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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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.

“GO Faster!”: Surfing Heritage & Culture Center’s Latest Exhibit

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Part 1: Speed Thrills

By Andrew Cowell

History tells us that the “Total Involvement,” or “Shortboard Revolution” exploded onto the surfing world stage when Australian, Nat Young won the 1966 World Surfing Championships at San Diego, California’s Ocean Beach.  Nat, with his gunslinger attitude, came prepared. He rode a short, thin, narrow, extremely foiled 9’4” surfboard, (most contestants were riding the standard ten footer)   dubbed Magic Sam.  Competitors, media, and spectators alike witnessed Nat’s staccato bursts of speed and maneuverability as he pin-balled his way to victory; the harbinger of death for the longboard and the hang-ten posing Americans.

Truth be told, the insemination of the Shortboard Revolution’s seed occurred two years prior to Nat’s victory.  In ’64, the inquisitive, innovative, trailblazing George Greenough visited friend and California expat Bob “The Beaded Barb” Cooper in Australia.  George, traveling with his cameras and balsawood “spoon” kneeboard “Velo” with its tuna tail inspired flexible fiberglass fin, was introduced to the itinerate surfer/shaper Bob McTavish and others who were gobsmacked by the other worldly surfing performances of Greenough.  Bob McTavish from his biography, STOKED: “I witnessed George kick into a six-foot wave and get to his knees in a snap.  He took off fast, his right arm flying, his left grabbing the front rail of the short kneeboard.  With all the speed he gained form the drop, he planted a hard bottom turn, and shot forward along the hovering wall.  But he didn’t run straight along it as we would have on our big boards.  No!  He carved back up into the pit.  Again he drove off a long bottom turn, and flew along the threatening section.  Amazing surfing.  So fast!  And those turns!  Most impressive… I gotta get me some of that speed and acceleration.”  The only real stumbling block to Greenough’s approach, McTavish later lamented, was Miki Dora.  “He was so darn cool!  His walking, trimming, and noseriding style.”

Hobie Shop :: The Second Annual Hobie Vintage Surfboard Festival // Sunday June 9th.

Reyn Spooner ‘presents’ The Second Annual Hobie Vintage Surfboard Festival at La Plaza Park

Sponsored by the Vintage Surfboard Collectors Club and the City of Dana Point

Sunday June 9th

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Come one come all to an edition of The Vintage Surfboard Collectors Club Swap at La Plaza Park in Dana Point, next to Hobie Surf Shop! 

View, buy, sell or trade surfboards with member collectors from up and down the coast. Surfboards & memorabilia, like skateboards, contest tees, vintage aloha, books, posters, etc,  from the dawn of surfing through the 1980’s will be represented. Admission is FREE to swap or buy. You must be a member of VSCC to sell (more info at www.vintagesurfboardcollectorclub.com). All official vendors will receive an event tee from Reyn Spooner & Hobie, poster, and coffee token from Bear Coast Coffee. 

Along with all flavors of surf & skate history represented, there will also be special “Best of Show Hobie Surfboard or Memorabilia” & “Best of Show Surfboard or Memorabilia” awards given. So, bring your best of the best, most unique throwback and enter it to WIN. First prize is $200 Hobie Surf Shop gift card, second $100. You do not have to be a VSCC member to enter the Best in Show categories. We can’t wait to see what you pull out of your rafters, garages and closets! Several legendary Hobie Surfers, including Phil Edwards, will serve as show judges.

Morning coffee bar with locals Bear Coast Coffee will start brewing at 6am for our official participants. Fellow collector members, Surfboards and Coffee, will collaborate with VSCC for a special exhibition of vintage surfboards! Live music all day starting at 9am, featuring, Matt Aikona, Will Heard, Outerwave, and The Alive! Most importantly, Hobie Shaper, Michael Arenal, will be shaping all afternoon at Hobie. This display of skill is a highlight of the gathering. While you are watching Michael shape, be sure and check out the limited edition Phil Edwards Reyn Spooner shirts, as well as the NEW Hobie Surfboards Phil Edwards models! 

In short, HUNDREDS of bitchen boards strewn about the grass, coffee, live music, hand shaping, Best in Show, and local surf legends, all with a Hobie flavor added in. What’s not to like?? This event is rain or shine, free of charge, all ages welcome and open to the public. Don’t miss out!! See you Sunday June 9th!! 

EVENT DETAILS ::

Date :: Sunday, June 9th. 

Time ::  8am – 3pm. 

Location :: Hobie Dana Point. 34174 Pacific Coast HWY. 92629. 949-496-2366 

Primary Sponsors :: Hobie Surf Shop, The City of Dana Point , Reyn Spooner, Bear Coast Coffee, Surfboards and Coffee 

Secondary Sponsors :: Surfing Heritage, Surfers Healing, Ocean Institute 

Hobie Surf :: OUTERKNOWN X HOBIE Beach Clean Up! Laguna Beach May 4th!!

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Come one, come all to another Hobie X Outerknown Beach Clean up on Saturday, May 4th!! All ages, friends, and families welcome to participate!! We will meet at Hobie Surf Shop in Laguna at 9am. Coffee, cinnamon toast & Acai bowls will be served  to get us a little boost of cleaning energy!

Before we head to Main Beach at 9:30, we will have Ryan Hickman from Ryan’s Recycling, Lyndon from Outerknown and The Pacific Marine Mammal Center share a few words on who they are and how you can be involved in their shared mission for a clean ocean environment!! We’ll then head to the beach as a team and disperse with our buckets and pickers for a good old fashioned beach clean. Lyndon will be under an Outerknown pop up handing out bags, gloves and pickers if needed. He’ll also weigh all the bits and pieces of trash we cleaned up.

After the trash is weighed, and we are finished with our clean around 10:30am, we are gathering  back at the shop to relax to some live music from The 4 Stringerz, have a few more coffee/drinks/treats. Lyndon will share the weight of the trash collected and do a few epic raffles of Outerknown Gear and a premium membership to Surfline!!

Don’t miss out on your chance to help our ocean dwelling buddies live in a trash free home!! Spread the word & see you here!!