Surfer David Eggers Dead at 45

Anna Dimond

Former Championship Tour surfer David Eggers died earlier this week at his home near the Salton Sea in Southern California. He was 45.

Scott Eggers, Operations and Water Safety Manager of the World Surf League Big Wave Tour, announced the loss Tuesday on Facebook: "It is with heavy emotion that I deliver this news. Yesterday my youngest brother David passed away from unknown causes. Most likely a heart attack or stroke. He would have been 46 this January."

David was known for a truly meteoric rise in pro surfing, making the Championship Tour (then the World Tour) at age 16, followed by a swift end to his pro career when he quit a year later. Scott helped bring up his brother, and taught him to surf at age six. By age nine, David was competing and winning heats. At the time there was no division for children his age so he competed against boys who were 12 and older.

"He was really intense," recalled Scott. "He never had friends his own age. All his friends were my friends, and their older brothers were giving us rides to the beach." Scott described a day in which he tied his brother's leash to his ankle and paddled him to overhead sets at Blacks in San Diego, Calif., and insisted that David drop in. It was those kinds of experiences that shaped his future as such an aggressive competitor.

"I created a monster because he was so confident by the time he was 16."

That confidence paid off. According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, "In December 1985 -- after amassing 225 trophies as an amateur, 150 of them for first place, including four US titles -- Eggers dropped out of 10th grade, signed pro contracts with Gotcha surfwear and Body Glove wetsuits worth an estimated $30,000, set out on the world tour, and in 1986 was world-ranked #34."

His ascent was covered by L.A. Times. "I was hoping he would finish school," his mother, Patti Eggers, told the newspaper in 1986. "But ever since he was seven years old, all he has wanted is to be the top pro in the world."

Eggers' competitive success, however, was soon compromised by struggles with drugs and mental illness. In his late 20s he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and eventually moved to the Salton Sea to help run his father's bar. According to Scott, David had been sober for more than 10 years and was secretary of his Alcoholics Anonymous group.

"He made sobriety his mission in life," Scott Eggers said. In addition to Scott, David is survived by another brother and their father.