By Shaun Tomson
Fifty years ago, my father took me into the only surf shop in my hometown of Durban – it was called Surf Center – how about that for a name – the center of surf.
I’d been in the ocean since I could walk, and graduated from body surfing, to riding a little piece of wood called a dumper board, and then on to an inflated mat called a surf o plane. Me, my cousin Michael and brother Paul would bomb down waves and hang on for dear life – luckily the surf o planes had handles and we would shoot in, and go skidding up the sand. The ocean and beach were my life. Maybe today I’d be called a waterman but that would put me in way too groovy a category.
Then it was time for a surfboard and Surf Center.
I walked in with my Dad, past the gleaming boards that stretched way up into the ceiling, past the photos of monstrous waves in Hawaii, past the gremmies hanging out in their Hang Ten shirts, and there against the wall was a little 4’6”, just perfect for a 9-year-old boy. It was red and white, popped out of a mold, and called a Surf Rider. It was my first surfboard and my first surf shop, and I fell in love and I’m still in love.
Surf shops supply what surfers truly need – not what they want, but what they truly need – a great board, a wetsuit, some surf shorts, wax and a few accessories. Products designed around that existential experience of paddling out towards that open horizon, waiting and watching, and then swinging around, and catching that wave and getting stoked. Everything else is detail around this core. The entire surfing industry, and every dollar ever paid, is essentially to satisfy that need of being stoked.
If surfing is a religion, then surf shops are temples of stoke.