By 1977 I’d graduated from college and was shooting for anybody that would pay. I was officially over the hill. I’d joined the world. I distinctly recall looking back with a little bit of regret on this day: I felt like I’d moved away from my beach roots and was traversing an unfamiliar world that made being in Skip’s shaping room some kind of sin. I was shooting Ilford FP-4 B&W film. It had incredible latitude – but the very fact that I was thinking about the tonal response of film moved me away from the beach, my surfing friends and the guys that made my boards.
Of course, I was completely wrong. Surfing is almost a meditation that prepares you for the rest of the world. Strength, patience and the ability to read conditions are real-world skills that stay with any surfer, in the water or out.
Skip Frye was one of the last rebel souls. If you wanted a board shaped, you had to know him – his boards weren’t available in shops. His personal chop – the elegant wing design inspired by the Girl Scouts Brownie patch – was a statement of purity. It’s still that way.