Michel Junod Slicing at the Lane
In 1970 I was building boards in Santa Monica while hanging out and surfing at Topanga Beach, when I ran into my friend Chuck Strelitz. He had moved up to Santa Cruz and said he was working for Tom and Jim Overlin at their factory. The Overlin brothers were from Westchester and were well know former team riders for Dewey Weber. Chuck told me it was the “wild west” up there, so I decided to pack up my ‘55 Chevy and strap my boards to the roof racks and head up north. I had made a trip to Santa Cruz in 1969 and remembered peeling point waves and lack of crowds. The Overlin brothers needed a shaper and I needed a job. Things were sweet; low rent, 35 cents a gallon gas, plenty of cheap organic food, and pumping surf! This was before the invention of the surf leash and the threat of losing your board into the rocks kept the crowd at a bare minimum.
Early 1970’s Steamer Lane parking lot before fences and pavement
After a few months of surfing with the locals, there seemed to be enough interest to branch out on our own. Chuck and I started West Cliff Surfboards and hired some friends to work with us. We soon set up shop in an old chicken coop in Live Oak and worked around the tides and swells. Santa Cruz has always been know for it’s consistent and diverse surf. Over the next 4 years I experienced the River Mouth breaking perfect after serious winter rains. The summer time brought south swells to Stockton Avenue where there were deep tube rides and wipe outs that usually bounced you off the bottom. Steamer Lane broke all year round, and was the most consistent spot for waves of all sizes. Up the coast was still mostly unridden, and Moss Landing to the south, at the heart of Monterey Bay, provided winter power with peeling right and left peaks.
Westcliff Surfboards retail shop 1973