LEFT: 1977 ad for Loko Surfshop in Japan - Michel Junod, Steve “Obo” Opolinsky, Ted Ketcham, Pat Rawson, Mike “Mugsy” Wellman and Greg Bonner
RIGHT: Pipeline 1975 before the crowds, cameras and cash. Jim Riveland and I resting in our backyard after a fun session
By 1974 the magazines and surf movies were showcasing what North Shore surfers were doing at the most famous big wave breaks in the world. A bunch of Santa Cruz friends and I decided to pull up stakes and hit the big time. The North Shore was the ideal environment for test piloting the cutting edge designs of the day. In the decade of the 70’s, there were probably more good shapers per capita in this small area than anywhere else on the planet. Brewer, Diffenderfer, Aipa, Abillera, Kanaiapuni, Lopez, Parrish and Barnfield were at the top of the list of shapers who were setting the standards for Hawaiian surfboard performance. I was fortunate enough to shape and build boards for Surfline Hawaii, Dick Brewer Surfboards and Lightning Bolt Surfboards in Honolulu, while at the same time putting out a steady flow of custom shapes for friends and locals on the North Shore.
I consider my 4 years on the North Shore indispensable in fine tuning my shaping and surfing. John Orlando and I had a glass shop behind our house at Sunset Beach and were blessed to have a tight production team of expert craftsmen including laminator Steve “Obo” Opolinsky, fin maker Mike Wellman, fin laminator and hot coater Franky Long, sander Ted Ketchum, pin liner and glasser Pat Rawson and polisher Greg Bonner. These were simpler days before traffic jams and overcrowded conditions when almost everyone knew each other on the North Shore.
My good friend and glasser Obo and I in the backyard of the "Pipeline Pad”
In 1976 I ordered Clark Foam’s only longboard blank and shaped a 9’6” version of a Lance Carson model and started longboarding again after an almost 8-year layoff. I don’t remember seeing any longboarders on the North Shore at this time and the small spring swells were a perfect match for me and my new log. While some scoffed, others always wanted to borrow my board. Little did I know then that a longboarding renewal and “the ride anything” movement would be brewing over the next few decades.
Flying through a hollow section at Sunset
Single fins outside our Sunset Beach glass shop