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between Grand and Tomas Ave. in Pacific Beach. Handing his board over, I paddled out and caught some waves. I remember the feel- ing of gliding over the water was unbelievable! It just grabbed me. Up until then, I never had anything I really gravitated to. I got the buzz of surfing that day, and I’ve had it ever since.” Tis was the beginning of not only a lifelong passion of wave riding, but also an equally deep passion for designing and shaping surf- boards and fins. Skip’s first surfoard was a 9’3” single fin,

balsa board designed and shaped by Mike Dif- fenderfer. Tis was in the summer of 1958. “I met Mike Diffenderfer who at that time was working at Burland Surf Shop, located on Tur- quoise Street in Pacific Beach. Burland was probably the first real surfoard shop in San Diego. One half of the finances to launch this shop was put together by Billy Burgener, the other half by Wayne Land, a surfer and infa- mous martial arts guy from Windansea, La Jolla. Most everybody who was shaping dur- ing that era worked at Burland; the Patterson’s, Del Cannon and Mike Diffenderfer, to name a few. Polyurethane foam had yet to become the material of choice in making surfoards, so balsa wood was the primary composite of that era. Back then they didn’t have power plan- ers to shape with, only draw knives and hand planers. I literally sat on the balsa wood blank, holding it down tight on the shaping racks while Diffenderfer did his magic with a drawknife. Bob Pettite then sanded and smoothed it down, and then I took it home where my friends Bob Hein and Bob Phillips helped me glass it in the garage of my parent’s house. My dad put the final gloss coat on with a spray gun. It didn’t come out real glossy but it definitely was a classic.” Shortly aſter he started surfing, Skip was

involved in a serious automobile accident. “I was driving home from a high school football game and hit a eucalyptus tree. Next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital with a shattered kneecap and broken jaw. Te doctors basically removed the damaged kneecap and told me I would never have proper use of my leg again.”


However, the doctors underestimated Skip’s passion and stoke to continue surfing, with or without a kneecap, and in 1963, he placed first—aſter a tie breaking surf-off against Butch Van Artsdalen—in the Senior Men’s division at the Mission Bay Aquafair surfing competition in Pacific Beach.

Skip Frye, leſt, glassing his first board with Bob Hein and Bob Phillips,

Surfing Competition vs. Aloha Spirit “Tough I was pretty good at it, I don’t know

if I ever really enjoyed surfing competition that much,” Skip said. “However, my direct involve- ment in competitive surfing definitely helped establish my name and surfoard brand, en- abling me to build a lifestyle and career from surfing. At this point in my life—I’m 70 years old—I don’t even like to be around competi- tive surfing events. Surfing competition today is too cutthroat and lacks the pure Aloha spirit of just being out surfing with your friends. Te only surfing events I’ve really enjoyed are the women’s competition. Women have a different attitude and are friendlier toward one another. Surfing is all about having fun, whether you’re an accomplished surfer or just a beginner. To me, the person who wins is the one who has the most fun.”

in the garage of his parents house, Pacific Beach, 1958 Frye Family Private Collection

1965, Skip competed in the First Annual Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Championships held at Sunset Beach, Hawaii; he was ranked second in the final USSA standings, and seventh in the Surfer Magazine Surfer Poll. In 1966, Skip placed first in the Ocean Beach

Contest; second in the U.S Pro Champion- ships, and was rated ninth in the Surfer Maga- zine Surfer Poll. In 1967, Skip placed fiſth in the AAA

Oceanside Invitational and first in the Men’s division at the Tird Annual Laguna Masters Invitational. He was ranked second in the AAA final standings and was voted the second best male surfer in the Surfer Magazine Surfer Poll. In 1968, Skip placed first in the A division

at the Tird Annual Baja Surf Club Invita- tional at San Miguel, Mexico, second in the Carlsbad Open, and first in the Men’s division at the Oceanside U.S. Invitational Surf Meet. He competed in the World Contest in Puerto Rico and was ranked second in the 4A Men’s Western Surfing Association ratings, sixth in the Surfer Magazine Poll and also received the award for Best Spontaneous Speech.

Designing & Shaping Surfoards “Te first surfoard I designed and shaped

Skip & LeRoy, Malibu Warren Bolster Photo

Regardless of his personal feelings about

competition, Skip’s fluid surfing style led him to enter and win many events, becoming well- known and respected as one the finest surfers and shapers in the world. In 1963 and 1964, he placed first in the Mission Bay Aquafair in Pa- cific Beach; first in the Senior Men’s division at the 1965 US Surfing Association Surf Contest in Ocean Beach; second in the 1965 San Clem- ente Surf Capades, and third in the Tom Morey Invitational Noseriding Contest, which was a timed noseriding contest. In December of

was under the label of Olympic Surfoards. In 1963, I went to work for Gordon & Smith. It was Larry Gordon who actually sat down with me and went over the fine points of shaping surfoards. Over the next three years I became pretty good at shaping.” With the most accomplished surfer/shapers

at G&S designing their own models, one of whom was Mike Hynson, Skip was finally given the opportunity in 1966 to design and produce a signature model of his own. Up un- til then, he exclusively rode Mike Hynson Red Fin models. “Mike and I were best buddies. He actually

shaped my boards for three or four years be- fore I learned the craſt and started doing it my- self. He was a real go-for-it guy--a real forward

thinker. Mike always wanted to know what was going on and was into meeting the who’s who of the sport. Because of Mike, I was exposed to the great people and places in surfing. I owe much of my exposure to surfing to Mike.” Tis was also the same period that Skip de-

signed his famous signature winged logo. “I think I saw an example of it in a magazine,” Skip recalls. “Duke (Kahanamoku) had shaped this one redwood board that had a “V” with wings that were coming off of it that was chis- eled into the deck. Te graphic artist I used at the time was an older woman. I asked her to draw me up some wings and this is what she came up with, and I’ve used it ever since. I think it conveys what surfing is really like—fly like a pelican.”

Innovative Fin Design “I’m freaky on fins,” Skip said. “Tey can

make a regular board a good board.” Skip was among the first to reduce fin size from the deadly early rudders as well as experiment with flex. He and other Californians felt their equipment--as well as their surfing—was pro- gressing wonderfully, that is until they went to Australia. “We went to Oz in 1968 and watched 8mm films of George Greenough and were like,

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