Note: In a previous column, “The Endless Ride of Brew Briggs (May 30, 2008) I made reference to Brew having had a “bad” marriage. This was not a bad marriage, but simply a first marriage that didn’t work out. I also made mention of Eric Briggs as being the son of Sheri Briggs. Eric and Sean Briggs are the sons of Lynda and Brew.
Sorry, I should have been more thoughtful and thorough.
I have never thought of a surfboard as sacred. Even if I did, I am bound by the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Sorry if I’m being too literal.
Anyway, in my life as a surfer, which began in the early 1960s, I have watched surfboards go from objects of veneration to toys sold at department stores next to yo-yos and Hula Hoops. I think of surfboards as something between the ultimate joy toy and the Holy Grail. Like me, Surfer Magazine online editor, radio host and Del Mar surfer Scott Bass has witnessed the degradation of our regal sport. Unlike me, he decided to do something about it.
On Oct. 11 and Oct. 12, Bass and his cohorts opened the doors at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to the world of surfers and board makers. Driving there with legendary surfboard shaper Carl Ekstrom, with his new Caviar Collection of Fish Eggs (this will be explained in a future column) helped me realize that we had paddled into some heavy water.
Before even entering the hall, we ran into legendary soul master Skip Frye, who was followed by La Jolla’s Tim Bessel and Terry Martin. These men have made their livings turning blocks of foam into dream machines. A quick trip down the packed aisles revealed the craftsmanship of New Zealander Allan Bryne and his deep channeled Byring Spears. Across from Byrne were the gloss and polish perfection of Moonlight Glassing, whose Campbell Brother’s Bonzers are the best in the industry.
Pro surfers Pat O’Connel, Rob Machado and Brad Gerlach shaped boards, O’Connel and Gerr holding the plainer for the first time and creating a beautiful sculpture.
Legendary Pipe master Gerry Lopez was seen cruising the show along with standup board builder Ron House, both viewing the stand up paddleboards that crowded the room. Following Lopez both figuratively and literally, longboard genius Joel Tudor entered the fray late, after a jujitsu competition held in a nearby building.
One of the highlights of the day was a tribute to one of the best shapers of all time, Bill Caster, and a “shape off,” where five legendary shapers were given the impossible task of duplicating a Caster Surfboard. Rick Carroll came from Florida to win the competition for the second year in a row.
Probably the most unusual display was of Tom Wegener’s wooden surfboards. Made from the Polonia trees he planted 10 years ago in his new home of Noosa Heads, Australia, Tom’s Alia surfboards have made a big splash in the international surfing community. These boards, which were first used hundreds of years in Hawaii, have been resurrected by Wegener and some of his peers, including the Malloy brothers and Rob Machado, who was last seen carrying two of Wegener’s Alia’s out the door of Sacred Craft. I guess there really is something kind of holy about that after all. Thanks Scott. See you next year.