Vol. 2, Issue 34, August 21-27, 2009
By Andrea Swayne
Dana Point Times
Dave Boehne and friends take stand-up paddle surfing to the LA River
A few years ago while stuck in traffic on the 101, Dana Point’s Dave Boehne looked over and saw the LA River and the idea came to him. There was water flowing in it. It wasn’t the dry concrete ravine he’d seen so many times in the climactic chase scenes of action movies. The water was actually flowing. As he sat waiting for traffic to loosen up and taking in the scene—the sunlight sparkling off the water, green and slimy though it was, as it flowed gently past graffiti covered concrete, bridges and train tracks—he was struck with the notion that this would make a great photo op.
“I went home that night and Googled the river and found out that it’s like 50 miles long and I thought, wow, the furthest I’ve ever paddled in open ocean is 20 miles. It would be kind of cool to paddle it,” said Dave. “But more than anything I was thinking that it would be neat just to see stand-up paddling in this environment. The contrast between something as basic and nature-driven as paddling against the backdrop of a big crazy city would make for some really cool photos.”
It was not only his adventurous spirit and the idea of being the first person to do something that led Dave to the city. His sense of humor, spontaneity and complete immersion in the surf life played a large part in acting on his latest “project” idea; to stand-up paddle (SUP) the LA River. Having a couple of buddies willing to accompany him to document his experiment on film also helped.
This July, Dave got a call from his friend, videographer Jon Arman saying, “I’m bored, let’s do something creative. Do you have any ideas?” Dave told him that he had been in LA recently and had been thinking about the idea he’d hatched a few years earlier. They called another friend, photographer Chad Cheverier, and the three set off for
the city with a still camera, a video camera, a board and no plan.
The trio’s search for a way in to the river was a large part of their quest. After encountering many side streets, u-turns, barbed-wire fences, bums and sketchy neighborhoods, they finally made it. “It was smelly, dirty and slimy. I really didn’t want to fall,” said Dave. “It took me by surprise to see so many fish in the water though. They kind of trolled along beside my board the whole way.”
The three just wanted to do something different that day, something just for fun. “The lure of thinking that I could be the first guy to surf in the river was attractive to me. So we just went for it, said Dave. “I ended up paddling about ten miles. Maybe someday I’ll paddle the whole thing.”
The LA River conquered, the guys then turned their attention toward the lake at Echo Park and got more great shots of getting “tubed” by the giant geyser-like fountains.
“It was a really great day. We laughed a lot,” said Dave. “We really weren’t supposed to be there, but I think the photos and videos made it worth the risk. It was hilarious.”
Dave has spent his whole life surfing and the line between business and pleasure has always been blurred given his upbringing as one of two sons—Dave and his younger brother Dan—born to Steve and Barrie Boehne, tandem surfing champions, owners and founders of Infinity Surfboards and adventure lovers themselves.
“I think Dave was born an explorer. He was also a prankster from the time when he was a baby,” said mom Barrie. “Both me and Steve are thrill-seekers, so I guess it rubbed off on our boys. We could have done other things; things we were taught in college. We decided instead to do what we love. There’s never been a dull moment.”
Barrie holds three world championships in tandem surfing and Steve and Barrie together hold two world championships and are six-time winners of both the Makaha International and the Biarritz Surf Fest in France. “They do everything tandem. I’m not kidding,” said Dave. “Tandem biking, tandem windsurfing, tandem wave ski, even tandem snowboarding. It’s like their middle name.”
Together they opened the first Infinity Surf Shop in Huntington Beach in 1971 and have since been known—thanks to Steve’s masterful shaping and innovative spirit—as quite possibly, the most versatile board company around. Together they have managed to build a successful business—now located in Dana Point—raise two boys and accumulate many life stories—Steve, so much so, that an entire section of the Infinity Web site is dedicated to his tales of daring and misadventure. Barrie has even risked life and limb running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, twice.
It’s easy to see why both Dave and Dan are no strangers to adventure. They both began accompanying their parents on international surf trips as infants. As boys they were given the space to explore, try many things and take many risks. If you ever run into one of them, feel free to ask about the time, as young kids, they nearly accidently burnt down the town of Ensenada with firecrackers.
These days they are just as likely to be seen shaping high performance shortboards as getting barreled in the deadly reef break at Teahupoo in Tahiti. Dan is a full-time dentist and part-time board shaper and Dave is heavily involved with the day-to-day operations of the business. Under the tutelage of their father, both have become great shapers in their own right and the company has become world-renown for innovative shapes for everything from shortboard to longboard, wave ski to SUP. “It seems like my dad can make or fix anything,” said Dave. “He’s kind of like a craftsman slash mad scientist slash McGuyver meets ‘Man vs. Wild’. He’s one of those guys who knows how to tie a knot for every situation.”
Dave and Dan have recently begun perhaps the biggest challenge one can undertake, in that they both have recently become fathers. Dan has a 6-month-old son and Dave’s little girl made her appearance a mere three weeks ago. The babies are named Arsén and Ember. Barrie will tell you that the fiery nature of their names is just a coincidence. But who knows? Recall the Ensenada incident.
They say that the key to happiness is to love what you do and do what you love. Cliché? Maybe the words are. But we all know that actually living life this way is not. It doesn’t happen as often as we’d like to think. It’s what we all want for ourselves, yet all too often economics, circumstances or just everyday life gets in the way of this ultimate goal. People who live life this way are inspirational—people like Dave Boehne. He embodies this philosophy every day. His infectious sense of humor lets you know right away, upon meeting him, that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And his name is often the answer to the amusing question: Who does stuff like that?
See more of Chad Cheverier’s photos and Jon Arman’s video at www.infinitysurf.com. Click on the video archive and news sections.
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