This has definitely been an argument that has been much debated between the early surfing pioneers of Panama. Some believe that the zonians (Canal Zone residents) were the first. So we set out to shed some light on this issue. We interviewed several surfers from the era and one name always came forward, TOMAS MIRO.
One of the old surfers that we got to interview was Rupert Turner. This is what he said:
"To understand the "History of Surfing in Panamá" There is Only one beginning.... There was Only One Man. Tomas Miro.
Tomas.... along with his younger brother Ruben Miro were the first two surfers in Panamá waters. From these two young men.... The complete history of surfing in Panama was born some 60 years ago.
You asked "Who was the Father of Surfing in Panamá" Tomas Miro."
We seem to get the same answer time and time again. This is the beginning of the story.
Here we see Tomas and his brother Ruben at Riomar. Circa 1965
As per Rupert Turner, the very beginnings of surfing happened right in Panama City! The place was Las Bovedas. It was in the area where the Club Santo Domingo (in the neighborhood of San Felipe) used to be. Here is where the surfing club Los Trota Olas de Panama was born. You can see some of the members in the newspaper article.
It is also important to mention who was indeed the first GRINGO to surf Panamanian waters. This happened around 1964. This honor goes to Ed Romer. Ed was a Navy man stationed at the West bank. Tomas and Ed became lifelong friends after meeting at Riomar. Ed brought the first "high density foam" board to the isthmus. It was from this board, that Tomas made a fiberglass mold and started making his boards. Ed kept on surfing until his mid-70s. Unfortunately Ed Romer passed away this year. This post also pays homage to him.
Tomas Miro, Ed Romer (first North American surfer in Panama)... and Ruben Miro at Rio Mar... circa 1963-64
We keep on investigating and will bring you more of the stories that made that era. Today, Tomas is around 84 years old. The Panama Surf community will like to thank you for leading the way.
We have left the "comments" section open to the public so that anyone who wants to contribute is free to do so. We do not want these stories to be washed away by the sea.
Photos credits: Rupert Turner