Really Ace’d That One
SURFER’S December 1992 issue was themed around big-wave surfing. The cover story was “The 25 Greatest Moments in Big-wave Riding,” but the best and most memorable article in the issue was Bruce Jenkins’s impeccably-researched profile of the late Jose Angel. In the story, Greg Noll called Angel “the gutsiest surfer there ever was,” and the editors used that quote as the headline on the story. (Angel used to jump off his board and do backflips for fun at Waimea. He’s the guy on the cover of SURFER’S first issue. Truly a legend). The story was great, and staff wanted to point readers to it on the cover. So they put the blurb teasing Jenkins’s article above the SURFER logo: at the top of the page it read, “The Bravest Surfer of All Time—page 44.”
At some point in the production of the issue, they shifted the order of the stories around and the Jose Angel profile ended up on page 66. They forgot to change the cover text.
As it turned out, page 44 was in the middle of that “25 Greatest Moments” article, and it contained a snarky write-up of Alec Cooke’s (aka “Ace Cool”) failed circus-act attempt to surf Kaena Point by getting dropped into the lineup by a helicopter. This is how the short article about him, on page 44, opened: “Certain members of the big-wave fraternity love to call bullshit on Alec Cooke, writing him off as only a competent surfer but an expert glory hog.” In other words, no one would ever un-ironically call Ace Cool the bravest surfer of all time.
That one hurt.