Santa Barbara Surfing History

Santa Barbara surfing history buffs can find one of the most extensive local surf history timelines in the Yater surfboards showroom at Surf n Wear’s Beach House. Come on down to the store to check out the timeline, and see many of the vintage boards, surfing collectibles, and photos that chronicle the history of the sport of surfing!

Santa Barbara Surfing History 1929-1960

Greg Foss Surfs Rincon

1929 Gates Foss surfs Rincon (Three Mile) for the first time

Gates Foss was a local Santa Barbara surfer. Foss was a lifeguard in Carpinteria and alleged to be the first person ever to surf Rincon in 1939. Rincon was known at that time as “Three Mile,” because the surf spot was 3 miles from the Carpinteria train station.

1944 Bob Simmons, California surfer and early surfboard shaper, visits Rincon and gifts his board to Gates Foss

1949 Legendary surfboard shaper Renny Yater visits Rincon for the first time with with Bob Simmons

1951 Yater shapes his first surfboard in Laguna Beach

1956 Hobie Alter, Phil Stubbs, Joey Cabell and Yater surf Coho

Read more of Renny Yater’s recollections of these early surfing days in this interview with local Santa Barbara surfer David Pu’u 

1958 Ike & Tuck Surfboards is founded in Santa Barbara

1958 Bob Perko surfs “Perkos” at Hollister Ranch

1959 Brian Bradley opens a surf shop on upper De La Vina

1959 Renny Yater opens Santa Barbara Surf Shop at 28 Anacapa St.

1960 Tom Roland starts shaping surfboards on the Mesa

1960 The Santa Barbara County Surf Club is formed to organize legal access for surfers to surf in Hollister Ranch

1960 First Surfer Magazine is published

Surf n Wear’s Beach House has several copies for sale!

Santa Barbara Surfing History 1961-1980

Renny Yater surfboard shaper

The 1960’s and 1980’s were an epic period for surf history, with Santa Barbara surfing history leading the charge across major innovations in the sport, from the Yater Spoon to local surfers such as Tom Curren making history in the shortboard revolution.

1961 Jeff White opens Owl Surf Shop in Summerland

1961 John Eichert opens the Ike Surfboard Shop at 24 W. Cota

1961 Renny Yater moves Santa Barbara Surf Shop to Summerland

1963 Greenough, Ike, and Vincent surf the Santa Barbara Channel Islands on their boat the Marmeta

1963 Ike shoots video footage of Greenough surfing at Sand Spit, which would later be the opening scene of the 1966 Bruce Brown surf movie Endless Summer

1963 Greenough makes his first kneeboard at Ike’s Cota St. shop

1964 Greenough takes his first trip to Australia

1964 Jeff white opens Owl Surf Shop on Front St. Santa Cruz

1964 Pat Curren moves to Santa Barbara

1965 Renny Yater moves Santa Barbara Surf Shop to Gutierrez St. & opens retail store at 401 State St.

1965 Renny comes out with the “The Spoon"

The Yater Spoon is considered one of the most innovative surfboard designs of its time. Designed for surfing point breaks like Rincon with more control and maneuverability.

1965 Jeff White closes his Owl Surf Shop & opens the Surf n Wear surf shop at 209 W. Carrillo St.

1966 Endless Summer, the movie, is released

1966 Ike Surf Shop moves to Old Town Goleta

1966 Surf n Wear opens a surf shop in Campbell, Ca.

1966 Nat Young wins World Title using Greenough Fin

1967 John Bradbury & Alan Hazard open Creative Freedom Surfboards at 8814 Gaviota St.

1967 Yater moves Santa Barbara surf shop to Gray Ave.

1967 Wildnerness Surfboards opens in a Carpinteria barn

1968 The “Shortboard Revolution” begins!

1968 Wilderness Shop moves to ICE House

1969 Al Merrick opens Channel Islands surf shop on Anacapa St.

1969 Massive Rincon Point Swell draws legendary SoCal surfers to ride epic point break

1970 Surf n Wear opens a surf shop at 5856 Hollister Ave., Goleta

1970 Wilderness Surf Shop moves to 317 South Alisos St.

1970 Channel Islands Surf Shop moves shop to 16 Helena Ave.

Stanley's Diner surf spot Ventura

1971 Stanley’s Diner Surf Spot destroyed for Highway 101 widening

Stanley’s was a favorite local surf spot located in front of Stanley's Dinners, a steak house on the old Pacific Coast Highway, about 10 miles north of Ventura. It was located between 2 creeks that produced sand bars with excellent spring and summer surf conditions. Afternoon swells off the Channel Islands created perfect wind conditions for glassy barrels. In 1971 both the steak house and the surf spot were destroyed by the widening of the freeway where the current Seacliff Highway 101 exit now exists. (Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, reminisces about surfing at Stanley's in this video featuring 1960's footage of the surf spot)

