Dick Catri (1938 - 2017)

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  • "I just wanted to say thank you Dick for taking me fishing -..."
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Dick Catri (Image via Encyclopedia of Surfing) Dick Catri in the Business Memorials Photo Gallery Enlarged Photo
Surfing pioneer Dick Catri, who was known as the Godfather of East Coast Surfing, died Sunday, May 14, 2017. He was 79.

According to Florida Today, Catri’s death was caused by complications that arose after a recent series of strokes.

In 1957, Catri was performing in Florida as a high diver in the "Petersen Aquacade Water Show" when a colleague, Jack "Murph the Surf" Murphy, introduced him to surfing. Catri later said he “went bonkers” when he first watched Murphy riding a wave. Catri began practicing the sport and visited Hawaii in 1958, honing his skills on the world-class waves there and working at a surfboard factory.

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In the early 1960s, Catri served as an adviser on surf movies such as 1963’s “Ride the Wild Surf,” which starred Barbara Eden and the teen idol Fabian; sold thousands of surfboards at a series of stores he operated around Florida; and served simultaneously as captain, coach, and a competing member of a surfing team sponsored by Hobie Surfboards.

In 1965, Catri co-founded and helped run the Easter Surfing Classic, a yearly event now known as the Cocoa Beach Easter Surfing Festival. In the 1970s, Catri continued organized and promoting surfing contests; he was a founder of American Professional Surfing, a sanctioning body that hosted a tour of 14 yearly events by 1975. Catri continued surfing competitively during this time, nearly winning the seniors division of the 1978 United States Surfing Championships.

Later in his life, Catri developed amateur surfers and chartered fishing boats in Florida. In his prime in 1966, Catri was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame. Thirty years later, in 1996, he was among the first cohort inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame.

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