Nike presents – 12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story

The capricious ocean so very strong,
Robust, powerful, can I be wrong?
Pounding, beating upon its cousin shore,
Comes it clapping, rapping with a mighty roar.
Nick Gabaldon, May 31, 1951

African American/Latino Surfer, Nick Gabaldon


In the 1940s, behind where Shutters and Casa Del Mar stand today, there was a beach known as The Ink Well – the only place on the Westside of Los Angeles where people of color could congregate comfortably. A teenager named Nick Gabaldon frequented the beach with friends and family. Borrowing a lifeguard’s paddleboard one day, Nick was immediately hooked. But segregation being what it was at the time, Malibu was off limits because of the color of his skin. So, one day Nick paddled the 12 miles from the Ink Well to Malibu. He earned himself a spot in the iconic lineup, becoming friends with local legends like Ricky Grigg, Bob Simmons and Buzzy Trent. But to and fro he paddled still. In June of 1951 a large swell was bombarding the Southern California Coast. Nick wanted a piece of it.

On June 6 he took off on a Malibu point wave, some say as big as ten feet, shot the pier but hit a pylon. His body was found three days later. Nick Gabaldon’s undying passion is an inspiration to anyone who has ever had the courage to dream. The waves belong to all of us, and so does the memory of Nick.

Find out more at

Watch the documentary trailer here:


About Afropix

When my father gave me a Kodak Brownie as a child, I fell in love with photography. I have been shooting pictures ever since. I am also an avid genealogist and can trace one of my family lines back to 1620! Check out my photography at!
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One Response to Nike presents – 12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story

  1. Sad, but beautifully written. Thanks for a little bit of LA history few of us knew about.

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