Review: All For a Few Perfect Waves



All for a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora, by David Rensin
Why did I never know about Miki Dora before? How nice to meet a brother on the path, even if I’m not a surfer. Check it out:

Dora played the game as only a natural can. Soul surfing— surfing for the sheer art and pleasure of it— was his church long before the term was coined, and his passion for worship was equaled only by his drive to create and sustain a lifestyle that gave him the liberty to live free to seek thrills, spontaneous adventure, waves, and wonder, wherever he could find them.

Dora was there surfing Malibu at the beginning. The beginning is always a good place to be, except that you get a front row seat at seeing the mainstream come in and ruin things. Greg Noll remembers:

The whole Hollywood bullshit deal just brought more assholes over the hill from the Valley. If you’re from the Valley, don’t take offense, but this is basically what the beach guys thought. When you watch Stacy Peralta’s documentary, Riding Giants, they ask the guys, “What did you think of the Hollywood movies and surf music?” Answer: It was just a bunch of shit. Take the movie Ride the Wild Surf; it shows Tab Hunter and his friends sitting in the water, not a hair out of place, water calmer than a fish pond, no surf in the background. Suddenly someone yells, “Surf’s up,” and they cut to the same guys riding twenty-foot waves. Man, who’s gonna belive that? It’s one of the biggest laughs in the movie.

I guess I should say this before quoting more: Miki Dora lived to surf. He never sold out. A true soul. In fact, he would be against this very book about his life, which was only published after his death.

I go into contests once or twice a year for the pleasure of shaking up the status quo…the more restrictive they can make a contest’s (rules), the less (the judges) have to think or know about what you’re accomplishing in the water; thus making an easy job easier at our expense. What do these people care about your subtle split-second maneuvers, years of perfecting your talents?

I can relate to that, though I cannot claim the purity of Dora’s complete devotion to his art. I’m also leaving out a big part of the book that details Dora’s exploits funding his lifestyle without holding down a job and spurning most of the income his fame could have brought in. Lots of scams ensue and everyone compares his life to the film Catch Me If You Can. But here’s a paragraph to end everything with and send you on with the rest of your boring life. It’s Dora:

My whole life is this escape; my whole life is this wave I drop into, set the whole thing up, pull off a bottom turn, pull up into it, and shoot for my life, going for broke man. And behind me all this shit goes over my back: the screaming parents, teachers, the police [laughs], priests, politicians, kneeboarders, windsurfers, they’re all going over the falls into the reef; headfirst into the motherf*cking reef, and BWAH! And I’m shooting for my life. And when it starts to close out I pull out and go down the back, and catch another wave, and do the same goddamned thing again.

Five stars.

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