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Terry Martin, legendary surfboard shaper, dies at 74

Martin was among a dwindling number of craftsmen who made surfboards by hand. He shaped about 80,000 boards in a six-decade career.

May 23, 2012|From the Los Angeles Times
(Don Kelsen, Los…)

Well into his 70s, Terry Martin could be found most days in his Dana Point workshop sanding blocks of polyurethane foam into precision-shaped surfboards. With his big white beard and barrel chest, Martin looked like Santa riding out a blizzard of swirling white dust.

Over a nearly six-decade career, Martin is said to have shaped more surfboards than anyone — some 80,000 — although the exact number is unknowable. Martin himself once said he stopped counting after 50,000.

Martin's output and perfectionism made him an icon among the tight-knit fraternity of surfing's best shapers, one of a dwindling number of craftsmen who earn a living making surfboards by hand.

Martin, 74, died May 12 at his home in Capistrano Beach after a battle with melanoma. His death was announced by the Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point, where he worked off and on for 40 years.

"He wanted to get out there and make another board up until the day he died," said his wife of 43 years, Candy. "He was at his happiest when he was making people happy in the water."

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