Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PETER TROY Obituaries

Legendary Australian Surfer Peter Troy (1938-2008) obituaries:

Previous LEGENDARY SURFERS postings with still further links include: Farewell 1 Farewell Peter Troy (1938-2008) Additional links not included in postings, above: Herald Sun Surfing Australia The following is from Times Online, October 4, 2008: "Peter Troy: surfer, surf historian and adventurer." Peter Troy was often described as the “father” or the “tribal elder” of Australian surfing, a pioneer of the sport in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also Australia’s first surf adventurer and explorer, the prototype of the sun-bleached, sun-dried blond lugging his “log” (surfboard) and backpack through at least 140 countries, in all continents, in search of “the perfect wave”. He is credited with inspiring many young men and women to take up the sport in England, the Channel Islands and Italy, also introducing it in Peru and Brazil, where he remains celebrated, and “discovering” several previously unsurfed breaks in remote areas of the world, notably Indonesia. It was Troy, his girlfriend at the time, Wendy, and two other Aussie backbackers who trekked through thick jungle in 1975 to find the holy grail they had been told about — Lagundri Bay on the island of Nias, off Sumatra. The natives had body-surfed and rowed outrigger canoes through those waves for centuries but Troy and his friends were the first outsiders to ride them on modern boards. Troy blazed what later became known as “the Hippy Trail” and ventured far beyond it, neither on nor in the search of drugs, but seeking those great waves, the spiritual high they gave him and the opportunity to understand new cultures along the way. His early adventures predated the Beach Boys’ hits but Troy’s “surfing safaris” took him around the world on foot, bus, motorcycle, or any vessel that could get him to a new beach. It is said that peroxide sales among local men rose wherever the handsome, wavy-haired Australian had been. In the 1960s Troy hitchhiked, solo, from the world’s most southerly town, Puerto Williams, south of Tierra del Fuego in Chile, to the most northerly, Spitsbergen in Norway, stopping only when he found good surf. It took him a year. On the way, he became the first man to surf Punta Rocas in Peru and Arpoador beach, Rio de Janeiro, giving the bug to would-be surfers in both countries and spawning Brazil’s first surfing magazine. Roaming the world with a surfboard under your arm in those days, he said, was “like travelling around the world carrying a grand piano. Everybody wanted to know you. Everyone was nice to you.” The President of Brazil once stopped his limousine on a highway to give the young surfer a lift. Troy’s surfing prowess was featured in one of the early surf films, Mark Witzig’s Sea of Joy, whose eventual cult status was aided by the psychedelic soundtrack by the Sydney band Tully. In it, he rode well-shaped waves in what, to surfers, was the newly discovered Tamarin Bay in Mauritius. In 1973 Troy and Wendy set off not to get with it, but to get away from it. He on a yellow 100cc Suzuki, she on a red one, they spent two years rambling from Bali, through Bangkok, Burma, India, Nepal, Kenya, RĂ©union Island, Mauritius, the Comoros and the Seychelles. It was during that trip that they discovered the barrelling right-handed break in Lagundri Bay. “Peter always wanted to live in the Seychelles because he had seen a picture of the surf at La Digue in Surfer magazine,” Wendy recalled. “We went and lived there for three months but a beautiful three-masted square rigger came into the harbour and it was too tempting, so we got on as crew and sailed away up the Red Sea. That’s the kind of person he was.” They continued through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, the Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and The Gambia before crossing the Sahara Desert — on the roof of a lorry carrying 56 goats — to North Africa and eventually Spain. In 1980-81 the two set off from Darwin, North Australia, on another surf-seeking trip that would last 18 months. They drifted through Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Turkey, Greece, Morocco and the Canary Islands before hitching a ride on a yacht across the Atlantic. Then came Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, the Galapagos Islands, Panama, through Central America to Mexico, the US and their goal — the big waves of Hawaii. Peter Hemsworth Troy was born in Hamilton, Victoria, in 1938. His father served in the Second World War and, after he returned, moved the family in 1948 to the small coastal township of Torquay, 12 miles south of Geelong, to open its only general store and newsagent’s. Peter attended Geelong Grammar School but, a powerful swimmer, he spent his spare time as a lifeguard. Troy found himself immediately at home in the surf. When he was 10 he rode the waves off Torquay’s Bells Beach — on an inflatable Surf-o-Plane, the prototype of what would now be called a boogie board, on his belly or kneeling. He graduated to full-sized surfboards as a teenager in the early 1950s, still mostly kneeling on them. In those days, Bells Beach was hard to reach, even by foot over a rocky outcrop, but after Troy and his friends bulldozed the first road, it became the site of Australia's first professional surfing championships and is now a magnet for surfers from around the world. Torquay, despite its small population, is home to Australia’s Surfworld Museum, the world’s largest surfing and beach culture museum, which Troy helped to set up. It was on December 2, 1956, when he had just reached 18, that Troy’s life changed and a revolution in Australian surfing began. The Australian authorities laid on a “Surf Lifesaving Carnival” in Torquay during the Melbourne Olympic Games to show the world how good its lifeguards were. In front of 100,000 spectators, the young local lifeguard Troy was invited to represent Australia by riding his “toothpick” — a 16ft-long, narrow board built for paddling to the rescue of drowning people rather than for balancing on. He rode a wave to the beach to applause, but then four Californian and Hawaiian lifeguards took to the water on their own boards — so-called Malibu chips, only 9ft long and made of balsa and fibreglass. Neither Troy nor most spectators had seen anything like it. The visitors could twist and turn and walk up and down their boards with ease. Troy and his friends began building similar boards and Australian surfing took off. Peter Troy, who was considered Australia’s official national surfing historian, was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame in 2002 and awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) last year for his services to surfing. He died suddenly at his home in Mudjimba Beach, Queensland, and is survived by his wife, Libby, and two stepchildren. Peter Troy, OAM, surfer, surf historian and adventurer, was born on November 15, 1938. He died from a blood clot in the lung on September 30, 2008, aged 69.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Aloha and welcome to this LEGENDARY SURFERS chapter on the History of East Coast USA Surfing!

