The surf board is an essential part of a surfer’s interaction with waves. Some might say it is the spiritual connection between the surfer and Mother Nature. The size, shape, and style of the board reflects both the surfer’s personality and approach to wave riding as well as the trends in board styles and design over time. A surfer’s collection of boards, their quiver, is an array of strategies for the type of waves they might encounter.
My own journey began in spring 1970 after I turned 13. Although I had surfed “foamies” (foam boards) as early as 1966 in Pacific Beach (CA), my mother would not let me use a real surf board until I turned 13 for fear of “hitting my head on the board and drowning.” So, when I finished 7th grade in 1970 I began my surfing career. Here are most of the boards I have owned in my life. [for a narrative to go with these pictures check out Coming Home].
While I was learning to surf and experimenting with longer boards, surf boards were getting smaller and my next board was a 5′ 10″ twin fin. I loved that board but it was difficult to ride. No long drawn out lines with this one or a fin would track and you’d fly off the board. Instead you had to whip it around and keep it moving. Fun, but not my style.
At that time the first leashes came out and early versions were just a long rubber hose with a suction cup, which I put on the nose of the board so I could whip it around. The rubber hose (by itself) didn’t last long due to the obvious boomerang effect so it wasn’t long until the hose had rope inside to limit the pull and we attached it to the back of the board like it is today. I still remember what it was like following a wipeout: of being on the surface with my board 10-15 away stuck in the backwash, hose stretched to the limit, and waiting for it to come flying back! I got rid of it and didn’t use a leash until a few years later when I moved to the Bay Area where cold water and rocky cliffs made a leash a high priority.