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In Memorium: Bob Cooper, surfing’s true freesurfer

02.19.20 – TAGS: ,
Photo: Severson/EOS

A couple of days ago it was reported that surfing lost one of its true characters when the legendary Bob Cooper slid into one last wave and bid this world adieu.

Most of you probably don’t have much knowledge of the man, us neither if we’re being honest, but news of his passing prompted us to do a little research and see what his story told. We asked a few questions, looked him up on Warshaw’s EOS, etc., and it is indeed a very interesting tale.

It would seem that Bob Cooper, in many ways, epitomized the true surfing experience.  

Simply put, he surfed for no one but himself.

Yeah, he had a signature board in the ‘60s but beyond that small indulgence, he was just an above-average surfing talent who simply enjoyed the things that surfing gave him: Travel, friends, good times, and a few good waves along the way. Although he did enter a comp here and there – even won a few – surfing was more of a spiritual means to an end than anything else. 

Bob Cooper just surfed as it was meant to be.


It’s with a little irony that we are looking back on ‘ol Bob today as surfing has entered into a place so removed from the type of existence surfers like Bob attempted to create: Low profile, low maintenance, low drama, and low on expense, as one didn’t want a bunch of baggage to tote. No, surfing to guys like Bob, was the ultimate getaway from the constraints of life that a “normal” existence heaps upon us.

Yes, ya gotta pay the bills somehow so Bob did what any surfer would do to survive while continuing to scoff at the thought of any 9 to 5 bullshit. He opened up a surf shop and continued to make surfing the center of his universe. Well, right up there anyway because in Bob’s case he was a deeply spiritual man, so we assume he would have had certain priorities in order. 

But surfing was never far from mind.

As we grapple with defining surfing today as a sport or a lifestyle, or both, it’s guys like Bob that make that so crystal clear, at least to us.

Ride on Bob. Your influence was vast, if a little obscure, but your presence in the surfing world will live on forever.

What Youth

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