Spooner Spotlight: Buzzy Kerbox

Posted on April 26, 2021

Spooner Spotlight: Buzzy Kerbox

Burton "Buzzy" Kerbox is known for many things – he is a successful competitive surfer, winning the 1978 World Cup at Sunset Beach, and is the co-inventor of tow-in surfing in the early 1990s. Over the years Buzzy's feats in the ocean have firmly cemented his status as a legendary waterman. We sat down with Buzzy to discuss his career, talk about his recently published book, and to discover his secret to surfing massive Waimea at over 60 years old.

Name: Burton Kerbox, but everyone calls me Buzzy

Where you were born and where do you live now?: I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I moved to Hawaii in 1967. These days I'm living on the North Shore of Oahu.  

When did you start surfing?: I had my first lesson at Waikiki in 1966

As one of the inventors of tow-in surfing, where did you get the idea to try it? I had been towing my boards behind boats for years. Eventually, I bought a Zodiac boat, brought it out to the North Shore, and began experimenting with wave tow-ins in 1991 with Laird Hamilton and Darrick Doerner at Backyards.

Can you tell us a crazy story of tow-in surfing? There are too many stories. We have towed at secret breaks and not-so-secret breaks over the years, and I have gotten to ride over a hundred miles on thousands of waves, and I still love it.

Your book is an incredible read. What inspired you to write it? I always took pictures, and while in college, I started keeping a journal to document all of my experiences. As my life moved through the progression of surfing, it evolved from longboards to shortboards, from pro surfing to windsurfing, tow surfing, standup paddleboarding, and now hydrofoiling. My book also covers my modeling career as it progressed from Vogue magazine to becoming a contract model for Polo. My wife said, "You always keep talking about writing a book, so do it!" It's a personal story I wanted to share to inspire people to chase their dreams and hopefully entertain them as well.


You're still paddling into massive waves and showing no signs of slowing down. What's your secret? I have always set fitness goals for myself at every age to just keep at it – I have backed off the throttle but still keep going at a decent pace. I try to avoid injury, but yet I'm still out there being active. I live by the words of a Tom Petty song: "if you never slow down, you'll never grow old."