artwork by Mike Field

artwork by Mike Field

BoardRoom - Legends of Surfboard Shaping DVD
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Rich Harbour

Harbour Surfboards

Since 1959, when Rich Harbour went into his parents' garage with a saw and a piece of foam, Harbour has crafted more than tens of thousands of surfboards and counting. Today, vintage Harbour Surfboards are collected by enthusiasts around the world eager to grab a piece of true surfing history. Harbour Surfboards was established more than 50 years ago and remains as the worlds oldest surfboard manufacturing shop at the same location and a driving force within the surfing industry.

1950's It was the year 1959 when Rich Harbour's used longboard was stolen from his garage. Devastated over the loss of his surfboard, Harbour ventured out to build his own. He bought a blank and cut it in half with a handsaw. Using a piece of redwood, and huge rubber bands cut from an inner tube, he glued the stringer into the blank. Rich shaped the board with a hand plane and sandpaper. Being the star pupil in his high school woodshop class and the best surfboard repairman in town gave him the confidence to do this. He glassed it and the results produced a board that wasn't bad for a sixteen-year-old junior in high school. However, it received too many snickers from the local crowd at the beach. Boards numbers 2 and 3 were soon made and were a vast improvement.

1960's 1960's It wasn't long before many of the locals were asking Rich Harbour to make them a surfboard. The boards kept getting better and better. By the end of the next year, a Seal Beach surfer named Denney Buell, who had graced the pages of the very first Surfer Magazine, asked Rich to shape him a board. Rich's ability to make great surfboards, and this vote of confidence from a top notch surfer, really got things moving. On March 7, 1962 Rich moved from the garage to open Harbour Surfboards. In less than one year at 5th street and Marina Drive, Harbour Surfboards quickly outgrew that location and re-located to the current address at 329 Main Street.

Within another year the board orders were more than Harbour could shape by himself. Rich found Dean Eliott, an extraordinary craftsman, laminating at Mel Ross' glass shop and showed him Harbour technique. Not long after that, local Newport Beach surfer Mike Marshall was brought on board. Within 2 more years the business had grown so large that a satellite shaping shop was opened in Costa Mesa, CA. A profile jig was developed to pre-foil the blanks to thickness, a process that greatly increases the accuracy of the shape. Soon John Graye was added to the shaping team. Dale Velzey did a couple of stints and during the summers, Dick Brewer came over and joined the crew. This was the core crew that produced the boards that made Harbour Surfboards a legend of the 60's that continues today.

In 1964, Riding a Harbour Surfboard, Rich Chew had won the USSA championship on his Banana Model. This was the very first championship, and is the forefather of today's surfing championships in that it was the first to crown someone from points compiled from a series of contests. That same year many Harbour team members competed in the world championships in Peru with Steve Bigler winning second in the hot dog contest. The 1966 world championships had Harbour team members Jock Sutherland scoring second place and Steve Bigler scoring fourth.
By 1967 things had changed direction. Surfboards had gotten much shorter. Most of the shapers had gone on to other careers, and Rich Harbour hired Robert August to craft the new short machines, among them the Spherical Revolver.