Actually, this is more a location of links to various aspects of East Coast surf history; updated March 2017.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Layne Beachley Retires

[ From "ASP Champ Layne Beachley Announces Retirement," COOLER Magazine, October 10, 2008 ] Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champ and current No.3 on the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour ratings, has officially announced her retirement from full-time competition, effective at the end of the year. “I feel like now is a really good time, even though I am in my career best form, because I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl and to achieve the goals I set for myself in surfing, I have to give it my all and I’m not,” Beachley said. “I have to be honest with myself – I’m not commiting 100% time and energy and effort and focus into winning world titles. It doesn’t mean that I can’t win world titles, but my priorities are beginning to shift and my focus and my passion in business and charity work and my ambassador roles is beginning to have more appeal to me than competing for a living. I feel like I’ve achieved everything that I’ve wanted to and that it is good to go out while I’m still in top form.” Beachley’s announcement comes as a surprise to the surfing community, given that the iconic natural-footer is surfing better than ever and currently challenging for the ASP Women’s World Title once again, sitting in the No.3 spot on the ratings at present. “I feel like I’m surfing the best I have in my whole career,” Beachley said. “Nothing has really changed on tour except for my attitude. It’s my lack of commitment to winning. I base my choices on my experiences and my experience has told me that you have to be 100% focused and also love you’re doing. Even though I love what I do, I’m beginning to love what I’m doing out of the water more. My passion for competitive surfing has been diluted, and to achieve success and to win world titles, you can’t afford for it to be diluted too much. So now I’ve had to make a decision and I’m convinced I’m doing the right thing.” The Sydney-sider is the most accomplished female surfer in the history of the sport, winning a record seven ASP Women’s World Titles (1998-2004, 2006), scalping 29 elite tour victories, and collecting countless accolades as one of surfing’s most recognizable figures. “There’s been millions of highlights,” Beachley said. “I think every time that I stopped in my tracks and had to pinch myself and ask ‘is this real?’ have been the highlights of my life. Finding myself in the most random places on Earth, donning a bikini with a board under my arm and just staring out into the ocean in disbelief that I get to do that for a living. One of the greatest achievements was winning my first event back in 1993 and winning my first ASP Women’s World Title back in 1998. Those were both enormous acheivements for me.” While stepping away from full-time professional surfing, Beachley hasn’t ruled out donning the jersey again should she receive an invite, and will continue to be a force both in and out of the surfing world with her clothing line, her numerous charities and other high-profile projects. “I have my own brand, Beachley Athletics, which I really want to put a lot more time and energy and effort into,” Beachley said. “I don’t think it’s achieving the success it deserves because I can’t commit enough resources to it. I have my charity, Aim for the Stars. I’ve just begun promoting my book, Beneath the Waves. I will still stage the Beachley Classic. I love women’s surfing. I’m really passionate about it. Just because I’m walking away from the Tour doesn’t mean I’m walking away from women’s surfing. I’ll still be there as a supporter and a believer and also pursuing a career in the media.” Beachley is competing this week at her signature event, the Beachley Classic, held in Manly, Australia. “I feel like I’ve created a legacy and that’s something to be incredibly proud of,” Beachley said. “I’ve instilled hunger and passion into the future generations of female competitive surfing coming up through the ranks. I know Steph (Gilmore) looks at me and wants what I got. It was Lisa Andersen before me that gave me the motivation to become seven-times ASP Women’s World Champion. That kind of drive and dedication that it takes to be a champion is the legacy I think I am leaving behind and it’s something I’m very proud of.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peter Troy Farewell #2

