In 1964 Robert August left the United States with one surfboard, his buddy Bruce Brown and a couple of cameras in search of the Perfect Wave. Co-starring in The Endless Summer, August went around the world to change the public image of surfers in America and around the world. Surfers weren't druggies or deadbeats or guys who sang to their girlfriends. Surfers were clean-cut all Americans who were willing to go to great lengths to get their kicks.
In 1964 Robert August left the United States with one surfboard, his buddy Bruce Brown and a couple of cameras in search of the Perfect Wave. Co-starring in The Endless Summer, August went around the world to change the public image of surfers in America and around the world. Surfers weren't druggies or deadbeats or guys who sang to their girlfriends. Surfers were clean-cut all Americans who were willing to go to great lengths to get their kicks. Forty years ago, August changed the way the world perceives surfers (and the way surfers perceive the world), now August is working with Surftech to change the way a world full of surfers perceive surfboards.
The board that went around the world with August in 1964 was a sturdy 10' 2" glassed with two coats of ten ounce. "We didn't have board bags or leashes or even a ding repair kit. We just threw boards on the planes and they spent a lot of time banging around in the baggage hold and on the rocks and on the roofs of taxis and rickshaws. Well the glass was tough back then and so was the foam. After three months the boards were worked over, but they made it."
Robert August has been at it for more than 40 years. A star pole vaulter at Huntington Beach High and also the Student Body President, August had been surfing since the age of six when he graduated from Huntington Beach High and graduated into the adventure of a lifetime. Endless Summer made Robert August an international star right when the surf boom was booming, but he still had to work. He first managed the Hap Jacobs shop in Hermosa Beach but wanted to get into shaping to make more money. "I started shaping these little bellyboards for $5 a piece," August said. "That introduced me to tools and techniques and I moved up from there."
August commuted from HB to the South Bay and then eventually moved there, until the lack of good surf moved him back to Huntington. He shaped for Overlin, Petrillo, Plastic Fantastic, South Shore, Harbour, Chuck Dent and anyone else who needed him through the late 60s and into the 70s. In 1974 he started Robert August Surfboards in Huntington Beach. The retail shop and the factory have moved many times over the years, but the August label has been pumping out boards ever since. August figures he has shaped over 37,000 surfboards personally over the years. He now employs five shapers but still puts his hand in every day. "When I was younger and trying to get somewhere I was doing 50 to 70 boards a week, no problem," August said. "But now if I do three boards a day I collapse."
August was the second shaper to get involved with Surftech, but he approached it like he approached all those wild animals in Africa: tentatively. "I had been approached by other board manufacturers before but never saw any quality worth my name next to," August said. "When Randy first approached me he was enthusiastic but I thought, 'Naw, I don't want to get involved with this. They're going to sell these boards for $800. That's not going to work.' But then Randy gave me one of the veneer boards and I rode it and it was great, you know? It was kind of a heavier board and strong and I reconsidered."
August has designed a variety of boards for Surftech, from 8 to 10 feet long. "There is a 'What I Ride' board, which is basically what I ride, and then there is a Mike Doyle design from my factory and there are also boards from Mike Minchington and the Mark Martinson Wingnut model. I prefer the veneer boards because they are a little heavier, but the TufLite boards are great for high performance surfing."
We know what you're thinking so we asked Robert August for you. If he were doing The Endless Summer again, and could only take one surfboard, which Surftech would it be? "I'd take the 9' 6" All Around board in the veneer. I don't want to be wishy washy but it has a medium rocker and medium thickness and it's good in eight foot surf and in sloppy surf. I could ride that board in eight foot surf and I could ride it in slop. It would go good at Bruce's Beauties, and if I lost it into the rocks, it would come out okay."
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