All photos courtesy of Peter “PT” Townend
By Peter “PT” Townened
At the dawn of the Seventies we got one issue of “Surfer” and one issue of “Surfing” in our hands that had this guy named J. Riddle on the cover. Riddle was in his beaver-tail wetsuit in these perfect looking green barrels that turned out to be on the Ranch.
In J’s own words, “This was Little Drakes, 1970 Dave Hilton and I were the only ones out, then up came a boat with Margo Godfrey and a guy (Harold Ward) who sat in the channel with one of the first water housed cameras and shot the day, that day got him 2 covers, a Surfer and Surfing International of myself a center spread of Dave and a full page black and white of me. I didn’t even know until months later that he was taking pictures until the mags called me and asked my permission run the photos”.
I first met “The Riddler” when I spent a couple of weeks living in Topanga in the days of the beach being “private” unless you new a resident owning or renting the beach shacks that hugged the foreshore.
J was a favorite of Topanga based film-maker Hal Jepsen and he starred in his early Seventies release “A Sea For Yourself”, which I was also in from those Topanga days. My good friend in Australia Steve Core showed it around Australia with me helping out as we four-walled it in community centers around the country. I would see J on-screen every night surfing the first footage of “Rattlesnake Point” with his mate George Trafton which later became know as today’s Scorpion Bay.
Year’s later in early 1977 we would be re-united on our way to El Salvador for the first phase of the making of “Big Wednesday” and would be hanging out for the rest of the year ending it on the North Shore surfing big Sunset for the final sequence of the movie.
During this period we also hung out at the Ranch and Malibu and I rode one of his Natural Progression Robbie Dick pintails on a great third point day at the Bu.
From the late Sixties through the Seventies “The Riddler” was the man at Malibu, nobody surfed better. He’s still in the water actively lives a little further north these days, but occasionally turns up at the point to still show his magic. DZ