Godfather of East Coast surfing dies at 79

May 17, 2017 | Surfing
Dick Catri: the first East Coast surfer to surf Pipeline and Waimea

Floridian surfer and surfboard shaper Dick Catri passed away at his home in Melbourne, Florida, at 79, due to heart complications.

Dick Catri was born in Carteret, New Jersey, in 1938. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to South Florida.

He learned to surf with Jack "Murph the Surf" Murphy in 1958 and, a few months later, they introduced the sport to the Indialantic/Cocoa Beach area.

In 1959, Catri moved to Hawaii. He worked as a lifeguard, fixed dings, and learned to shape at Surfboards Hawaii. He was the first East Coast surfer to experience Pipeline and Waimea Bay.

In 1964, Dick returned to Florida and opened the Satellite Beach Surf Shop. Two years later, he opened Shagg's Surf Shop on the Cocoa Beah Pier.

Dick Catri: a colorful character

Catri built a dream team for Hobie Surfboards and was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame in 1966.

His surf business empire was growing and, by 1968, Dick Catri was already shaping and selling his own gear via Catri Surfboards.

In 1972, he was convicted of selling marijuana to an undercover agent and served 13 months in jail. But Catri learned from his mistake and resumed life as a passionate surfer.

Dick Catri: he was deeply involved in the East Coast surfing scene

He organized several contests and put the 1976 Florida Pro on the world tour schedule. Dick Catri was a very active person - he coached aspiring pro surfers, including Kelly Slater and Todd Holland, lobbied for surf-designated areas, and competed in several events.

Catri was a colorful character with a smart sense of humor, and the contributions he made for East Coast surfing will not be forgotten.

More recently, Dick Catri dedicated his time to fishing and a charter fishing business. You can watch Dick Catri in the movies "Surfing Hollow Days," "Inside Out," "Ride the Wild Surf."