I was surprised when I received a text from Cort to give him a call. Though we have tread the same waters for years, as life takes its tacks and jibes we’ve not crossed tracks in decades. Though I’d always admired him, It would be a stretch to call us close friends. I figured he might have some briny bone to pick about the book.
I biked up to Lake Folsom, took a break and gave him a call. I won’t share the depths of the conversation to protect the innocent nor even the wicked, but suffice to say it was a wild look back. To my surprise, Cort told me that he loved the book, had read it in one sitting from start to finish. But then it came…”You know, I was more than a pretty face. I won two world championships.”
I honestly didn’t remember that. I thought Robby won them all. I know he was on fire in the early eighties and a true pioneer of Hawaiian wave jumping, as witnessed in this great photo by Steve Wilkings. Yet, all accolades aside, I’m still going with pretty face – just as I’d give his cohort Mark Robinson the speedobod award – banana hammock notwithstanding. My book didn’t delve into who won this or that championship, and certainly not those that happened pre-Maui.
Cort was a shining star for sure, and good lord, did I not refer to him in print as Jesus Cort Superstar? There’s nothing wrong with having a pretty face. I wish I had such a pretty of a face, though I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle the troubles that came with the package. Cort is certainly a legend but was not featured in my movie, Wind Legends, and though he had a cameo in the book, not highlighted enough for all he was worth. And he was worth a lot. He made more money than most of us “sponsored” sailors put together. He might have been second on the money list next to Robby. The fact is, there are so many legends in on our sport it could fill volumes.
Cort had browsed onto my FB groveling about all the big stars being mum about the book, then advised that most of them don’t really want to look back. Come on, man. Even Alex? Certainly, it could be difficult when you were once riding high and then along comes the next. Bruce, Matt, Mike, Ken, Robby, Bjorn, Antoine…any reminder of that peg knock might sting. But I would think most of them are mature enough to swallow that pill and relish their post windsurfing fame successes.
Referring to my films, Pete Cabrinha once told me that “If you’ve pleased 50% of your audience – and yourself – you’ve succeeded.”
Looking at my book from a sales perspective, I didn’t feel like I’d succeeded. Impact Zone, my first book, was far more successlful. Glory Days has been slogging along akin to when you get caught on the outside at sunset with big waves and the wind shuts off. Alas, nobody who writes a book with the intention of it being a best seller sells more than ten and since one of my daughters read it, and my Mom, I’m glad I penned it. Thank god my wife didn’t read it.
Cort is always full of wisdoms as well. I’d go as far to say he is the Yogi Berra of windsurfing. “If you want to make a small fortune, start with a large one.” Cort. He claims at his 101 BoardSports shops in the bay area that he makes “tens of dollars.” It’s just not fair that god gave him these great looks and the gift of gab as well. Of course, god gave him cancer as well, but he took that adversity with a dose of wisdom, which only gave him a higher perspective on life. If God gave him worms he’d go fishing.
I asked Cort if he had any wisdoms for me or criticisms even better. I asked him why, as talented as I was, others were largely more successful. Was it because they were more cordial with the universe? “That’s it,” he said. “A lot of people don’t get your form of humor. It’s smart, but some, they take your Seinfeldian scarcasm as just being mean.” A tough pill to swallow as I don’t mean to be mean, but I can look back on it as well as forward and then sideways to try and improve, at least to 50%. If I make myself laugh, I win.
He talked about Ken Winner and how he told him to read the book, as Ken is quite featured. I would think that at least Ken, a guy I always figured was born with a large dose of pride, would eagerly want to read about himself. But no, Ken doesn’t want to look back. Evidently, Mr. Winner’s happiest when he focuses on the present and the future. I guess a young, smart, fast foiling girlfriend helps. Maybe when he can’t keep up with her, he’ll read the book.
Then, Cort and I got to talking about shared, ahem, exploits, and the final wisdom: “It’s just as easy to marry a rich girl as a poor one.” That had the clock hands burning circles, until my Strava app beeped me. I had to jump back on the bike before the sun set so I could walk the dog. The dog doesn’t give a hoot about my book nor my humor, as long as I hand out treats.
Looking back, there are so many great guys like Cort that I wish I had spent more time getting to know. Perhaps with my brand of humor, I’d piss them all off so what’s the point. Don’t look back. But please do.