the 2017 hotdogger championshipS
Presented by Subaru Pacific
An Interview with Eddie Solt by Glenn Sakamoto
Eddie Solt is the founder and organizer of the Hermosa Beach Hotdogger Championships presented by Subaru Pacific. A lifelong South Bay surfer, Eddie was inspired by past Dewey Weber Longboard Contests that started in the early '80s. Created in 2015, this year's Hotdogger will be held October 7th at the Hermosa Beach Pier. We spoke with him to learn more.
What is the Hermosa Beach Hotdogger Championships?
The Hotdogger Championships presented by Subaru Pacific is a celebration of surfing and of our surf culture. We strive to bring all generations and facets together together for a truly bitchin’ time. It’s a gathering of people who ride and cherish traditional-style equipment – heavy Volan, resin tints, six inch cut laps with a big obnoxious single fin. It’s a place to get together and celebrate the surfing we like and do everyday.
When Dewey Weber first threw all of his 5-foot-whatever weight purposely manhandling a mediocre 22nd Street or on an inside First Point peeler – that was the start of something. For South Bay surfers like myself, Dewey reigns at the top of our list – not Phil Edwards or Miki Dora. Blend with the wave and let it dictate our maneuvers? No way. We want to crank the hardest turn, rollerskate to the nose, all in a blur before the s**t hits the fan, the curl closes out, and we have to go off the rails with a roller coaster avoiding disaster.
If we can stoke those who survived the 60s, 70s, 80s – as well as the young gremlin with a mind like a sponge – we are getting there. And if we can enlighten those who only get their facts from sites like The Inertia, I think we are doing something right. It’s about living it – that’s what the Hotdogger is.
Tell us about the rules.
Rules reward the “going for broke.” While most longboard contests say 50 tail and 50 nose as the criteria, the winner seems to be the surfer who rides from point A to point B twinkling toes and striking a pose. But what about taking a half second off the nose, backpedaling, and put some body English into a snappy cutback?
We’re looking for criticalness of noseriding positions. If you’re able stick a hang ten deep into pocket, backtracking before the lip slams you into the shorepound – that’s what we’re talking about. If you are taking off on an obvious closeout, on a set wave, with one purpose – to rollercoaster and ride away unscathed in the soup – more hotdoggin’ power to ya.
The way I look at surfing is simple. It’s like music. Nothing is wrong or right. Surfing in the Hotdogger is like playing lead guitar in a Jazz or more fittingly – a surf band. You’re not showing up with a full on metal axe shouting distortion expecting to sound like Wes Montgomery. You’re going to play a Gibson L-5 that gives you that Wes Montgomery tone or you’re turning up that reverb on that stratocaster.
How does Hermosa Beach and the South Bay fit into the history of surfing?
It’s the true surf city. We all know it. Brian Wilson didn’t sit isolated in his bedroom in Hawthorne to create tunes about bundling up in front of a pit of burning tires and surfing the frigid waters of Santa Cruz or dodging oil slicks in between sets in a town named after an oil baron. Nope, he was writing music about the surf scene in the South Bay.
Then there’s George Freeth, Palos Verdes Surf Club, Dale Velzy, Hap Jacobs, Greg Noll, Dewey Weber, Rick Stoner, Bing Copeland, and The Meistrell Brothers. Freddie Pfahler, Rick Irons, Donald Takayama, David Nuuhiwa, Henry Ford, Sparky Hudson, and of course Dru Harrison. The Bel-Airs (with the first surf song “Mr. Moto” predating Dick Dale’s “Let’s go Trippin’”) Mike Stang, Jeff Hakman, Linda Benson, Sonny Vardeman, Phil Becker, Steve Mangiagli, Daryl Dickie, John Joseph, Chris Bredesen, John Teague, Bob Moore. Don Craig, Tiger Makin, and Mike Purpus. Eddie Talbot, Dennis Jarvis, Chris Barella, Terry Stevens, Mike Benevidez, Chris Frohoff, Ted Robinson, and Kelly Gibson.
