Santa Cruz legend Vince "The Godfather" Collier passes away

March 5, 2018 | Surfing
Vince Collier: he was one of Santa Cruz' Westsiders

Legendary Santa Cruz surfer Vince Collier passed away after suffering a heart attack.

According to photographer Chris Klopf, Collier died after a surf session at Puerto Escondido, in Mexico. Vince Collier, nicknamed "The Godfather" was one of the most respected Santa Cruz locals.

He grew up surfing in Northern California and was one of the first surfers to wear the wetsuits pioneered by Jack O'Neill.

Collier rarely showed fear. Instead, he was feared. His aggressive surf style reflected a bold and troubled personality.

When he was just a teenager, Vince was introduced to the world of drugs and guns by a heavy biker drug smuggler, who took him under his wing.

"Up to that point, I was just a normal, mellow kid. But as soon I got under his wing, things changed quite a bit. I was paramilitary trained by a heavy-duty smuggler, and it changed my whole psychic," explains Vince Collier.

Collier shares his story in "The Westsiders," a raw documentary about the Santa Cruz surf scene, and the tribe that surfed and defended Steamer Lane.

"I became quite aggressive, and it got kind of crazy from then on out. I trained in a place that was dark. It was a catholic raised kid, and ended up being a thug and a bully."

As a surfer, Vince Collier loved the big days. He rode Mavericks, Puerto Escondido, Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and his home break when conditions were putting everyone's life at risk.

The notorious Santa Cruz enforcer, power surfer, and shaper always kept his friends close, and has a sarcastic sense of humor.

At 220 pounds, Collier was a huge influence on the late 1970s generation, which included the likes of Daryl "Flea" Virostko, Jason "Ratboy" Collins, and Shawn "Barney" Barron.

"I've got a lot of good stories. Believe or not, they're all true," Collier once said.

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