The Topanga Surf Rats: Remembering Tim Regan

Damian AndrewsBy Damian Andrews      March 19, 2021

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The Topanga Surf Rats: Remembering Tim Regan
PHOTO BY CHRIS REGAN (DAMIAN.CLOR.JPG) 1979 Topanga Beach photo of kids: ( L-R) Eric Andrews, Brian Campbell (holding latest Surfer Magazine), and Richard. From Andrews archive.
January 28, 2021 There is a cold wind blowing through the silent night, as the owl hoots in the dark skies. It is snowing in Topanga and the Corona virus is rampant. I wake up drenched in sweat, choking, gasping for air, as if it is my last breath. I immediately run to the bathroom, and “drink bleach” (gargle with mouth wash) to bring life to the brainless corpse. This nightmare (kid trump) is taking over reality; escaping its grip is not as easy as waking up. I light a fire in the stove, think back to happier times and start writing. It was early evening, September 1979, the surf was pumping at Topanga Beach. My friend “Reggae,” Tim Regan, lived on Colina and came from a family of five kids who had not quite converted to the long-haired variety. He called me. I answered. “Hello.” Reggae: “Hey, Domo (me), do you want to hit the surf for dawn patrol?” Me: “Damn straight! I heard it’s pumping, let’s charge early!” Reggae: “I’ll be at your house before 6 a.m.” At 5:55 the next morning, Reggae rolled into our driveway in his parents’ blue and white 1971 two-tone VW bus. He had just got his license and his parents’ permission to drive. This was a big step in the liberation of a young teenage driver. With tense anticipation, I rolled the sliding door of the VW bus open, threw my gear in, jumped into the front seat and shut the door. Reggae said, “Good morning, Domo!” as he lifted one leg to expel a thunderous sound. The kid could fart on a dime, a true talent. A heinous green gas enveloped the interior of the bus. I quickly flew out of the passenger door where laughter and stench collided with the morning air. I’m left choking and saying every good word I learned from my older brothers. When the air cleared, Reggae was still laughing as I jumped back in. Reggae and I rolled down the road joking with nervous excitement, wondering what would be in store for us. Passing through the center of town, I noticed a crusty, disheveled man climbing over a rock out of the creek. I said, “Reggae! Creek Rat!!!” and we both busted up laughing.
REGAN ARCHIVE PHOTO Tim Regan “Chasing the dream 10-15 feet, summer 1997, Tavarua, Figi.”
Dawn broke as we rolled down the bottom street, past the houses of Topanga Beach, anticipation rumbling in our bellies, erupting in a chorus of hooting at the sight of the whitewash of the waves’ feathering lips showing excellent surf.

We frantically slapped on our ragged, piecemeal wet suits, trying to be the first to hit the empty lineup. We jumped into the cold water and scurried out like rats trying to be the first one to reach the outside feast. Each of us caught our first ride. We hooted and egged each other on. We were “stoked” (a term originated by the surf culture, and today commonly used across the world) by the internal fire of surfing.

I remember the last ride like yesterday. Reggae caught the wave of the day. He paddled into a “bomb” from the outside, struggled to his feet on a late drop, bottom turned and tucked under the lip of the barrel. It enveloped his soul. Reggae shot out of the barrel and ripped the wave all the way down the point to the shore break.

Reggae got the ultimate “shore ride” (riding the wave from the top of the point to the shore break), and this was one for the memory banks. It was like scoring the go-ahead goal in the last seconds of a soccer match to win the championship… pure, euphoric bliss!

During Tim Regan’s history in Topanga in the late 1970s, Timmy worked as a sous chef at the “Three Dolphins Inn” (currently Hidden Treasures), was head chef for the Topanga Fish Market that burned down in 1979, and was a master carpenter through his final years in Telluride, Colorado. He was featured on the cover of the Topanga Messenger skateboarding his parents’ empty swimming pool on Colina Drive. Timmy was a serious, extremely funny and hardworking individual.

In memory of my good friend Tim Regan, who died last July at 57 after an infection spread to his heart. His many friends and family are looking forward to celebrating his life together at some point.

Damian Andrews
      March 19, 2021

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