakers” and “the versatility” of our “offshore waters,” according to the San Diego Union.

Speaking to the media at the Mission Bay Aquatics Center in June, U.S. Surfing Association Chairman Brennan McClelland said:

“the championship site committee studied hundreds of miles of California coastline before deciding that San Diego city beaches offered the best surfing conditions.”

City Aquatics Director Don Vynne proclaimed:

“This contest will bring international attention and recognition to San Diego as the surfing capital of the world!”

Expecting a crowd in excess of 10,000, Vynne mentioned the installation of bleachers along the beach and suggested that the new fishing pier would be able to accommodate an additional 4,000 spectators.

… Many folks like to say the direction of surfing and the way folks surfed changed dramatically following the ’66 World Championships at Ocean Beach.

For the balance of the article, please go here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard August 21, 2022 at 1:32 pm

I’ve been waiting to see if there where any comments about the historical history of surfing in Ocean Beach. I’m sadly surprised and it points to what seems to be the demise of the surf culture in our community. In my time OB was surf culture California. The Strand showed surfing films and the bars had videos on loop of surfing spots around the world. This is surf town. That’s why the world championships where held here. That’s why I live here.
Have we lost our identity? Just wondering.


ThingsDoneChanged August 21, 2022 at 8:07 pm

Yep, OB has lost its identity (and its soul). Gentrification is the culprit. Have you checked the cost of housing lately? Surfer bums can no longer afford to live here. Landlords and trustafarians prevail….


john Jaco August 21, 2022 at 8:46 pm

I was there,and was at the OB pier the day it opened.Things have changed my friend.Over crowding,homeless,crime,rogue police,traffic,rip off real estate prices.The vibe of the good old days is gone forever.


Frank Gormlie August 22, 2022 at 11:09 am

Richard, thingsdonechanged and john – check out supporting the OB Rag and save the OB vibe, what’s left.


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