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Surf Industry Pioneer G&S Celebrates 50 Years of History at Wave House San Diego

| posted on October 02, 2009

On Saturday October 3, Wave House San Diego will celebrate 50 years of great surfboards, great skateboards, great surfers and skater and innovation from one of the pioneering companies of the southern California surf industry. From 1959 to now, the Gordon and Smith label has been one of the prime movers of surfing and skateboarding, and that history will be on display from one end of Wave House to the other, accompanied by woodies, music and legendary surfers.

The label began to bubble in the 1950s, when surfboards were evolving from balsa wood to foam. Larry Gordon was a Chemistry student with access to the family business – Gordon Plastics – and he teamed up with his friend Floyd Smith to make some of the best polyurethane foam surfboards on the coast. In the late 50′s most surfboards were shaped from balsa wood. The boards were heavy, hard to maneuver, and easily became waterlogged. Polyurethane foam was a new and ideal material soon to become cutting edge. Larry, a chemistry student, was able to source the foam chemicals with help from Gordon Plastics, his father’s family business. With no surfboards available within 50 miles, Larry Gordon and Smith to move out of Floyd’s Pacific Beach garage and open a surf shop.

And so it began.

According to The Encyclopedia of Surfing, the innovations credited to Larry Gordon and Floyd Smith include the screen-printed surfer t-shirt in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. From the 1960s into the 1970s, Mike Hynson, Skip Frye, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Butch van Artsdalen, Duane Brown, Bobby Thomas, Billy Hamilton were some of the great surfer/shapers associated with G & S and their Input into design resulted in many board models like the Hynson Models, The HotCurl, and the SSModel were some of the most advanced boards of the pre-shortboard era. In 1968 the G & S “Magic” was one of the earliest ancestors of the shortboard era.

Also during the 1960 and 1970s, Gordon and Smith were one of the leaders in the skateboard boom, selling 500 G & S Fibreflex skateboards per month with a 6 month backlog.

This history will be on display and celebrated at Wave House San Diego beginning at 12 noon on October 3. The good times will roll in a procession of classic woodies and other surf vehicles from the San Diego Woodie Club – on display around the Wave House lot. From 3:00 to 4:00, members of the current G & S surf team will join the Wave House pros to put on an exhibit of modern wave riding on the FlowBarrel Bruticus Maximus.

In the Courtyard area, there will be a timeline illustrating 50 years of G & S: Great boards, great surfers, great surfing. Plus a display of over 30 Gordon & Smith Classic Boards.

Founders Larry Gordon and Floyd Smith will be at the Wave House talking story and reflecting on all that has happened since they first began mixing dangerous chemicals in their Pacific Beach garage. And they will be attended by G & S surfers/shapers and riders past, present and future, including Skip Frye and Mike Hynson.

A special 50th Anniversary Surfboard, signed by Larry Gordon will be raffled off to benefit the Windansea Surf Club for their community service projects.

The party begins at noon and goes on into a warm fall southern California night. There will be classic surf movies including a rare showing the 1965 Tom Morey Noseriding Contest, the first pro surf contest featuring Mike Hynson. And also the 1968 World Contest in Puerto Rico – the first contest of the shortboard era.

And from 8:00, there will be soothing Hawaiian noises from Pau Hana.

Be there, or be a rectangle.