Born in New York on April 5, 1912, the older of two children, Woodbridge (Woody) Parker Brown came from a very wealthy home, headed by a father with a seat on the Wall Street Stock Exchange. Woody was expected to step into that position. He didn’t; he was crazy about airplanes … and surfing. He adapted some of the aerodynamic features of soaring to surfing. He also teamed with others and designed and built Manu Kai, a 38-foot double-hulled sailing catamaran.
In the early 1940s, Brown joined surfing pioneer Wally Froiseth and began surfing pristine waves in remote places like Mākaha and the North Shore. Brown was one of three surfers photographed charging down a giant Mākaha wave in 1953. His wife, Betty, died in childbirth; flying was not available in Hawai‘i at the time, so he tried to surf the sadness out of his system. “Woody Brown was one of the first and greatest icons in the history of surfing.”