Growing up I was small for my age and usually one of the shortest kids in my class. I couldn’t get my arm around the average 9 ½ foot surfboard, so at the age of 13, I ordered a custom 7’10” by 20” wide Jacobs. Riding a smaller board helped me learn the ropes quickly, but as I grew, I transitioned to an 8’10” Dave Sweet and then an 8’10” Dewey Weber. When I was 16 I met Carl “Tinker” West, the owner and shaper of Surfboards by Challenger in Mission Beach, San Diego. He shaped me my first 9’6”, a beautiful 3 stringer model, which led to my first surf team experience and a long and rich friendship.
Tinker observed the growing surfboard market and the demand for top quality surfboards on the East Coast. So, in 1966, he moved to New Jersey and set up a full blown surfboard factory. That summer Tinker invited me and three of my best surf buddies, Barry Gordon, Andy Salazar and Butch Yamashita to come out and work in his factory and promote his boards. Tinker earned an engineering degree from UCLA and had a background as a master craftsman and fabricator. His shaping always focused on functional design and attention to aesthetic detail. He was always concerned with craftsmanship when in the factory and hydrodynamics when watching his surf team in the water. We all had a fantastic experience surfing up and down the East Coast from Massachusetts to Maryland. I spent 3 consecutive summers there learning to shape and build boards from a truly gifted teacher and unique individual.