Surf history

Steve Bigler

Slippery regularfooter from Santa Barbara, California; fourth-place finisher in the 1966 World Surfing Championships. Bigler was born (1946) and raised in Santa Barbara, began surfing in 1958, and three years later moved with his family to Honolulu, Hawaii.


He returned to California after graduating high school and became one of the nation’s top competitive surfers: in 1966 he won the Malibu Invitational, finished second in the United States Surfing Association’s final ratings, and placed fourth in world titles. The following year he won the East Coast Surfing Championships and finished fourth in the United States Surfing Championships. Bigler also competed in the 1965 and 1968 World Surfing Championships, and in 1966 he designed and promoted the Harbour Surfboards Cheater model. His go-to move was trimming on the nose while standing ramrod-straight, arms pinned to his sides.


Just before the turn of the decade, Bigler set out on a 20-year drug-financed surfing odyssey, basing himself in California and Hawaii, but spending weeks or months at a time in France, Spain, Portugal, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In 1996 he was arrested in Santa Barbara on smuggling charges and served 27 months in federal prison, getting out in early 2001.


Bigler appeared in a small number of surf movies from the mid-’60s to early ’70s, including Inside Out (1965), Fantastic Plastic Machine (1968), and Waves of Change (1970). He still lives and surfs in Southern California.

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