1971 Hollister Ranch is subdivided and with parcels available for sale to the public for the first time

1971 Marc Andreini opens Andreini Surf Shop in Santa Barbara

1971 Skate and snowboarding legend Tom Sims moves to Santa Barbara

1971 Bruce Fowler, Owl Surfboards shaper, is Surf n Wear surf shop manager

1972 Sex Wax surf wax company is founded

1974 Surf n Wear surf shop opens in San Luis Obispo, California

1974 Marc Andreini commissioned by Jeff White to shape Owl Surfboards

1975 Bob Haakenson returns from Hawaii and begins glassing all Channel Islands surfboards

1975 Dave Johnson opens Progressive Surfboards in Goleta

1976 Marc Andreini moved into Gray Ave. Shop with Renny Yater

1977 John Elleston opens Santa Barbara Surfing Emporium at 732 State St.

1978 Roger Nance partners with Jeff White in the Surf n Wear Santa Barbara surf shop

1978 John Perry opens the Ocean Rhythms surf shop at 4317 State St.

1978 Matt Moore opens Rincon Designs surf shop

1979 First Rincon Classic Santa Barbara surf contest put on by Surf n Wear surf shop

1979 Chuck Ames starts True Ames Fins

1979 Lauren Yater, Renny Yater’s son, shapes his first surfboard

Santa Barbara Surfing History 1981-2022

The period 1981-2022 puts Santa Barbara further on the map of surfing history with advancements in technique such as aerials, fin and glassing technology, and local born and bred world surfing champions.

Hammonds Classic Santa Barbara Surf Contest

1980 Surf n Wear surf shop opens in Thousand Oaks

1980 The first triple fin “Thruster” surfboard developed by Australian surfer and surfboard shaper Simon Anderson

1981 Santa Barbara local surfer Davey Smith pioneers the “aerials” move in surfing

This innovation was inspired by Santa Barbara surfing conditions. According to legend, Smith innovated this move due to summertime surf conditions in Santa Barbara, by floating off of the white water in smaller waves. Smith later worked as a shaper for Channel Islands surfboards.

1982 Three-time Surfing World Champion Shaun Thompson moves to Santa Barbara

1982 First Hammonds Classic Santa Barbara surf contest put on by Surf n Wear surf shop

1982 Surf n Wear opens a surf shop in Santa Maria

1983 Santa Barbara surfer Kim Mearig wins the women’s surfing World Title

1984 Surf n Wear Goleta moves to Calle Real Center

1984 Ocean Rhythms surf shop at 4317 State St. is sold to Paul Kuhn

Tom Curren surfing Rincon

Photo credit: Jimmy Metyko

1985 Tom Curren wins his first Surfing World Title

1987 Roger Nance opens Surf n Wear’s Beach House at 10 State St.

1989 Highway 101 traffic lights are removed, which forced the Wilderness Surf Shop to close

1989 Chris Brown (“Brownie”) joins Surfing Championship Tour

1990 Yater Surfboards official showroom moves to Surf n Wear’s Beach House at 10 State St.

1990 The Painted Cave Fire burns down Ocean Rhythms surf shop

1992 Local Santa Barbara surfer and surfboard shaper John Pyzel moves to North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii

1992 James O’Mahoney opens Santa Barbara Surfing Museum on Helena Ave., which closed in 2016

1992 Wayne Rich starts shaping out of the Clyde Beatty surfboard shop

1996 George Greenough moves permanently to Australia

1998 Surfboard shaper John Pyzel of Pyzel Surfboards shapes John John Florence’s first surfboard when Florence was only 5 years old

2006 Channel Islands surf shop sells to Burton

2006 Local Santa Barbara surfer Bobby Martinez qualifies for the Championship Tour

2007 Cole Robbins, Santa Barbara surfer, qualifies for Longboard Championship Tour

2012 Lakey Peterson, local Santa Barbara surfer, qualifies for the Championship Tour

2016 Connor Coffin qualifies for the Championship Tour

2019 Beach driving is prohibited at Hollister Ranch

2021 Channel Islands surf shop bought back by local Santa Barbara employees under leadership of Al Merrick’s son Britt Merrick