"The way I look at surfing is simple. It’s like music. Nothing is wrong or right. Surfing in the Hotdogger is like playing lead guitar in a Jazz or more fittingly – a surf band. You’re not showing up with a full on metal axe shouting distortion expecting to sound like Wes Montgomery. "
The Dewey Classics in the early 80s that some say brought back the longboard and got some of the 60s surf stars back into water. Reese Patterson, Wayne Rich, Leroy Grannis, Steve Wilkins, Matt Warshaw, Rick Griffin, John Van Hamersveld, Jim Russi, and Tom and Jon Wegener. Tyler Hatzikian. Tyler in my mind is equally as important and influential as Joel Tudor in bringing it all back. To this day, no one can touch Tyler’s surfing and no one can touch his board building craftsmanship. Greg Browning. Alex Gray. Mike Siordia.
You can’t forget Wayne Miyata – one of the last real renegades. Redman. Shoreline Glassing. Just Longboards. Pat “Gumby” Ryan. There’s also those with South Bay roots: Tommy Witt, Brian Bent, JJ Wessels, and I think the Marshall Brothers. And last but not least, Richard “Saf” Safady and Bobby Warchola.
Tell us a bit about the previous Hotdogger. Who participated and how did it turn out?
The first Hotdogger in 2015 went off way beyond I imagined. I thought I’d be throwing more of a South Bay community contest. Something to connect the longboard scene. We’re scattered all over South Bay, but when we come together it's a bitchin’ time.
Thank goodness Vince Felix came down, he really helped out with a couple of hiccups we had in the beginning. He won the first Superdogger. He’s just a killer guy and a great surfer. When word got out we had a cash purse, then the contest went up a couple notches. Tommy Witt – he could be World Champ if there was such a thing. Did you know his great uncle learned to surf from George Freeth? Also I think his dad won a couple Dewey Classics back in the day. At one point, Tommy jumped on the wrong kind of equipment – a light hard railed 9’0” and begin spinning his crazy 360s.
Our head judge, Shawn O’Brien, called Witt in and explained to him that the judges were not scoring his waves. Witt decided to jump on something worse – a 10’ Con Ugly, a one-trick pony trash can lid noserider, and proceeded to smoke the field. Sean Tully is another great surfer. Who does switchfoot nose rides in the pocket grabbing rail? His body English in these critical parts of the wave were mind blowing. As I tell the shortboard community, our talent level is equivalent to a WQS at the Hermosa Beach Pier. We also got blessed with waves and good weather. It was magical.
What are some of the challenges in putting on such an event?
There’s challenges. We just gotta put the work in to get through them. We’re not inventing anything new. Culturally, if we’re even in the ballpark of the Dewey Weber Classic or Aloha Days – we’re stoked. While our rules definitely have a South Bay spin, the Joel Tudor Duct Tape is a major inspiration and made it possible for this to happen.
There’s always a bit of anxiety behind throwing together an event. Wright Adaza from the South Bay Boardriders Club has been a big help. I’ve got to give the SBBC a major thank you as they’ve been super supportive. Wright's helped out with the logistics of the contest. Thank goodness for James and the crew at Subaru Pacific for being our title sponsor since day one. It’s an honor that they believe in want we are doing. They have helped us grow so much. For those in the open divisions, Subaru Pacific's responsible for the $2600 cash purse as well as contributing to extra stuff that make the Hotdogger such a unique contest. Besides, isn't a Subaru Outback a pretty darn good surf mobile? It’s about the people involved as well as the surfers in the water that make a contest. With that being said, we have 40 sponsors.
Who are some of the people and organizations involved in the Hotdogger?
We’ve been able to connect with a lot of businesses who are a part of South Bay History. Kinecta Federal Credit Bank who’s been around since they were Howard Hughes Bank in the ‘30s and the famous Mickey’s Deli that’s been feeding starving waterlogged surfers since 1953.
Adam Davenport is a major part of the Hotdogger. The best traditional style surfboard maker of my generation, has done his homework, worked and took shit from the best, put his time in, and now you can notice a Davenport 6 inch cut lap from a mile away. For 2017, he’s sponsoring the Davenport Surfboards Superdogger Expression Session. The Superdogger is our old board heat--We pack as many as we can in one heat. You must ride a pre-1968, no wetsuit, and wear a Hawaiian Shirt for our celebrity surf judge to identify you. Best wave wins the money pot. He’s kicking down a sweet 9’6” noserider for us to raffle for charity. He’s also a family friend that came to visit the hospital with his wife, Mel, when my daughter was born.
