Rich Rudolph has always stood up for the East Coast. After he had been named the 1988 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) East Coast Surfer of the Year, Rudolph said, “When you travel with a bunch of guys who are always talking about how their waves are better than yours, it gets old. We’ve got good surfing and surfers here, and they deserve respect.”
Perhaps Rudolph’s passion came from the fact that, compared to many of his Cocoa Beach, Florida peers in the 1970s, he came to surfing late. It wasn’t until he was in ninth grade that Rudolph moved to Cocoa and was coaxed into the surf at Cape Canaveral Pier by a couple of new friends, that he found the sport that would define his life. He was a fast learner. “After several hours of struggling,” Rudolph says, “I finally got to my feet and glided across some open face…I was hooked.”
Rudolph soon won two ESA Championships in 1982 and 1984, and then proceeded to dominate the annual Virginia Beach ECSC Pro Division the rest of the decade. He then became a successful shaper, working alongside other East Coast board-building pioneers like Jim and Ed Leasure, Bill Johnson (Class of 2018) and Matt Kechele (Class of 2006). “I’m truly humbled,” Rudolph says of his Hall of Fame induction. “I was just a kid who loved riding waves. This is at the top of anything I have ever achieved.”
Rudolph was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 2016.