Labor Day marks the four-year anniversary of me and surfing in California. I remember that first Labor Day after I'd scoured the Internets for How-tos and Rules and traveled up and down PCH looking for a used board. (Even then I knew what I wanted, although I didn't have the vocabulary to say what it was.) After going up to Malibu and hopping into stores and came back to be more gas efficient about finding a board by calling down the phone book listings looking for an 8-foot longboard in the $200 range, I decided to take a walk in my neighborhood to get some smokes (oh, those days). I decided to check out the mod-looking Board Gallery (which moved to Lincoln Blvd. this year).
I'd walked by the shop maybe a hundred times before, and after a day of unsuccessfully finding a board, 20 miles away, I found the perfect thing right across the street. They showed me the back room where stacks of used boards hung out. I didn't know it then, but I was looking at some classic boards that cost five times what I was looking to spend. He showed me an 8'6" longboard that had just come in on consignment for a little over $200... it had a neon orange nose and an art deco blue fade through the middle to a white round pintail and three fins. (A pintail with a slight bump at the rails with glassed-on thruster set-up, I was later to find out.) There was a big Rx logo and Ray told me the board was about 10 years old, signed at the stringer by the shaper... Jeff "Doc" Lausch.
Yup. That was my first Doc. I took him up to County Line (which I didn't know was called County Line) on Labor Day. I stayed out of the other surfers way like I'd read in the How Tos and Rules, and I died.
For the next month or so, I'd die on the weekends at Venice, walking my board to the beach, and again at County. Then I started dying on the weekdays, too. On one driving excursion, I rolled into what is now known as the "home break." I think what made me stay there is what makes a lot of people start there... the convenience. Parking and easy walk-out. Three days a week turned to every morning. Sometime, between paddling the distance of six lifeguard towers and back and just turtling through some hairy autumn close-outs, I stopped dying and started catching waves.
Lordy, I loved that board. RIP at overhead Topanga and Doc Lausch made me a 9'0" version with slightly down rails, hard at the tail with the bump and round pin. Lordy, I love this board! And I do believe I'm getting verklempt about how we had a great anniversary today with peaky shoulder-high stuff and all the family under the sun.