Before His Time: Merv Larson in 1969

Long before kayakers attempted spins and cartwheels on river waves, Larson nailed them in the surf

When Surfer Magazine writer Matt Warshaw posted this throwback clip on Tuesday, he put wave-ski innovator Merv Larson among surfing’s greatest pioneers, calling him one of “the most advanced wave-riders of all time.” But if this clip reveals to surfers somebody years ahead of his sport, it is perhaps even more mind-blowing from a paddling perspective. River kayakers wouldn’t master these moves for decades.

Back when Eric Jackson was still in diapers, Larson was perfecting and maybe even inventing a litany of moves that Warshaw struggles to define even today: “Multiple spins, riding backwards (only person to not make it look cheap and tricky), fully controlled whitewater bounces, and whatever that bugged-out Euclidiean fourth-dimension shit is in the final shot.” That, I think, is what we playboaters would call a back loop — in 1969.

–Read the full interview with Merv Larson (and learn what’s under that helmet: a 60s waterproof music player Merv invented) on Surfer Magazine’s blog.

–Check out MORE GREAT VIDEOS on Canoe & Kayak.