"WINDANSEA AND BOB SIMMONS"
By Thomas Takao
Talking to Carl Ekstrom about surfing and his younger days awhile back, Carl mentioned that he grew up in La Jolla and the surf spot of WindsanSea was one of the places he would go. There have been many memorable moments at this world famous break and on September 26, 1954 happened to be one of those moments. It was like any other Sunday for the young trio of Carl Ekstrom, Ronald Patterson and Mike Diffenderfer, who were standing around in the parking lot bluff overlooking WindanSea.
The surf had come up and it was 6 to 8 feet from the South. The young group of future surfboard builders were watching the surf. There were the regular who surfed the spot and other surfers from out of town would show up when the surf was up. On this day two surfers from the South Bay were there, Bev Morgan the founder of Dive n Surf Wetsuits and Bob Simmons an innovative shaper of this era.
They had driven down the coast in Bev's Jeep and was parked in the parking lot. Carl happened to walk by and viewed some bones and a ram's head that were in the back of his Jeep. Bev had collected the items from a previous diving trip that he had made. Having surfed the San Diego area before Simmons knew of the South swell and had planned for it.
Once at the beach he had a routine of neatly folding his clothes and towel and placing them in one of the upper corner of the thatch shack there at WindanSea before going out. By this time Carl had walked down to the beach to see Simmons closer up as he was about to go out with his twin fin surfboard. As Simmons paddle out Carl went back up to the parking lot and continued hanging out. As mid-morning turned to afternoon something had happened.
Simmons board was rolling in the shore pound without Bob swimming in for it. No one was really sure what had happened, but Bob Simmons was nowhere to be found. Someone had placed his board by the shack. Seeing his board by the shack Bev Morgan thought he might have gone elsewhere with others. After asking around someone mentioned seeing him in the impact zone just before a few guys were racing across a wave. Word spread that Bob Simmons was missing and a sense of concern developed for Bev as nightfall covered the ocean. The next day the conditions got bigger and the waves were closing out.
After a couple of days the surf went down and Bob “Woodie” Ekstrom was at the beach. Someone reported a body floating in the surf, but had disappeared. A short time later Bob spotted the body near the shore and he went into the water to retrieve the body. It was Bob Simmons. The police and medical personnel were called to the scene. After the recovery, a crowd watched the ambulance disappeared up Bonair Street taking Bob Simmons into Surfboard Building History.