A surfing professor, a man who has lived a total ocean life. It begins with a small boy growing up on the coast of Southern California, where his life is shaped by the sea in every way--emotionally, athletically, professionally, and spritually. It is a story of a surfer who wanted to become an oceanograher, and did. Ricky Grigg's life is one of adventure, from Legendary big-wave surfing to deep diving to oceanography. A Surfer's Love Affair.
In the '60s, he was a golden boy riding the waves. Since those days, Rick Grigg has discovered new worlds--and himself--without ever giving up the sea.
If you were young and lived on the West Coast back during the birth of the surf culture, the name Ricky Grigg goes off like a grenade in the memory. Ricky Grigg, first on the outer break at Hawaii's Pipeline, his arms shooting skyward like a dancer's. Ricky Grigg, the gladiator with his scythe-like bottom turns at Waimea Bay as 30 feet of water, cratered and wind-blown, gathers ominously over his head. Ricky Grigg at Oahu's Sunset Beach, tucked down and shooting out of a closing wave like a cannonball.
Then, Feb. 1, 1967, with Sunset breaking 18 feet and hollow, Grigg, the smiling 29-year-old in the Aloha shirt, accepts a handshake and a tribute from surfing's eminence, Duke Kahanamoku. Ten breathtaking rides that day won Grigg first place at the Duke Invitational. No prize money back then. Big waves were ridden for glory alone, and Ricky Grigg's glory that day was to be champion of all.
"Ricky," The Duke said, "you really understand the ocean."
Where does the graying surfer go? Rick Grigg, traveled barely a mile. From the moody surface to the tranquillity deep below.
That's the distance of a life absorbed in the sea.
Discovered That Hawaii Is Drowning
Richard W. Grigg discovered that Hawaii is drowning. The Earth is eating its own.
Just off the Big Island of Hawaii, a hot spot in the planet's crust leaks molten rock. As the great Pacific lithospheric plate moves across this deep-sea volcanic vent at a rate of 4 inches a year, lumps of belching lava grow into mountains and rise up from the sea floor. Eventually, they break the surface and become islands. A new one is being created right now. It's 12,500 feet tall and has been named Loihi. But the summit is still 3,000 feet down and will not emerge from the water for perhaps 50,000 years, give or take.
And the other end of the Hawaiian chain? The islands are subsiding back into the water, their reefs dead, their summits crumbling away. In time, they vanish, driven back down into the molten core of the Earth as the Pacific plate grinds underneath the continent of Asia.
Grigg mounted a five-year expedition in the 1970s to study the 4,000-mile chain. Using ships and airplanes and submersibles and teams of researchers, he helped piece together our understanding of this colossal conveyor belt that produces and then destroys the mountains of the mid-Pacific; he listened to his mother.
"The ocean is the medium of my life. Has been since I was born," he says.
It is a place to play and study, an urge and a passion, mind and matter. He speaks not from a single frame of reference, but usually two. He wanted to surf; Mom wanted him in college. "Duality" is a word he frequently uses.