The inside story on Dale Webster
(To watch Dale Webster in the movie,
To read Chris Ballard's Point After on Webster, go
I met up with
I didn't know what to expect -- perhaps some variation on the eternal optimist.
Curious about how others saw him, I went into Bodega Bay and spoke to the teachers at the elementary school, as well as teenagers at the surf shop and others around town. He seemed to be universally well-thought-of, a local legend of sorts. At the school, teachers give out the Dale Webster Award each year to students who go the whole year with perfect attendance. "There's a group of kids for whom he's a total icon,"
Naturally, I wondered what his daughter,
She told me she thought her dad's surfing was "a healthy obsession" that kept him "sane" and "grounded" and that both she and her mother thought it was the best thing for him. "I'm glad he wasn't one of those dads who worked 80 hours a week," she told me. "He was home every night cooking dinner. There are tradeoffs in life and I think this one worked out really well. Even though he's not the richest man or the worldliest man, he lives a really full life."
Of course, it helps that both Margo and her mother,
Margo's now graduating from Sonoma State and Dale is insanely proud of her (as he should be). She's engaged to be married and is, from all indications, a young woman who has her life together. Perhaps this is due in part to Dale -- his example of perseverance but also of the drawbacks of living too much in the moment.
As for what comes next, Dale told me he's considering stopping next year, when the streak hits 33 1/3 years, but everyone I talked to was skeptical. "I think ending it would be the hardest day of his life," Margo said. "He can say those numbers [about when to stop] but I don't think it's something he can plan. It will have to happen by accident."
An often asked question about Dale's quest (besides why the hell would he do it?): How can one surf every day in Bodega? '
Answer: The 19th century horticulturist