Surfing contributor George Downing was born and raised in Honolulu. He began surfing at age 9 off the shores of Waikiki, spending his teen years living and surfing with one of the original big wave surfers where he became a student of the sport.

Downing systematically observed weather and reef structure to understand the effect of swell size and direction. Using that knowledge along with his experience in shaping surfboards, he created a revolutionary surfboard design for big-wave surf in the 1950s. His 10-foot ‘Rocket’ design had the first removable fin design that allowed him and others to break the elusive 20 foot, and then 30 foot wave barrier at Makaha. He turned his love of surfing into a business, Downing Hawaii, and continues to remain very active in the surfing community.

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