Joe Sargent

Da Bull, Mr. Maverick’s and Z-boy will be at the Fremont Theatre this Thursday for the showing of “Riding Giants.”

Greg Noll, a pioneer in big-wave surfing; Jeff Clark, the founder of the big-wave break Maverick’s; and Stacy Peralta, a skate-boarding pioneer turned filmmaker, will all be on hand for the showing of “Riding Giants” as part of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

“Riding Giants” is a documentary about big-wave surfing, its history, some of the sport’s important figures and what its future is. It stars Laird Hamilton, Noll and Clark, and was written, directed and narrated by Stacy Peralta.

The film opened the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, and then went around the country to expose the nation to big-wave surfing. The film’s popularity even surprised some of the stars.

“I looked over at this red rug lined with paparazzi; I looked over to Stacy (Peralta) and asked if he had celebrities coming. Stacy said, ‘No, this is for you, I just figured if I told you, you wouldn’t have come,’” Noll said about the festival, when it hit him how big the film was.

“I saw Robert Redford watching Greg Noll on screen and thought, ‘This is the Twilight Zone,’” Noll said.

After the Sundance, the stars traveled around America with the movie and in turn the group became close friends during this time. The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival will be a reunion for the group.

“All the guys that participated in the film have become life-long friends,” Noll said.

Noll, also known as “Da Bull,” is the Babe Ruth of big-wave surfing, the first man to surf Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Hawaii, and the man that paddled into the largest wave of all time in December 1969.

At 17, Noll moved to Hawaii to chase his dream of riding big waves. By 30, Noll and his surfing counterparts had made Waimea Bay the place to surf for big-wave riders, had started his own surfboard company, produced a surfing magazine and started producing surf films.

Noll and Bud Brown were the originators of the surf film, but back in those days surf premieres were a different scene. There were no VCRs or DVD players so surfers and surf buffs gathered together at film previews, and sometimes it got out of hand.

“I had guys riding in on motorcycles, lighting off cherry bombs. I’d show one of those films and age 20 years,” Noll said.

Premieres were events where devoted surfers gathered together to watch and sometimes meet their heroes, and to see what was happening in the world of surfing.

“At a premiere in Santa Monica I had burnt out two of the projection lamps and was down to one. I knew if it went out I was a dead man,” Noll said.

Steve Gibby is hoping to bring back the old surf film premiere feeling, minus the cherry bombs and motorcycles, with tomorrow’s showing of Riding Giants.

Gibby has worked in television for over twenty years, has won multiple Emmy’s, and has covered the Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing, and the ASP tour for both ESPN and Fox sports. Gibby is on the SLO Film festival board, and with his connections to Noll, Peralta, and Clark, was instrumental in getting the film onto the Freemont’s screen.

Riding Giants is the perfect film for the prevalent central coast surf culture Gibby said.

“It was a no brainier to bring these guys here,” Gibby said.

Gibby now owns Cut4Media out of Grover Beach.

The showing will conclude with a raffle and a question and answer section with the stars, who are some of the most experienced people in the world of surfing and skating.

Stacy Peralta began his career as one of the Z-boys, an innovative skate group from the area of south side of Santa Monica known as “Dogtown,” captured in the documentary film “Dogtown and Z-boys” directed by Peralta, and the major motion picture starring Heath Ledger “Lords of Dogtown,” which Peralta wrote.

He then went on to start Powell Peralta Skate Company and the Bones Brigade, another influential skate team that pushed conventional skating, and where skating superstar Tony Hawk had his beginnings.

Jeff Clark, or Mr. Maverick’s, is the founder of the Big wave surf break Maverick’s, in Half Moon Bay. After proving to himself that the wave was ride able, he surfed the break by virtually by himself for 15 years, trying to convince surfers that you don’t have to leave the country for big waves.

Now Maverick’s, along with Jaws in Maui, the home of Laird Hamilton, is one of the worlds premiere big wave breaks.

Clark now owns and operates Jeff Clark Surfboards

After riding the largest wave in history, Noll moved to Alaska and started commercial fishing, leaving the world of surfing, which was changing quickly during the shortboard revolution of the early ’70’s.

Noll now lives in Crescent City and makes specialty custom surfboards with his son. His life story was recently purchased by a Hollywood studio to eventually turn into a film.

“I told them pay me enough so if you screw it up, I can move to Alaska, and won’t have to look at anyone I know again,” Noll said of the deal.

These celebrities of the surfing and skating community will walk down the red carpet on Thursday Night, after a limo ride from Mission Grill, where there is going to be a VIP party before the show.

All of the stars of Riding Giants have some connection to the central coast. Noll ran his commercial fishing boat out of Port San Luis for three years, and Peralta and Clark meet on the central coast when Peralta picked up a hitch hiking Clark.

The group will be back tomorrow show the educating and entertaining film, but as good as the film is it cannot teach the experience of surfing, only going out and surfing can do that as Noll told an audience in New York during a press conference.

“Surfing is the kind of thing that if you do you know, but for you son-of-a-bitches who haven’t done it I can’t explain it,” Noll said.

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