As you know, Peter Troy recently passed on (please see previous posts). Damien Murphy of Australia's THE AGE has written (10 October 2008) a fine bio entitled: PETER HEMSWORTH TROY, OAM, ACCOUNTANT, SURFER 15-11-1938 — 30-9-2008 AN AUSTRALIAN surfer of legendary rather than public fame, Peter Troy achieved several firsts while living the laid-back life of the eternal beach boy. He may have been the first to ride the massive waves of Bells Beach, near Torquay, on a modern surfboard. In any case, on the Australia Day weekend of 1962, Troy staged a surfing competition at Bells that endures as the Rip Curl Easter Pro. But his most enduring accomplishment was the travel he undertook for about 20 years from his mid-20s when he roamed the world with a surfboard, introducing surfing to Brazil, discovering the classic right-hand breaks of Lagundri Bay and Tamarin Bay in Mauritius. He visited about 140 countries. His life became the stuff of others' dreams as his travels were recorded by Australian and American surf magazines, causing thousands of surfers to follow in his steps. His footloose trailblazing odyssey laid down the template, if not the style, for today's backpackers. Troy, who has died at his home at Mudjimba Beach in Queensland from a blood clot on a lung, aged 69, was born in Hamilton, Victoria. His parents, Col and Mardi, bought a general store in Torquay after World War II, and in 1949 young Troy went to Geelong College. He won colours in football and swimming, and in 1957 rowed in the school eight that won the last Associated Public Schools of Victoria's Head of the River race rowed on the Yarra. In those pre-wetsuit days, Torquay's summer coincided with the three-week factory Christmas break, the village hibernating for the rest of the year. Locals were few and close-knit and most of the simple fibro and weatherboard shacks were owned by Western District farmers or Melbourne tradesmen. Torquay's beach culture centred on the surf lifesaving club, which provided shelter for the young men who trekked the 100 kilometres from Melbourne every Friday night. The older men nicknamed Troy "Boy". He was a club champion on hollow wooden boards when he competed at a 1956 international carnival coinciding with the Melbourne Olympics. Californian lifesavers Greg Noll and Tom Zahn paddled out to Torquay Point on their short balsa Okanui boards, and changed Australian surfing forever. The boards sported fins that held them in the waveface, allowing the Americans to slice sideways along the unbroken swell, instead of the straight-in-to-shore ride afforded by Australian hollow boards. The Torquay crew finally had a board that could tackle Bells. Troy cut his teeth under Owen Yateman, an abalone fisherman and risk-taker, who occasionally caught waves at Bells in his fishing boat to amuse locals. He would take Troy to Bells in his motorcycle sidecar on the disused old Cobb and Co coach track and watched the youngster try to ride on his rubber Surf-o-Plane. With balsa boards, the Torquay crew mounted their assault on Bells in 1957. They still argue over who was first, Troy or his rival Marcus Shaw. Troy told the Geelong College archivist recently he was "one of the first two". In 1961, another local, Joe Sweeney, paid Barrabool Shire to bulldoze a track to Bells that afforded vehicle access and opened up the break to the world. Troy trained as a chartered accountant and worker for Price Waterhouse in Melbourne. He took to showing surf films around Victoria and made a fortune. He bought his parents a newsagency in Torquay and himself an MG Tf, and made enough money from Bruce Brown's surf circuit version of Endless Summer to fund a trip to Europe in 1965 with Rennie Ellis, a Lorne lifesaver. They saw the Beatles, slept on the Left Bank in Paris, sailed across the Atlantic in a yacht and hitched around the United States. Ellis' three-part series, Odyssey of a Surfer, appeared in the old Surfing World magazine in 1966 and launched 1000 dreams. Troy went to South America, then moved with his parents to Noosa Heads, where they ran a motel and started a short career as a surf-theatre owner and film producer (including Paul Witzig's 1971 film Sea Of Joy, which featured his Victorian heir apparent, Wayne Lynch). He travelled: Bali, the Maldives, the Seychelles, the Galapagos and throughout Africa. "Carrying a 10-foot surfboard under your arm, you were an oddity and that was your ticket to travel," he said. In the 1980s, Troy settled on the Sunshine Coast, living on Old Woman Island (Mudjimba), off Mooloolaba, and commuting by tinnie to his Surf Ratz surf shop. His partner Libby travelled the world with him for several years after nursing him in a Brisbane hospital in 1969. They parted, but married in 2000. Troy was instrumental in setting up Torquay's Surfworld Museum. Last year he was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia for helping to establish surfing as a sport, for his contribution as a historian and to the surf lifesaving movement. Troy is survived by Libby and her son and daughter. His ashes will be scattered off Old Woman Island and Torquay. --------------------- To view the original article, please go to: Endlessly sought classic breaks |

