The Genesis - Memories of Your First

Posted: Mar 03,2012 Written by 
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We all remember our first.

How we lost our breath when we held her close. How she promised to show us things we never thought we’d see. How she was the most beautiful thing we’d set eyes on with her banged up nose, duct taped bottom, and yellowed skin. You didn’t care what your friends thought. Man, it was your first REAL board.  You were on your way. You were in love.  

First boards hold a soft spot in the hearts of even the most intrepid traveler or thuggish local. It’s perhaps the sole aspect of surfing that we all still have in common, regardless of where we’re from, the craft we ride, the waves we seek or the styles we choose. Lord knows, I’m just about reduced to tears when I think of the 6’4” bubble deck, single-fin Bing I started on 33 years ago.  She’s still the best board I’ve ever had--even if I can do more on my Merrick and milk flat sections with ease on my Nolte fish--simply because she’s the Genesis. That 6’4” is the origin of all that is good and bad about my surfing addiction.

Curious to hear other’s thoughts on their first, I reached out to a smattering of pros, average joes, industry legends, photographers, iconic writers (thank you, Matt) and groms to get their thoughts.  The nostalgia washed over all that shared and that deep love clearly shone through. Thought it cool too, that many included the shapers, mentors and surf shops that enriched the board’s story. Check out their responses below and when you’re done, shoot us memories of your first in the Comments section.



My first surfboard was ridiculous. A bright-red 7'4" pintail, with a big fat wide nose. No rocker. Knife-hard rails along the back end. This was 1969. The beaches were full of these kinds of absurd craft; a former longboard that some aspiring board maker had stripped the glass off, reshaped, and re-glassed. Didn't matter to me, though. I loved it. Couldn't get my nine-year-old pipe cleaner arm around the thing, and dragged it down the beach through the sand until the red opaque gloss coat wore clean away. It floated nicely, caught waves, looked good in the corner of the garage where I kept it, and pumped me with enough out-of-the-starting-gate stoke to last 40-something years now. 

-Matt Warshaw--Author of The History of Surfing, The Encyclopedia of Surfing, Photo/Stoner, Maverick’s, Surf Movie Tonight, Zero Break (



X-Mas just after I turned 12 years old, a sparkling Pearson Arrow 6’2 was under the tree. Red air brush, pro model used by one of the Santa Cruz West Side guys for a few months. It was the best thing ever once I went through junior lifeguards that summer and learned how to surf enough on the big foamies to do this board justice. Best X-Mas ever and the start of my lifelong passion!

Sean Dunlap Wavehunters Surf Travel (


For my fifth birthday, my father took me to Surfer's Supplies in OC to buy my first board.  Mitch Leonard, the manager, who had icon status like Mick Jagger, steared us toward one of his old boards.  It was a 5'4" single-fin Petrillo.  It had a bubble deck and from my memory was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  My friends said that it consisted of more duct tape than actual foam, but I was in heaven.  It was twice my size.  I don't remember, but I have photos of my dad pushing me in to white water and me standing up and riding it to the sand.  Not bad for a 5 year old.  I do remember being 8 years old and doing a roller coaster on small beach break waves on a cloudy summer day when I went surfing with my older buddies.  Nobody saw it.  Today, if I were to see an 8 year doing roller coasters alone, I would run up and tell him he’s killing it.  To me, that defines surfing in a way.  It is a personal pursuit that gives incredible feelings of accomplishment.

J. C. Wiley—Winter Surfing Wingman


My first board was a 6'2" squashtail shortboard that I bought from the "Rockin' Fig" shop in Huntington Beach. My roomate and I bought matching boards and painted our nicknames on the bottoms with neon paint...of course it wasn't under the glass so that didn't last long. Anyway, just as well cause day-glo was on the way out in '87!

-Joe McBride-Extreme Sports Photographer and Creative Director (


Oh man my first board was no good to me - I bought it across the main drag where I worked at the bike/skate shop, and it was only 2" taller than me.  Probably never stood up on it, but I thought it was a cool board because it was a thruster. Funny thing is I paid a visit to the source (Spectrum in Indianatlantic, FL) over Thanksgiving and saw lots of pics they had on the walls from when mine was made.

-Joe Mulligan-Winter Session Compatriot and Insane Bicyclist


My first board was a 5'6" Blue Hawaii twin fin. Martin Potter ['89 ASP World Champ] was my hero and he was Blue Hawaii back in the day.

-Sam Hammer-NJ Surf God


My first board was a 6'4 WRV shaped by Mike Doyle. $125.00. Yellow bottom, white deck and blue glass on fins.

It all started at age 12 when I got my first issue of Surfer. I read that one mag for a full year. During that period, my family was looking at houses in Ocean City in January and I was asking people where I could buy a surfboard. Someone mentioned Surfer Supplies was open year round. I do remember there was surf that day--head high at the fishing pier and freezing cold with a few guys out. I also have photos of the surf that day somewhere at my parent’s house that I took. My first surf photos I guess… 

I bought the board used with help of [NJ Legend] George Gerlach who hooked me up with a few bars of Sex Wax and a leash. They also had Xerox copies of paper with some info on surfing basics… I had that piece of paper for a while, but lost it.

