Ricky Grigg: no fear | Photo: Donald James

Big wave surfer and oceanographer Ricky Grigg has passed away at 77, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Grigg was one of the first big wave riders of all time. To be more precise, he was constantly chasing waves. Born in 1937, in Los Angeles, Grigg began surfing at only nine.

He never let surfing interfere with his studies. In 1958, he got a B.S. in Biology, at Stanford University, and heads to Hawaii to explore the large swells. His detractors have always pointed out his "intellectual arrogance".

In 1964, Ricky Grigg earned a Master in Zoology from the University of Hawaii. Two years later, in 1966, the Californian wins the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship.

Back to school, in 1964, Grigg earns the PhD title in oceanography, from the University of Hawaii. One year later, he joins the world's leading experts of deep water corals, and a guinea pig, to live underwater off the coast of La Jolla, California, for 15 days in a 12-by-60 foot cylindrical steel chamber, known as Sealab II.

In 1998, he wrote "Big Surf, Deep Dives and the Islands: My Life in the Ocean", a controversial and self-centered book.

In the last years, Ricky Grigg fought a throat cancer but never stopped surfing. "I said to him when you're ready to go, go out there and surf the biggest waves. I'm pretty sure he's out there right now," says wife Maria Grigg.

Ricky Grigg can be seen in the surf movies "Slippery When Wet", "Gun Ho!", "Golden Breed, and "Blue Safari".