Eddie Solt Connects Surfers of All Generations by Paying Tribute to ’60s Surf Culture
The new old school.
- Written byAmber Klinck
- Photographed byJeff Berting
The South Bay has gone through a number of evolutions—the culture shifting with the times. But legendary surfer Mike Purpus points out the key fundamentals that shaped the beach communities into what they are today: “The South Bay was built on surfing and jazz,” he says.
Raised in Hermosa Beach, Mike began surfing when he was 10 years old. “I was always in the water, and my dad was worried about me. He wanted me to be on something that floated, so he bought me a surfboard,” Mike notes.
“There was a need for something that would connect the younger generation with the older generation.”
“Wise call by the senior Purpus, as Mike would go on to become a legend in surfing,” adds Eddie Solt, founder and organizer of the Hermosa Beach Hotdogger Championships presented by Subaru Pacific. “He was a five-time U.S. champion in surfing in the ’70s and notorious for his outrageous moves and contribution to the shortboard evolution of the late ’60s.”
“I invented the roundhouse cutback and the 360; those are my maneuvers,” Mike says.
Eddie describes Mike’s quintessential role in the South Bay’s surf history: “Purpus was elected to the inaugural class of the Hermosa Beach Surfing Walk of Fame with surfboard manufacturers and surfing greats like Dewey Weber, Greg Noll, Hap Jacobs, Rick Stoner, Bing Copeland and Dale Velzy. This group of individuals made Hermosa Beach the true surf city in the ’60s when each of them had a shop literally one mile from each other to form a miracle mile of surf shops.”
Like the South Bay, the culture of surfing has gone through its own evolution. But in its initial years, when the boards were long and the soundtracks for surf videos were made by jazz musicians, the vibes were good. That’s the period Eddie and the Bay Cities Surf Club want to celebrate with the Hotdogger Championships.
“The roots of surfing are in the South Bay, and the Hotdogger contest brings the whole thing full circle,” Mike says.
“There was a need for something that would connect the younger generation with the older generation,” Eddie notes. “There are other surf contests that are a little more aggro; we’re not about that shit.”
The Hotdogger is communal and laid-back, a tribute to a simpler time. “To be in the Hotdogger you have to ride a specialized board with traditional roots to the ’60s,” Eddie explains. Traditional means a board with a bit of weight to it, over 9 feet long and no leash.
The divisions are unique with categories like “best nose ride,” “best roller coaster” and “best wipeout.” The cash purse is the same between the men’s and women’s divisions. “The guys don’t get more than the girls,” Eddie notes. “Everything is equal.”
Heat times aren’t posted ahead. “That’s not the kind of contest we want,” says Eddie. “We want you to hang out all day.” The Legends 60+ division is the one exception. “This year the Legends are an invite. We like to take care of our Legends.”
The event has attracted people of all skill sets from up and down the coast. “I’ve had three guys that have been on the cover of Surfer’s Journal,” Eddie notes. “It’s a contest set up for the longboard purist,” Mike adds.
And ironically, Hermosa’s typically less-than-desirable surf levels the playing field for the Hotdogger competitors. “There’s an old saying: If you can surf Hermosa, you can surf anywhere in the world cause the waves dump really fast,” Mike says with a smile.
For Eddie, the Hotdogger is more than a surf contest; it’s an atmosphere. “It’s an homage to the greats, and the great surf brands,” he says. “You’re seeing the hottest longboarders in the world, but you’re also getting a good experience.”