As I sit here at my computer during my last day here at TransWorld, I can’t erase the bright wetsuits and smiling face of my friend Banning Capps from my mind. His amazing attitude was always one that could bring anyone from down in the dumps to complete laughter in a matter of seconds. When I think back about how I remember Banning best, his unchallenged dominance of the “Spotties” left (now called Banning’s) that broke at Tamarack Beach in Carlsbad, California stands out the most.
Keep in mind that Banning was only thirteen when I first saw him surf. I remember being out in the channel at main peak and looking over to see some little white-haired goofyfoot kid with a fluorescent Body Glove fullsuit on and his leash on his front foot going vertical with every snap. All the older guys out in the water would turn their heads to see what Banning would do next with all the speed he would get out of the one-foot waves. I wanted to be a kid that the older guys would watch, so I figured if I had to stay out in the water for two five hour sessions a day, I would do it. That only lasted about a week for me, but Banning just kept surfing, literally, all day everyday.
Carlsbad back then was filled with talent, ranging from PSAA pros like Paul and David Barr, Sean Dominguez, Mark Sharpe and Taylor Knox, to the younger generation of NSSA kids like Chris and Brett Strother, Jake Blackburn, and Donovan Stapleton. Catching waves was no easy task for a little guy like myself, and by no means did Banning make it easier for me or anyone. I swear he would catch everything, whether it were his wave or not. Even when he did take off on you when the waves were perfect, you could never get mad. “Oh were you behind me?” he would say with a smile. What can you say to that? Nothing…
Growing up in Carlsbad was the best thing a kid like me could have ever asked for. All the older guys were just like older brothers, and surfers ruled the school. To prove it, when I was a sophomore Banning was crowned over all the jocks and ASB kids as Carlsbad High’s homecoming king. I still don’t think I have ever seen anyone make such a huge circle dancing as out of control he danced that night.
Back in June, the whole Carlsbad surfing community got together and held an annual contest called the State Beach Classic. The waves were small, but everybody came out of the woodwork to spend a day on the beach with those they grew up with. By the quarter finals it was completely obvious that Banning was on his way to a win. The results and awards were given out later that night at Pizza Port. When Banning was announced the winner, he grabbed the trophy with a joking around smile and with a short wave to everyone cheering for him, he was quick to walk away from the center of attention and right back to his seat.
Those people who were privileged enough to know Banning, knew him for his tremendous kindness which reflected the loving world his parents Kenneth and Katie brought him up in. He was more humble with the most talent I’ve ever seen, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to be friends with such a great human. With all my heart I believe that I’ll see Banning again up in heaven, where “Warm Waters” is always six-foot and perfect. So until then, I just want to say thanks for the memories, Chapps! Your positivity never went unnoticed.¿Blair Marlin
Banning Capps was the coolest cat I’ve ever known. Banning always inspired everyone in the water to push themselves. Whether he was quietly and contentedly minding his own business, or exploding off the lip into a frontside 540, Banning was definitely dancing to a whole different tune. Anyone who had a chance to know Banning will always remember his unforgettable smile, as well as his genuine love for his family and surfing. Banning, we love you, and will miss you tremendously.¿Pat Maus
“Too much energy, not enough time,” is a quote Banning wrote in my shed. No onne noticed it until after he was gone. I think these words perfectly describe the attitude he had for life. Some people exist for a long time and never really live. Banning had a passion for life and it showed in his surfing, his art, and his friendship. He’s always been, and will always be, an inspiration to me.¿Donovan Stapleton
Banning Capps lived life true and pure. He aligned himself within life’s own reward¿happiness. He was such a gift to all those he touched, simply by being himself. Hat’s off to you, Cub. Bear will always miss you, but will never forget your goodness and your love for life.¿Hardwood