by Terrie Leigh Relf /Originally Posted at OB Rag
Nothing says OB more than surf, sweet boards, and social consciousness!
In the following interview, OBcean Larry O’Brien, vintage body board collector, cave explorer, and aspiring eccentric shares one of his many passions: Creating boards from found wood and other materials.
Coronadoian “Paipo Mike” Shourds, builder of wooden body boards and recycled junk bikes since 1960, is also a collector and all-around creative person.
Terrie Leigh Relf: What inspired you to create your body boards?
Larry O’Brien: Back when I was in junior high school, carpentry was something taught in school, and sex was something you learned on the street. Making a three-foot plywood belly board was one of the elective projects for eighth graders. I didn’t make one, but some of my friends did, and then rode them. At that time, I was more interested in bodysurfing.
Nowadays, most woodshops have been removed from our schools, and I think there is only one that serves the citywide adult continuing education programs. So, woodworking has become something you learn at home or on the street. Fortunately, the Internet has been a real game-changer, and I think it’s been the biggest factor in the rebirth of riding wood.
I have no trade secrets. I freely share my designs and building techniques. I want people to make their own boards. We must keep the flame alive. I remain hopeful that someday we can liberate the glee club, and teach kids woodworking in all of the schools.
I’ve been a collector of vintage surfboards and belly boards for many years. It was only about ten years ago that I started making my own wooden boards. I don’t do it for profit. To me, they are ride-able art, and they also tickle my inner mad scientist.
Mike Shourds: I also started making wood boards back in 1960. My dad wouldn’t buy me and my brother a surfboard, so he gave us a ½” sheet of plywood and a jigsaw and said, “Make one.” Thanks dad! The beach was our playground when we were kids, so everything rotated around it.