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Greg Noll (born February 11, 1937), nicknamed "Da Bull" by Phil Edwards in reference to his physique and way of "charging" down the face of a wave,[1] is an American pioneer of big wave surfing[2] and is also acknowledged as a prominent longboard shaper.[3] Noll was a member of a US lifeguard team that introduced malibu boards to Australia around the time of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.[2] Noll also produced a "legendary"[4] series of 5[5] Search for Surf movies.

Greg Noll
Personal information
Born (1937-02-11) February 11, 1937 (age 82)
San Diego, California, U.S.
ResidenceHiouchi, California
Height178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight65 Kg
Surfing career
Years active1957–1969
Surfing specifications
QuiverLong boards, Guns
Favorite wavesBanzai Pipeline


Early lifeEdit

Noll was born in San Diego, California. At the age of 3, Noll moved with his family to Manhattan Beach, California. Noll began surfing age 11[1] in the South Bay, he was a member of Manhattan Beach Surf Club where he learned board shaping from Dale Velzy. Noll was a member of the Los Angeles County Lifeguards and competed in paddleboarding.[2] Noll developed his big wave surfing in Palos Verdes at breaks like Lunada Bay. He moved to Hawaii in 1954, where he finished high school, and lived and surfed at Makaha.[1]

Big wavesEdit

Noll became known for his exploits in large Hawaiian surf on the North Shore of Oahu. He first gained a reputation in November 1957 after surfing Waimea Bay[6] in 25–30 ft surf when it had previously been thought impossible even to the local Hawaiians. He is perhaps best known for being the first surfer to ride a wave breaking on the outside reef at the so-called Banzai Pipeline in November 1964.

The wave I caught at Outside Pipeline that day walled up twenty-five-feet high about half a mile in front of me. It broke to the left, so I was riding with my back to the wave, goofyfoot, and it was a god-awful uneasy feeling. Instead of getting smaller as I rode it, the sonofabitch grew on me. It got bigger and bigger, and I started going faster and faster, until I was absolutely locked into it. I felt like I was on a spaceship racing into a void. At first, I could hear my board chattering across the face of the wave in a constant rhythm. As my speed increased, the chattering noise became less frequent. Suddenly there was no noise. For about fifteen or twenty feet, I was airborne. Then I literally was blown off my board.

— Greg Noll, Da Bull: life over the edge[7]

It was later at Makaha, in December 1969, that he rode what many at the time believed to be the largest wave ever surfed. After that wave and the ensuing wipeout during the course of that spectacular ride down the face of a massive dark wall of water, his surfing tapered off and he closed his Hermosa Beach shop in the early 1970s. He and other surfers such as Pat Curren, Mike Stange, Buzzy Trent, George Downing, Mickey Munoz, Wally Froyseth, Fred Van Dyke and Peter Cole are viewed as the most daring surfers of their generation.

Noll is readily identified in film footage while surfing by his now iconic black and white horizontally striped "jailhouse" boardshorts.

The surfing exploits of Noll and other big wave legends were chronicled in the documentary Riding Giants. Noll, with Laird Hamilton and Jeff Clark, also provided his entertaining perspective on Hawaiian big wave surfing on a commentary track for the Riding Giants DVD.

Board shapingEdit

Having shaped surfboards since his youth, and having founded his own surfboard business in the 1950s which reached a high level of commercial success;[5] Noll changed to two decades of commercial fishing,[1] the resurgence of longboards brought Noll back to resume shaping and organize events.[2] Today Noll lives in Hiouchi, California with his wife and shapes re-creations of some of the historic boards from the sport of surfing. Some of these are: Olos and Alaias, a replica of a Duke Kahanamoku board, Malibu Chips, Guns, Da Cats, Pacific System Homes and others.


  • Kampion, Drew & Noll, Greg. Greg Noll: The Art of the Surfboard, 2007, published by: Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah ISBN 978-1-58685-776-9
  • Noll, Greg & Gabbard, Andrea. Da Bull: life over the edge, 1989, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, ISBN 1-55643-143-0


  1. ^ a b c d "Greg Noll – Shaping the Future". World Champions of Surfing. IDW Publishing. Retrieved 2010-05-15. Nicknamed “Da Bull” by Phil Edwards for his girth and hard charging, “bull-headed” approach to riding giant waves
  2. ^ a b c d Kampion, Drew (October 2000). "Greg Noll". Surfing A to Z. Surfline/Wavetrak, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  3. ^ Bradley, Ryan (2007-05-17). "Q+A: Greg Noll on Surfing as Art, Life". National Geographic Adventure. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  4. ^ "Surfworld". Australia Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  5. ^ a b Warshaw, Matt (2005). "Noll, Greg". In Matt Warshaw (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Surfing. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Inc. pp. 413–414. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ Gault-Williams, Malcolm (2008-03-27). "Greg Noll "Da Bull"". Legendary Surfers: A Definitive History of Surfing's Culture and Heroes. Surfing Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2010-05-15. The guy who first grabbed his board on November 5, 1957 was certainly Noll.
  7. ^ Noll, Greg; Gabbard, Andrea (1989). Da Bull: life over the edge. Berkeley CA: North Atlantic Books. p. 138. ISBN 1-55643-143-0.

External linksEdit