Shaper - Star of the Endless Summer
Robert Alan August was born in Hermosa Beach in 1944 and grew up just down the California coast in Seal Beach. His father, Orral "Blackie" August, was a lifeguard at nearby Redondo Beach and was one of the first surfers to ride its waves. Blackie often surfed with Duke Kahanamoku when The Duke would visit Southern California, and had Robert surfing at the age of six.
A natural goofy-footer, Robert quickly developed the smooth, relaxed style that allowed him to become a successful contest surfer at a very young age. He finished fourth in the men's division of the 1963 West Coast Championships and third in the '64 U.S. Invitational. In 1965, Robert placed third in the U.S. Surfing Championships and was invited to surf in the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational.
Just a few of months after graduating from Huntington Beach High School--where he was senior class president--Robert was presented with an opportunity that would change his life forever. Along with 21 year-old Mike Hynson, filmmaker Bruce Brown chose 19 year-old Robert August to travel the world in search of the perfect wave while making the famed movie The Endless Summer. August was selected over better-known surfers because to Bruce Brown, Robert represented surfing in the positive way he perceived the sport. Not a stranger to Brown's camera, Robert had appeared in three of his movies prior to Endless Summer, including Slippery When Wet (1957), Barefoot Adventure (1960) and Surfing Hollow Days (1961).
Filmed in 1963 and debuted in '64, The Endless Summer played throughout America, with Brown originally providing masterful live narrations. In 1966, Newsweek Magazine named the film one of the 10 best movies of the year, and it gave August the recognition that would serve him extremely well in his future business ventures. This once-in-a-lifetime experience, coupled with a lifelong friendship with Brown, made a lasting impression on Robert's life, the effects of which are still evident today.
Beginning in 1965, August worked for Jacobs Surfboards in Hermosa Beach, first as a salesman and then as a shaper before becoming a freelance shaper in late 1966. Then, as the shortboard revolution hit the surf industry, Robert found himself making adjustments to the changing sport. In 1971, he opened the Endless Summer restaurant, a business he later described to Longboard magazine as one that "set a world record for losing money." In 1974, he launched Robert August Surf Shop in Fullerton, California and relocated it to Huntington Beach in 1976. Stocked with shortboards because of their popularity at the time, Robert was still a longboarder at heart. "In the '70s, you couldn't even find a longboard blank. I knew I wanted one, but I didn't know if they would sell. Finally, I made five of 'em and everyone came in the shop going, wow--a longboard!"
Robert welcomed the longboard renaissance that began in the '80s, and by the year 2000 his Huntington Beach factory was putting out 4,000 boards a year. Still an excellent shaper and avid surfer with a great sense of humor, Robert currently lives in Huntington Beach. He travels frequently to his vacation home in Costa Rica, where he surfs, plays golf and sponsors an annual Surf 'n' Turf golf tournament to benefit local charities. Robert's son, Sam--once a pitcher in the Houston Astros organization--handles sales and marketing for Robert August Surfboards. Their website, www.robertaugust.com, features longboards, shortboards, funboards and accessories from one of the best-known names in the world of surfing.