Will Somers – Podcast 2 – Surfing New England History-Hobie Surf Teams.wmv

Will Somers – Podcast 2 – Surfing New England History-Hobie Surf Teams.wmv


This is Will Somers again. This is my second
podcast on the Narragansett Surf Shops,Hobie Surf Shops, Odyssey in the Boston area. I
thought y’all be interested in the surf teams. Surf teams were a huge part of the Rhode Island,
Massachusetts and New England surf culture in the 1960s. The Hobie team was started in
March 1964 after Hobie came here in February. One of the things Hobie said to us was “You
ought to have a surf team.” We sure agreed with that, and as we started having the contests
(I think the first real big one was in May 1965) we looked at who we could have representing
us. Our big competition was the Weber team in
Rhode Island which was from Goldie’s Surf Shop in Cranston. They had imported a guy
(which was common in those days) from California, named Will Needs. He was good and we needed
to compete with him and others, so we brought in three or four guys on the Hobie team who
were local Rhode Island guys. For the amount of experience they had, they were really good.
One was a guy named Frank Cook. He was the guy who could do “spinners in the peak” whom
Hobie had seen back in February. So we got him on the team, along with some other guys;
Guy Lister, Chippy Chappell and Mike Tobin. Additionally there were some little bit older
guys (those guys were juniors); John Caswell, Mike Davis, George Pitts, all from Rhode Island.
Then later on we added Dennis Leary, Mike Foss and others.. They were pretty much from
Rhode Island, although Mike was from the North Shore of Boston When we started the shop in Hull, we wanted
a local team there as well. So some of the players there were Roger Crawford, Jim Flynn
and Jim Flynn’s brother John Flynn and a 10-year-old named Steve Wall (who along with Wes Wall
is going to be at the reunion). So that was really a big deal for us. The second part
of it, which was related, and was also a big deal for us was the women. We couldn’t always
win the men’s because competition had these imports from California facing us, but the
women were big deal. So among the first women we had had was a gal named Beth Weiner in
Rhode Island. and then in girl named Nancy Buchanan. But where we really took off was
went up to New Hampshire. Up there, on an early hearse trip, we stopped
in Rye Beach and met a couple of girls named Cindy Dahlen and Ann Jones. They had already
been surfing for a couple of years. I think one of the kids’ fathers had been an airline
pilot and had brought them back a couple of boards from the West Coast. They were good,
they really knew what to do. So we put them our team, and they traveled around with us.
So in those events we were really good competitors. Now in Massachusetts, one of the key competitors
was Joey Crossen. Joey surfed for Dave Williams and the Weber team, and he was a good surfer.
He gave our guys a good run and we will look forward to seeing him at the Surf 68 reunion
in June, as well as the other people on the Weber and Surfing East teams. There were a number of others who really were
key and had an interesting role on the surf teams. As we moved forward, the surf team
competition became even more intense. As we moved through 1965 and into the spring of
’66, we had ended up with a whole contest schedule. We had one in March, one in April
both in Matunuck, Rhode Island. They were really big, maybe 100 surfers in the water,
with thousands of people on the beach. As time went by, we were able to heavily publicize
these contest very actively, particularly with WPRO in Providence, which was a 50,000
Watt radio station, WICE in Providence and finally on WBZ in Boston. At that point, the
contest had become a really big part of the emerging surf culture in New England. They
would plug the contest between every record. The contests were big. Finally, I would say in June or July of 1966,
we had the New England Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. That was kind of seminal because
the Hobie team had some very good surfers over in Newport. We had opened the Newport
shop, I think, by then. Dave Jenkins, was one of the guys who worked there; he did a
great job and was a great surfer; teenager. Another young man was probably about 12 or
13 years old at the time. His name was Billy Bolander, flaming red hair, and you may know
him better by another name, since he, of course, is Redney, of Redney’s Surf Shop; been around
a long time, done real well (both surfing and in business). Finally, there was Betsy Palmer, who was the
sportscaster Bud Palmer’s daughter. So we are now dealing with real “society” as well
as “townies” in Newport. We were really pleased to have her surf for us. She was a great lady,
a good surfer and a wonderful young woman. Unfortunately she passed away in a car accident
in Colorado a few years later. The one guy who really bridged town and gown
in Rhode Island was Chuck Almeida. Chuck was a young man from the Newport area; Portuguese
heritage, just a wonderful young man and we put him on the team. He was a local, not an
import. And, of course, that was a big contest, the first true New England Championships at
First Beach, Easton’s beach, in Newport. Dewey Weber was there, as well as a bunch of other
guys from the national Weber team. It was really competitive and Chuck surfed really
well. I was the announcer at that contest, with about 10,000 people within earshot. You
never know what will happen once you place a bullhorn in front of somebody. So Chuck
won, the judges were absolutely sure of it. I had the pleasure of announcing the victory,
and this is the way it went. “And now, winning for the senior men’s, with his five second
nose ride in the tube, Chuck Almieda.” I screamed it out and the crowd went wild. So this (1966) was a big moment for New England
surfing. We also had championships in New Hampshire and Maine. Roger talks about his
big win of the New England New Hampshire Championship. That was a big deal. Then in Maine, there
are a lot of really good surfers up there. There still are, in places like Ogunquit,
York Beach, even further up. We really enjoyed those championships because we had a chance
to take the Hearse (I’m going to do a separate talk about that) and travel. The next thing about the surf teams is that
not only did we (The Hobie team) go to contests, which we did a lot, but we really would just
go off on our own and do surf odysseys. We would go up into Maine, even go to places
that really had never seen surfers or surfboards. The team would run out into the water, start
doing tricks, and everyone would get a big kick out of it. We went exploring on the Outer
Cape, did a lot out there. We made trips to to Nantucket and to Martha’s Vineyard with
the team, traveled in the hearse. We had a great time, kind of a big deal. The next thing I have to tell you a little
about are the team jackets. You have to understand there was not much chance to make any money
selling surfboards. We did that mostly for love and we were kind of giving these away
to the team members anyhow. But you could make some money on clothes. So if you could
have clothes that the kids would like, that was a big deal, too. We ended up get jackets
from Hang Ten, they were blue with a white stripe. I think Roger still has his jacket.
I know that when I talked with Cindy Dahlen the other day down in Florida, the first thing
she told me was “I still have my team jacket.” Some of you may still have your old jackets
as well, if any of you can remember them. I know John Burns has (I think) has his surf
jacket, baggies and patches. So jackets were a big deal as well. I’m sure some of you on
the Weber team had your jackets as well. I know you were probably as proud of them as
we were. So anyway I thought y’all would be interested
in New England Surf Teams. My apologies if I may have missed some names, or forgotten
some folks. Thanks to all of you who participated. Ending with final chorus of Beach Boys song
“One more summer, and your dream comes true.”

