Bird Huffman & Bob Mitsven
Theres been a lot of great moments of surfboard talk in The Shed over the last 11 years. Everyone has passed through the doorway into the hallowed halls of the old Quonset hut on Morena Boulevard. You never know who might walk in at any given time, but when we can, we try to document it.
This old video comes from 2010 when Bird and Bod took some time to discuss Mitsven shapes and go over some of the theories behind the process. Sit back and enjoy ther Three-part interview with Bob Mitsven.
Surf Etiquette 101: How to Maximize Your Learning Experience
Learn proper surf etiquette and the unwritten rules of the waves.
STEP ONE: THE SURFBOARD
Choosing the right board used to be a grinding search through surf shop racks looking for the right board at the right price. Let’s be honest; In todays world most people are entering the surf on a Costco Wave Storm soft board. The shape, width and thickness paired with the soft user-friendly foam has made it the best selling board in the world. The downside is there is nobody at Costco to tell the buyer the basics of what to do next. Also read our post on choosing a good first board.
WHERE TO GO
When choosing a beach to learn how to surf at, make sure you find a spot with a “soft” wave with a sand bottom. You’ll be riding the “soup” or white wash at first very close to the beach, so no need to rush to the outside and try to catch open-faced waves. DO NOT go to places that are overly crowded or have rocks or reefs. The reason for this is your safety. You don’t go to the public pool and try to do a gainer off of the high dive…crawl before you walk.
LEARN THE BASICS
We encourage you to go into your local surf shop after you’ve made your surfboard purchase (hopefully you bought a board from a surf shop) and find the owner or manager so you can ask them for some pointers. If you go to a surf lesson these should be covered right off the bat.
- How to paddle your board
- How to navigate through an incoming wave
- How to lift up to go over waves
- How to go from prone to sitting
- How to sit and turn your board around to catch a wave
- How to enter a wave with out pearling (nose diving)
- How to stand up
- How to avoid collisions and being aware of those around you
Avoid crowds, surfers and swimmers. This means DO NOT paddle to the outside. Stay in waist deep water and get a feel for the power of the waves and learn the basics of controlling your board. NEVER throw your board when a wave comes…ever. This is a huge cause of injuries to surfers and swimmers. Be in control of your board at all times. Learn this before you try to even catch a wave. There will be no faster way to conflict with experienced surfers if you get in their way or hit them with your board because you bailed it.
When paddling out look for calm water but be aware of rip currents. Always learn near a lifeguard tower if possible. If you’re going it alone, feel free to ask an experienced surf you see for some tips. Most are happy to help.
Be aware of your surroundings. Learn who has the right of way on the wave. Not sure what that means? Heres a few options to help clarify.
Closest to the peak: the surfer that is furthest out or nearest the breaking past of the wave. This person has the right of wave if they have been waiting their turn.Never paddle around a person to get to that spot. Thats called “Paddling around” a person and is very frowned upon. Wait your turn and slowly approach that take off area for your turn to be closest to the peak. One person goes and the crowd moves up a spot close to that zone.
DO NOT DROP IN ON ANYONE
“Dropping in” or “cutting off” is one of the huge insults and violations in surfing that can result in a bad confrontation. If you see someone already up and riding, STOP PADDLING FOR THE WAVE. It’s not yours. Observe the right of way and you will avoid conflict. Repeatedly paddling around others to get into the inside position on a wave is a huge problem. Observe the flow of the crowd and do not cut off or paddle around others if they are waiting.
DON’T BE A WAVE HOG
Share the waves. Don’t think because you can catch every wave coming in that you should. This will start to offend experienced surfers real fast. Even if you can paddle furthest outside and catch the waves first every time you reach the lineup, don’t do it. The punishment for this is loss of respect and better surfers will start to cut you off in protest of your ignorance.
IF YOU BLOW IT -SAY YOU’RE SORRY
If you drop in on someone, hit someone or bail your board and ruin someones wave, make sure you say you’re sorry. Like anything in this life, good manners are important. Be cool, don’t be a jerk. We’ve all been there and saying sorry goes a long way to make it right.
Most of all, be safe, smart and be a good steward of the beach. Theres so many people who litter, trash and make the beach not as nice as it should be. Don’t be one of them. Please come into the shop anytime to discuss the rules of surfing so we can help you have a better experience in the ocean.
XGAMES: Eric Bird Huffman Interview
Collectors exist at different levels of an aesthetic/psychological spectrum. Roughly speaking, their world is broken into thirds — on one end you’ve got the connoisseurs, in the middle the hobbyists, and on the far end you’ve got the hoarders. Walking into Bird’s Surf Shed, these tried and true distinctions immediately become a whirlpool. An old quonset hut that originally held Eric “Bird” Huffman’s board collection but now also houses his new surf shop, the Shed is more of a hands-on museum than commercial outlet. On the day I walked in, Bird sat eating pizza with early Pipe legend Joe Roper and a clutch of old friends. The arcing walls above them were filled with colorful boards made, surfed and stowed away in their lifetimes. But ah, what an auspicious time to be a surfer.
How It Began
The first board Bird ever “collected,” was a Mike Hynson “Hy-II” that he traded a pair of trunks for. It’s still here. The rest came to him “almost every way you can think of.” Bird started his career as a grom in a surf shop, had owned and managed companies, and now it looked like he mostly sold stories. Not many of these boards are for sale. But it’s not a static collection either — some are out on loan, being surfed. Just about all of the 460-odd pieces in his collection fit what Bird calls “journeymen” surf craft, meaning that they didn’t win championship titles but were instead surfed by regular surfers. The thing about these “journeyman” boards is: as you move backward in time the surf world gets increasingly small, and an everyday board quickly becomes a link in design DNA.
