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“I found all my old scrapbooks. There is a bit of history there. “ – John Whitmore, discussing how he was stoked to unearth his boxes of personal archive material, after moving to his farm in Elands Bay, all of which has now been archived and catalogued by the author.

For the past 10 years I have been conducting research for this biographical book across multiple avenues and have amassed a broad collection of archive material.

One of my most valuable resources has been the access given to me by John’s family to his personal archive, including four large boxes of material. Most importantly, this collection includes his meticulously compiled scrapbooks, notes and various memorabilia, as well as private letters/postcards, diaries and an enormous archive of family photographs (see here).

Here is small sample of the clippings and publications in the Whitmore family archive. Please click on any image to view the full gallery below:

Additional Research

Apart from John’s own vast clipping collection, I have hundreds of scans and photographs of newspaper articles, photographs and other printed material from the scrapbooks of the dozens of veteran surfers, Hobie Catters and others I have interviewed. I have also visited the Cape Town Archives and various libraries repeatedly and trawled the Internet to compile a vast database of print media research from websites, newspapers and magazine publishers.

These collection includes dozens of pages from SA Outdoor Life magazine – mostly articles submitted by John over 18 months in the early 1960s – as well as full PDFs of the periodicals SA Surfer and the US Hobie Hotline magazines, and most of the Hobie Scene newsletters published by John in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

Here is another small sample from the John Whitmore Book Project archive. Please click on any image to view the full gallery below:

Via further research, I have consulted scores of other books and websites, such as Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, Malcolm Gault-Williams’ Legendary Surfers and Pat Flanagan’s South African Surfing Legends website, among many others.

The sheer depth of my research material has enabled me to craft a detailed and accurate biography of John Whitmore, whose life intersected with and had a marked effect on global surfing and Hobie Catting history, as well as the establishment of California beach culture in South Africa.

For example, my research reveals how John’s close American friends and business associates – especially Bruce Brown, Hobie Alter and Dick Metz – contributed to his success and the enormous influence he brought to bear as a result of his global connections, efforts and achievements in so many spheres.

If you have any material you would like to add to the John Whitmore book research archive, please email me at

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