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Peter Troy Farewell

[ From: Peter Troy farewell |, 8 October 2008 ] There were two Peter Troys. There was Peter Troy the fabled adventurer, someone who pioneered surfing around the globe and whose idea of a good time was crossing the Atlantic with no navigational equipment and limited sailing experience. Then there was the chartered accountant, a meticulous man who assembled a lauded stamp collection. The Australian Surfing Hall of Fame inductee’s family and friends remembered “both men” when they gathered in Nambour yesterday to celebrate his extraordinary life. Mr Troy died last Tuesday from a blood clot on the lung. He was 69. As per his family’s request, many guests at the funeral wore loud shirts in honour of a colourful life. Two surfboards were erected on either side of the coffin, which was drapped in a Surfing Australia flag, as a projector flashed images of Mr Troy’s adventures to the sounds of the ’60s. Good friend Phil Jarratt told the audience how, like numerous people, he grew up worshipping the Australian surfing representative. “He became the template for my life,” he said. Mr Jarratt said his friend was one of the first people to surf the world-famous Bells Beach break in Victoria, introduced surfing in Brazil and hitch-hiked between the South Pole and North Pole. “At the time of his death he was planning a trip to Antarctica,” he recalled. Mr Jarratt said the Order of Australia medal recipient, who is survived by his wife Libby and stepchildren Lisa and Andrew, was totally committed to the surfing culture. “Many thousands of surfers’ lives were changed by the idea of Peter Troy.’’ Another close friend of the legendary surfer, International Surfing Association vice-president Alan Atkins, described him as a “fountain of knowledge” and an expert on a 16-foot toothpick surfboard. He said Mr Troy bridged the age gap by pushing the boundaries and possessed a contagious enthusiasm. There was always a bit of excitement when he was around. “We all saw him as the master adventurer,” he said. Mr Atkins said his friend thought it was important the history of surfing was kept alive. Given Mr Troy is an integral part of that history, keeping the origins of the sport alive will, in essence, keep him alive. “Peter’s legacy is with us all,” Mr Atkins said.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gordon Duane (1931-2011)

