I’ve had half a dozen Skip Frye pin-tails but the first one was the absolute best. Ron Mackey gave me the two halves of his broken 8’6″ G&S Frye and I put it back together behind the ski shop where I worked as the rental guy. Fantastic board – very forgiving but utterly sure-footed in big reef waves. Over the years I’ve collected a series of other big pins-tails and a few Frye inspired shapes by John Holly, Dennis Murphy and Rusty, but none of them could touch the magic 8’6″. It was stolen. Broke my heart.
Walking into Skip’s office and skunk-works today was enough to make my head spin: dozens of beautiful yellow pin-tails, stacked floor to ceiling. The walls are covered with framed photographs of the greats and the great scoundrels: Mike Hynson, Miki Dora… It’s like being in a church or better yet, a pin-tail museum. Today, March 28th 2011, I returned to Skip Frye’s shaping room camera in hand, thirty-four years later – this time with lights, tripod, radio slaves and an appointment to create a photograph – not a surfboard. The portrait I shot this afternoon was created with current digital equipment but it has roots in 1977 when I shot my first portrait of Skip shaping with my Canon F-1, hand-held with a 28mm f/2.8 on Ilford FP4 film.