The idea of a surf museum had never really occurred to me when my friend Jane Schamauss started collecting classic surfboards and other surf memorabilia nearly 20 years ago at George’s, the restaurant she owned in Encinitas. Once a week I’d sit down for eggs and toast and look around to see a classic surfboard built by Yater, Diffenderfer, Hobie or Ekstrom. Old posters and even older photos lined the walls. If memory serves me, there was even a motorized board that resembled some sort of WW II aquatic weapon. As the restaurant outgrew the dedicated items, Jane and architect Stuart Resor shifted gears into what would become the California Surf Museum. The next stop was on Coast Highway in Oceanside. A few years ago, the museum moved down the street, to a stylish building designed by museum board member and architect, Louise Balma.
I have attended numerous functions at the Surf Museum, my most recent at the invitation of legendary skateboarder Brian Logan of Logan Earth Ski fame. Brian called to say that he was getting me a ticket to the useum’s 5th annual gala, honoring various surfers and skaters from the ‘60s. The crowd that evening was a slalom course of celebrity surfers and skaters as I weaved past speed racers John Hughes, Guy Grundy and Henry Hester along with Hall of Famer, Bruce Logan, his brother Brian and Transworld’s original publisher, Larry Balma.
I caught up with the museum’s current president, longtime friend, Jim Kempton and had my photo taken by another friend, CSM’s secretary Tara Lee Torbrun, before shaking hands with her husband, board maker and all around cool guy, Dan “Skydog” Highland. We ate, drank and mingled with surf legends LJ Richards, Paul Strauch and Shaun Tomson.
Strauch, for those who don’t know, was ranked highly among the best surfers of the ‘60s, and remains the only surfer to ever have a major move named after him, The Strauch Five, which is also known as the Cheater Five. This low, fast stance is a functional noseriding maneuver for big surf and one often imitated but never duplicated. John “LJ” Richards was once the protégé of Strauch’s only reel peer, the legendary Phil Edwards. LJ would soon carve out his own niche by surfing better than nearly anyone of his era.
South African born Shaun Tomson busted down the door in the mid ‘70s with a style of surfing we had never seen before. Tomson’s style was based around functional tube riding that led him to the deeper regions on waves than had ever been explored before. Shaun also invented a way of pulling a surfboard through the back of a wave that made riding places like Back Door Pipeline and Off The Wall far more practical.
As the evening progressed, surfers and skaters hung out and traded stories of legendary rides and good times, as we floated amid the celebrities and friends old and new while viewing benchmark surfboards and skateboards, photos of heroes and other items that help inform our history. The night was reminiscent of a stroll in the warmth of Waikiki, or a late night beach fire at San Onofre. The difference was that we were surrounded by the world’s best in two sports and there was no sand in the best carne asada burritos I ever had.
To learn more about the California Surf Museum, please visit: www.surfmuseum.org
To meet the entire Logan Family and celebrate the re-release of Logan Earth Ski skateboards, plan to attend Aura Skatepark on July 29th at
1074 La Mirada Court, Vista.