Doc Waske: "People are scared, but I just talk to the big guy upstairs."
  • Doc Waske: "People are scared, but I just talk to the big guy upstairs."
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  • Name: Doc Waske
  • Age: 74
  • From: La Mesa
  • Location: Tourmaline Surf Park

On a sunny day in Pacific Beach, Don Waske was heading to the showers after a morning surf session.

Waske started surfing San Diego in 1958. “I started when I was 16,  I’m 74 now and still going. I think it’s a great cardiovascular sport and the friendship thing plays a lot when you get older. The younger kids out there, they accept you, they don’t shun you or treat you like you shouldn’t be here. I’m going to keep surfing until I can’t surf anymore.”

For Waske, the most terrifying thing about surfing is the stingrays. “I’ve been stung a couple times and it’s not a fun experience to say the least. But that’s it…”

“A lot of people are [scared] I guess, but I just talk to the big guy upstairs, and every time I go in I ask Him for safety and every time I go out I thank Him for keeping me safe.”

Waske’s biggest wipeout happened in Hawaii. “One day the waves were a lot larger than I’d ever been in, about 10 to 15 feet. I fell off and the wave fell on top of me and I had never experienced that much power on top of me before. It spun me around and I didn’t know which way was up… but then I noticed all the bubbles were going up, so that’s up.”

“By the time I got to the surface, here comes the next big monster again, and kaboom. When I got out of that, my feet were on the reef, so I walked back to the shore, but it was terrifying. I can’t believe these guys who ride 40 foot waves, 60 foot waves— you get held down for a long time.”

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