[ From: Gordie's Story by Steve Boehne ] There was a shapers tree published in Surfing magazine around 1980 that showed the infant origins of our surfboard industry’s shapers up to that point in time. I acknowledge that there were decades of unknown Hawaiian shapers in the early pre-history of our sport, but in the known times since 1900 surfing started in Waikiki with the official ambassador, Duke Kahanamoku. Amongst Duke’s peers there was a great waterman and surfboard shaper named Able Gomes who taught Gordie how to shape his first board. Gordon Duane, Gordie is very proud that his name appears in the shapers tree in the third tier right below Duke Kahanamoku’s. The second tier just above Gordie is made up of the first surfboard shapers of the 1930’s and 40’s including Californians; Pete Peterson, Tom Blake, Joe Quigg, Lorrin Harrison, Dale Velzy and Bob Simmons. All these guys were introduced to shaping by the Hawaiians in Hawaii. The third tier were guys who started shaping in the 1950’s. They included (amongst others) Gordon Duane, Renny Yater, Hobie Alter, Hap Jacobs, Johnny Rice and Greg Noll. Gordie had the perfect background to become a surfer-shaper. He was a star water polo player in high school and after high school; he worked as a cabinetmaker in his uncle’s cabinet shop. There he learned to use wood working tools and to appreciate quality craftsmanship. In 1950 at age 20, Gordie joined the Navy where he was soon stationed at the submarine base in Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Before long, he was renting boards from the “bath house” at Waikiki and learning to surf. He surfed the famous Queens reef where he met Duke, his brothers, Rabbit Kakai and Able Gomes. Able offered to help him make his first surfboard. After WWII there were thousands of surplus Balsa wood Navy life rafts. Gordie got one of these from the base special services officer and used the base wood shop to slice and laminate the balsa wood into a balsa blank with three red wood stringers. With Able’s help and his well developed wood working skills, his first board came out perfect and rode like a dream. From that time on he was hooked on the surfing and a life of surfboard shaping. After service in the Navy, Gordie settled in Huntington Beach where he surfed and made balsa boards in a garage for a while. His surfing friend, Jack Haley had a connection with the concessionaire at the HB Pier and arranged for Gordie to rent 4 rooms under the pier for only $10 per month. Gordie set up his first surfboard shop. He stored and glued the balsa wood in the first room, routed the rocker out on the beach where the wind could blow the massive amount of balsa dust away, shaped in the second room, glassed in the third room and had a “show” room in the fourth. Gordie figures that he probably glued, shaped and glassed over 6000 balsa wood surfboards before Gordon Clark introduced urethane blanks Gordie drove up to Dana Point and purchased one of the new foam blanks that “Grubby Clark and Hobie were making. When he tried to shape it, the thing would bow like a swayback horse. Gordie told Andy Jersick to run up to the Chevron Station on PCH and buy an inner tube. Gordie proceeded to saw the blank down the center, then glue the two halves back together with a wood strip down the center. He used the inner tube rubber bands to clamp it all together. From that time on Clark Foam came with wood stringers. When His friend Harold Walker started making foam blanks, Gordie became his main customer. Harold was working in a boat shop in Costa Mesa when he learned about urethane foam from Chuck Foss who later also made Foss Foam blanks. Gordie made the original “plug” for Harold’s first mold. Then Harold rented a dilapidated building with a dirt floor that used to be a chicken ranch up on Beach Blvd. Gordie would meet Harold every night and together they would make four or five blanks. When Gordie went to shape the first blank, he was surprised to find chicken feathers flying out of the shoot of his planner. Apparently, the feathers had blown into the mold and become mixed into the blank. For a while Walker claimed that his blanks were as light as a feather. General Veneer (lumber co.) on Firestone Blvd, in South Gate was where all the shapers bought their balsa wood. Gordie met Velzy, Yater, Noll and all the other shapers of that time at General Veneer. There was always a competition to get the best wood after each shipment arrived. Gordie had an advantage because HB was closest to South Gate. One day he had come in early and hand picked all the best light balsa wood. He spent $700 and bought 2000 bd. ft. He rented a trailer for this massive load and filled it plus his station wagon with wood. Just as Gordie was leaving, Velzy arrived with a moving van and paid $5000 for all the balsa General Veneer had. Velzy was the biggest surfboard manufacturer in the world. Gordie was blown away; he just couldn’t believe anyone could shape that much balsa wood. One of Gordie’s friends, Don Triece was the art director of Knott’s Berry Farm. Don designed and drew Gordie’s first logo, a surfer made from circles similar to the Michelin Man, which was dubbed “circle man”. In 1958 circle man was upgraded to the now famous Gordie shield logo featuring the “free spirit” surf man inside a curling wave and the slogan “The Only Way To Travel” written across the top. This Shield logo was considered very avant-garde in the new modern art world of the 1950’s. The slogan was probably barrowed from a famous 1950’s TWA airlines TV commercial where a cartooned passenger sang out: “ TWA; the only way to fly”. Take a look at Jack O’Neil’s logo. He simply turned Gordie’s logo backwards and copied it for his wetsuit logo. H.B. was a tough place to surf in the 1950’s. The easier spots like Malibu, Palos Verdes Cove and San Onofre were more popular with the old flat, heavy balsa boards. The HB surf pioneers were a tough, aggressive group which included Blackie August (Robert’s dad), Les Walen, Jack Haley, Bruce Brown, Walt Wessel, George Stremple, Dick Thomas, John Gray, Rocky Freeman, Don Stuart, Del Cannon, Lloyd Murray, Russ Jordan, Harry Schurch, Lynn Lockyer, Juan Montoya, Sandy Rittle, Walt Sawyer, Dave Francie, Danny Robishaw, Timmy Mcgilraph, Frank Ciarelli, Scott Robson, Buoy Wright, Harlow Lebard, Bill Vas, Andy Jersick, Gordon Clark, Sam Buel, Denny Buel, Chuck Burgess, Louie Tarter, Willie Lenahan, Danny Lenahan, Jack Haley and Gordie. Many of these guys were in the HB High School Graduating classes... The surf was always bigger than anywhere else at the HB pier, many a balsa board broke in half against the pilings of the pier and Gordie remained very busy. Wetsuits hadn’t been used yet for surfing and the water was cold. Jack Haley would go the bull fights in Tijuana on Sundays and bring back a big bota bag full of cheap wine. The Monday morning surf session at the pier was always looked forward to because he would tie the bota bag to a piling and all the guys would share the wine as anti freeze. Gordie’s shaping pros were becoming well known. Many of the best surfers would come to him for their Hawaii boards. In fact, Gordie made Dick Brewer’s first surfboard. For a while in Hawaii, Velzy boards and Gordie boards were the two most popular boards. All the Velzy guys hung out together and surfed a spot just North of Sunset. After a while everyone just called the spot Velzyland. The idea came from the newly opened Disneyland theme park. The Gordie guys mostly surfed a spot just South of Sunset, which everyone called Gordieland. Sunset itself was everybodyland. In 1960 the Kammie market opened across from Gordieland and the spot in years to come became known as Kammieland. Gordie was one of the first to shape the forerunner of the modern short board when Owl Chapman and John Boozer came to him for shorter, faster boards to ride at Pipe Line. Everyone was trying to ride Pipe with standard 9’ to 10’ long boards. They were too long to