Cher Pendarvis in her element. Photo by Chris Ahrens
Columns Waterspot

Waterspot: Surfing’s most flexible family

Above: Cher Pendarvis in her element. Photo by Chris Ahrens


It’s been nearly 50 years since I moved from a wonderful shack in Maui to a house directly overlooking the fertile wave garden known as Sunset Cliffs.

The house belonged to the parents of my Maui friend Ed Yasich, and he asked me to stay with him since his parents had packed off to Europe and would leave us alone to do little else but build boards in the family garage and surf some of California’s best waves.

And surf we did, sometimes three times a day in what has become a benchmark year, the legendary winter of ’69-’70.

My routine began by lifting my head, followed by the bedroom shade, propping myself up on my elbow and looking out to see if the new day held the promise of swell or not.

Since there were waves more often than not that year, I would quickly change into my trunks, grab my board, walk a few hundred yards, and climb and slide down the muddy sandstone cliff, holding onto a frayed rope and the hope the protective locals had not cut it.

Straight-edged perfection was followed by an inside dream section that could rival Slater’s wave machine.

The standouts at a break I have been warned not to mention included Johnny Riddle, Jeff Ching, and a guy and Ben Ferris.

They built wild looking Bunker Spreckles inspired boards and got deep on them.

I only knew of one local girl, Cher, who rode there regularly on boards she had shaped and painted herself.

Cher was a talented local and had no trouble getting waves even in that sometimes vicious pack.

Six months after I arrived I moved from the Cliffs house to a dilapidated shack on 3rd and G, a few blocks from the beach.

The place was nothing to look at, but the rent was only a hundred bucks and split half a dozen ways.

After I left the house went into such disrepair that later inhabitants affectionately referred to it as the “Rag Pile.”

My top goal at that time was to write for the surfing magazines, and I began driving my typo-littered stories in those pre-email days to Surfer Magazine in Dana Point and to San Clemente, where Surfing Magazine was located.

I was surprised one day when I ran into Cher there, in the art department where she worked. This encounter was brief, and we went in separate directions, surfing different locations along the coast.

Over the years I encountered photographs or bright artwork she had done on someone’s board.

Then, about 20 years ago, I again met Cher, this time at Skip Frye and Hank Warner’s PB surf shop.

That chance meeting proved the beginning of an enduring friendship with her and her husband, Steve “Pendo” Pendarvis.

Pendo, as he is known throughout the surf industry, is the inventor of a genius design called “Pendoflex,” a flexible tail offering controlled snap while conforming to the wave face.

The design has proven a significant advancement for surfing as it imitates nature where nothing remains rigid in the way most surfboards are.

Pendo is also an unofficial cum laude graduate of the George Greenough School of Mat Riding, applying the art successfully to unsuspecting sections most days.

Together Steve and Cher share nature walks, waves, photos, stories and good vibes with a world that needs all the love, joy and flexibility the Pendo family has to offer.

To learn more about Pendoflex, please visit

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