Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Balsa or Foam Imports or No Imports

Balsa or Foam?

First Posted by Bill Andrews, April 2, 2003


I had an interesting conversation with Doug Murphy a few days ago. Doug is Dennis Murphy's (Murphy Surfboards) brother.

I have known both of them - the Murphys - since they were just little surf nazis.

Doug and I were discussing the state of custom surfboards - made in the USA - versus the molded surfboards from SurfTec and versus the cheap imports from Indo, etc.

Doug was pretty sure that the molded boards or the cheap imports would never catch-on, I heartily disagreed!

When I started to surf in the late '50s, balsa boards were still the stick of choice.

Foam boards were rare, but not the novelty item they were a few years earlier.

There were lots of lively discussions extolling the virtues of balsa wood and how crappy the foam boards were.

Naturally, my first few boards were balsa, even though a 40 pound foam board was just as strong as my 50 pound, plus balsa board and lugging an extra 10 pounds to Black's from The Shores was significant.

Anyway - balsa boards are now expensive wall hangings, and foam is - well, just look around.

When I started in the retail surf biz in the early '60s, everything I sold in my shops was made in the US. Wet suits, surf racks, Holo Holo Slippers, trunks, shorts, t-shirts


(Holo Holo Slippers - when I started stocking them, and when the coeds at SDSU and Cal Western would come in for their BLUE HOLO HOLOS - that was surf shop excitement)

If I had tried to sell imported "Surf Stuff" I would have been hung by my ******* .... Now - what "Surf Stuff" isn't imported?

?? - Surf Wax and Custom Surfboards - ??

Even a lot of the mags are printed overseas.

?? - Nobody cares - ??

I think that in just a few years - probably in my lifetime - the "Custom Surfboard" biz will rapidly disappear, and as today's youngsters age, their replacements will have been weaned on imports and molded boards.

Anyway, I'm glad I was involved in the early days of the surf biz, now I'm pretty happy that I'm not [in the surf biz any longer].