Surfboards aren't just for Surfing

If I carried the keys to Yvon Chouinard’s house—or rather, all of his houses—on my keyring, I’d probably loot his surfboard, too. But I wouldn’t then lend it out to a vintage store, although, I didn’t shape the board. Rick Kluver is guilty of all these things: owning a set of Yvon’s house keys, snatching a board from his home after gifting it to him years earlier, and letting Ruby Rose borrow it this Summer. I suppose you could accuse Rick of being an Indian giver—if he hadn’t replaced the board with a more seaworthy one. Perhaps a little back story to clear the air? I’m glad you asked.

photo: Santa Maria Times

Kluver helped build Yvon’s Hollister Ranch home, entirely out of recycled materials. The concrete stones on the house are old sidewalks, the timber used came from torn down bridges off highway 33—big, huge, 30-foot Sequoia redwood pieces milled 120 years ago. To find lumber this rare and this beautiful is a treasure unto itself. Once construction finished on the property after nearly three years, Yvon gifted the remaining redwood to Rick, who took it home and shaped a surfboard with one of the pieces, gifting it back to Yvon as a housewarming gift. The board hung from the rafters, unglassed, never intended to hit water. 

Back when surfing first began, instead of transporting your long, weighty surfboard (upwards of 120lbs and more than 9 feet long), surfers left them stashed on the beach. And if they weren’t surfing it, their board was up for grabs to groms and others to take out. An avid surfer himself, Rick enjoys functional surfboards as much as the next guy, but he also carries a deep reverence for the original surfers and the beauty of these first wood boards. After moving to California from South Dakota in 1961, Kluver quickly took to the sand and waves. He also developed a taste for wooden surfboards, collecting them up at garage sales and from neighbors for no more than twenty dollars a board. At the height of his collection, he had an inventory of more than three hundred, having scaled back to a current quiver of one hundred or so. Kluver’s appreciation deepened as he adapted his woodworking skills into a shaping hobby—selling beautiful, modern boards reminiscent of their Hawaiian ancestors. And this is where the story starts…

The Malloy brothers, adventurers and friends to Patagonia, and a few others met at Chouinard’s Hollister Ranch property for a fourteen mile paddle board trip. When they found themselves one board short, someone suggested the wood board in the rafters. Eight miles down the coast, the unglassed board had soaked up too much water, and sank. Using their failed adventure as a opportunity, they wrote an article for Surfer’s Journal criticizing the use of surfboards as art, instead of for riding. The foolhardy use of his gift and art ignited Kluver—who, after reading the article, grabbed an identical, fully glassed board from his Cayucos home and drove down to Chouinard’s home, snuck in with his spare keys, and swapped out the boards. His point? A surfboard can function both for sport as well as art. 

The surfboard Rick reclaimed is currently hanging in our store, and it’s as romantic as those first years of surfing were—cut from reclaimed redwood, paying tribute to the preservation and appreciation for our beloved nature. Thank you, Rick, for allowing us to share it for a time.