Shane Jones of Jonesea Wetsuits has also been a major contributor since day one. Besides being an ultimate hotdogger, (dude can not only perch for days, but can crank the most radical rollercoasters on a heavy level) his wetsuits have changed the game. Jonesea adds a whole heaping of creativity. He’s more like a high-end tailor. He’s one of my best buds even though we only met a couple of years ago. He should really be from the South Bay – we love him up here.
If you’ve met me in the past, I’m sure you witnessed one of my best friends Mike Siordia and I running amuck. He’s been committed to his vision of Bandits Surfboards and of course I am going to support him. He’s also the grom division sponsor. The winner gets a Bandit Surfboard with all the bells and whistles. He’s been a big help on getting the word out and spreading the hotdogger gospel. A phenomenal surfer. You should see him on a set of rollerblades or a BMX.
It also stokes me out to hang with another one of my best friends, our head Judge Shawn O’Brien. We’ve been doing the same stuff since we were kids – driving old cars and riding old boards. He’s the dude with the white ‘59 wagon with green tuck-n-roll. He’s also a family man like myself. His son Cormac only surfs facing the wave and will most likely be the youngest competitor in the Hotdogger. Shawn and his wife are the Godparents to my daughter. At a Hotdogger meeting, I specifically stated “If you can hang ten better than Shawn O’Brien – go ahead and argue with his decisions.”
Other things that stoke me out: Working with emerging brands like Single Fin Life from the ground up. I think they’re really on to something and really capture a lifestyle. Bringing awareness to KSURF 1260 AM, LA’s Oldies Station. I only have AM radio in my Comet, so thank God for KSURF 1260 AM (who will handle the morning shift of tunes). Sin-Min and their Horchata flavored products brought to you by my friend and amazing surfer, Tyler Critelli. Bodega Boarder Crew, you gotta check out his podcasts. He’s working the lunch music shift as well as interviewing the action on the beach. And my good bud Jeff and Dirty Hippie Radio, who provided the soundtrack for the first hotdogger.
I can’t leave out the Yellow Rat. Stoked to say Yellow Rat Clothing is a part of this year’s Hotodgger. If you don’t know Yellow Rat and his longboard – he’s another element of genuine surf culture. Geez. Kio is 100% hotodgger and is the best surfer out of Mar Vista.
Dave Paquin who’s another underground longboard hero of mine. You’ll notice Brittany and Mateo designed his law firm Ocean View Law Group logo. He’s been ripping on Gene Cooper’s shapes for over twenty years. For the 2015 SuperDogger, he rode a 10’ Miki Dora black Da’ Cat Model.
Surf Artist Patrick Parker, the 2016 Vans Triple Crown Feature Artist. He painted this year’s poster (thank you John Grannis for allowing us to use Leroy’s photo for inspiration). Pat’s work was seen frequently in Longboard Magazine a decade ago. We grew up together. I think he still has his Reese Patterson SRS longboard.
What else can we expect from this year’s Hotdogger Championship?
The Vintage Surfboard Collectors Club will be setting up underneath the Hermosa Beach Pier. We will have a “suds-raiser” going on at Watermans Safehouse. King Harbor Harbor Brewing (last year’s Superdogger sponsor and a supporter since day one) will be pouring a $5 pint. There’s four kegs that need to be crushed as half the proceeds go to the SBBC. A $2600 Cash Purse is provided by Subaru Pacific. With 40 sponsors, you know those swag bags are going to be epic. Also a chance to win a Davenport Surfboard with all raffle money going to SBBC’s charities. The Hippy Tree guys will be bringing a teepee. There will be a lot of tents and booths going on.
Where can we learn more about the Hotdogger Championship?
If you show up to Esplanade and Knob Hill in Redondo Beach any given morning around 7 a.m., I’m sure you’ll run into Purpus checking the surf and he’ll tell you. Maybe I shouldn’t announce that. He’s still got some weird fanboys. But then again, he also has ladies who hit their prime in the ‘70s swooning over him. Grey hair or not, Purpus will never turn down a free steak date night.
Check out Hotdoggers.org and @hotdoggerchampionship. We’re accepting registration now. There’s limited space so sign up soon. If you’re not a contest person, come experience living surf culture at its finest. The Hermosa Beach Hotdogger Championships Presented by Subaru Pacific. Hope to see you all there on October 7th. Cowabunga!