Dawn Patrol:

Checking out Surfing Heritage Foundation

February 25, 2010|By John Burton

This week I made my first visit to the Surfing Heritage Foundation’s location in South Coast Plaza.

It’s a unique combination of retail sore and museum that regularly hosts events for surfing related artists and authors. It opened hurriedly for the Christmas season and has undergone considerable remodeling since. It’s on the third floor of the west, Crate & Barrel/Macy’s wing on Bear St. When you enter you’ll find yourself in the retail shop that has an elegant selection of apparel, books, DVDs and specialty items. Randy Etherton, who was an owner of the Hobie retail operation, has done a great job of putting together SHF’s shop. The merchandise is all from hand-picked lines that you won’t find in mainstream stores.

Randy gave me a tour of the museum area as well. The SCP annex doesn’t have as many boards as the home museum in San Clemente, but I wasn’t at all disappointed. The first thing I noticed was one of the iconic planks from the Corona del Mar era, marked with the winged “V” logo of aircraft designer Gerry Vultee. Redwoods, a Simmons board, balsa pigs, early Malibu chips, classic 60s shapes, a Farrelly V-bottom, an early fish — they’re all there including a 70s wall with the original OP shorts, Quicksilver trunks, shirts and sunglasses to compliment the boards.


Not all the surfboards are old. There’s a display of new boards made by Gene Cooper ( and they’re amazing. Each one is a unique work of art that defies description. High-gloss all-black, mind-boggling pinstripes, wild colors — even one board made from Agave. The shapes are as varied as the finishes, some reminiscent of classic models. Once a month, a Cooper board is put up for auction on E-Bay.

Some of the pros have donated boards so visitors can see what’s being ridden on the contest circuit. There’s a tow-in board from Mike Parsons and I was shocked by how short, thin and narrow it is. It has patches of lead weight chips stuck on parts of the deck to prevent chatter while screaming down 30-foot faces.

The museum can also boast of some beautiful photographs by Jason Murray, Al Merrick and Art Brewer.

Randy told me they host a book signing or artist’s showcase on a weekly basis. Some of the recent notables were Duke Boyd, Tom Morey and Mike Hynson.

SHF was started in 2000 when two collectors, Dick Metz and Spencer Croul, found themselves competing for rare boards and decided to combine forces.

The new SCP site is a convenient alternative to the somewhat remote south county museum, plus it has the retail store and is open every day. It’s a must-visit.

As a postscript to my last story about noted 80s shaper Peter Schroff’s re-launch of his surfboard company, I want to mention that sales are being handled at

JOHN BURTON’S surf column appears Fridays. He may be reached by e-mail at

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