Even through the high-contrast, double exposures and every other special effect that you’d see on any given late-night Local Access television music video, Rolf Aurness’ smooth top-to-bottom lines clearly stand out in John Severson’s 1970 film “Pacific Vibrations.” When Severson filmed the footage above, Aurness was at the top of his game, having won several contests consecutively, and he would eventually go on to win the 1970 World Championship in Victoria, Australia against greats Wayne Lynch and Nat Young.
According to Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, Aurness fell into reclusiveness shortly after this run of success. In an interview featured in a 2001 issue of The Surfer’s Journal, former SURFER editor Drew Kampion asked Aurness why he left competitive surfing when he had the talent to stay at the top for many years. “But I couldn’t see trying to keep up at that level of performance forever,” Aurness answered. “I’d done my best. I was maxed out.”
For an interview with Wayne Lynch on Aurness’ 1970 World Championship win in Australia, click here.
For more Pacific Vibrations, click here.