Since it was January, I had to wait till June to catch my first wave. Lucky for me, I still had the first Surfer mag to read over a million times. I’m actually trying to find that back issue from the early 90's.

Jon Nimerfroh—NJ Surf Photographer (


It was a 7'0 softboard that my parents bought for me right when i started surfing. i would try and surf everyday and just get caught on the inside but i would never give up because i wanted my parents to buy me a real board which they eventually did not long after. both of my sisters have used that same softboard to learn how to surf since then so it was kinda cool how we all three started on the same board to get us to where we all are now.

Jessica Kwiecinski—NJ’s Rippin’ Wahine / 2011 Belmar Pro Women’s Winner


This is one of the photographs I have of my first board..this is my friend jenn and I surfing one day in Seaside Park..I'm holding an old Timpone surfboard that my dad had from the 80's-early 90's

and my friend is holding the board that I learned to ride on which is a Surfer's Union.  At this point I felt comfortable floating around on the Timpone board while I was teaching my friend how to surf on my Surfer's Union board..and that's why she's carrying it and not me..I was 18 here…

Jessica Swenson—NJ Shredette



My first board was a 5'6 Infinity twin fin with a winged swallow tail. Super fast and easy to turn & pump down the line. Made it easy for me to learn how to paddle hard & turn quick. Great board for sure

-Chuck Patterson—Big Wave Hellman and all-around Waterman (


Ah, my first surfboard. Remember it well. In true form, it was a 5'10" Something Special single-fin shaped and glassed by George Gerlach and Bob Lacovara! I was eight years old and it was 1973.  Bought it from my cousin for $25! Full down rail nose with a big box tail, signature design aspects for George. Killer color...deep blue resin tint bottom and rails with the entire top airbrushed like an American flag. Loved that stick, really learned how to get down the line on it and capture that energy that only surfing can create! It’s been a love affair with the ocean ever since!!

Greg Beck—Surfers Supplies Owner / Artist (


It was my MR 6'0 double wing swallow tail...loved that board

Bill Derrickson—NJ Dental Wave Hound


My first board was a Jeff Crawford 5 "10 twin fin. It had a red bottom
with a yellow deck and the Jeff Crawford logo on top. It paddle into waves
ease and was so easy to get up on, I loved that board.
    I was 10 or 11 years old, my father, mother and I were walking
through Grogg's Surf shop in Seaside Park NJ when I saw this board, and I
instantly knew I had to have it. However with no money in my pocket I left
without the board. Then when I woke on Christmas Eve of that year, I saw
that amazing board under the tree, I lost my mind! It was a feeling I will
never forget. My father had gone back in without me knowing and bought the
board for me.
    Then like a complete idiot that I am, I traded that board in for a
Mark Richards twin fin. I would love to have that Jeff Crawford board

-Tom Andresakes-aka. Tom Tom Florence, T.I., Tommy Slater, Taj Andresakes


My first was a Morey Aussie and my first with a slick bottom was a Morey Mach 10. But my fav was the Morey Mike Stewart Mach 7-7. Something about it was special....I got 3 of them over 2 years..94 and 95 (or  95 and 96). Remember one of them for the '95 TS Allison swell in June...that was the beginning of 2 great summers in a row... Mike Messerol (I think it was) got a decent shot of me that made it into a surf slide show at the Elks Lodge at the beach.

Chris Constantino—NJ Bodyboarder for Life


My first surfboard was a 6'2 Fly shaped by Paul Baymore (local NJ shaper). It was narrow and a little beat-up, but really cool with a big fly right in the middle of it. I was a determined 11 year-old and talked my dad into getting it for me for my birthday. I had been bothering him all year about getting one and I think the only reason he agreed to buy it for me was because it pretty cheap and because it was bright yellow and he could easily spot me with it from the beach.

 Paul Impellizeri-Sea Girt Schralper and Kick Arse Rock Star (


This column was inspired by Jeff Beverly Sr’s facebook posting, listed below. He’s a Bay Head fixture, World Traveler, and perhaps the most surf-stoked over-fifty bloke out there.  If you meet him in the water, give him a wave or two.

OK. There's always one or two boards you wished you still had hanging on the wall. My Lightning Bolt would have to be the #1 board because it was the board I learned to ride the bigger island waves on and it looked so F^&king cool. But when I was little, Belmar was my main break. Bill McCuddin and Gary Finnagen were my role models. They ripped the place and Billy let me ride his "Brian Fitzpatrick... "Forever Changes" and it changed my life. I bought a 5'5" FC round tail from the infamous "Forever Changes Surfshop" in Belmar soon after that..That board is the board I actually learned how to ride a wave on. Fitzpatrick also made "Bare Wires" surfboards back in the day.. Lets here your board story...