Nick Gabaldon: Surfing the Waves

Photocredit: Netfalls - Remy Musser/
Born in 1927, Nick Gabaldon is noted as the first Black and Mexican surfer[1]. He taught himself to swim during the 1940s and was encouraged to continue by surfing legends Pete Peterson and Buzzy Trent[2]. Paddling approximately 12 miles from "Inkwell"—the Black beach—to Malibu for the best waves in California, Mr. Gabaldon went above and beyond the extra mile to enjoy something he loved. Beach goers were quick to show their disdain for his presence with by calling him derogatory names, but was able to experience camaraderie with many of the White surfers. Many of the racial barriers in the U.S., were massaged away by people like Mr. Gabaldon who may have simply been pursuing the ability to participate in a sport or hobby, but ended up reminding others that they weren't so different.

Mr. Gabaldon died in a surfing accident in 1945, but his memory and legacy is living on. Both a day June 2013[3] and June 14, 2014[4] were declared Gabaldon day with several organizations hosting events to honor his memory. The documentary 12 Miles North was also made in 2012 to bring his story back to life[5]. Mr. Gabaldon is not only an inspiration for minority surfers in the states, but he proved that some times, all you need is a common language. More information on Mr. Gabaldon as well as information on other Black surfers can be found at


  1. Blocker, Rick, and Jefferson, Alison Rose."Gabaldon, Nicolas Rolando". University of California, Berkley.
  2. "Nick Gabaldon". Surfer's Encyclopedia
  3. Lozano, Carlos. "Nick Gabaldon Day celebrates surfing pioneer today in Santa Monica". LA Times. June 1, 2013
  4. Gabaldon Day 2014
  5. Weisberg, Zach. "12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story". Jan 19, 2014

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