Q&A with Dick "ROZO" Rosborough

Where and when were you born? What do you consider to be your hometown and why?
I was born in Jacksonville, Fl on December 11, 1950. In all my travels I would always refer to my origin as being from Jax Beach. So I guess thats where I’m from. For the past 30 years I’ve lived in Ft. George Island where it’s more country than town, so I guess I’m a man without a town but a man with a country, I think. But, I do know that this is home.

How, when & where were you introduced to surfing? 
Do you remember your first ride?

Surfing had been around maybe a year or so before my friends starting getting boards. Being water active, I skim-boarded and belly-boarded before my friend Charlie Snyder let me and Joe Roland use his board to try some white water. It was great, toes gripping, hurdling forward at breakneck speeds, the wind in my hair, the spray in my face, oh yeah, I remember it. Can I have a glass of water please?

Tell us about your first surfboard. How did you get it? Describe it. Tell us the same info about your first "good" surfboard. 
My first surf board I bought from my brother Rob. It was called a banzai. It was 8’6" and it was ok. My breakthrough board was a Mike Dyole. He shaped it in his back yard in Lucadia, Ca. It was a shortboard with a flat deck, boxy rails, thickness forward, single fin, 747 nose, squash tail, 6 footer. I ended up hitchhiking back to Fl with it, then took it to Barbados, Puerto Rico and Santa Cruz, then gave it to my brother. I started shaping after that.

Who were your early influences and why? What did they contribute to your surfing? 
Back in those days, everyone was pretty much equal, since we were all kooks then, there was really nobody to look up to.

Tell us about the guys that you considered to be "your crew" of surf buddies. How did they influence you to become the surfer or competitior that you were? 
In the late 60’s surf clubs were around. Surf shops had teams and if you were on one of those teams, you were cool. I was on a team and I was cool. To stay on a team you had to do well in contests. In 1970 me and my buddies, Joe Roland and Larry Miniard won spots to the World Contest in Australia.

Tell us some stories about your first contest ever, your best contests, your favorite contests, your worst contests.
My whole contest evolution started small and ended up big. When you’re a contender and the opportunity exists you have to go for it. That means surf contests until you peak out. See how far it takes you I say. My most memorable contest was at the World Contest in Australia. It was the opening day of the festivities, all the press was there, all the locals and all the tourists. The place was packed. I had to surf the man on man heat against a buddy of mine named Pat Cosgrove. He beat me by one point. I had lost my board and had to swim in. Leashes had not been invented yet and the contest was at Bells Beach and that’s a long swim in. As I dragged myself up on the beach, some guy handed me my board, like ‘go back out, it’s not over yet, you can still do it, its only a 15 minute paddle back out’. But, I tried anyway.

Describe in detail the evolution of your contest career. How did it start, how did it develop, how did it end? 
When contests first started, they were put on by the JCS and the Lions Club as a way to make money. Since all kids wanted at that time was a trophy, we were all for it. Not to miss out on a good thing, surf shops saw that by having a surf team they could generate interest and promote the sport. This evolved into bigger contests and eventually organized surfing the ESA. A contest circuit was established from Fl to Rhode Island. It culminated with the East Coast championship, and the individual points were totaled in all those sanctioned contests which resulted in the ranking for the east coast. This was strictly amateur, there was no pro circuit. My personal best was sixth in 1970. That got me to the World Contest in Australia and I haven’t surfed a contest since. 

Tell us about your best trips ever. Your worst.
The best trip ever was that trip to Australia. Where even though I lost in the competition, I stayed in the country for six weeks, traveling 1,000 miles north, catching all the classic breaks at their perfection. Best trip was that trip to Australia in 1970. Stayed six weeks, traveled 1,000 miles from Bells to Burleigh. Rented a flat in Kirra for two weeks, also surfed perfect Angourie, Lennox head, Burleigh, Bells,Winky Pop, and Johanna. Worst trip was to Mexico, was surfed out in three days and had seven days left.

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Tell us about your philosophies and theories on board design. Any contributions or inventions?
Everything matters so that nothing matters. I invented the Hawaiian sun visor with Daniel Silva but never made any money on it.

What is the difference between free surfing and contest surfing? Describe the difference from a philosophical point, and a physical point of view.
Free surfing is how you surf when you don’t compete anymore. It’s usually harder because of 4 or 5 guys out, there are 20 or 30. The mental attitude of "contest surfers" is amusing to me. They try so hard, I hope the best for everyone of them. I think the best thing about contest surfing is that it teaches you how to lose.

What would you change, and why, if you had a chance to do it over?
I wouldn’t change one thing. 

If you could go back in time to just one event, knowing what you know now, what would it be and what would you do?
I would have tried to get everybody to stop what they are doing and do what I was doing because then they would be as happy as I am now. 

What role does surfing play in your life today, and what is a day in the life consist of?
Surfing made me what I am today. It’s as simple as that. I revolve my day around what’s happening. If the surf’s good, my house sounds like a beehive hit with a stick. It’s buzzing. For your morals sakeyou’d better catch as many good days as you can at my age.

What words of wisdom would you impart on a beginner to help give him a jump start into the world of surfing?
For beginners, watch good surfers for techniques. Anything that looks easy is. If you can stand up, you can surf. Keep trying, it’s worth it, you’ll never come home stinking.

What is your assessment of today’s surf scene? competition scene? as it compares to what it was like when you were at your height of competitive involvement?
The contest scene nowadays is so competitive it’s scary. The kids are so much better now than we all were at their age. Every age group is busting with talent. I personally don’t surf contests now because I don’t want some guy bragging to his buddies that he beat me in a contest, like I heard this guy saying about how he beat my buddy Mitch. I’ve got my pride you know.