Ed Townes Story
By Ed Townes
I started surfing in 1967 at Buckroe Beach, Hampton,Virginia. Now, I’m sure no one has heard of this beach (besides the locals) seeing how it's about 30 miles inside the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Right down the coast from Jamestown, the first successful English settlement on North America.
It all started with talking my mom and dad into buying a 9'8" G&S from our paper boy...the only waves we got was wind swell or when some good size boats went by, but I didn't know any difference and the only thing I knew was that I had a surfboard and I was going to surf. Then my dad came home one day and said we were moving to Virginia Beach which was across the bay from Buckroe Beach.
I wasn't too happy about leaving my beach and the other 3 guys that tried to surf there too. But when my dad told me it gets 6' over there, that was it LET's GO !!!!!!! We moved to Virginia Beach in 1968. The Steel Pier, waves, lots of surfers and girls. Man, I was in Virginia Beach at the ripe old age of 13 and it wasn’t long until I met a couple of guys down the street who surfed.
They were George Byrd and Paul Brady, we were going to the ocean often and that the locals at the Steel Pier were schooling me on what not to do.....like don't SURF AT THE STEEL PIER, and get a smaller board man. Well Paul's sister surfed for some guy name BOB WHITE and he built surfboards. One day I went to Bob White's factory(now WRV) to buy some resin and cloth and got a quick lesson from the guys in the back. Once they realized my dad had two Motorcycle shops, I had instant friends at the factory, which turned out to be the single most help in getting me inside THE FACTORY!
No one was allowed inside, you were lucky if you even got past the gate, so anyway back to my surfboard project. I had cut down a 9'8" to 8'8" and after getting my supplies from the shop I glassed it all up and was back out at the Pier. But it was still too big, so this time George, Paul and I took all the glass off, reshaped it and re-glassed it using a flip flop as a squeegee. As you can tell I didn't know anything about sanding or fin rope or how to put a fin on. OK, back to the beach. On the very first wave the fin falls off, man what now I thought being very upset since it took me around 3 months to get it into the water.
One thing lead to another and it turns out that one of my dad’s lawyer friends own a Surf shop called HARRIS SURF SHOP. I guessed my dad knew I was pretty upset. He called home one day and ask for me. Time to cut the grass I thought. He told me to go the Harris Surf shop and pick out any surfboard I wanted. I think that was one of the happiest moments I had. Off to get a board and didn't know what kind so Paul and George help me pick a RICK Speed Machine. The best board I ever had up till that time. I started going to Cape Hatteras and surfing real waves...NICE!
Now I was hooked like a drug addict, surfing and building boards was all I thought about and all I did. Every weekend we were in Hatteras. I started fixing boards for cash to pay for my expenses to go surf. Then I got the local surf gurus to shape us boards and we glass them, and sold them to friends at school. A guy name Tim Sullivan at school was doing the same thing, so we teamed up and built a few boards. Pretty soon most of the guys at school were riding our boards, COOL!
By now I started seeing Cocoa Beach in the magazines, all I knew was the weather was nice, the waves and surfers were super good and I was gone. Hello Cocoa Beach and it wasn’t long before meeting Pete Dooley at Hatteras. He said he had some work for me in Cocoa Beach building Skateboards. That was with Wayne Combs the Tiki guy, but that didn't work out.
After that I ran into a couple of guys, Dave Balcerzak (DCB) and Doug Wright and started surfing Sebastian Inlet with them. The inlet had every surf star I had ever seen in the magazine there. Surfing the inlet on every south swell that came thru for years. Meanwhile I started building surfboards with Dick Catri, then Mike Tabeling hired me as hot coater and fin guy and that lead me back to Doug Wright who started Rainbow Surfboards.
This is where I worked off and on as a glasser for the next 20 years. I was living my dream!!!, worked for almost every major surfboard builder in Brevard County. In those days you could bounce around from factory to factory and get work, everyone was cool that way.
GREG LOEHR, he’s always seems to be a couple of steps ahead of the whole surfboard thing, which was cool. He started messing with Epoxy and EPS foam and the whole game changed and for the first time we (Central Florida) didn't have to get our foam and materials from Cali (California). At Rainbow Surfboards we were the first to go full Epoxy around 1989-91.
Then I started E.T. RESIN WORKS in 1992!!! Built a lot of new and upcoming labels , Soulman Surfboards, B.A.T. Surfboards, Cannibal surfboards, C-shapes, Bob Bulatowicz Surfboards, to name a few. I did good for about 10 years and the ASIA surfboards took over about 70% of the showroom market. No way could we go up against these guys.
So I backed off on the surfboard building side of things and went back to DING REPAIRS. Since most of the Asia boards where made of epoxy it was a no brainer. The profit was a lot higher than building them and everyone was still trying to fight the epoxy thing, so let's do dings!!! I’m still doing ding repairs today and building a few custom boards for friends, just like in high school “BACK TO THE PAST”.
Well now it's 2012 and still just as stoked about building surfboards as I was back in 1968. I LOVE IT !.......Got to work and surf with a lot of great people. No way I could name them all without forgetting someone, starting with George Byrd, Paul Brady, Bob White, Ron Mellott, Marty Keeseeker, Bill Meyers and Allen White in Virginia Beach to Doug Wright, DCB, Dave "DAVO" Dietrick, Stu Sharpe, Carl Schaper, Jeff & Glenn Kulgel, Matt Kechele, Steve Hollway, Glenn Hawks, Gary Philhower, Greg Loehr, Larry Pope, Regis Jupinko, and Bud Gardner in Florida.
It has been a nice ride, but I'm not kicking out yet, there's a ton of new materials to experiment with. The future is wide open and surfboard building will never be the same. Which is a good thing!
Peace, Ed Townes