Always click on the LEGENDARY SURFERS icon to return to this homepage. LEGENDARY SURFERS
A Definitive History of Surfing's Culture and Heroes
By  Malcolm Gault-Williams

This Introduction Updated:  16 July 2005


For The Pure Joy Of It All

Tommy Zahn with quiver & trophies

Aloha! And welcome to this brief bio on Tommy Zahn. The complete, unedited biography of Tommy Zahn is available in printable eBooklet form for $4.95, delivered to your email address. The 24,792 word article (49 single-spaced pages) is the master copy of a smaller article that was originally printed in THE SURFER'S JOURNAL, Volume 9, number 2, Spring/Summer 2000 (sold out). Over 50% more material is included in the original. You can pay by credit card using Pay Pal (see below) or arrange to pay by personal check by emailing

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Tommy Zahn image courtesy of Gary Lynch.

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Content of What You Will Receive:

  • Boards, Boats & Lifeguarding
  • As A Kid
  • Tom Blake
  • Pete Peterson
  • War Years
  • Pete's Plastic Board, 1946
  • Hollywood & Marilyn
  • The Islands
  • Haole Treatment
  • Island Influences
  • George Downing
  • Rabbit Kekai
  • 1947 - Zahn, Quigg, Kivlin, Rochlen & Melonhead The Darrylin Board, 1947-48
  • The Malibu Perpetual Surfboard
  • Paddling ChampMolokai to O‘ahu, October 1953
  • Diamond Head Paddleboard Race, 1954
  • "Bounding the Blue on Boards"
  • Catalina-to-Manhattan Beach Paddle Races
  • Catalina-to-Manhattan, 1955
  • Catalina-to-Manhattan, 1956
  • Sculling
  • Australia, 1956
  • The Kivlin to Dora Connection
  • Late 1950s, Early 1960s
  • Catalina to Manhattan Beach Paddleboard Race, 1958
  • Catalina to Manhattan Beach Paddleboard Race, 1960
  • Catalina-to-Manhattan Beach Paddleboard Race, 1961
  • Diamond Head Paddleboard Race, 1962
  • The Lifeguard's Lifeguard
  • Skin Cancer, 1979
  • 1984's Almost Forced Retirement
  • Paddling Mentor
  • Jim Mollica
  • Mike Young
  • Craig Lockwood
  • "Recollecting Zahn" by Craig Lockwood
  • First Encounter
  • Second Meeting
  • Making Time
  • Zahn's Other Side
  • End of an Era
  • Waterman Memorial
  • Design Guru
  • One For Pete
  • Taplin Talk

  • "Figures like Tom [Blake] and Duke [Kahanamoku] are really historic figures... Had they never existed, the sport wouldn't be quite the same.  And where can you find guys in this game who led such exemplary lives?  These were the real contributors and innovators.  I did none of these things... I surfed, paddled and swam for the pure joy of it all.  I was successful in some of my ventures... all more or less forgettable.  I tried (not always succeeding) in living an exemplary life.  It was my pleasure to have been personally acquainted with figures like Duke, Tom, Pete [Peterson], Rabbit [Kekai], George [Downing], Joe [Quigg], Wally [Froiseth], Gene [Tarzan Smith]; but I have no desire to beome a 'professional-grand-old-man-of-surfing'" - Tom Zahn, November 5, 1989

    "You will get your day of recognition when the long boards come back." - Tom Blake to Tom Z., August 1967

    Tommy Zahn listed "A few significant extracts" from his "Aquatic Sports Activities."  In his order, they are:

  • 2 times winner - Surf Life Saving Association (SLSA) of Hawaii Rough Water Swimming Championships
  • 4 times winner - Diamond Head Paddleboard Championships, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 5 times winner - Catalina to Manhattan Beach Paddleboard Race
  • Winner - 1956 International Rescue Board Race, Surf Life Saving Association of Australia
  • 2 times winner - Hermosa-Manhattan 2 Mile Roughwater Swim (age group)
  • CIF Swim Finalist - High School
  • US Navy Swim Team - San Diego
  • First Senior Olympics 1 Mile, Run-Swim-run & Relay, 1980-82
  • And, in "Related Work Experience," in the order Tommy listed them:

  • 24 Years skipper of rescue boat Baywatch Santa Monica. Second highest rescue count of all 8 Baywatch stations.
  • 7 Years as Training Officer for the Lifeguard and Harbor Division, Santa Monica
  • Part time Training Consultant for the California State Lifeguard Service, District 5, 1961-62
  • Captain and Training Officer for the Honolulu City and County Lifeguard Service, 1959; Reorganized the service
  • Also noteworthy, but unlisted by Zahn:

  • Pacific Coast Dory Championship, twice

  • Related Resources


    Read About Volume 1 of LEGENDARY SURFERS

    Buy Volume 1 of LEGENDARY SURFERS!

    TOM BLAKE: The Journey of A Pioneer Waterman

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