Duke Kahanamoku

“It was just by fate that I walked into the life that I got,” says Sid Abruzzi. Sid, who began surfing Newport Beach, Rhode Island in the mid-60s, fortuitously came of age during the transition into the Shortboard Revolution. As a kid, it suddenly seemed that all the guys he had sat on the cliff and watched and admired just disappeared from the scene one day. “They just stopped because it wasn’t a culture; it had been more like a fad,” he says. It was Sid—a talented, eternal grommet—who led the new guard. He began traveling to Puerto Rico and Florida, where he fell into step with East Coast shortboarding emissaries, like future Hall of Famers Mike Tabeling and Claude Codgen. He took what he’d learned and returned home to Newport, where he opened Waterbrothers surf shop in 1971. Sid’s leadership role in the Ocean State’s surf and skate scene has led to the legalizing of surfing at many local breaks, as well as the saving of the East Coast’s premiere big-wave, Ruggles, from harbor developers. For Sid, the path to the Hall of Fame is not paved with trophies, but a tireless passion—the one that created the very culture that was missing before him. “Not being a huge contest guy,” says Sid, “and to be recognized as a Pioneer guy—it means everything to me.”