History of the Menehune Contest
Back in the prehistoric days when longboards were the only ride, and leashes were yet to be invented, there were very few surf contests in California and none at all for the younger surfers. The WindanSea Surf Club held the inaugural Menehune Championships at La Jolla Shores for surfers 12 years old and under in 1965.
The biggest story of the first Menehune Contest was that a small, 11-year-old girl named Margo Godfrey was crowned Grand Champion, beating even the older boys on her home turf. Proving it was no fluke, Margo came back the next year and repeated her performance, once again displaying her prodigious talent in taking out a second title, the only repeat winner in the history of the contest until the present day. She dominated women's professional surfing like no one ever has, until possibly Lisa Anderson. In 1967 Chris Picciolo of Santa Monica won the 11-year-old division, succeeding Margo as Grand Champion. In 1968, La Jolla's own Kyle Bakken was named the overall winner.
By 1969, word of the contest had spread far and wide, and surfers were coming from as far away as Australia and Hawaii to participate. A hot young surfer from Hermosa Beach named Chris McMillen won the overall championship that year, but he was pressured by an 11-year-old youngster from Hawaii named Michael Ho, who was named the "Most Versatile" surfer that year, then came back to win the overall title in 1970. Needless to say, Michael went on to an illustrious professional surfing career that continues even today, winning the Triple Crown in Hawaii against much younger pros in recent years.
Steve Jenner, President of the Junior Division in 1965 had this to say, "Make way for the next generation of hot surfers and leaders of the Windansea Surf Club! The underlying purpose of this contest is to celebrate the young who will eventually take power from the old. Some of today's Menehune contestants will inherit the Windansea Surf Club ( and the rest of society's institutions)."
Consider the following remarks of Thor Svenson, one of the key original leaders of the Windansea Surf Club, in a 1965 newspaper interview. "The leaders of today's youth don't necessarily come from the kids who always follow what they're told. Rather, they come from the rebelliousness into positive areas." Examples from the 1960's were the battle to improve surfing's public image which led to the creation of Tourmaline Canyon Surfing Park, and the efforts of student government leaders who championed surfing as a respectable school sport. In the 1990's we had Surfers Tired of Pollution pushing local government into a serious program of ocean water testing and treatment. The Windansea Surf Club played an important role in all three of these affirmative rebellions.
"The menehunes and juniors who were the leaders of the past should be replaced by the young people of today, and not just kids from La Jolla. Today's contest could be a milestone in the history of the Club and the sport if we take the challenge seriously. LET THE KIDS LEAD THE WAY FORWARD!" - Steve Jenner, WSC Junior President 1965.
1966 Menehune Program
1967 Menehune Program
Kyle Bakken - 1968 winner
2nd from left Doug Wiesehan and 4th from left OB James