To the untrained eye, the surfboard is nothing special. To someone like Bird Huffman, however, it is nothing less than a foam and fiberglass sculpture, and a centerpiece to the thousands of surfboards at Bird’s Surf Shed, a place where the history of surfing in the form of benchmark boards of all eras roars to life.
At the Shed are twin fins hand-crafted by Australian Mark Richards, a four-time world surfing champion, and 1980s Energy Surfboards built by Simon Anderson, a fellow Australian and surfing/board building legend.
There are a number of Dick Brewer box-railed Hawaiian semi guns, Lopez Lightning bolts and stacks of other boards of note, many of which, like the aforementioned, were well documented in surf magazines and films over the years.
Lining walls and ceiling are beautifully airbrushed Caster Channel Bottoms, boards made famous by surfers like the late, great Chris O’Rourke. Also on hand are bizarre-looking Bear Miranda Twin Pins, a design so far ahead of its time that when it debuted in the late ’60s, few paid any serious attention to it.
Forever on the prowl for my psychedelically painted Dick Brewer 1967 mini gun, a board my brother-in-law left in his Laguna Beach garage decades ago (yes, I forgive you, Lee), I occasionally examine every inch of wall and attic space of the Shed.
While I have never found the surfboard in question, the search has yielded other, less-concrete treasures especially when accompanied by one of the surfboards greatest historians, the Bird himself. McTavish Vee bottoms, Brewer mini guns, Simmons twin fins, Frye eggs, Hynson down railers, Anderson tri fins and Pat Curren big-wave elephant guns all find voice through Bird.
Bird may have handled more surfboards than anyone alive, and he is passionate about all of them. Still, if you want to get him excited, ask him about that white gun on the wall, the Caster that opened this article.
Caster the man was like a second father to Huffman and taught him what to look for in a surfboard. A perfectionist in his chosen craft, Bill Caster never put his logo on anything with a bump in the rail, a twist in the blank, or a bubble in the resin.
It is in fact believed that Caster’s boards were as close to perfection as is humanly possible to make them.
That white gun was made for another perfectionist, one of the most stylish surfers ever to put his feet on wax, Darryl Diamond. Diamond, who delivered blanks for Clark Foam for years, could have had any board he wanted, and he had quite a large stack of them.
While I never saw Darryl ride the white gun, I can nonetheless imagine him flying down the line without any excessive movement on a board that matched his excellence by having no excessive foam, cutting through the water like a winged dolphin.
It’s a pleasant visual, and one worth planting in your brain. It is one you can enjoy for free simply by taking a tour of Bird’s Surf Shed. Be sure and ask for Bird.