Gulf Coast surfing icon and waterman Yancy Spencer has passed away, according to news reports in the Pensacola News Journal. Spencer, 60, was surfing in Malibu, Calif. when he got out of the water after suffering from chest pains.
Emergency officials were summoned but Spencer later died from massive cardiac arrest.
Spencer was one of the first professional surfers to come out of the Gulf where he later founded Innerlight Surf and Skate shops, now with three Florida locations and one in Alabama. A spiritual man, he also pioneered standup paddling in the area, telling SUP magazine for it's winter Unfiltered section that, "we can go six weeks without surf, so I did standup to stay in shape." Paddling everyday during the Gulf spill, he was amazed at how the tragedy turned people away from his beloved waters. "It was like there was a giant shark," he said.
During his surfing career, Spencer won the Gulf Coast Championships, the East Coast Championships, the U.S. Pro Longboard Championships, and the U.S. National Senior Mens Surfing Championships and was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame in 1996.
Spencer told SUP magazine that one of his favorite places to paddle was to a wave near Panama City that was inaccessible via any other craft. He'd pack his shortboard on the nose of his standup and "catch perfect waves." We hope he's on that perfect wave now.
Read the PNJ report here.
SUP magazine will update this story as more information becomes available.