SHACC “Temples of Stoke”: A Summoning Perspective

“STAY CLOSE TO THE SOUL”

A CALL TO ACTION

SURFING HERITAGE AND CULTURE CENTER

TEMPLES OF STOKE EXHIBIT CLOSING

By

Andrew Cowell

Surfing has seen many changes, some extreme and dynamic, like the Shortboard Revolution, or Simon Anderson’s Thruster, or the reemergence of the longboard.  Other developments have been understated and hairsplitting, almost incomprehensible.  It’s here, I believe, we find the evolution of the “surf shop.”  The revolution has been subtle.  There’s little dispute that Dale Velzy opened the first shop in 1949; little more than a dimly lit, dilapidated, one room store front in Manhattan Beach, California.  Jack O’Neill upped Velzy’s ante in 1952 with the opening of the “SURF SHOP” on San Francisco’s Great Highway.  (It’s interesting to note that Jack was the first to use the moniker “surf shop.”)  Hobie was nipping at O’Neill’s heals, opening the first dedicated, purpose-built surf shop at Dana Point, California in 1954.  By ’61 beach communities were littered with them.  Peterson’s Surfing Yearbook of 1963 notes that there were 41 in Southern California alone.

For these early adventure seeking, passionate, inventive, nonconformist surfing entrepreneurs the haunting speculation of turning a profit weighed heavily, often consuming more time and energy than their surfing did.  Relying on the sale of surfboards just didn’t pay the bills.  Some, like O’Neill, with his life-long passion for discovery and innovation, saw a great opportunity in living and surfing in such harsh conditions.  He foresaw the creation of the wetsuit and how it would provide for him and his family the freedom to build a life around surfing.  We are all indebted to Jack O’Neill for keeping us warm and surfing longer.  Others saw the need for accessories: wetsuits, wax, car racks, rentals, and lessons.  Still others, like Hobie Alter, set their sights on adventure and tropical isles, developing catamarans and other ocean and wave friendly craft.

Then in the 1970’s three enterprising Australians: Alan Green, Carol McDonald, and Tim Davis, and later a fourth, John Law formed the Rip Curl Wetsuit Company, from which Quiksilver apparel was later spawned.  Right out of the box, they saw success with a boardshort design that was leaps and bounds ahead of anything the surf shop owner and customer had seen or worn.  These shorts were maneuverable, manageable, and comfortable making them brand leading exponents.  These four, along with Americans Jeff Hakman and Bob McKnight saw the writing on the wall.  The coming revolution gained a foothold, apparel would be king, while the surfboard, that on which the industry was built became second fiddle.

Still the focus for most of the tanned, motley crew of surfing misfits was the surf shop. With the mass acceptance of the Quiksilver boardshort, others jumped into the fray.  As the surf/beach lifestyle was trending across middle-America, Billabong, Gotcha, Instinct and a Waimea sized wave of others swept over the market place.  For a while the ride was great.  Everyone, industry leaders and consumers alike were goovin’ on surfing and getting barreled.

Today many of the apparel manufactures have gone through a restructuring and the surf shop is seeing a more balanced approach to their offerings.  Surf shops that stay close to the soul of surfing are a true celebration of the lifestyle, where the unknown creatives who happily toil in dimly lit rooms creating the agents we so enjoy riding waves on thrive.  These Temples of Stoke have always been hallowed ground; a house of community, a bullpen were the generosity of spirit – aloha – is spread from one corner of the surfing world to another.  A surfing life is a deeply rewarding and meaningful existence.

As the twenty-first century plods along, the race for your dollar has become increasingly competitive.  Everything from wax to surfboards is offered for your shopping convenience online.  I’m not knocking e-commerce, here at Hobie Surf Shop we offer you that accommodation for shopping our inventory, but today’s surf shop, much like yesteryear, are independently owned by surfers working to make a living by creating handmade surfboards and offering the goods and services needed to enjoy the surfing life.  All the while employing many people smitten with the surfing bug.  Unfortunately the internet forces many of these enterprising entrepreneurs to close their doors.  Your support is needed.

Journalist Craig Stecyk has said that the surf shop “functions as the sport’s information centers, supply depots, halfway houses, classrooms, libraries, churches, banks, and museums.”  Although Stecyk spoke thus in 1996, his view is still true today.  Here’s the point: the surf shop functions as a societal glue.  Support your local shop, and the next time you’re hunting waves, either in your community, or someone else’s, stop into the local shop.  Buy a bar of wax, a tee shirt, or a hat.  Chat up the kid behind the counter, the experience will be gratifying.

Lastly, check out the richly rewarding “TEMPLES of STOKE” exhibit that the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center (SHACC) is currently curating at http://www.shacc.org.  It’s a guaranteed good time.

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Hobie Surfboards: Makala “Harmony” Smith Model

NORTH OF SAN ‘O
By
Andrew Cowell

Milestones are hard to achieve. They maybe come around once in a career. In business they come less frequently, if at all. For Hobie Alter and the Hobie brand the hits just kept on coming. First, as a studied young man designing and shaping balsa wood surfboards in the early ‘50s. Then there was the deliberate design and construction of a dedicated facility for the sole purpose of manufacturing surfboards, with a fixed space for sales and gathering; a first. Next, his understanding of the unsuitability of balsa wood for surfboards in the long term, thus leading to the groundbreaking development of the first commercially available polyurethane foam core specifically made for surfboard construction. The first signature model – Phil Edwards – surfboard. Later, and this was the biggie, the design, development, and construction of an affordable, highly-prized, beach launchable Hobie Cat catamaran, upending the exclusivity of the sailing world. There’s more, but these are the benchmarks.

