Celebration of Life for Kit Horn, Pioneer Waterman

Aloha. On April 17th at 2 PM family and friends gathered at Beacons in Leucadia to celebrate the life of Kit Horn, 80, the greatly loved and inspirational pioneer surfer and waterman. We gathered at the north end of Beacons beach and paddled out to Kit’s reef. While we were paddling out, there was a head high southwest set with 13 waves (counted by Del Mar lifeguard Lieutenant Jim Lischer). A friend said, “Kit’s making us work for it! Go, Kit!” We gathered outside and joined hands in a circle of Love, Aloha and Respect. Kit’s son Brit led the beautiful service with guest of honor Peter Cole, who had come over from Oahu with his wife Sally to attend the service. Peter shared that Kit’s family was always most important to him. Kit would come and visit the North Shore and stay with Peter every year and they’d surf all day long, every day during his two week vacation. “Kit was a real charger,” Peter said. Several of us also shared stories about Kit and a lot of love was shared.

The morning before the paddle, Ocean Beach and Point Loma ambassador of Aloha Jim “Mouse” Robb, 77, shared a story with Steve and I about when Kit rode the biggest wave they’d ever seen ridden in Ocean Beach. “Kit, Gwen and the kids lived in OB in the early 1960s and Kit was an OB lifeguard with Bob Baxley and myself,” says Mouse. “One huge winter day, we were checking the surf and decided to paddle out at Off the Rocks near the cliff (where the OB pier is now, before the pier was built.) After fighting the waves and current and being washed down the beach a few times and walking back up, we finally made it outside, way out by the buoys, about 1/4-mile beyond the end of where the pier and big jetty are now. Both Bax and I wiped out and lost our boards and as we were swimming in, we saw Kit drop in on a huge wave and make it all the way across the beach until the wave closed out. Then he dropped to his belly, proned out and rode the whitewater into the beach. It was the biggest wave we’ve ever seen ridden in Ocean Beach.”

After the service, everyone rode fun waves for Kit and then gathered on the beach where Kirk and Brit raised a special flag with Kit’s name. The flag was designed and made by Kali, Brit and Sandy’s daughter. It was lovely to gather at the Horn family home and share loving stories about Kit. We love you and miss you Kit, you are an inspiration to us with your wave-charging spirit and your enduring stoke and Aloha.

Kit Horn, courtesy Horn family archives

Kit Horn, courtesy Horn family archives




Brit Horn and guest of honor Peter Cole and led the service

Brit Horn and guest of honor Peter Cole and led the service


Kirk and Brit raising the flag

Kirk and Brit raising the flag made for Kit by his Grand-daughter Kali


In honor of Kit Horn, his flag flies on the Hobie Cat

In honor of Kit Horn, his flag flies on the Hobie Cat


Young Kit and Peter, surfing and stoked!

Young Kit and Peter, surfing and stoked!, courtesy Horn family archives


Kit charging, courtesy Horn family archives

Kit charging, courtesy Horn family archives


There’s a nice story about Kit at this link:

Kit Horn


Trackback URL

2 Comments on "Celebration of Life for Kit Horn, Pioneer Waterman"

  1. Ken Casper
    02/05/2010 at 1:41 am Permalink

    I was married to one of the beautiful Horn daughters in the 70s. At the time, I was a surfer, college student, and lifeguard in San Clemente. I feel compelled to give some story after being part of this wonderful family and getting to know Kit and family so well.
    Kit was a giant of a man, both in surfing and in humanity. Gwen, his loving wife is a beautiful, smart, wonderful woman and an outstanding gourmet cook (I still remember those weekend lamb dinners).
    It is with great sadness to write this, but with jubilation in remembering Kit.
    A couple of Kit Horn stories: (continued in consecutive blogs due to limited character space)
    The Ranch Episodes: In the 70s, Kit put together the classic ranch boat, a 13’ oil derrick run-a-bout skiff with a fast outboard motor. After surfing perfect ten foot waves all day at the Ranch, it was time to head back to the Gaviota Pier lifting wench. Upon arrival we found the coin slot had been filled with resin by the locals, and boats with enough fuel headed to SB Harbor. Those without enough fuel, faced ten foot shore break. Kit, Kirk, Britt, and I watched boat after boat capsize or get crushed in the shore break. Kit decided it was our turn and hit the throttle and put us between two huge waves, riding the back of the front monster right up beach to safety. There was carnage all around us; Kit’s feat was done with flawless precision; as we stepped safely out of the boat and kissed the sand.

