And the Band Played On

This was the last waltz for Gary Stachan in his role as a California State Park Ranger, including a long running gig as head ranger at Año Nuevo State Park. After 34 years of service, Gary is retiring. To celebrate he threw a classic shindig full of music, food, and good friends.

As a hardcore surfer and accomplished waterman, Gary has been outstanding in his field. He has always stood tall in the forest of bureaucrats and has embodied the meaning of stewardship of our state's wild places.

During his tenure, the parks along the North Coast have been transformed into real gems of stunning beauty that are well planned, accessible, and most importantly, still natural and wild. Gary was profiled in the summer 2006 Surfer's Journal. It's a good glimpse of a waterman's life as a California State Park Ranger.

How many rangers do you see in a surfboard print button down wearing a lei? Even though Gary will no longer be the front man at Año, rest assured that he has found his voice and will continue to hit the right note in more ways than one (more surfing and kitesurfing!)

I know that for my family, his work along this coast has made our lives richer. Let's hope that Sacramento and the people of California follow his tune and the song remains the same.

Feliz Año Nuevo


Easy Rider

Allyn makes his annual migration to the warm waters of Puerto Rico and wanted a serious Fun Gun for cruising the bigger waves at places like Wilderness. We set it up with 5 boxes so he could try it as a quad and also gave it a heavy glass job to deal with the strong winds and bump that come with bigger waves in PR.

It's Good To Be Loved

Leslie, the SwimArt open water swim coach, had her surfboard swiped recently. But she wasn't without a board for long thanks to these amazing speedo clad polar bears who banded together and had me build her a custom board complete with business logo. The next time you're out surfing Fort Point and you see a few bright colored swim caps bobbing around, you might have to reassess your definition of "hardcore"!

Trouble in Paradise

Steve sends this photo and some insight into what folks living in paradise are faced with when things get rocking in the big pond (and being a surfer, he also took note of the surf potential and local customs).

"I recently went to survey the damage caused by the tsunami in American Samoa. It was my first time working in a disaster area and it was kind of heavy. Some of the villages were completely wiped out. The Samoan people were unbelievably friendly and were quickly cleaning up and rebuilding their homes and lives. Everyone had an incredible story to tell about their experience with the tsunami. I attached a photo I thought you might be interested in, tsunami damge and a perfect wave in the background.

Unfortunately too much survey gear to bring a board!! I know, hard to believe. Plus there are basically no surfers on American Samoa. No surf shops. No boards to rent. Not even a surf sticker anywhere. But there are plenty of spots and we saw alot of perfect set-ups. Most of the spots appear to be high tide only shallow reef ledges. There was quite a bit of wind at the places with the most swell as well. The wave in the photo was a few feet overhead, spitting and makeable. At low tide, every wave ended on dry reef. Respect is key in Samoa. You can't just pull up and surf. You have to find the village Chief (Matai) and ask for permission to basically even just hang out. The people are super friendly and there are no problems, but you have to ask."


2009 Sunset

Rebecca and Buell sent this photo from their recent Baja adventure and it reminded me that the sun is setting on 2009. Where has the time gone? This past month I've had a full plate. The blog got pushed to the back burner as board orders, holidays, and family fun time began to boil over.

I feel at times that I haven't done justice to all the great feedback I get from my customers. So for these last few days of 2009, my hope is to share a few of the great stories and photos from the year.


Things with Wings

Jake has always been interested in the classic designs that have come and gone over the years. But he has also had the mindset to bring them forward and transform them into modern performance shapes. This has been a great watershed of experimentation and creative freedom.

Both these boards harken back to the single fin 70's. The outlines give a hint to how plan shapes were set up. But the retro lust stops there. Everything else is pretty much modern. Sure, I'll flatten a deck a little, puff a rail out, or flute the wings, but that just adds to the fact that these are custom boards and not just something you get off the rack.


Gremlin in the Shop

These little devils start showing up at the shop when I'm on a big push to get a bunch of boards done. This time of year things get cranking and long days and late nights become the rule. So sometimes it's nice to have a little company and an extra set of eyes to keep me focused on the job at hand.


Fall Colors

With a crispness in the air, nights and mornings have had a chill that makes Mother Nature take notice and bring out her fall colors. Tuned in surfers also take note and oranges and rich reds are always popular this time of year. Thanks to all the colorful people who share the stoke and make this whole adventure happen.

Happy Thanksgiving!


What the Pros Ride

The Big Top was in town and the Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane had all the thrills and spills that make a three ring circus good theater. The waves and conditions were testament to why those rabid rumors fly around about where Surf City USA really is.

Dusty Payne was in town for the event and lost a fin so his dad stopped by the shop to see if I could do a rush fix job. As always, I'm stoked to step up, let our local know how shine, and take care of our little tribe of surf savvy travelers. And just as importantly, it's a great way to meet new people, talk story, and learn about their part of the world. Also, as a shaper, it's great to look at the equipment and see how that all translates into our everyday boards. What the pros ride really does have a trickle down effect on what us mere mortals surf.

Dusty also had one of those "Dumpster Diver" boards that Dane Reynolds has been riding. Talk about 1984 gone 2009. Very cool. In fact, I shaped out one for myself using the numbers. So don't be surprised to see me on a Stubby in the coming week.


Stoked Grommet

Jason wanted a pure twin fin for small everyday surf. Just so happens I have templates and dimensions from some original MR boards from back in the day.

The main changes I'm making to the twins are lower, thinner rails, a slight single to double concave, and an overall foil and thickness flow that is closer to modern performance shapes. Also, the Styrolite construction gives these small wave zippers more pop.


