I was known for producing color combinations that had heretofore never been seen outside of a diaper.


The Inertia

What was your first surfboard?

I have to admit I had to stop and think about it. I started surfing during a time of extreme change in surfboard design. Literally overnight, the standard 9′ 6″ noserider was out and 6′ 9″ plastic fantastic machines were all the rage.

I grew up in Huntington Beach, California, with an older brother that was already well into the surf scene. Although I had already started surfing, I had to go through that first winter riding borrowed boards without the benefit of a wetsuit to convince my parents that I was serious about, what was to them, just another passing teenage fad.

I had apparently passed that first test and got the go ahead to get a board. I did what everyone else was doing – I bought a long board, rendered suddenly passé, stripped the glass off it, and shaped a new one out of the blank.

What a mess!

Somewhere in the shaping process, I bought a used short board (which I promptly cut the tail off of – but that’s another story). That delayed the shaping long enough for the blank to be re-purposed into two belly boards. My brother, who was always the leading edge one of the family, took the nose section, removed the foam from most of the middle section and glassed twin fins on it. A spoon bellyboard with a square tail and twin fins. I wish I had that today. I think it would still be a fun ride. As for me, I shaped (and I use the term very loosely) a tear drop with a single fin. Not only did the board surf poorly, but I made such a mess in the garage that my Mom forbid any further such work. My resin and glass work was limited to ding repair from then on out.

Two things to take away from my story.

First, never back away from taking a perfectly good object and ruining it in the name of progress. The worst that could happen is that the initial object will be gone forever, you have made an incredible mess, and you may very well burn the house down with the toxic and oh-so-flammable ingredients.

Second, never underestimate the value of a friend with a shed.

As a post script to the story, I did go on to shape several more boards, complete with semi-decent glass jobs. I even delved into the multi colored glass work that was so popular during the time. I was known for producing color combinations that had heretofore never been seen outside of a diaper.

  • ctwalrus

    first board;   a slab of commercial freezer insulation from a closed restaurant , copied a friends Hobie, then discovered that polyester resin dissolves styrofoam!     major repairs to the blank, a coat of latex paint , then glassed it.    rode that thing for a full summer till i saved enough to get my own Hobie.  (1962)

  • Drew

    My first surfboard was a purple Plastic Fantastic single fin. Sill round rails, bright purple, and I couldn’t surf it to save my life.  Really wish I still had it. 

  • gregpaul

    It was `1966 on my 11th birthday..I saw a Velsy in Barbour Boatworks, Mowed a lot of yards got $149 and with the help of my mother carried the board out. Growing up in North Carolina there was only a small surf community at the time. Today I run a large surf shop with my brother and shape surf and paddle boards. Life has  been good

  • Jasonmercer

    MY first surfboard was shaped by my uncle he and my dad used to mess around in there garage with old boards and he shaped a twin fin with a flyer tale and big clinker channels it had a pastel pink and blue drawn out curve on the deck from the nose right to the tail but the best part and the one all my mates thought was so cool was the Playboy bunny ears sticker that he layed under the resin
    i wish i still had it !!!!!

  • adaml

    1970-something Hot Buttered single fin, baby swallow tail -  a Hank Warner and Terry Fitzgerald shape.  Best board I ever held on to!  It’s super fun in waist to head high glassy barrels.  Bottom turn, pull in, repeat as often as possible.  I ride it often in the summer, as it catches the smallest of surf with ease.  So glad my old man got that board for me when I was ten, but more happy I still have it for groveling.

  • Jholdnak

    My first board was a 9 foot Plastic Fantastic that was custom made for my two brothers and me by our cousin, Danny Calohan.  It was so long I used to ride on my older brother’s shoulders as we surfed the smaller waves on the Florida panhandle.

  • Wppl53

    Dale Velzy 8’6″

  • Maureen

    Technically, my first boards were these four foot slabs of unglassed, channel bottomed styrofoam that came wrapped in plastic with pictures of kids frolicking in the surf (so you KNEW they were real surfboards!)  My siblings and I used to belly board on these.  We would wear t-shirts because they gave us a hideous rash and we kept snapping them in half in the shore-pound; Mom hated having to shell out another $4 each time we broke one but we thought it was kinda cool that we were playing with forces that could snap a four foot slab of unglassed styrofoam.  This was in the late sixties and it wasn’t until 1974 when my brother and I saved our baby-sitting pennies to buy real boards.  He got a 6’8″ G&S Magic; classic board.  Mine was a 6’10″ diamond tail Heritage.  It was a gorgeous canary yellow tint on the deck with white resin pinlines, but the bottom and rails were laminated in an opaque “shit-brown” color.  I tried to convince myself it was “Hershey chocolate” brown…but it was really shit-brown.

  • ScottTX

    A VEEEEERY used Robert August 6’6″ pintail 3-stringer funboard with neon orange and green paint over the outside stringers, purchased at Wind N’ Wave
    in Corpus Christi for $100 in January 2005.  Glassed-in fins.  Patched it up with tube-fuls of Sun Cure,
    good board, easy turns.  Using that board, I’ve pushed several friends into waves, probably the only waves they’ve ridden because they don’t really surf.  Reminds me of the time I took my brother out for his first surf during a full blown red tide….hahahha.

  • Samurray

    My first board, 12’6″ Gordon Woods Mall 1967, I was 10 it was to heavy to carry down to Newport Beach, Australia. Had to drag it down the beach unless a mate was with me as my brothers would not help. and no the rails did not wear down from the dragging.

  • surferpl

    An 8′ Con single fin, clear with balsa stringer. Beautiful, paddled and caught waves well but was a bit hesitant when I asked it to turn. I loved it though and surfed the heck out of it. I ended up having Richard Anderson restoring it. It’s now blue and about 10 pounds heavier due to the Volan glass put on.