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Surfers’ Hall of Fame welcomes 3 new members in H.B.

John Davis, who in 1967 was the first captain of the Huntington Beach High School surfing team, imprints his hands in wet cement as he is inducted into the Surfers' Hall of Fame on Friday in Huntington Beach.
(Kevin Chang / HB Independent)

Three surf legends were immortalized on a Huntington Beach street corner Friday during the Surfers’ Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony.

Surf industry pioneer Gordon “Grubby” Clark, former world champion surfer Clifton James “C.J.” Hobgood and local surfing great John Davis joined the shrine in front of Huntington Surf and Sport.

More than 100 people gathered on an overcast morning at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway to see the three men dip their hands and feet into wet cement.

Davis, who was inducted first, was showered with compliments by several other surfing icons, including board shaper Bob “The Greek” Bolen and Huntington Beach High School surfing head coach Andy Verdone.

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“Over my surf and board-building career in Huntington Beach, there have been a mere handful of surfers that have commanded the respect, both in and out of the water, that John does,” Bolen said.

Davis, the first captain of the Huntington Beach High surf team, was a top surfer in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, placing third in the U.S. Surfing Championships in 1973.

He battled alcoholism and drug addiction from the 1970s to 1990s but has been sober for 17 years. He started the Akua Mind & Body addiction treatment facility in Costa Mesa.

Davis wrote on his cement slab, “Hit the bottom and make the turn,” a quote given to him by his wife that has two meanings. He said it could refer to making a bottom turn on a wave, but for Davis, it means picking yourself up after falling on hard times.

He entered a drug and alcohol treatment facility in 1998 after his second prison term for drug smuggling.

“Something happened 17 years ago that blessed me with a spiritual turn in my life,” he said.

Hobgood, a 17-year surfing veteran who runs an international surf retreat for up-and-comers, announced this year that he would retire after this season on the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour.

Former U.S. Open of Surfing champion Brett Simpson congratulated Hobgood on his accomplishments.

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“He’s a family man and he taught me a lot,” Simpson said, choking back tears.

Clark, who started surfboard blank provider Clark Foam in 1961, was the last to dip his hands and feet into the cement.

Clark Foam was one of the biggest surf companies. At its height, it produced 90% of the blanks used by surfboard shapers in the United States.

Clark closed the company in 2005 and retired to his ranch in Oregon.

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He wasted no time Friday in getting to the speaking podium after Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti handed him his Hall of Fame award.

“I knew what we were making worked well and I knew that if we improved the surfboard, it would be even more fun,” Clark said.


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