A Must-See: 12 Miles North, The Nick Gabaldon Story

6:05 AM Richie P. 2 Comments

Hello BLACK SKATER CHICK family. I thought it would be fitting to touch on surfing culture,though many of us (especially on the East Coast) don't have the opportunity to surf. Surfing is the grandfather of snowboarding and skateboarding, plus its amazing.

I recently watched Nike's newly released inspirational documentary 12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story, the legacy of a surfer who died doing what he loved. Nick Gabaldon, born Nicolás Rolando Gabaldónis recognized as the first documented African-American surfer. Gabaldon, also of Mexican descent, grew up in Santa Monica, California during the 1930's and 40's. At that time, to avoid racial tension, minorities and people color established their own part of the beach, the "Inkwell," to peacefully enjoy the waves and sunshine. Nick loved spending time at the beach body surfing, when he saw the lifeguards with their wooden boards it sparked his interest in surfing. 

Nick was always in search of best wave (like many surfers), so he paddled an extraordinary 12 miles  to Malibu, the epicenter of surfing. In Malibu, he quickly earned his respect surfing with a group of white surfers, not because of his color (to them color did not matter) but because of his skill. The distance that Nick traveled also amazed the Malibu surfers. He became apart of the tight-knit surfing brotherhood. Most of the brotherhood (now surfing pioneers and veterans) described Nick as great surfer with graceful form and genuine character.

Throughout 12 Miles North, Nick is credited for breaking down barriers of color in surfing. Tony Corley, the founder of the Black Surfing Association also speaks on Nick's impact. The film also features commentary by other professional athletes who overcame differences in sports due to race, gender and disability, such as, BMX rider Nigel Sylvester, Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones, WNBA basketball pro Lisa Leslie and Iron Man Champion Sarah Reinertsen. Ultimately, Nick Gabaldon's story continues to inspire a lot of people. 

 In 1951, Nick Gabaldon tragically drowned in a surfing accident while executing the stunt," shooting the pier."  It's so unfortunate that his life was cut short. Nick would have certainly been among the ranks in the surfing hall of fame with his Malibu buddies. The legacy of Nick Gabaldon still lives on. 

I encourage you to watch 12 Miles North  (while it is still available), it is about 30 minutes long. It is available for download or stream on Nike's Action Facebook Page. Also, check out the Black Surfing Association.

Trailer for 12 Miles North: The Nick Gabaldon Story 

Find your in surf life, whatever your calling might be and "SURF WITH NICK" shattering any barriers that try to block you.


  1. Have you heard of this movie? White Wash? It is made by a black director and features black surfers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5D-AEnq2yg

  2. Thanks for reminding me about that...I did hear about it, it came out not too long ago...I must see it, it had great reviews!