Puerto Rican Surf Legend : Jorge "Machuca" Figueroa
Jorge "Machuca” Figueroa grew up in Residential Sabana Abajo, Carolina and was Puerto Rico’s first surf prodigy. According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, Machuca began surfing at age 12 at Pine Grove Beach, where José Rodriguez Reyes, one of Puerto Rico’s water sports pioneers, lend him surfboards and with other friends, taught him how to surf.
Machuquita’s natural ability was something else. He started dominating surf competitions early on getting first place on the Junior Division on the very first surf contest he ever participated on, in January 1966; Machuca was only 13 years old. Aniro “Conejo” Irizarry won the Senior division but Machuca got the only perfect score of the competition on a loner board. Machuca continued to use loner boards until he won the Puerto Rico Junior Championship in November 1966 and received a brand new Hobie Surfboard from the Puerto Rico Surf Federation.
Machuca gained international attention when he finished runner up in the Puerto Rico International Surfing Contest in 1967, behind reigning US champion Corky Carrol, but ahead of surf heroes like Rusty Miller, Claude Codger, Gary Proper, and Dewey Webber. Corky was part of the Hobie Team and was so impressed with his surfing that he gave him his board and got Machuca on the Hobie Team. Jorge became the only non-American on the prestigious Hobie Surfboards team, and in 1970 he again represented Puerto Rico in the World Championships, held in Victoria, Australia.
Matt Warshaw from Encyclopedia of Surfing describes him as: “Flexible and creative in the water, a first rate switch footer, Machuca was touted as a real threat to win the 1968 surf contest, but lost early. He was the youngest competitor by far, at age 14.”
On a trip to Queensland, Australia, Machuca made an impression on Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew (future World Champion) : “Jorge surfed Kirra, my home break, better than anybody except (1970 national title-holder) Peter Drouyn. Really fast and fluid. Great style.”
Even though Jorge should have more international recognition, in Puerto Rico he’s still a legend and the only surfer that has a surf spot named after him. Machuca’s Garden in Barceloneta, (You can check out Machuca’s Garden in La Bruja, Surf Documentary about surfing in Puerto Rico.)
Unfortunately, Jorge’s carrier was cut short when a car hit him while he was walking on McLeary street in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He got injuries to his hip and thigh that impaired his surfing which made him feel depressed, because he could no longer practice the sport the he loved and was so stoked about.
At Stoked: Xpresso+Surf : we dedicated a wall to Machuquita, emulating his switch-foot ability. The artwork shows Machuca on his regular foot stance (black + white picture) and on his goofy foot stance (color picture) both waves were ridden at Maria's Beach.
Corky Carroll: Remembering fun times with Puerto Rican surfing wizard Jorge Machuca