Case Hardened: Derek Dunfee


Photo: Jason Murray – Dunfee hits Maverick’s at dawn on a solo mission to get sized up without the crowd.

Case Hardened: Derek Dunfee

Sep 23

By Scott Hulet

La Jolla’s Windansea beach is hallowed ground in the surf realm. The sport took root here in the forties, with surfers like Peter Parkin, Bob Simmons, and Woody Ekstrom. The next generation made their presence known at Waimea, Sunset, and Pipeline. You’ve heard the names: Butch Van Artsdalen. Pat Curren. Mike Hynson.

The latest personification of the Windan’ vibe is 28-year-old Derek Dunfee. He’s a big wave paddle-in specialist; talks softly, carries a big stick, rolls solo — all of the markers of the big wave Bushido code.

In the last few years, he’s racked up an enviable batch of bona fides: XXL winner. A Surfer Poll award. Magazine spreads. Profiles. Video clips. What has stuck to his ribs, though, is the sponsorship his exploits have yielded. He’s now free to focus purely on his path, putting himself directly in the path of the most out of hand waves he can find. It’s heady space to occupy, but his home grounds provide emotional ballast. And the support of area locals like Richard Kenvin.

“He’s definitely aware of Windansea’s roots and what those guys did in the 50s and 60s, says Kenvin. “About 10 years ago I saw Derek paddle sideways under the ledge on a triple overhead wave and pull the airdrop perfectly, which took a lot of balls and composure for a kid his age. He was pretty young at the time. I remember thinking to myself ‘Wow, that kid’s serious about charging.’ Low-key guys from La Jolla/SD, like John Bowling and Colin Brown, have been quietly charging big waves elsewhere for years. Derek’s generation is a little more high profile, and connected to the rest of the world as far big waves go, I suppose. That being said, Derek is super humble and just a really stoked surfer.”

For the full article and all the rad photos go here:

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