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Book Signing – Kirk Lee Aeder

Book Signing by Kirk Lee Aeder at the Wave House San Diego will take place on Saturday, May 5th from 1-4 PM.

Child Of The Storm by Kirk Lee Aeder
A biography of Chris O’Rourke 

Many of us at Wave Loch have been surfing the reefs in La Jolla since the late sixties/early seventy’s.  During that time, there have been a lot of talented surfers but Chris O’Rourke was a standout. Chris was a grom growing up, but even as a 13 year old, we could see him absolutely shredding Windansea from our beloved Big Rock.  His carving style and go for it attitude were unmistakable, and we could only imagine him doing the same to big West Peaks at Sunset Beach in Hawaii.  As he got a little older, and ventured down to Big Rock, he instantly became one of the best backside surfers in the water.  Please join us at Wave House for Kirk’s book signing – a biography about Chris – on May 5th from 1-4PM.  RIP Chris.

A summary of the book below……..

In 1976 a young surfer from La Jolla found himself perched upon his dream of becoming a world champion. Only sixteen years old, Chris O’Rourke appeared to have everything going for him. He was the good-looking, street-smart Irish kid also known for his occasional hot temper. Chris was mostly regarded however for having the most technically advanced surfing style of anyone along the west coast. That year in the WSA (Western Surfing Association) Men’s 4A division he had finished ranked first, even though his competitors were five to ten years older with considerably more experience.

Two years earlier, Chris dominated the Boy’s division so thoroughly the WSA allowed him to leapfrog over the Junior’s division, and straight into the Men’s 4A; the first and only surfer to ever do so. It didn’t matter where Chris competed: Malibu, Huntington Beach Pier, Cardiff, Santa Cruz, or his hometown of San Diego. Victories usually followed. The accolades about Chris began to build. He was nothing less than a prodigy.

Chris also gained notoriety through his incredible surfing at the La Jolla reef breaks, most notably at Windansea beach. In September of 1975, a legendary south swell pummeled the San Diego coastline with waves reaching twelve feet in height. The episode was so noteworthy it was referred to as “the Monster South Swell from New Zealand.” The waves were so large that famous Hawaiian surfer Gerry Lopez traveled here just to ride them. At the height of the swell Gerry went to Windansea where he saw Chris surfing well beyond his years. Afterwards Lopez commented that “Chris O’Rourke is the best surfer from California that I have ever seen.”

Around this time Chris had developed a strong friendship with Kirk Aeder, a classmate of his at La Jolla High School. Their respective personalities however were polar opposites. At first Kirk had no interest in surfing, but after hearing the way Chris talked about the sport, he became intrigued. Kirk had been captivated by photography so it only seemed natural for Chris to become his primary subject. When the waves were good they would often meet at Windansea, Big Rock, Simmon’s Reef, or other La Jolla surf breaks. After several months Kirk had compiled a nice photo collection of the talented surfer, many of which were soon published in Surfer and Surfing magazines.

Everything seemed to be going Chris’s way. He had also teamed up with Bill Caster, a renowned surfboard shaper in San Diego, and received all his boards for free. On two occasions Chris also traveled to Oahu’s famed north shore where he surfed the large and powerful waves in Hawaii. One of his best friends became Hawaiian surfer Michael Ho with whom Chris had befriended a few years earlier.

Life only got better for Chris in March of 1977 when he embarked upon the newly formed IPS (International Professional Surfing) world tour. Chris traveled to Australia to compete in the first events of the year. Going head to head against the best in the world proved to be an exciting and rewarding experience for Chris. He returned to La Jolla several weeks later eager to pursue the world tour full time.

Before Chris could do that however, his world changed forever. Chris’s girlfriend Jil had noticed a small lump on his neck. Further medical tests revealed that Chris had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. For the next four years O’Rourke battled the disease but continued to ride the waves at a very high level. He even competed in several professional events too. In January 1978 Chris finished ninth overall out of more than two hundred competitors at the Katin Pro contest in Huntington Beach

One month later another tumor was discovered, this time near his brain that necessitated the removal of part of his skull. Undeterred, Chris was back in the ocean again three months later wearing an ice hockey helmet on his head for protection. He became the first surfer ever to wear a helmet, but not for the reason surfers wear them today. In October of 1978, and while wearing the helmet, Chris competed in a professional surf contest in Oceanside that featured over one hundred and thirty of the best surfers in the world. Chris placed third overall. He also had a chemotherapy treatment during the event’s waiting period.

The one aspect that really motivated Chris, right up until the day he passed away in May of 1981, was the thought of being a surfing champion. He absolutely loved life, loved the ocean, and wanted nothing less than to be the best. Chris had thousands of believers around the world who were amazed and inspired by the courageous battle he had waged. One of them was his friend Kirk Aeder, who had continued to photograph and write articles about Chris during his ordeal, works that were published in surfing magazines around the world.

Shortly after Chris died, Kirk pondered the idea of writing a book about his friend’s life. Kirk figured that one day down the road such a book should be written. But in 1985 Aeder moved to Maui, leaving La Jolla, and seemingly the story of Chris O’Rourke behind in his rearview mirror. Kirk then relocated to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1993, a place where many of surfing’s earliest origins had unfolded hundreds of years ago. The Hawaiian Islands have long been regarded as the birthplace of surfing.

On the Big Island is where Kirk experienced a feeling of rejuvenation towards the sport.

Right there at the top of his list was resuming the story about his friend and primary inspiration in life. Initially a few words went down on paper, but in 2003 the project finally took off like a rocket. Nine years and countless revisions later, Kirk’s labor of love has finally become a reality with the upcoming release of his new book titled, Child Of The Storm (Mutual Publishing, Honolulu).

“Chris’s life story was so compelling I just couldn’t let go the notion of writing a book about him someday. He was so inspirational, not just as a surfer, but as a person. Chris made such an impact not only upon my life, but upon the lives of countless others, that I had to honor him. But I also wanted to be very open in the book. As a person, Chris also had a lot of flaws, like we all do really. This makes the story very multi-faceted, centered around friendships, turmoil, greatness, tragedy, and inspiration,” Kirk said.

Child Of The Storm will be available in Southern California starting on Friday evening,
April 20th, when the first of several book signings take place at the Surfing Heritage
Foundation in San Clemente. Several other book signings have been scheduled in the following weeks in San Diego. For the complete schedule, how to purchase, and to learn more about the book, please visit: or

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