Dewey Weber is remembered and loved, and rightly so, as surfing’s original high-performance boy wonder, the hotdogging messiah. But what really fascinates me about Weber is the crazy drive and ambition. The white-hot coals, so to speak, beneath the hotdog. The will to achieve, to focus, to defeat, build, create, rise. I’m fascinated because I run on a slightly more stable variant of whatever fuel Dewey was running. Determination is magic and toxic. I stoke it, beat it down, lose it, get eaten by it. I turn to those who have the same struggle.
Surf-wise, Dewey Weber had hand-eye coordination and fast-twitch muscle response to rival those of Filipe Toledo. Amazing gifts. But watch him ride, and you see him pushing constantly. You imagine him being disappointed in his own prodigious level of natural talent, and therefore fighting to add a bit more torque, a sharper angle of attack, a three-percent bump in performance. Same thing with Weber Surfboards. In five short years, Dewey built his brand from nothing to industry leader, yet he still faced the world for the most part with a look of grim, tight-mouthed determination.
In a word, Dewey was relentless. And again, I’m wondering how that force came to be. “Looking back to surfers from that era,” surf writer Jeff Duclos wrote, reviewing the late 1950s, “I think of the Big Move. Phil Edwards’ drop-knee turn, Lance on the nose, Fain’s whip-turns, Dora’s one-footed sideslip. With Dewey, it’s a blur. His most distinctive trait was perpetual motion—flashing speed, moving from one end of the board to the other, big hand gestures, powerful forehand turn, wild cutback into the hook, dramatic head-dip. They were all his moves, yet he was never credited for originating any particular move.” My guess is Weber felt slighted by this. “Probably 90-percent of that stuff,” he told Duclos, referring to his entire high-performance oeuvre, “I invented.”
I happen to think Dewey’s overstating the case, but that’s not the point. You take those slights and put them to use. The bigger guys in the locker room giving you a hard time for being 5′ 3″. Or laughing at your webbed toes. Older surfers at Malibu telling you to slow it down, buddy. Calling you Buster Brown and asking where your little dog is.
Shovel all that stuff in the tank and set it on fire. See you at the top, motherfuckers!