    Kit Horn story continued:
    Hawaii early 70s: Kit and Gwen treated the family to a classic surf trip. We stayed at Haleiwa but Peter Cole invited us to his house for a party. I was impressionable and stoked to meet some of the Hawaiian legends. Kit made an effort to seat me next to Jose Angel. Because Kit introduced me, Jose starts conversing with me as if I was his best friend. Jose predicted huge surf for the next couple of days. Kit kept introducing me to legend after legend, Gregg, Trent, Martinson etc. etc. That was Kit… always making you feel welcome.
    The next day the surf was building as Jose predicted. During the night, the surf huts we were staying in at Haleiwa began to wash away. Kit loaded the car with surfboards, and we evacuated. Kit stopped at the Haleiwa Harbor to watch the waves go over the breakwater, a rare occasion. During a lull, a woman drove up, parked her car and proceeded to walk her child down to the water line. Kit jumped out of the car and yelled but it was too late as a huge set wave was building outside; by the time Kit got to the women, a wall of water similar to a Tsunami rolled up the beach and the three of them tumbled past the restrooms into the parking lot, with Kit holding on to them so they wouldn’t wash back out. Kit saved their lives, but humbly denied it. I was in awe…only a guy like Kit Horn could have predicted that and taken such quick action. Kit was the ultimate lifeguard and waterman.
    Soon the Kam Highway closed down. Kit knew of a cane road that led to the top of Waimea. Standing overlooking the Bay, sets of waves broke solid from V-land all the way across the Bay. Kit and Kirk estimated the waves to be 40-60 feet! While I was peeing my pants, the Horns were anxious for the Kam to open so they could get to the surf breaks! I was way out of my league and wondered what I got myself into.
    Kit knew I did not have the experience to surf huge waves, so he noticed a small cut on my knee. He said I better stay out of the water till that cut heals up or it might really get infected. I did everything I could to make sure that cut didn’t heal up for a few days! Later, Kit took me to the Pipe and showed me how to catch a few “smaller” six to eight foot waves, which of course pounded the shit out of me.
    Kit was like that; he would help you save face, help you catch a few waves to redeem yourself, and always kind of took people under his wing.
    Kit also backed me up at San Onfre one day when some parole’s hit my freshly painted car with a rock that they threw at the restrooms…but that’s another story about how fearsome Kit could be. The great tales of the real Kit Horn are endless and remarkable. …diving at Kasanelli’s Reef, great times surfing Mexico, backpacking barefoot in the Sierras etc. etc.
    No wonder I couldn’t help sobbing uncontrollably at the paddle out. We all lost a surfing legend; I lost a second father and great friend.
    Ken Casper
    PS Please disregard the Lunada Bay story, as it is very offensive to everyone who knew Kit, because it was partially made up to make a good story for the author’s book, at the expense of Kit’s good nature.

  2. pendo
    02/05/2010 at 11:52 am Permalink

    Hello, Ken,
    It was a pleasure to see you at Kit’s paddle out. Thank you very much for sharing your precious stories about Kit. We have tears in our eyes, too. What a remarkable and kind man Kit was! It’s such an honor and blessing to know Kit and the entire Horn family. xoxo
    Much love and Aloha to you,
    Cher and Steve

Hi Stranger, leave a comment:


<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe to Comments