Antonio Breitenberg

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2 thoughts on “Will Somers – Podcast 2 – Surfing New England History-Hobie Surf Teams.wmv

  1. Will Somers says:

    As requested, here is the transcription of this video.  Thanks for your interest.

    This is Will Somers again.  This is my second podcast on the Narragansett Surf Shops,Hobie Surf Shops, Odyssey in the Boston area.  I thought y'all be interested in the surf teams.  

    Surf teams were a huge part of the Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New England surf culture  in the 1960s.  The Hobie team was started in March 1964 after Hobie came here in February. One of the things Hobie said to us was “You ought to have a surf team.”  We sure agreed with that, and as we started having the contests  (I think the first real big one was in May 1965) we looked at who we could have representing us.  

    Our big competition was the Weber team in Rhode Island which was from Goldie’s Surf Shop in Cranston.  They had imported a guy (which was common in those days) from California, named Will Needs.  He was good and we needed to compete with him and others, so we brought in three or four guys on the Hobie team who were local Rhode Island guys.  For the amount of experience they had, they were really good.  One was a guy named Frank Cook. He was the guy who could do “spinners in the peak” whom Hobie had seen back in February.  So we got him on the team, along with some other guys; Guy Lister, Chippy Chappell and Mike Tobin.  Additionally there were some little bit older guys (those guys were juniors); John Caswell, Mike Davis, George Pitts, all from Rhode Island. Then later on we added Dennis Leary, Mike Foss and others.. They were pretty much from Rhode Island, although Mike was from the North Shore of Boston

    When we started the shop in Hull, we wanted a local team there as well.  So some of the players there were Roger Crawford, Jim Flynn and Jim Flynn's brother John Flynn and a 10-year-old named Steve Wall (who along with Wes Wall is going to be at the reunion).  So that was really a big deal for us. The second part of it, which was related, and was also a big deal for us was the women.  We couldn’t always win the men’s because competition had these imports from California facing us, but the women were big deal.  So among the first women we had had was a gal named Beth Weiner in Rhode Island. and then in girl named Nancy Buchanan.  But where we really took off was went up to New Hampshire.

    Up there, on an early hearse trip, we stopped in Rye Beach and met a couple of girls named Cindy Dahlen and Ann Jones.  They had already been surfing for a couple of years.  I think one of the kids’ fathers had been an airline pilot and had brought them back a couple of boards from the West Coast.  They were good, they really knew what to do.  So we put them our team, and they traveled around with us.  So in those events we were really good competitors.

