Joe Surf: Check out this bodysurfing documentary

Huntington Surf & Sport in Huntington Beach will host a showing of ‘Come Hell or High Water,’ a bodysurfing documentary by former pro surfer Keith Malloy. Doors open Friday night at 6:30, the film starts at 7 and there will be a Q&A session with Malloy at 7:45.
(Hand In / Courtesy of ‘Come Hell or High)

Most might think surfing’s “roots” go back a hundred years or so in Hawaii, but truth be told, real surfing began long before that.

In those long-ago days, surfers didn’t need a surfboard. Today, it’s called “bodysurfing.” Surely you’ve heard of it.

In fact, before any of us learned to surf on a board, we got into the water and swam like crazy to catch a wave using nothing but the length of our body to glide toward the beach.

And while board surfing now is all the rage, there are still those who honor the art of bodysurfing. There are dozens of surf movies you can find on Netflix. But find a bodysurfing movie? Good luck.


Well, you just got lucky. Huntington Surf & Sport on the corner of Main Street and PCH in Huntington Beach will host a showing of “Come Hell or High Water,” a bodysurfing documentary by former pro surfer Keith Malloy, on Friday night.

Doors open at 6:30, the film starts at 7 and there will be a Q&A session with Malloy at 7:45.

Some of the world’s best bodysurfers are featured in the film, including Mark Cunningham, who won the North Shore Bodysurfing and Paipo Contest at Pipeline as a high school senior in 1974, and went on to dominate bodysurfing events in Hawaii and around the world for the next 15 years.

Cunningham retired in 2005 after 29 years as a lifeguard in Hawaii, including time at Pipeline.


“I was part of the community there. I saw kids grow up, learn to surf, check out the surf, graduate from high school, get married and divorced,” Cunningham told The Inertia. “A lifeguard gets to be a sort of gatekeeper, guardian, and overseer. It was the perfect fit for me.”

In “Come Hell or High Water,” Malloy explores Hawaii, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Tahiti and even the rivers of Montana. And of course, what bodysurfing film would be complete without including The Wedge in Newport.

Pro surfer Rob Machado told Surfline after seeing the film: “I haven’t heard so many hoots during a surf movie for a long time.”




Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi and Brett Simpson currently are in Cascais, Portugal for the Billabong Pro Cascais, a 10,000-point men’s Qualifying Series (QS) event.

The contest is important for both Igarashi, who currently is on the World Championship Tour, and for Simpson who is trying to requalify for the WCT.

Igarashi, 18, is enjoying his rookie season on the WCT, but there’s no guarantee he’ll requalify for next season. You have to finish among the top 22 on the WCT to requalify, and Igarashi is currently ranked No. 21.


Another way to qualify for the WCT is to rank among the top 10 on the QS; that’s why many of the WCT surfers still surf in QS events, and Igarashi is no different. Igarashi currently ranks No. 5 on the QS.

As for Simpson, 31, he has work to do. His equal-fifth place finish as a wild card at the WCT Hurley Pro a few weeks ago was nice, but didn’t score him any points on the QS. He’s currently ranked No. 58 on the QS.




The city of Huntington Beach held its “locals only” contest a couple weeks ago, the event open only to Huntington Beach residents. Following are the winners in their respective divisions:

Jason Haughey, Grand Masters; Greg Eisele, Seniors; Bill Sharp, Super Grand Masters; Keanu Igarashi, Boys; Ryan Salazar, Junior Men’s; Brooke Daigneault, Women’s; Mickey Ester, Legends; Shayne Nelson, Men’s; Chris Cody Wehrer, Masters; and Petey Romaniuk, Menehuene.


JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at