By Jake Howard
On Oct. 4, surfing pioneer Jackie Baxter peacefully slipped from this world. An integral player in the early days of the North Shore, he first started surfing around 1959 as a surf-stoked grommet in Venice Beach. Five years later, he was on the Dewey Weber Surfboard team. By the time he turned 20, he was riding Vardeman Surfboards, which was producing the Jackie Baxter signature model.
Baxter’s rapid ascent through the ranks eventually led him to challenge the expansive big-wave line-ups in Hawaii. In the second half of the 1960s, Baxter relocated to the North Shore of Oahu, just in time for the “Shortboard Revolution.”
A kind-hearted, soft-spoken soul with a good sense of humor, Baxter, who came to be known by friends simply as “Bam Bam,” preferred to let his surfing do the talking, a fact that earned him much respect and admiration in the big-wave realm.
“His mind doesn’t waver in pressure situations. Total destruction or total bliss, either way, Jackie loves it,” early Capo Beach surfer Billy Hamilton once said of his good friend.
Baxter competed in the 1971 Duke Kahanamoku Classic and was an invitee to the 1970 and 1971 Pipeline Expression Session, the precursor to the iconic Pipeline Masters.
By the mid ’70s, Baxter was living back in California, where he would spend the remainder of his days. His son, Josh, would go on to become a longboard world champion.
Baxter was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 2009. He leaves behind his wife, Kathy, and son, Josh.