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All for a Few Perfect Waves (The Story of Miki Dora)

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Miki Dora - All For a Few Perfect Waves

Miki Dora - All For a Few Perfect Waves

The freedom to paddle out any time whenever the swell comes up regardless of what anyone says or thinks, the freedom to surf as much or as long as you like without worry of being “home” on time, the freedom to jump a plane to unknown waves without the shackles of a mortgage or job to hold you back…The Freedom! The Freedom! That is at the core of David Rensin’s newest book. All for a few Perfect Waves takes on the mammoth task of making sense of one of surfing's most loved and reviled figures: “Da Cat” Miki Dora.
The book itself is more oral history than biography. Instead of taking upon himself the burden of choosing what side of Dora’s complex persona to highlight or what slant to give his monstrous legend, Rensin lets Dora’s family, friends, and enemies share their recollections of the late surfing maverick.

All for a Few Perfect Waves is packed with interviews steeped in surf credibility. Greg Noll, Derek Hynd, Tom Morey, Mickey Munoz, John Milius, and Sam George are just few of the folks who share intriguing personal memories of “Da Cat”.

Miki’s early life germinated in the tumult of divorce, neglect, and (what he saw as) societal oppression, but his legend took root in the perfect point surf at Malibu, California in the 1950’s when surfing was reserved for rugged athletic maniacs with a taste for adventure. In this new arena, Miki Dora was king. He had it all: charisma, aggression, and (most of all) a freakish natural ability to ride waves. Surfing was his religion, and he defined himself through its prism.

But the sunny days at Malibu cavorting with Hollywood stars and pulling pranks on fellow surfers serve as merely a snapshot in this bigger-than-life adventure full of exotic locales, perfect waves, burnt bridges, international crime, paranoia, treasure, prison, and a sordid love triangle that spanned several continents.

It’s a journey equal parts Catch Me if You Can and On the Road that begins when Gidget and the Beach Boys inflated the Malibu surf scene into a bloated fashion show full of kooks and hodads. Miki fled a generation of surfers that idolized him for lonely, wandering existence and lifelong quest to break free of societal chains and the weight of responsibility. But it only deepened interest his mystery and expanded his fame.

Rensin’s writing is deft and engrossing and truly captures the essence of a life that was often misunderstood but always interesting. At the end of All for a Few Perfect Waves, you might dislike Miki Dora. You might admire him. You might even pity him. But if you surf, you have to respect his intense dedication to the surfing way of life. Riding waves came first. While the world views material wealth and societal law as reality and surfing as some wasteful ephemeral phantom, Miki Dora saw it the opposite way. And it cost him dearly in terms of failed personal relationships, a struggle with personal demons, and decades on the run from the law “all for a few perfect waves.” If personal freedom was the point of Miki’s life, then the oft coined clause rings true: With freedom comes a price.

The Real Deal

David Rensin’s All for a Few Perfect Waves is an energetic and engrossing read that weaves narrative and anecdote seamlessly to unravel a complex, private, and controversial life with objective clarity. What’s more, Rensin gets surfing right. This isn’t some kook on the outside peering in at the oddity of it all, but rather a surfer and writer who understands Dora’s passion and grew up in the shadow of his legend. This book will renew your spirit of adventure and recharge your surf stoke.

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