fit in the hollow wave and too slow to make the section. Gordie made those guys 8’ baby guns especially for big Pipe Line before short boards were discovered. Butch Van Artsdale was named Mr. Pipe Line and John Boozer was named Mr. Afternoon Pipe line. In Huntington Beach, the Gordie shop under the pier became a big hang out spot and the scene of many late night parties. It made sense, if you were a surfer and went down to the pier to check out the surf, before long you were hang’n with the guys at the Gordie shop. Those were fun times with friends and full of goofy pranks. Gordie had a pair of shears in the glassing room he called the “duty shears”. During the big south swells when the guys would ride their boards through the pilings of the pier (shoot the pier) they would often get tangled in the fishing lines hanging down from the fisherman up on the pier. A big, nasty saltwater hook is enough to piss any surfer off. The angry surfer would run up to the Gordie shop and grab the “duty shears”. It was now his duty to cut off every fishing line interfering with the surfer’s right of way. Surfing was growing by leaps and bounds; many of the hot young surfers were skipping school to go surfing and then hang’n at the Gordie shop afterwards. The Truant officer blamed it on the shop, but it was just the overwhelming allure of surfing. The city council wanted to close Gordie down. They passed a “no surfing after 10 am” ordinance and Gordie was the first person to be arrested for surfing in HB. Gordie was a tough son of a gun and he would give the authorities fits. Gordie wouldn’t back down to Vince Moorehouse; head of the lifeguards or anyone else who tried to boss him around. Gordie is a straight-ahead guy, he will tell you right to your face what he thinks about you good or bad. He didn’t walk away from a fight and probably started most of them. Sometimes, when Gordie was busy shaping, the guys would make resin bombs by adding too much cobalt and MEK to the resin. They would throw the batch off the pier. When it landed, it exploded like a land mine. It wasn’t as easy to use resin in those days, there were several fires caused by the extremely flammable early polyester resins and acetone. In 1959, while Gordie was out of town visiting his friend Rennie Yater, there was a mysterious fire that gutted the Gordie shop under the pier. Gordie lost over 100 surfboards in the fire and was nearly ruined. The sight of the boards lying out in the sand with their noses burned off was a traumatic site for him. In addition, he lost his lease under the pier. In searching for a new location, John “Frog” Van Oeffelen, team rider and long time friend, found an old oil field welding shop for rent up at Pacific Coast Hwy. and 13 th. Street. He and the gang helped Gordie move into the new location. There they entered the 1960’s and a new era of the polyurethane foam surfboard. The new shop was typical of surf shops in the 60’s, it smelled of the grass matt on the floor and laminating resin. You could only buy surfboards and sometimes a T- shirt. There were no sunglasses, skateboards or other superfluous junk. You bought paraffin wax at the supermarket. This was about the same time as the Gidget movie. Surf music and the Beach Boys made surfing popularity explode. In fact, Gordie produced an underground surf film, “Sacrifice For Surf” that featured the HB pier and his favorite spots in Hawaii including one of the best sequences of a young Dewey Weber ever filmed. Gordie made several very special show boards with multiple stringers, curved intersecting stringers, nose and tail blocks and radical abstract color designs. These boards were all displayed at the worlds first surfing trade show, the Surf O Rama at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Gordie also advertised in the very first “Surfer’s Annual” the forerunner of Surfer Magazine created by his friend John Severson. From the exposure at the Surf O Rama plus advertising in the new Surfer Magazine, Gordie gained many dealers in Ca. and the East Coast. Most of the Surf shops of the time became so busy shaping the boards that they now began sub contracting the glass work out to specialty glass shops. The demand for Gordie surfboards was now bigger than ever. He quit glassing the boards himself and sent his shaped blanks to Jack Pallard’s glass shop in Redondo Beach to be glassed. Later, he sent the boards to Bill Holden’s glass shop in Costa Mesa. All the surf shops were experiencing stupendous success. Velzy was driving around in big expensive cars and enjoying the high life, but through miss management he lost the whole thing in the early 60’s. Business pressures built up for Gordie too. Between 1956 and 1980 he built around 46,000 surfboards. In his little shop in HB, he had a show room for local surfers; he shaped the boards, and handled an unrelenting schedule of packing and shipping boards to his dealers. Gordie was CEO, advertising director, shaper, salesman, custodian, packer and shipper. He said the pace made him “grouchy”. He just didn’t have time to hang out with buddies or baby sit shoppers. Well, Gordie was never known as a super tactful guy. When he was busy, if some kid or “looky-loo” guy wondered into the shop Gordie would say: What do you want? If the poor guy didn’t come up with the right answer fast, Gordie would say: “Well then get the ---- out of here”. Once when Bob Carbonell came by to visit, Gordie barked at him and Bob responding to Gordie’s grumpy nature said “The next time I want to feel bad,I’ll catch the flu”. Bob stormed out of the shop, but was back the next day for cocktail hour. Gordie wasn’t everybody’s best friend, but everybody respected his craftsmanship and his fine surfboards. Gordie’s shapes are unique; His “plan shape” (outlines) were always graceful with smooth flowing lines. He hated big noses, fat rails and thick boards. He always made boards designed for good surfers, not beginners. The blanks were sculpted, foiled out to thin noses and tails. Rails tapered in a perfect parabolic radius. Gordie didn’t make a lot of templates over the years. He just changed the dimensions of the boards as styles changed. I’ve seen the Mark 5 template used on a 1960 board with a 15.5” nose and a 16.5” tail, and then the same Mark 5 template was laid out as a 1966 era nose rider with an 18.5” nose and a 15” tail. When Greg Noll introduced the Miki Dora “Da Cat” model with a step deck, Gordie answered back with his Lizard model step deck, a nose rider that featured an elliptical concave on the deck that was easier to step into than the Da Cat model. His regular nose rider model had a similar elliptical concave under the nose. When the Aussies introduced V-bottom short boards, Gordie created the Assassin Pin tail V-bottom. This was the beginning of the short board era and the Assassin became shorter and shorter working it’s way down from about 9’ to 7’6”. In the late 60’s Velzy really got into the “wild west” cowboy scene. He loved to wear his cowboy outfit, ride horses and shoot his lever action 30-30. Velzy spent many days wondering around in Death Valley, the Mohave Desert, and Arizona. Gordie often accompanied Velzy on his explorations of old ghost towns and mine shafts. Gordie laughs as he recalls a time when they wondered upon an old graveyard outside a ghost town in Arizona. Velzy was hunting around for weathered pieces of wood for a project he was building at home. He pulled a couple of big slabs of wood out of the ground that had been there for a 100 years marking some crusty old miner’s graves and loaded them into the truck. When Gordie saw them in the truck, he said: “Man you’ve got to put those back. We’ll be cursed, those guy’s ghosts will follow us all the way back to Huntington Beach and haunt us for ever”. Velzy saw the potential hazard and reluctantly returned the grave markers back to the rightful owners. He just couldn’t remember which was which. It was this time while Gordie was into hunting and guns