Leading edge firsts are a Hobie hallmark. With Hobie’s passing in 2014 our single-minded purpose to continue his innovative legacy was determined to be instrumental to the brands continued success. Although team riders and signature models are not new, we at Hobie Surfboards are adding young, talented, bare-footed adventurers to our rooster. First up: Makala Smith. Makala is a supremely talented professional surfer from Dana Point, California, and a recent invitee to The Vans Duct Tape Invitational.

Sponsored by SEEA, we have entered into a surfboard collaboration that provides Makala with unique surfboards designed and shaped by Hobie shaper Michael Arenal. Her boards offer an individual take on longboarding and noseriding. They are decidedly American in design with an Australian twist, like a flaming hot Bloody Mary — spicy! The U.S./Aussie fusion combines a balanced foil, flat bottom, and 50/50 rails, creating a predictable ride, perfect for noseriding. Makala’s model carries a balanced volume from nose to tail, while the softly blended nose concave smoothly transitions into a “speed thrills” flat bottom. A centered wide-point eliminates the wild, bucking bronco feel of a traditional, hippy, wide-point behind center surfboard, without diverting the eye from its sensuous outline.

The future looks bright as we honor Hobie Alter and his legacy of innovation and design, while keeping a steely eye on why we surf, to have fun, and as a matter of principle, never having to wear hard-soled shoes.

Introducing Cate’s Stoke: Prepared to get Stoked!!

Hi all!

My name is Cate Stokes and this is my blog, Cate’s Stoke! This blog, sponsored by Hobie, is going to include all you need to know about Women’s Surfing, especially longboard culture! But first, a quick introduction…

I have been surfing since the age of 11. As soon as I popped up on my first wave, I was hooked! I started competing when I was 12 and longboarding at 14 years old. In high school, I joined the surf team and, when I was in 9th grade, I was sponsored by Hobie! It is such a great company to work with and I am so thankful for all their support over the years! At 16, I started working at the Hobie store in Dana Point shop and have been there ever since. Come say hello if you ever see me working! I started this blog in conjunction with the Hobie team to report on women’s surfing and showcase what is happening in the surf world. I hope you enjoy the content I am planning for you all and feel free to contact me, I would love to hear from you!

Instagram: catestokes

Dana Point Welcomes Chispa House Films & “Search for the Big One”

Four Humanity Focused Films Set To Premiere at Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point

by

Cate Stokes

Join Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point on September 12th as we welcome Chispa House as they premiere their film Search for the Big One, featuring Rob Machado and Hobie Surf Shop Team riders! This series features four short films that raise awareness for ocean and land conservation.

The Chispa House team produces films about aspirational humans and providing glimpses into the lives of people that inspire them. Their struggles and triumphs reveal ambitions, motivations, and ways we can better ourselves and the world around us. They reveal the truth, which is exactly what they’re chasing at Chispa House.

Donations to the Surfrider Foundation will be accepted to support their mission to protect our beautiful coastline. This is sure to be an amazing event, so don’t miss it! https://chispahouse.com/

Temples of Stoke: A Tribute to Surf Shops

Surfers and surf shops, one can’t exist without the other; theirs is a symbiotic relationship. From grommethood to adulthood, from working-life into marriage and parenthood, legions of the truly obsessed continue to visit surf shops. Like the growth rings of a tree, significant moments in the life of a surfer can be marked in these “Temples of Stoke;” a framework of existence made up of freeze-frame moments. Surf journalist, Sam George likens the surf shop experience to a “mirror into which surfers have gazed, searching for self.” And historian Matt Warshaw suggests that the surf shop is “a time tested cultural stronghold,” functioning as a channel for information, gossip, and propaganda, a supply center, workshop, and quite often as the theater of the absurd.

Historically Dale Velzy is credited with creating the surf shop ideal, when opening his 1950s factory and showroom in Manhattan Beach, California. Rudimentary at best, the first surf shops were little more than small, one room operations producing a single product: the surfboard. You, the customer, upon entering would likely find a pair of sawhorses, and a single, bare light bulb suspended from the ceiling, with balsa wood shavings, inches thick, carpeting the floor.

With time, and surfing’s cinematic popularity, the surf shop morphed into a factory/retail operation. Hobie Alter is credited with being the first to construct a purpose-built operation at Dana Point, California. By 1961 surf shops were becoming full service emporiums with silk-screened tee shirts, trunks (today’s boardshort), magazines, wetsuits, and board making supplies. By 1963, according to Peterson’s Surfing Yearbook, surf shops were exploding nationwide. There were 41 in Southern California alone!

Today the surf shop means many things to many people, but, as Justin Housman explains, writing on the Surfer Magazine blog, “the anchor of the surf shop is still the surfboard… you’re sure as hell not buying surfboards online…. We still insist on holding a board in our hands before buying it.” Houseman again, “… from the very beginning [surf shops] have always been about much more than just commerce…. [They have] functioned as a ‘third place’ – another place to gather and socialize outside of work, or school, or home.” For those of you who may be new to surfing and the current expression of the surf shop, there are still a few old-school “Temples of Stoke” around. Places were the guy or girl behind the counter can actually talk about the nuances of surfboards, and sell you the latest beach-lifestyle fashions, all while telling you about how the waves were that morning — because they surf. But you’d better hurry, they are an endangered species in today’s e-commerce, big-box, mass-produced society.

For more on the “Temples of Stoke, A Tribute to Surf Shops” experience visit the SURFING HERITAGE AND CULTURE CENTER (SHACC) at https://shacc.org/temples-of-stoke-on-display-through-october-29-2019/.

Andrew Cowell for Hobie Surf Shop and SHACC.