Meet Santa Barbara’s Original Surfboard Shapers

Since the 1960s, Santa Barbara’s board craftsmen have put their signature stamp on the California surfing tradition.

Southern California is dotted with surf communities—San Diego, Huntington Beach, the South Bay, Malibu–each uniquely influential toward the sport’s history and growth. In Santa Barbara, a small but formidable group of craftsmen have made a significant impact on the art of board shaping.

One of those men is 84-year old Reynolds Yater of Yater Surfboards, who still shapes off Milpas Street today. In a recent story posted on KCRW, he discusses those early days in Santa Barbara, when waves weren’t even on the radar.

“’There were about six or eight guys surfing in town here, kids from high school mostly,’ said Yater. ‘I started [my business] with a friend of mine, Dick Perry. He did the glassing and I did the shaping. We rented a little place down on Anacapa Street for what I remember was $75 dollars a month. And we did everything right there.’”

Alongside Yater, other innovators like Al Merrick of Channel Islands Surfboard and George Greenough, who invented the modern fin, helped pioneer the board’s evolution in both design and business. West Beach Films recently created a short film documenting these shapers and their impact on the surf industry.

You can view the entire film here.