The Coast News Group
Bonzer co-inventor Duncan Campbell and perhaps a distant relative, Kathryn Campbell, share a moment at the Boardroom show. Photo by Chris Ahrens

The Boardroom is not all business, nor is it boring

Remember those Action Sports Retailer shows at the San Diego Convention Center? Fun times, for sure, but it was a slalom course, working your way through the phonies. You couldn’t tell the posers from the players without a program.

Skip Frye never cared to attend those events and so he offered me his tradeshow badge. The posers were numerous, and some of them asked for autographs. My identity theft caused Dogtown co-founder Craig Stecyk to quip, “This is the only place in the world you can get away with that.”

I could not look less like Skip Frye if I tried, and everyone at Scott Bass’ Boardroom Show in Del Mar knows that. Having run out of aliases, I am stuck being inland hodad Chris Ahrens. A surfer nearly since birth, I consider it my birthright to gain free admission to surf-related events while grabbing a T-shirt and a few nibbles if they’re on the house.

Not being a surfing champion leaves me to produce my own credentials. Arrival at the entry window finds me face to face with a pleasant young woman.  When I request a media pass, she smiles politely, and asks if I have a name. Her meaning is obvious. She wants to know if anyone of note can vouch for me.

My friend Scott Bass is busy. Shaun Tomson and Skip Frye are not around, so I decide to play innocent, answering, “Just the one my mother gave me.” The woman laughs, peels off a happy face wristband, and I am free to walk into a wonderland of resin lollypops made by the legends of the surf industry.

Asymmetrical inventor Carl Ekstrom; board-building genius Wayne Rich; the Bank of Hank; Steve and Cher “Pendoflex” Pendarvis; surf historian Jim Kempton; Windansea local legend Buddy Roe; and world champions Tom Curren and Peter Townend freely stroll the aisles.

Curren takes the stage prior to San Clemente’s ukulele surf band The Four Stringerz, led by Mark Freeman, jamming their unique brand of surf music to an appreciative audience.

Completing the magical mystery experience was a visit with the Campbell brothers, the brilliant kids who invented one of the most influential and least celebrated surfboards of all time, the Bonzer.

While Simon Anderson’s Thruster is often considered the first three-finned surfboard, the Bonzer predates Simon’s innovative design by nearly a decade.

While not as well accepted as the Thruster, the Bonzer continues to be influential half a century after its invention. A photo of power ranger Taylor Knox laying down one of his mean jackhammer turns on a Bonzer makes the point.

This year, the Boardroom’s “Icons of Foam” honored the great Bing Copeland of Bing Surfboards. Bing ranked highly in the competitive surf market of the 1960s, where models by Donald Takayama and David Nuuhiwa made a big splash internationally.

I have only been to one high school reunion, but I try never to miss the Boardroom reunion. There, brothers in saltwater and foam unite under the big tent and nobody ever mistakes me for being Skip Frye.

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