    Now in Massachusetts, one of the key competitors was Joey Crossen.  Joey surfed for Dave Williams and the Weber team, and he was a good surfer.  He gave our guys a good run and we will look forward to seeing him at the Surf 68 reunion in June, as well as the other people on the Weber and Surfing East teams.  

    There were a number of others who really were key and had an interesting role on the surf teams.   As we moved forward, the surf team competition became even more intense.  As we moved through 1965 and into the spring of ’66, we had ended up with a whole contest schedule.  We had one in March, one in April both in Matunuck, Rhode Island.  They were really big, maybe 100 surfers in the water, with thousands of people on the beach. As time went by, we were able to heavily publicize these contest very actively, particularly with WPRO in Providence, which was a 50,000 Watt radio station, WICE in Providence and finally on WBZ in Boston.  At that point, the contest had become a really big part of the emerging surf culture in New England.  They would plug the contest between every record. The contests were big.

    Finally, I would say in June or July of 1966, we had the New England Championships in Newport, Rhode Island.  That was kind of seminal because  the Hobie team had some very good surfers over in Newport.  We had opened the Newport shop, I think, by then.  Dave Jenkins, was one of the guys who worked there; he did a great job and was a great surfer; teenager.  Another young man was probably about 12 or 13 years old at the time.  His name was Billy Bolander, flaming red hair, and you may know him better by another name, since he, of course, is Redney, of Redney’s Surf Shop; been around a long time, done real well (both surfing and in business).

    Finally, there was Betsy Palmer, who was the sportscaster Bud Palmer's daughter.  So we are now dealing with real “society” as well as “townies” in Newport.  We were really pleased to have her surf for us.  She was a great lady, a good surfer and a wonderful young woman.  Unfortunately she passed away in a car accident in Colorado a few years later.  

    The one guy who really bridged town and gown in Rhode Island was Chuck Almeida.  Chuck was a young man from the Newport area; Portuguese heritage, just a wonderful young man and we put him on the team.  He was a local, not an import. And, of course, that was a big contest, the first true New England Championships at First Beach, Easton’s beach, in Newport.  Dewey Weber was there, as well as a bunch of other guys from the national Weber team.  It was really competitive and Chuck surfed really well. I was the announcer at that contest, with about 10,000 people within earshot.  You never know what will happen once you place a bullhorn in front of somebody.   So Chuck won, the judges were absolutely sure of it.  I had the pleasure of announcing the victory, and this is the way it went.  “And now, winning for the senior men's, with his five second nose ride in the tube, Chuck Almieda.”  I screamed it out and the crowd went wild.

    So this (1966) was a big moment for New England surfing.  We also had championships in New Hampshire and Maine.  Roger talks about his big win of the New England  New Hampshire Championship.  That was a big deal.  Then in Maine, there are a lot of really good surfers up there.  There still are, in places like Ogunquit, York Beach, even further up.  We really enjoyed those championships because we had a chance to take the Hearse (I’m going to do a separate talk about that) and travel.  

    The next thing about the surf teams is that not only did we (The Hobie team) go to contests, which we did a lot, but we really would just go off on our own and do surf odysseys.  We would go up into Maine, even go to places that really had never seen surfers or surfboards.  The team would run out into the water, start doing tricks, and everyone would get a big kick out of it.   We went exploring on the Outer Cape, did a lot out there. We made trips to to Nantucket and to Martha's Vineyard with the team, traveled in the hearse.  We had a great time, kind of a big deal.

    The next thing I have to tell you a little about are the team jackets.  You have to understand there was not much chance to make any money selling surfboards.  We did that mostly for love and we were kind of giving these away to the team members anyhow.   But you could make some money on clothes. So if you could have clothes that the kids would like, that was a big deal, too.  We ended up get jackets from Hang Ten, they were blue with a white stripe.  I think Roger still has his jacket.  I know that when I talked with Cindy Dahlen the other day down in Florida, the first thing she told me was “I still have my team jacket.”

    Some of you may still have your old jackets as well, if any of you can remember them.  I know John Burns has (I think) has his surf jacket, baggies and patches.  So jackets were a big deal as well.  I’m sure some of you on the Weber team had your jackets as well. I know you were probably as proud of them as we were.  

    So anyway I thought y’all would be interested in New England Surf Teams.  My apologies if I may have missed some names, or forgotten some folks. Thanks to all of you who participated.

    Ending with final chorus of Beach Boys song “One more summer, and your dream comes true.”

  2. Jack says:

    I'm delighted. I just got off the phone with Guy Lister!

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