Mark Perry, South Beach Legend

by Kim Kelly, Florida Surf Museum

Mark Perry, August 1965, Sharks Pit

Mark grew up in post-WWII Miami, Florida. Sometime in 1964- probably on one of those roasting South Beach summer days- at 12 years old, Mark rode his first waves by the fishing pier. This patch of ocean in South Beach was known to the locals as the “surf area.” Soon, his brother Rod purchased their novice surfboards from a local dive shop, owned by Bruce Freedman.

Surfboards Miami Price Brochure featuring Mark Perry at Ft. Pierce.

The owner of the shop was a professional skin diver, as was his dive business, but his side selection of surfboards imported from California became quite popular. As the business expanded with the sales of the surfboards, he closed his original shop, opened a much larger one close by, and called it: “Adventures Dive and Surfing.” As the business grew, he hired more skilled surfboard craftsmen, and started “Surfboards Miami.” Not only was this little shop the home of Mark Perry’s first surfboard, it became his sponsor as he excelled in surfing in Miami surfing scene. Hobie Surfboards also sponsored him in the late 1960’s to promote their surf brand.

On Board Length {paraphrased from Mark Perry}:

In 1968, the length of boards began to drop- going from 9’6″in length down to 8’0″. In a few years, my Hobie surfboards went from 8’8″ long down to 7’0″! My CON Aussies were in the 7’0″ range, then I started riding local shapes between 6′ and 7′ in length, namely ones by Bruce Walker and Lewis Graves, when they had their shop in South Beach.

On the Local Scene {paraphrased from Mark Perry}:

From around 1965 to 1970, my short list of better South Beach surfers would include: Larry Salem, Roddy Perry, Roger Kinkaid, Lewis Graves, Ed DeStefano, Doug Deal, Roger Norris, Eric Penny, Ralph Lema. There are certainly more, but I forget.

Mark Perry, February 1988, Windsurfing South Beach, Miami.

Following high school, Mark went on to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard aboard the USCG Cutter, White Sumac. He married his wife Barbara in 1973, then soon began work as a lifeguard for the City of Miami Beach. After 26 years with the City, Mark retired as a Lifeguard Lieutenant. He has happily enjoyed his career near the ocean, keeping him close to his love of the ocean and surfing.

Today, Mark and his wife call Tradition, Port. St. Lucie, Florida their home and the North Jetty of the Ft. Pierce Inlet is Mark’s home break now.

Quoting Mark:

If you are ever there, look for the old guy, knee paddling his 9 footer around, that’s me. ‘And have fun.’




Mark Perry’s Photo Gallery: