Dr. Bryan Doonan

The former NSSA National Champion on being an identical twin, his relationship with the Momentum Generation, and his love of sports medicine

Dr. Doonan knows nobody really likes to see the doctor, so he keeps it fun for patients, like 2x World Champion Tyler Wright.

In the early 90s, Bryan Doonan and his identical twin brother Kent were two of Quiksilver’s budding pro stars. The dashing duo were the hottest surfing talents from LA County, a feat that’s all the more impressive when you consider they grew up deep in the Crescenta Valley.

Dr. Doonan doesn’t get as much tube time as he used to, but he makes every session count.

Fortunately, their adoptive parents agreed to shuttle them around in those early years on the sole condition that they always maintained good grades. The boys complied. But being valley kids, the only rides they initially wanted were to skate parks, like The Pipeline, in nearby Upland. In fact, they both dreamed of joining the Powell Peralta team they grew up watching…until they found the ocean. After a stint at Paskowitz Surf Camp at San Onofre when they were 12, where their eyes were opened to the surfing scene, and their entire life plan shifted.

George and Liz Doonan have plenty to be proud of.

By the time they started driving they were already familiar faces in lineups from Malibu to Blacks Beach, but their primary zone of terror was Newport. That’s where they were spotted by Richard Woolcott, who signed them to Quiksilver as their amateur careers hit overdrive. With their stunning good looks, Bryan and Kent were double-dipping as international models, appearing everywhere from fashion mags to background shots on Bay Watch.

Dr. Bryan Doonan: winner of the Quiksilver Newport Beach Open

Before they turned pro, they did two years at UCSD at the urging of their parents, with medical school being their ultimate goal. But when they both won national titles through the NSSA, the idea of joining their Momentum Generation friends was too tempting to resist.

Dr. Kent Doonan graduated from UCLA medical school. He fell in love with recording and music during that same period, which is ultimately the path he chose.

Their inevitable separation came shortly after they dropped out and turned pro. Within months, Bryan was sidelined by a heart-wrenching ankle injury. Facing a year of sitting still, he swapped his jersey in for books and started down his new path.

Dr. Doonan hands over his annual award to the NSSA college champion each year.

After graduating from UCSD he was accepted to five different medical schools, including USC, but the school in St. Louis offered him a full scholarship, so Bryan put his head down and powered through those four crazy years. After graduating, he did his residency at UCI, where he took two weeks off each year to compete in the US Open of Surfing in nearby Huntington Beach. As a resident doctor, he made it to the main event three years in a row.

Dr. Doonan and just some of his amazing staff.

Today, Dr. Bryan Doonan owns five Urgent Care centers in Southern California, as well as a Sports Medicine and Family practice. These days he volunteers his services at the US Open of Surfing and other select events. He also hands out a scholarship award each year to the NSSA college champion.

Konoa Igarashi looking for the source of Dr. Doonan’s amazing energy.

During this episode of the People Who Surf Podcast, I sat with Bryan at his office in Fashion Island to talk about his amazing journey with his brother, the choices they made as a unit, and ultimately as individuals as they decided their own separate paths. I hope you enjoy.

Episode 1: Don Craig

Don Craig is proof positive that old guys rule. He honed his silky wave-riding style in Hermosa Beach back in the 1950s, when that corner of LA’s South Bay was the epicenter of California’s fledgling surf industry. Coming of age he roamed the early shops of shaping icons like Dale Velzy, Hap Jacobs, Dewey Weber, and Bing Copeland.

When he’s not busy getting toes over, Craig is heels up at his home office in San Clemente. Photo: OC Register

During that colorful era, Don and his little brother Tom became hot surfing recruits. They were the sons of a South Bay surfing pioneer; their father Doug was surfing during the depression. Not surprisingly, Doug made his boys their first boards.

Don Craig has been on point for six decades.

Don was pegged as a master of style at the offset. In his teens he was recruited to the prestigious WindanSea Surf Club, where he surfed under the watchful gaze of notables like Skip Frye, Mike Hynson, Ron Stoner, and Henry Ford. 

The Craig family started making treks to San Onofre in the 50s. Don’s father Doug Craig (in brown tank top) was president of the legendary surf club from 1969-1973.

When it came time to get a job he played key roles in the birth of the modern day industry. He was one of the first to be hired by Quiksilver in the United States, but played a more pivotal role in cementing a beachhead for their sister company at the time: Rip Curl.

In his teen years, Craig rode for the Jacobs’ surf team.

Craig opened Rip Curl’s flagship store above Trestles and immediately nurtured local talent, aligning them with pro surfing’s pioneers. Over the next 30 years, he did a variety of stints at O’Neill, Instinct, and HIC, becoming one of the most familiar and friendly faces in the industry. Don knows everyone, and everyone loves Don.

Don (second from left) posing for a Lunada Bay Westuits ad alongside Donald Takayama, Collie Raglan, Mike Purpose and Dewey Weber. Photo: Grannis

In 2003 — on a whim– he paid tribute to his father and some of the old guards at San Onofre by getting stickers made that said, “Old Guys Rule.” They were so well received he had a run of T-Shirts made too. When his accounts sold out of those in one weekend he trademarked the phrase and expanded the line. Today that former side hustle is his annuity plan.

Craig (far left, midway up, sitting in the grey jacket) was part of the legendary Windansea Surf Club of the 1960s. This outing to Todos Santos included guys like Mike Hynson, Skip Fry, Rusty Miller, Ron Stoner, and Henry Ford. Can you find them?

At 70, Craig is now the embodiment of his brand. He’s an easy guy to find at San Onofre. If he’s not gliding through the lineup, he’s hanging with his buddies on the beach, and doing his part to keep it clean. Being that he’s been surfing there since the 50s, (his dad was president of the San Onofre Surf Club for four years) it’s a place that’s dear to him.

Don with his first board, shaped by his father Doug Craig. In the late 90s he tracked the board down and had it restored. Today it’s proudly displayed in his man cave, which is home to an amazing collection of surfing memorabilia.

Host Chris Mauro caught up with Don at his home in San Clemente to talk about his six decades of riding surf industry waves. Enjoy this people’s history of the California surf scene.