For a man who once described surfing as “three-dimensional free verse,” Bruce Valluzzi was as calculated as it got when it came to competition.
Valluzzi began riding waves in 1963, at age 14, and just a couple years later he was surfing at the highest level. He represented the East Coast in the 1965 and ’66 World Surf Contest and was a paddle team member in the second World Surfing Championships in Peru, alongside fellow soon-to-be East Coast legends Claude Codgen, Mike Tabeling, and Bob Carson. The group smoked much of the competition, marking the first time any East Coast surfers received awards at a World Contest. By 1966, ’67 and ’68, Valluzzi was in Hawaii, competing in the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, posing in photographs with the Duke himself.
After graduating from Cocoa Beach High School in 1966, Bruce moved to Hawaii where he honed his big wave skills that winter. He was featured on the cover of Surfing Illustrated, riding Sunset Beach — the first time an East Coast surfer got a cover shot on a West Coast surf magazine. When he returned to the East he was surfing better than he ever had in the past but he brought back a disdain for small waves and was destined to leave the Small Wave Capital again.
He decided to delve into surf writing and published his first piece in 1967 — over the next two decades, Valluzzi’s byline appeared on more than 20 articles, most of them in Surfer. His best-known piece came in 1982 and was titled “Morocco: Surf Madness and 1001 Moorish Days and Nightmares.” It was a high-speed, booze-soaked, gonzo romp with two-time Pipeline Master Rory Russell and photographer Art Brewer, clearly influenced by Hunter S. Thompson.
Valluzzi was a part of the inaugural Greg Noll’s East Coast Surfing Legends Hall of Fame class. He passed away in 2007.
Photos by Art Brewer and courtesy the Valluzzi family