A TURNING POINT: MIKE MURPHY’S FIRST ROLL
Our family is at the Marine Stadium in Long Beach, CA on a beautiful spring day in 1991. I usually ride first but today is different. Uncle Mike suits up first because he has a new move to show off. He tries to keep it a secret, but can’t resist letting the cat out of the bag: he’s riding away from flips! At age 43 he’s the first.[i]
It feels great to have the family together on our home waters at the Marine Stadium. Mike warms up with a few big jumps, and then he cuts to the wake for the move we have all been waiting for.
It is magnificent: a big backside roll on his Air Chair. Cheers go up from people in boats and on the beach. As he takes another lap the excited crowd gives Mike hand signals to do it again, spinning their pointer fingers in a circle, while yelling “flip! flip!” He’s happy to oblige them. They’ve never seen anything like it. Nobody has.
Back on shore a crowd gathers around Mike and his hydrofoil. People want to know where they can buy one, how much they cost, and how hard it is to do a flip. Mike gives them a business card for his new ski shop at Eliminator Boats, and basks in the glow of the limelight. Mike’s flip on his Air Chair is a huge breakthrough for him both as a rider, and as an owner of the fledgling company. It also confirms his position as the #1 rider of the sport.
We drive home from the beach and hurriedly unload the red milk truck and boat. Grandma Murphy puts the day’s videotape into the VCR. Mike’s backside rolls look so easy, and watching him do it again and again is an instant eye opener for me. I see the parallel to kneeboarding, and decide on the spot to get serious about foiling. There is more uncharted territory to explore, and Mike has provided a roadmap yet again.
Mike got big ink as the first flipper (Doyle, 1991)
Images (used with permission)
“AWS: Hydrofoiling Cover,” photo: Ian Lauder, 1999.
Ingrid Buxton, “The Flying Pinto,” photos: Rick Doyle, WaterSki Magazine, August, 1991, 36-37.
[i] “Hydrofoiling Milestones & Tricks,” Flight – The Hydrofoiling Newsletter. Volume 2, Number 3: Autumn, 1998, 6-7.
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1992 Air Chair Ride with Mike Murphy (with commentary)