With live music and nearly 100 vendors, centerpiece of event will be induction ceremony for inaugural class of Boardbuilders Hall of Fame
We’re in for a couple big weeks of surfing.
Heading into the long Labor Day weekend, there are some forerunners that are starting to show up for a southwest swell that could prove to be the best of another slow summer.
Once we put Labor Day in the rearview mirror, the South Orange County area will be shifting into Rip Curl WSL Finals mode, as the top five male and top five female surfers on the planet will be in town to battle for the 2023 world title.
The waiting period for the event, which takes place at Lower Trestles, runs from Sept. 8-16.
This brings us to the inaugural Rhythm & Resin Festival coming to San Clemente’s Calle De Los Molinos District on Sept. 9. With multiple stages for live music, food, drinks and close to 100 vendors, it’s going to be a block party the likes of which the Surf Ghetto has never seen.
Anchoring the affair will be the first-ever Boardbuilders Hall of Fame inductions. Taking place directly in front of Los Molinos Beer Co., it will celebrate the legacy of 10 San Clemente originals.
As a tribute to those who paved the way, the celebration will get the Boardbuilders Hall of Fame off the ground by honoring five craftsmen who are no longer with us. That list includes Dale Velzy, Brad Basham, Chris McElroy, Randy Sleigh and Midget Smith.
Another five board builders who are thankfully still with us will also be honored. That list includes Herbie Fletcher, Danny Brawner, Rick James (the shaper, not the rock star), Jay “Sparky” Longley and Terry Senate.
While Velzy’s name looms large, all these boardbuilders have contributed mightily to the Los Molinos mystique.
Basham’s shop has long been an epicenter for surfboard construction. Offering all of the supplies needed to make a surfboard, Basham’s has been the one-stop-shop for the DIY shapers for decades.
McElroy’s tortured genius helped fuel San Clemente’s radical, aerial revolution of the 1980s with guys such as Christian Fletcher showing up in mags on his boards. Sleigh was cut from a similar cloth; meanwhile, Smith’s craftsmanship and attention to detail set him apart from the Surf Ghetto hordes.
And speaking of Christian Fletcher, his old man, Herbie, is the patriarch of one of the most innovative surf families to ever paddle out. Herbie grew up in the longboard era, embraced the Shortboard Revolution and is still creating today.
Then there’s Brawner, who may have glassed more surfboards than just about any living human. A cornerstone of the Hobie factory in Capo Beach during the heyday of the ’60s and ’70s, he was right there laminating boards while heavies including Terry Martin and the Patterson brothers were shaping them.
And while all of these guys are characters, James and the story of his missing thumb takes the cake.
“Ricky’ used to shape for Greg Noll, making the Miki Dora Da Cat model. One Friday morning, Miki came by the Noll factory to have ‘Ricky’ shape him a new surfboard,” recalls Mike Purpus.
“Miki wanted a special fin for his new surfboard. When ‘Ricky’ was cutting it out on the bandsaw, his hand slipped, and he severed off his thumb … Miki grabbed a rag for a bandage and rushed ‘Ricky’ to the ER,” Purpus continued.
There, the ER doctor asked where James’ thumb was, as he could sew it back on.
“Miki raced back to the factory. He screamed, ‘Where’s the thumb?’” Purpus recalled. “Greg held up a block of resin and said, ‘How do you like my new paper weight?’ He had filled a Dixie cup with resin and dropped the thumb in.”
Finals week is almost here; let the good times roll.