Imperial Beach, the most Southwesterly city of the United States, has a long standing tradition of being a ‘surf haven.’ So much so that even the current Mayor, Serge Dedina, is a surfer. He has been catching waves in IB since he was a child and he still regularly goes out early mornings with his son.
So it’s fitting that the residents of IB got together to createan Outdoor Surfboard Museum, which commemorates IB’s surfing heritage and the famous big-wave break, the Tijuana Slough. (More on the sloughs in an upcoming post.)
The outdoor museum honors twenty five prominent ‘shapers’ of surf history, including nine locals. The surfboards represent a span from Tom Blake’s Hollow ‘Olo board in 1930 to Jay Novaks Swallow Tail in 1985. The first board, marked as having been 12 feet long, is credited as having been invented during ancient times by an unknown surfer. and is named Waikiki Redwood.
The museum is outdoors and begins at the corner of Palm Avenue and 3rd. Both sides of the streets are lined with surfboards until you reach Seacoast Drive and the ocean. Along the stroll, you’ll enjoy quite a few stores, restaurants and also the candy shop. Stop by the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce first and they’ll give you a brochure outlining all the surfer names, the board names and the height of the boards.
Hall Of Fame
My favorite part of the walk are the tributes to the locals who made surfer history:
Allen “Dempsey” Holder surfed the Slough’s Reef in the 1940’s with his friend Bob Simmons — the acknowledged “Father of the Modern Surfboard.” Dempsey fine-tuned Simmons design to produce one of the first true big wave “guns” — the famous “Red Dot.”
Geoffrey Logan opened the first surf shop in Imperial Beach in 1959. He perfected his craft under the tutelage of Billy Caster, Reynolds Yater, and Carl Ekstrom. Geoff went on to shape surfboards for Hobie, Windansea, Stewart, Bruce Jones, and countless custom big wave guns for the North Shore of Oahu.
Richard Joly learned from the master, Geoffrey Logan. Richard and John Hanks created Joly Surfboards on Palm Avenue. in 1962.
Tom Warner founded South Coast Surfboards in Imperial Beach in 1963. By 1965, South Coast had shops and dealerships across both coasts. The classic South Coast logo is still in surfboard production after 46 years. Warner also started the original Surf Hut at 805 First Street, Imperial Beach.
Bob Wilder convinced Geoffrey Logan to return to Imperial Beach in 1965, and WindanSea Surfboards was created.
Mike “Electric Duck” Richardson took the curriculum of Logan and Joly to new levels, and helped usher in the short board era. In addition to his own brand, Mike at one time shaped five Gordon and Smith boards a day, five days a week, for ten years. Virtually everybody in San Diego has ridden a Richardson shape at some time.
David Craig and Jay Novak continue the tradition of local surfboard craftsmen. Both have been on the cutting edge of innovative design since the 80’s, and are deeply rooted in the surf heritage of Imperial Beach.
Spirit Of IB
At the end of this walk, you’ll hit the impressive sculpture of a surfer and child. Dedicated in 2009, it’s called the Spirit of Imperial Beach, which honors IB surfing and the annual sandcastle festival at the same time:
Address: 312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA 92054