I still cringe when I think of that board, the new board that I shaped in my parent’s garage, flying from the racks and onto the hard as nails asphalt of Coast Highway.
It shouldn’t be too bad, just a few fixable shatters and dings, and then as I run out to rescue it — boom! — a Volkswagen Beetle hits it dead center and finishes the job.
The worst part is that it was all my fault — I was showing off the new, never-been-waxed stick to my brother-in-law, Lee.
Careful not to scratch it, I place it gently onto the rack and kept talking. Somehow I omitted to strap it down before driving onto Laguna’s 101. I had the radio turned up but could still hear the crunch, which is one of the saddest sounds in my memory.
But as the apostle says, “All things work together for good,” and apparent misfortune led to something better than a surfboard.
It led to a career and a lifetime friend in famed board maker Jeff Grygera, who was just a kid when he bought the thing for 25 bucks and fixed it up to look like new.
The resin on that repair dried nearly half a century ago and since then Jeff has fixed countless dings, and shaped, glassed, sanded, hot-coated, glossed and rubbed out more boards than he or I can count.
Jeff is all grown up with kids and grandkids now, and he and his family have owned the little surf shop in Cardiff on San Elijo Avenue for well over a decade.
In that time Jeff and his oldest son Jay and youngest son Gino have built a name for quality craftsmanship and customer service.
If you’ve lived in Cardiff for a while, you know the place as Iron Cross Surfboards.
But, a few weeks ago a violent wind hit and tore the IC sign down. No big deal really — the family was in the process of renaming the store anyway.
It will now be called … Oh, wait, I’m sworn to secrecy until this June when they mount the new sign into the now vacant space. This will hopefully be in time for a mask-free gathering of friends to celebrate in style.
While I can’t tell you the name of the shop, the Grygeras also have a new model surfboard that’s making waves in and around Cardiff Reef.
Known as “California Gold,” the board is considered by some to be a one-board quiver.
According to the oldest of the Grygera children, Jay, “My dad designed this board for people who only have one board, or want to take a single board on a surf trip. It works well in small waves and everything up to six to eight feet.”
Jay, who learned the board- making craft from his father and fiberglass master, paddle champion and local ripper, Ding King’s Brian Szymanski (I think Brian is overdue for a Waterspot profile), continues to work both in the factory and the unmentionable showroom.
See you in June. Until then stay safe and ride on!