One of the first fifty blanks Skip Frye ever put a planer to rests next to a classic Mike Hynson, the work of two guys who used to surf and shape next to each other at Gordon and Smith. There’s a Diffenderfer and Brewer thruster, both made within weeks of Simon Anderson’s unveiling of the design. Things were happening so fast, Bird says, “They were mostly working off of pictures.” That’s an important point on the connoisseur aspect of his collection. You can literally watch rails evolve by comparing a number of Hot Curls produced in a six-month period, or by assessing the down-rail conversation between Australian and American shapers of the mid-’70s. Or even by appraising the history of one shaper, as each phase of shapers like Hynson, Caster and Rusty are represented.
But like a traditional hoarder, looks and condition don’t dint the fervor with which items are collected. In fact, some of the ugliest boards are the real treasures. Many of these are “ghetto glassed,” meaning that the finish work was done in an alley or parking lot somewhere, joint in hand. Looking over a couple, you notice that the tint of the glass just seems off. This is because they were glassed from the same barrel of boat resin, a barrel one shaper stole from the docks and the rest of the shapers shared in. Of these boards is Bird’s most personal, a 1973 Steve Lis. The old fish has no stringer because Bird bought the blank as a second from Mitch’s for five bucks. After it was shaped, the lack of stringer caused Lis to off-set his hand-drawn logo. Bird was on hand to complain, so Lis drew a new logo next to it. In the water, it was the best board Bird had ever owned. The design slid along so fast, it was compared to a bar of soap. When Bird’s needed a repair, he took it to Select Surf Shop for a professional job. Once fixed, however, the board sat on the Select rack with a $30 price tag on it — the cost of the ding job. Unfortunately, some shop rat sold the board to another customer on the basis of that $30 price tag. Decades go by. Bird’s renown as an appraiser of rare boards swells along with his collection. So one day a client sends Bird a number of photos in an email for assessment, and there’s the Lis. Bird wanted that ghetto-glassed board so bad, his horse-trading skills went out the window, and ended up giving the guy a rare Parish that had been surfed in the Duke.
There are boards here that a connoisseur wouldn’t blink at, boards a hobby-est wouldn’t understand, boards a hoarder would appreciate only as one more on the pile. As Bird began to close up shop for the day, the quonset hut is silent and empty, he says, “Times like this, in the mornings or when I’m closing, I just look up and I hear all these voices, all these people. Every board tells a story.”
Temple Of Surf Podcast: Featuring Bird Huffman
Aloha Everyone and welcome to a new episode of The Temple of Surf – The Podcast. We will give you full access to the best surfers, skaters, shapers, surfboards collectors, shop owners in the world!
Discover with me their stories, their greatest successes, amazing behind the scenes and much more!
Today with us the legendary Bird Huffman, owner of the iconic shop Bird’s Surf Shed in San Diego
WHATS MY BOARD WORTH?
Quite often, I get requests to appraise surfboards, either from a historical standpoint or a monetary one. Although just about all surfboards are different in a wide variety of ways, the same basic point needs to be touched on. Below is my response to the latest inquiry. I hope you find it of some interest.
Bill asked to have his Skip Frye appraised. It was heavily used and not in great condition. With the prices of Frye boards escalating rapidly, many feel they are all worth big bucks, but thats not the case. There is a big difference of having a solid rider and a wall hanger.
“There are generally three types of people who like old boards. One is the investor/collector. These types of folks generally seek out boards in the 8-10 scale of condition. Some are very knowledgeable, but most are not. These people will spend serious dollars on the right board.”
“Another group of buyers is the decor/buyer. They generally know little if anything about boards, using them as props or more of a decorative item. They can spend dollars, but it’s hard to get it out of them.”
“The last group of people is the I want: the ‘to ride it’ group. Condition is of little importance since it’s all about the ride and not the glitz or glamour. As you would expect, this crew operates on a strict budget.”
“Your board falls into a very limited appeal group, and this is reflected in its value. Finding a badly weathered board and bringing it back to a respectable level is not a hard thing to do. To completely cover an entire board with a hot-coat pigment rather than polishing it to a high luster is a bit time consuming and is generally not a recommended way to go. Yes, you can hide ALL previous damage and sun-burned areas. BUT the board loses 90 percent of its soul.”
“No wooden stringer to view or possible markings on that stringer. Money buyers realize this instantly and shy away from it. A decor buyer might step up. Preserving a board by leaving all of its damaged areas exposed is the preferred way to go. The board’s overall condition tells a story and captivates all who look at it as they think about where the board has been and all of the waves that it’s been ridden on. A nice seal job with a lightly sanded finish is very cost-effective, thus making the board more affordable and interesting than one that has been covered up. In this scenario less is best.”
“Five to six years ago, your board could have sold in the $1,200 range if presented to the right group of buyers. These days, you’d be looking at a price range of between $600 to $800 — again, if presented to the right group of folks.”
“At the present time, I have a professionally sealed and polished early 1960s Hobie that has a great logo and no less that six stringers. It is priced at $595 and has been here for two months. The board market may recover in time, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.”
“For another gauge of its value and a possible sale, list it on eBay and see who bites and what type of offers are coming in. As is often the case, your local shop or group of beach buddies will tell you I’m nuts and the board is worth big bucks. Every one has an opinion, and they are usually giving it to you for free. Getting the money that people say it’s worth is a whole other ball game.”
“In closing, I’ll leave you with this; Skip [Frye] does fine work and is a credit to the profession. The board you have is unique in its own way, complete with the stories you have about it. I’d say enjoy all that it has to offer and be proud of what you have helped bring back to life.”