It’s been over 20 years since I first met Dane Perlee. It was on a trip to Westport, Washington, with Santa Cruz surfboard maker Bob Pearson.
I accompanied Bob on his drive north, stopping at little surf shops in Northern California, Oregon and finally in a little nook simply called, “The Surf Shop,” which was owned and operated by Al Perlee and his wife, Penny.
Bob had packed dozens of newly built Pearson Arrow Surfboards into the back of his van, only to discover that on the drive all of the glassed-on fins had warped, due to the heat. Ever innovative, Pearson handled the problem by reheating the fins with a blow dryer and bending them back into place.
There was a surf contest in Westport with decent 3- to 5-foot waves cracking between two jetties, and better than decent surfers to ride them. I can still taste the barbecued oysters and freshly caught salmon that was barbecued that cold evening.
I don’t remember who won that event, but I can still see teenaged Dane Perlee showing the skill and style he would eventually become famous for, which was a surprise considering he had grown up in such a remote corner of the surfing world.
Half a dozen years passed when I ran into Dane in Santa Cruz, where he had moved and was learning to shape and design surfboards through his mentor, the aforementioned Bob Pearson.
By then Dane had developed into an outstanding surfer and was regularly featured in the now defunct longboard magazines that sprung up and just as quickly disappeared in the ’90s.
When I saw Dane surfing again it was another half a decade or so later at La Jolla Shores for the annual Moores Cancer Center Luau and Legends Invitational. By then he was well established as a surfer and was making his own, Osprey Surfboards, which he drew attention to more for the rider than what was beneath him.
At first the boards were fairly standard noseriders, but the shapes quickly began to evolve into something uniquely his own.
It’s a little difficult to explain, but Dane’s “Speed Demon” model features an outline that is pretty much parallel and runs into an extra wide tail block. Some of the boards are single fins, some are twin fins, and some are Dane’s own brand of twin fin, with the fins only about an inch and a half apart, facing each other in the center of the board.
These shapes are a bit strange looking at first, but then again so was the Corvette Stingray the first time I saw it. Like the Stingray, Perlee’s Speed Demon is meant to move through the water faster than other boards of the same length.
Of course, Dane makes them look fast as he manipulates the foam and fiberglass beneath his magic feet to a rhythm only he knows. When other surfers tried Dane’s boards, they all commented in the affirmative. A few of them didn’t want to give them back and rode them throughout the event. That was enough for me to consider giving them a try soon. I’ll let you know what I think.
To learn more about Dane Perlee’s Osprey Surfboards, you can visit: https://www.thesurfboardcollective.com/products/custom-for-eric-vallely