Frank Latta, acknowledged as the “Mayor of Sandshoes” in the 1960s and 70s– has sadly died doing what he loved – riding waves.
Frank, one of Australia’s most naturally gifted wave-riders and a leading board shaper during both the long board and early short board eras, had a heart attack while surfing at Nambucca Heads.
He was such a great surfer that he comfortably straddled the changing eras of surfboards – from 10fts to short boards…a valediction of his talent; and no mean feat.
Frank finished fourth in the inaugural Bobby Brown Memorial Championship in 1968, held at his beloved Shoes, but came back stronger to win in 1969 on Cronulla Beach.
In winning he cranked out a series of delicate nose rides that had the local crowd hooting…one of those rides scored a perfect 10!
Latta was a classic laconic Aussie…only made a comment when he needed to…during the 60s-70s he was so popular and admired for his surfing that many believed he could “walk on water.”
He was definitely the Sutherland Shire’s first local superstar of the waves.
The cover of the second edition of the surfing nostalgia book Switch-Foot, published this year, carries a classic portrayal of his surfing style and prowess – a perfect crouched stretch five nose ride.
He would have shaped thousands of boards in his time in the thick of the industry, in the 60s, 70s and 80s and 90s.
Frank’s memory lives on at Shoes.
Update: Below is video footage of Frank surfing at Sandshoes, courtesy of Steve Core from his movie “In Natural Flow“.