I can’t tell you how many times, early in my surfing career, the boards I ordered and the boards I received were different. Virtually everything was changed from my order. Was I bummed? Fu@k no! I was psyched to have a new board and I couldn't wait to wax it up and get it wet!
My parents bought me my first new board in 1966. I was so out of my mind with the board and have never forgotten the gut level excitement it brought. In hindsight, I really had no base of reference other than, a couple of used boards, but I freaking loved that board; a 8’10 Twin Pin Surfboards La Jolla. All the best surfers in La Jolla were riding them. It was right at the beginning of the short board revolution and locally, Bear Mirandon was the man! A bit bigger than me. I was 6’4, 190 at the time, so he could relate to a larger surfer my size. He surfed pretty good and was clearly a visionary shaper. He in hindsight, Surfboards La Jolla was actually the link between Bob Simmons and Steve Lis from a design perspective. Steve walked into the Mirandon Brothers shop at the top of Tourmaline St. in Pacific Beach and absolutely tripped out on their twin pin tail design with twin fins. Twin Pins became Steve Lis' inspiration for much of what came after in his work.
For my next board, I had to earn the money. I was a bagger at Mayfair Market in La Jolla. $2 bucks an hour. Gas was 20 cents a gallon, maybe 15 cents in Huntington Beach, new boards were $200. Today gas these days is $4 bucks a gallon, up by a factor of 20. New boards now; are $900 plus and that is a factor of only 5!
I worked all summer and put a deposit down in June and got my new board in September. A 7’6 Twin Pin. It had none of the characteristics of original 8’10 but I had earned, saved and waited so I said to myself, shoot, I have to give this thing a try. I struggled and struggled with it for a few months and came to a conclusion about the board. While I had basic skills, I could tell that this board was a pig!
Following my second Surfboards La Jolla, I went through a long list of “underground” shapers. Even after I started shaping I would get boards from big names, and some lesser known shapers to try and understand more about design and shaping technique. Few of the boards came out as expected. Color, forget it. Something ordered blue and black would come out orange and red. Shapes varied from close to my order to, not even ball park! Nonetheless, I was always super stoked to get a new board and enjoyed riding every single one of them, but some WAY more than others. Bottom line, I always took away some info about how different designs performed in the water.
All of those boards, the excitement they brought me; mind surfing them before I ever paddled out, the intensity of the joy they delivered on a good day, the awareness that that my boards evolved along with my surfing, is what has inspired my career. I LOVE making boards because I know what they represent. It’s a long way from physical foam and glass to the freedom of expression that we all, regardless of experience and skill, chase. Surfing is a magical experience and I have always felt incredibly lucky to participate in the evolution of board design and, equally, the growth in ability of anyone that chose one of my board. End of the day, we all still get a pretty good jolt of fountain of youth when we pick up a new board and imagine it’s capabilities.
I am proud that we have so many repeat customers that buy multiple boards a year. They trust me to take their order seriously, not only do they come back over and over again, but they also send their friends in.
Surfboards here are handmade. 8 plus hours of skilled labor into each and every one. Try as hard as we do, they sometimes do not turn out perfectly.
Design is one thing. I’m not talking design. I’m talking cosmetics. From time to time sh!t happens. Usually, it’s cosmetic and will in no way affect the way the board performs. So, unless it’s a serious structural issue…Wax it up and give it a chance! You might be pleasantly surprised.