that he chose the name Assassin for his new pintail V-bottom short board. Gordie was thinking that the surfer would assassinate the wave with this predatory surf weapon. Unfortunately, Shortly afterward, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated which put a dark shadow over the word assassin. Gordie muses now that the name Assassin was probably a big mistake, but who could see the future in 1967? During the busy, golden years of the 60’s, Gordie hired several different shapers to help him keep up. He was very particular about the quality of the work and he would inspect every board to see that it met his standards. Gordie says that the first guy he hired was Mike Oday. He is a soft-spoken guy who did top quality work for Gordie on and off for years. He eventually became the head shaper for Bob Russell of Russell surfboards in Newport. Finally, he quite shaping, got a job with the Phone Company and retired to Oregon. The next guy, Larry Felker was amazing; he could shape 10 boards every night. Larry would shape all night and sleep all day, but Larry was out of control. He would get his paycheck on Friday and spend it on booze and gambling all weekend. Once Gordie got a phone call to come and pick him up in down town Santa Anna. Larry was gambling, got drunk and beat up. He had spent the night sleeping in a back alley. Larry had a wife and two kids. When his wife found out he had a job at The Gordie shop, She brought a tent and the kids and camped in the yard behind the shop all week until the paycheck came. Gordie had strict instructions to hand the check over to her. Del Cannon was another guy who learned and shaped for Gordie. Del was a hot surfer and well known in the growing surf industry. Del eventually left and opened his own shop in San Clemente. Later, he closed his shop and became a commercial fisherman in Hawaii. Don Stuart, Bruce Jones, Steve Boehne, Jim Fuller and Randy Lewis can all thank Gordie for their first shaping jobs. Randy once said, “All I ever wanted to do was to shape high quality Gordie long boards”. Some went on to make surfboards under their own labels. The Gordie shaping alumni all agree that he was a tough guy to deal with, but he taught you a lot about shaping, he was fair and there was always a paycheck at the end of the week. Gordie’s best years were the 60’s where the classic boards were suited to his meticulous wood working abilities. Nobody could shape a rail just like Gordie; they were unique. At a time when others made templates with long straight rails, bulgee hips, and fat noses, Gordie’s templates always had a continuous curve with a slight point in the nose. The hot surfers knew that a Gordie board would ride just right. As the 1970’s eclipsed the 60’s, the short board eclipsed the long board. You would not be caught dead carrying a long board across the beach at the pier. Gordie like Greg Noll, Jacobs, Bing and many of the other big name shops of the 60’s found intense competition from hundreds of new start up shops. The name of the new game was not quality; it was CHANGE. Shape designs were changing so fast that the board you just bought was old fashioned 6 months later. Consequently, prices dropped by half; quality became secondary and the new experimental outlines though often crude and unbalanced made the old long boards look prehistoric. Despite this, Gordie had the most fun in the 70’s as he and Randy Lewis shaped the boards for the rambunctious Hole in the Wall Gang. Gordie sponsored the “Hole in the Wall Gang” Surf team of HB. The Hole in the Wall Gang was not named after the Butch Cassidy outlaws made famous in the Cat Balou movie, but was named for a hole in the retaining wall holding the sea cliff opposite the Gordie shop. Water from the gutter in front of the shop flowed through a pipe and exited to the sea through the hole in the wall. This is where the Gordie guys surfed. The Gang was a strange assemblage of seasoned HB surfers who weren’t part of the regular contest circuit, but like the typical Gordie rider of the 60’s they surfed hot, partied hard and carried the Gordie tradition of non conformity. Wall Gang: Gordie - Jim Fuller - Duncan McClane - Bob Carbonell - John Taylor - John Van Oeffelen - Randy Lewis - John Sweeny - front row Lonnie Buhn - Morgan Floth - Bobbie Farley - Cindy White - Chris Cattel - John Boozer - Robert Koogan. not pictured: Gayle Chips - Vickie Reese - Hal Sachs - Butch Cash - Bill Rainforth - Bob Milfeld - Guy Grundy The 4th of July was a big weekend in HB. The fireworks shot off the end of the pier brought crowds of people down to the beach. The HB police were overwhelmed by the mobs that in past years often rioted and burned police cars. Finally, in desperation, the HB police called in the Military police to help them patrol. The Gordie shop was always the scene of a big Hole in the Wall Gang party. As the beer was consumed, the fun loving gang got wilder. (Fun loving is in the eye of the fun lover, the cops just saw them as rowdy) There were at least a hundred people in the yard behind the shop. One of the gangsters threw a quart beer bottle over the fence; unfortunately it landed on the hood of a passing police car. Luckily, the sergeant driving the car was a friend of Gordie’s. The sergeant came charging into the shop with his MP assistant. Gordie saw his friend, but had some bad memories of the MP’s back in the Navy days. He yelled out “M.P.’s are not welcome in my shop, I had enough trouble with the likes of you at Pear Harbor; you can wait outside!” The sergeant asked who threw the bottle, just then Chris Cattel, who actually threw the bottle, wandered in the back door with a guilty look on his face but about 6 guys pointed out the back door. As the sergeant went out back, one of the guys grabbed the Serge’s hat and locked the door. The partiers out back explained that they were having a private party and that the police aught to go back downtown and regulate the out of towner’s there. The Sergeant wanted to make someone pay so he grabbed Rooster Elliot and locked him in the back of the cruiser. When he left to go locate the MP, the gang freed Rooster from the cruiser and he got away. The Sergeant and the MP were so frustrated from this run around that they just got in the cruiser and left. The rest of the police battalion was so busy that no one could break free for a second assault on the Gordie shop. The next day, the Sergeant promised not to prosecute if he could just get his hat back quietly. With great relief, Gordie quickly complied with his friend’s request. The Hole In The Wall Gang was a ruthless bunch of competitors with a tenacious nature and refused to lose a single trophy to the competition. Because of the depth of ability in the group, they immediately started winning contests, taking home the trophies and putting the Gordie shield in the forefront of the competition scene. They drew strength from team enthusiasm and the requirement that each sign up for multiple events. (If you loose in one event, you could still earn team points in the next). The Gang competed in W.S.A. contest in California, Hawaii, Texas and North Carolina. In 1977 the Gang won the national team trophy at San Onofre and was given a commendation by the city of Huntington Beach. So, Gordie and his gang of ruffians went from being chastised by the city in the 60’s to commended in the 70’s... When the woman who Gordie rented his shop from died, Her estate sold the property off to developers. Gordie was forced to move out. March 1980 was the end of the Gordie shop and the end of an era, but not the end of Gordie Surfboards. A few of Gordie's old shapers are licenced to make Gordie surfboards and the name lives on. You can see beautifully crafted Gordie boards in the Infinity Shop in Dana Point ( ) or contact Don Stuart about 50's replica balsa boards. ---------------------------------- The above article by Steve Boehne is beautifully recreated with a wide range of images at: Gordie's Story