Trivia Question

Ben finds this rare left to slot himself and set up the barrel. For a free bar of wax and a sticker, this week's trivia question is "name that surf spot."


Change in the Weather

The first clouds of a frisky storm front start to roll in. On the north coast, a lucky few are treated to some great waves as the swell arrives ahead of the front. The beaches are empty and head high offshore surf stacks up. Looking around I can't help but be grateful for the these slices of time when the wild is still wild.


The Old Napkin Trick

A firm believer that great ideas are often written on napkins, Robert whipped out the design for his 2 new boards right on the spot over lunch.

The curves and a good flow really show the fullness in the outlines of his everyday board and the step up board he'll use in the upcoming season. Waiter, another napkin please!



So the next time you call the shop for a surf report and I say it's 10' and perfect with no one out, I'll mean it. You see, I can now claim to have the closest surf shop to Steamer Lane and all I have to do is look out my front door and see that it's going off.

This mural project was painted by local artist and chalk wizard Marvin Plummer, and was masterminded by David Terrazas and the Santa Cruz Economic Development and Redevelopment Department. Here are some shots as the project progressed:

Being by the train tracks , this wall was often victim to some unsightly tags. So a fresh canvas was sprayed out.

Marvin lays out the basic outlines and starts the back fill shadowing.

Each day new elements would appear.

The day the lighthouse showed up everyone said, "Oh, I get it, that's Steamer Lane!"

Since it's done in black and white, the light during the day would change the moods and the overall feeling of the mural.

Being a surfer, Marvin was obsessed with getting Middle Peak just right and we had a lot of good conversations about it. I say he nailed it.

Talk about cherry picking the set waves! Marvin had the right tool for the job. The next time I see him in the water, my vote says he gets the wave of the day.

If you want to come share the stoke this Sunday, there will be a reception and site clean up to celebrate the completion of this cool mural.

Sunday / 27 September 2009 / 1:00 pm
820 Swift Street / 831 420 5157


Twins and Channels

Matt has always liked variety in his quiver. For this fall, he decided to create a modern twin fin and to revamp his old 6 channel step up board.

This twin fin with glass on fins follows the same basic rocker profile, rail shape, and overall volume that his thrusters have had in the past. We just ran a little more vee out the back to make up for the lack of a center fin.

Taking his old 6'2" and stretching it up to 6'4", we made a true step up board that he can go to when the waves are pumping.

Yes, it's a glasser's nightmare, but the simplicity of no moving parts and a sand job that is as fine tuned as the shaped blank when it left my shaping room is what this deal is all about. These things take time and are expensive to make. But after you ride one, you may justify scrimping on those lattes so you can throw down and get into the groove.


The Customer is Always Right

Despite all the crafty catch phrases and nifty little posts I come up with, customer comments and feedback is beyond a shadow of a doubt the best way to share the stoke and let everyone in on this far out thing called "custom surfboards". Here are some photos and kind words from a couple of my fellow wave riders.

"Just wanted to let you know once again you have succeeded in making an amazing board. Bar none the best board I have ever ridden. The size and shape fit me to a tee. It is so responsive, so quick down the line and I can make those drops that I wanted to in the past. You are a true artist. Expect to see me coming around for a long time. -Scott"

Scott also did these hand drawings.

We did outputs on rice paper and the white knock outs on the lighthouse worked perfect.

"It works great Ward! Plenty of drive and it seems to like to turn off the top. It felt like I had been riding it for years. Thanks again. -Brad"

Brad's last board had glass on keels and he was a little apprehensive about going with box fins. But after we took a good look at the options, he was super stoked to try this rasta future fin setup.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to surf some fun pre fall NW waves with Brad and got a first hand view of how well the board goes. His assessment was right on the money.


Surfer and Artist of the Week

Carly came by the shop and picked up her new 5'10" round tail, busted out this nice color job with paint pens, then headed up north to take the win at this weekend's NSSA contest. Congratulations!


Greg's 2 + 1

Greg had been using a friends 6'5" CI twinfin as his "go to" board for Ocean Beach. Being a fan of foam, he was stoked on the extra volume this retro design provided.

I'm a sucker for the flat deck, beaked nose, pulled in tail, and down turned rails. When someone brings in a board like that asking for a copy or update, with no hesitation I'll say, "Let's do it!" already thinking about what blank to pull the board out of.

The 2 + 1 gives you some options but is really best set up as a twin with a small back trailer for stability. Future Fins makes a nice T1 series for this setup.

The details in designs like this are what make these boards fly. Fluted wings and slick pinlines with a gloss and polish just add to the whole deal of a custom board.


Get with the Program

If you've noticed a bunch of bronzed kids in red swimsuits running, swimming, and paddling, then you've seen the Junior Lifeguards in action.

This great summer time program brings kids together to get in shape, learn ocean safety, and compete in games and events that are fun and sometimes wacky.

The Boogie Jump is one of the wacky games. What kid wouldn't want a chance to flip, flop, and fly over a stack of boogie boards? Here Sam does a front dive to clear the stack.

The boys line up for the Distance Paddle race. This tough event includes having to navigate some surf getting in and out of the water. When the surf is up, these nippers put on a good show with their wave savvy skills.

The Taplin event is a run / swim / paddle relay. Sam puts on his game face as he readies himself for the paddle.

Ben went on a tear in the paddle events this summer, winning at the local competitions and going on to win the Distance Paddle at Regionals in Seal Beach.

Team Santa Cruz celebrates their 2nd place finish in the Run Relay at Regionals. Do these kids look fit or what? These are the future lifeguards who will be watching over our beaches in the coming years.