CATCHING UP WITH SURF HISTORIAN ROGER HOLMES PINCHES
A while back we had the opportunity to sponsor the Lost and Found Collection event here on Oahu. This event featured a collection of old photographs of legendary surfers that Doug Walker stumbled upon at a flea market. Interestingly, our blog post about the event ended up getting us in touch with another surf historian via comments on the blog thread.
I’ve spent some time getting to know Roger Holmes Pinches via email and found his story to be an interesting one. Roger was born in South Australia, which is 60 miles from the surf spots at Waitpinga, Middleton and Boomer Beach. He spent weekends on the coast surfing, camping and eventually he got into South Australia School of Art when he was 15. After finishing art school and still an avid surfer, Roger met John Arnold. John Arnold ran a surf shop in Adelaide and ended up hiring Roger to run the shop’s design and advertising department. At the same time, the shop picked up the O’Neill franchise from California.
This gave them the rights to manufacture O’Neill products in Australia. They also had the rights to Golden Breed clothing. Business was booming by the early 70’s and the shop started supplying major stores all over Australia. They also began flying big name surfers over to Australia like Gerry Lopez, Jeff Hakman and Reno Abillera. During the season, Roger would take these athletes around Australia to the various events at Bells Beach, Sydney and other free surfing trips in South Australia.
Roger took Jeff Hakman to the Bells Beach contest in 1976 where Hakman ended up becoming the first Hawaiian to win in Australia. By that time, Roger had a big advertising budget and was designing full-page adverts for international magazines such as Surfer Magazine, Tracks Mag and Surfing World.
After a few decades, Roger is now living in a remote villa on the northeastern coast of Bali. Between solo surf sessions, he has spent the past three years writing stories about his experiences in the surf industry from the 1960’s and 1970’s. These stories include adventures with some of the surfing’s biggest personalities. He plans to turn these stories into a glossy coffee table book dedicated to Jack O’Neill. He hopes it will embody Jack’s classic ethos of “Damn it, we did it first.” The book is scheduled to be released as a limited edition offering in Australia and California in 2019. “I am fortunate to have an amazing archive of notes, letters and photographs,” says Roger.
The book promises to be a colorful and informative look at our sport’s history, so keep an eye out for its release. As Jack O’Neill said, “It’s been a hell of a ride, and long may it continue.”