Year of Da Cat
August 18, 2008 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Year of Da Cat: Known as surfing's "Black Knight" or "The Angry Young Man of Surfing" (even "the consummate surf nazi") for his attitude, but more famously as "Da Cat" for his feline grace on a wave, Miki Dora defined the soul of surfing when it exploded into 60's popularity via Gidget (a historical moment in which he had no small part). Cashing in as the go-to stunt surfer for beach party movies even as he decried surfing's commercialization, Dora parlayed his notoriety in the surf media (including a highlight in The Endless Summer) to icon status, venerated even more since his death in 2002.

When a single encounter with the legend warrants a web page or two and movies have been made about chasing his enigma and taking up his challenge, a Hollywood bio-pic would seem obvious and indeed, the most recent Dora biography has been optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio (though surf bloggers have other casting choices, of course). Through the 1970's and into the 90's, Dora roamed the world as an itinerant scam artist in search of perfect waves, leaving dietrus behind that is now for sale, including his most prized possessions, correspondence and a "forsaken son" who produces a web comic that reimagines Da Cat literally, as a furry! Now in surfer heaven and channeled from beyond the grave, Miki is still suffering the kooks.

Miki on MySpace: 1, 2.


Classic footage of Da Cat doing his thing in this tribute video by The Supertones.
Dora and others in perfect Rincon.
Endless Summer's Bruce Brown talks with Dora at the 1st Duke in 1966.
Clip from beach party movie For Those Who Think Young features Da Cat stunt surfing and getting air in the dance pit as an extra.
My favorite: Dora charges the notorius Dogtown break circa 1974. Sublime trim!
Dora explains himself in this mid-90's clip.
Some of the last footage of Dora surfing ever shot.
In Search of Da Cat trailer.
Author David Rensin (All for a Few Perfect Waves: the Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora) discusses the man.


Iconic images by legendary surf photographer LeRoy Grannis.
Last pic taken of Miki Dora.
posted by bonefish (7 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If I had a couple bucks to buy a book, I wouldn’t. I’d buy some beer.

—Malibu surfer in Life magazine

Some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.

Bitchin' post bonefish.
posted by three blind mice at 6:33 AM on August 18, 2008

I've skimmed several of these links, but I can't figure out how serious "surf nazi" is supposed to be. Just a reference to being a hardcore surfer or some literal Aryan superman thing? (The Gidget article even uses the word "Aryan" when talking about her being Jewish.)
posted by DU at 6:39 AM on August 18, 2008

The guy was an asshole. Malibu is a wonderful wave and it's a joy to watch a good surfer navigate it. Dora was a good surfer but that make him any less of an asshole.
posted by rdr at 7:21 AM on August 18, 2008

I know nothing whatsoever about surfing, but this looks to me like a great post and I'm sorry that hasn't generated more comment from people who know more about it.

The sum total of my knowledge comes from the Australian movie, Bra Boys, an American documentary about an Ivy league educated jewish doctor who drops out and raises a tribe of kids on the road, and the novels of Ken Nunn? Numm?

All of these things were awesome and made me want to know more about the subject, despite the fact that I'm about as likely to ever surf as I am to take up skateboarding. But the history of the culture/subculture seems fascinating.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:57 PM on August 18, 2008

Yes, thanks for this excellent post and for the variety of links. Dora may have been an asshole as rdr says, but his story, well, his character, reminds me so much of Kem Nunn's Tapping the Source (hyperbolic aside -- one of the GREAT novels of the 20th century) that I completely enjoyed looking through all of this. Oh, and hell, obligatory harkening to Tapping here.
posted by matthewstopheles at 3:52 PM on August 18, 2008

I agree, this is a very, very well done post, and I've got to say that Dora has always been one of the most puzzling people I've ever heard of, in or out of the water.
posted by Relay at 3:28 PM on August 19, 2008

The "mid-90's" clip above is actually from Surfers: The Movie, released in 1990. (Thanks for the props!)
posted by bonefish at 11:17 PM on August 19, 2008

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