Friday, October 03, 2008

Hobie Cat's 40th

[ From: Homegrown Hobie Cat Marks its 40th Year By COURTENAY NEARBURG ]

It's been 40 years since Hobie Alter, Sr. launched his first beach catamaran, the Hobie 14, off the coast of Capistrano Beach in the summer of 1968...

Alter had already made a significant name for himself by 1968 as an innovative surfboard shaper and designer in Southern California. He began in the early '50s building balsawood boards in the garage of his family's summer home in Laguna Beach. Alter paired up with Gordon Clark, later of Clark Foam, to develop foam filled fiberglass surfboards in 1958, an innovation that would make the Hobie brand famous.

"I was already two weeks behind the day I opened the doors," Alter said of his surf shop on Pacific Coast Highway, a space his father bought for him for $1,500 in 1954 after his surfboard manufacturing operation outgrew the garage and spilled out onto his Oak Street lawn.

Alter had no formal training or education as an engineer, but design came as naturally to him as ocean sports. During a visit to Waikiki, he rode on legendary surfer Woody Brown's custom 40-foot beach catamaran, the Manu Kai. Alter returned to California and began looking at catamarans for himself. Alter bought boats but was not satisfied with their performance overall.

"We had to come in and be better than what was there and not be copying them," Alter said of his predecessors and competitors. He does not describe himself as an "inventor" so much as a "designer" who takes an idea and makes it better. "It's evolution, I guess."

Just as Alter was playing with catamarans, Art Hendrickson introduced himself at the surf shop in 1967, asking Alter what else he could do besides make surfboards. Hendrickson provided the capital for the ensuing nine months of experimentation that led to the first regatta of Hobie 14 prototype catamarans on the Fourth of July, 1968, when Alter and his friends raced against each other.

"I think the catamaran sailing world generally agrees that Hobie Alter's innovations have been the most defining (in terms of) impact on recreational and racing circles within catamarans," Scott Miller, a member of U.S. Sailing's multi-hull council, said by email. "There were other good competitors but Hobie was far and away the leader. The Hobie 16 is still in production after 40 years and is still (probably) the most raced catamaran in the world."

"We are the Kleenex of catamarans," Hobie Cat marketing director Dan Mangus said. "Our brand has crossed over that line. We're still a leader in the industry."

The Hobie Cat Company, based in San Juan Capistrano, operates three manufacturing plants that produce catamarans, kayaks, boating and kayaking accessories. Alter sold Hobie Cat in 1976 to the Coleman company, popular makers of camping equipment and accessories. The company has been owned by a private investing group for the past 15 years, according to Mangus.

"I was sitting around this table with a bunch of guys who didn't get their feet wetter than when they took a shower," Alter said of his decision to sell to Coleman in 1976. "I didn't really like running the business. I liked building things."

Alter licensed his brand freely throughout the '70s and '80s, but would revoke his license if he felt the new operators were not adhering to the quality and reputation of Hobie products. According to Hobie Sports president and son-in-law Mark Christy, Alter is "absolutely manic about his products being the best or at least close to it."

... These days, the senior Alter divides his time between a home on Orcas Island in Washington, where a custom-built 60-foot catamaran is moored, and Palm Desert, where he bought a home four years ago with his wife, Susan...

Homegrown Hobie Cat Marks its 40th Year With a Race | | Laguna Beach Independent