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© Jamie Budge, 2015 - All Rights Reserved

Jamie Budge on Miki Dora

(Note: Jamie Budge was an internationally ranked competitive surfer and a member of the Dave Sweet competition team and, later, the Dewey Weber team. His films The Living Curl and the Californians are now two remastered surf films considered classics of the longboard and early shortboard eras and available on DVD at selected surf shops and from his website: www.thelivingcurl.com) I never really knew Miki personally.  Never got to know him in later years as many of my contemporaries did. I had heard his name: Chapin. Mr. Malibu. Dora. Mickey:for year before I dared expose my limited surfing skills to the scrutiny of “The Pit” and its inhabitants.   Lance, Dewey, Kemp, Johnny, Iggy were all huge in legend and in my mind as I practiced my skills at lesser known beaches a few miles down the highway. But Miki was always the one. Not for any particular reason I could single out.  He didn’t ride the nose as long as Lance.  Or carve as deep turns as Johnny or Dewey.  Or “pose” artistically like Kemp as the curl trickled off his fingers.   He just was the one.   And everybody  seemed know that and nobody disputed it.    And I was never disappointed or disillusioned when I started showing up at Malibu to surf and film.  It was always his surfing.  From a distance.  Devoid of his antics that encroached on his life the way the crowds encroached on his surfing at Malibu.   To me, it was always his surfing.  Just his surfing.  I was as aware as everybody else of all the personal commotion that went on in his life.   But I was always distant from that.   No reaching out across the social void.  No attempts to glad-hand or get to know him.  Sort a distant respect. And I was sort of surprised when he showed up at Miles Playhouse (seating capacity about 130) for my screening of “The Living Curl”.  Movies of Miki usually dominated the 2,300 seats at the Santa Monica Civic.  So Miles Playhouse must have seemed like slumming it.   And he never said anything to me about the footage or my movie. But my story (if it is one) is just a moment. Or a few seconds.  Devoid of all high drama that surrounded him.  I was out surfing Malibu early one morning when there could still be just a dozen or so surfers out in the water when it was chest high with bigger sets.  It was about the time that I had decided than tube riding was going to be the next nose riding.  That soon nobody would care how long you spent on the nose.  It was going to be how long you spent in the tube. I was doing both. My typical neophyte cheaper five.  On a set wave.  Holding it long enough and close enough to the curl to get completely covered up.  Tubed.  Or curled.  But certainly covered up enough so I could barely see when I popped out at top of the shoulder when the tube subsided.   I was aware that there was somebody behind me doing turns next to the whitewater at the bottom of the wave.  As I shook the water from my eyes, I could see it was Dora. I’d just done a go-behind on the king of snakes himself.  On the guy who always kicks out on surfers in front of him.  Or runs them over.  And the one that always pops out of un-imaginable wave positions to take possession of the wave. I’d just done that to him.  Like a young upstart in the old west who drew so fast that even Wyatt Earp couldn’t get his gun out of his holster.  I’d won the draw. No shots were fired.  No blood was drawn.  But he knew it and I knew it.  I felt like I’d out Miki-ed Miki in his own way in his home court.   No drama.  No knives.  No sugar-in-the-gas tank antics by the highway.  I don’t even know if he even noticed.  That maybe that was the same guy who’d shot those movies of him at Miles Playhouse. But I’d like to think that symbolized an unspoken mutual respect between us. Just surfing.