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Eric Beyer - Beach House Classic Boardshop - Part I

The surf industry is notoriously tough to break into and it's even tougher to thrive in. Beach House Classic, a longboard focused surf shop in Bay Head, NJ, has been around for over two decades, serving up stoke in bucketloads. Even more impressively, through founder Eric Beyer's eye for surf history, the store has become an important repository of knowledge and board design, boasting an extraordinary collection of historic boards from shapers near and far. "I don't collect them," Eric explained to us, "they tend to find their way to me."

We interviewed Eric for the book, but wanted to run a parallel series of photos documenting some of the boards from his collection, many of which are suspended from every corner of the ceiling in the shop. We asked Eric to share a few of their stories in his own words. 

"My first board was a mid 70s 5’10” Michaels Fremont single fin. It's a double ender, every bit of 23” wide and 3½ inches thick out to the rail. My Dad bought it for $50 from a buddy right before the summer of 1979, the summer I learned to surf."

"We got up to Cape Cod in August. I had my 5’10” double ender and my best buddy Doug had just picked up his first board at a garage sale, a mini mal McTavish Tracker."

Boards in hand, Eric and Doug had to figure things out for themselves: "No one in either of our families had ever surfed," Eric explained, "so we learned the old school way: trial and error. We got down to Nauset Beach and found some waist high peelers rolling in on the unguarded south beach so we jumped in. After a few wipe outs, I stood up and flew down the face… I’ll never forget the feeling of freedom. I was hooked!"

With the Cape Cod waters a chilly 59 degrees, they learned they could rent wetsuits, or 'snugs' as they were known, to get a little extra water time. "My Pops took us to Jaspers and got us set up. It made all the difference in the world!"

"Later that week, we got up for a dawn session and found Doug's suit missing. We'd left them out to dry on the railing of the cottage. We realized that we had just heard the garbage truck pass. Even though the garbage men denied it, we knew what happened. The problem was, we had to explain it to Jasper's surf shop. The guys were cool… they treated us like locals and not the kooks we really were, earning our business for years to come."

Years later, Eric had the same Fremont board on display in the window at Beach House Classic.

"I got an early morning message from a guy claiming he shaped the board," Eric told us. "I met up with him and found out it was Mickey Fremont, now a lawyer in Encinitas, CA. He was in the area for a wedding and was trying to track down some of his old boards. Growing up in the 70s in NYC, he and a buddy shaped boards on the empty third floor of his buddy's parents' department store. He hung out in the shop that morning and shared a few stories. He was desperate to buy the board, but I wouldn't let it go. Although at first he wasn't too happy, Mickey appreciated that someone wanted it as much as he did. A way cool guy and a real piece of local surf history."

 

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Words by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Julien Roubinet










portrait

Kassia Meador - the Fountain of Youth

This weekend we were lucky enough to run into goofy-foot nose riding legend, Kassia Meador, who was heading to Pilgrim Surf + Supply in Amagansett to introduce her awesome collection of psychedelic women's wetsuits.

After a fun surf at Ditch Plains in the morning fog, we stole a few minutes with Kassia before the event to get her take on surfing on the East Coast. We also managed to get a photo of her riding a Rabbit's Foot, which she rocked!

ICH - What's so special to you about surfing?
K - Surfing is the fountain of youth! People that are surfing are just happier people. They are more inspired. You come into the world, you're navigating things in a more direct, easy going way. I think there is something so beautiful about that. For women there is an empowerment you get from going out in the water. For men too. I think it gives you a sense that you can accomplish anything. When you go out into the water it's an active meditation - one of the best things for your mind, body and soul!

Whatever you're dealing with, whether it's family or work, or whatever you're doing, you just come in with the attitude: "I can handle this - I just handled the ocean". The strongest element in nature; if you can deal with that you can deal with anything life throws at you. 

When I was younger I used to paddle out and often not see a woman, or sometimes see a few. I've had the experience in the last 3 years when I've paddled out and there are more women than men. Girls and women - the full spectrum from little girls to grandmothers and everything in between!

People are getting into it in their 50s and 60s now! It's ageless and timeless and it's awesome that everything is being opened up more.

photograph by Ed Thompson

photograph by Ed Thompson

ICH - What do you like about surfing on the East Coast?
K - Since I've been coming out to the East Coast (12 years), I've seen the level of surfing grow so much - the people in the water. But also it's opened up a lot more, where before you'd see people our age surfing and kids, but you wouldn't see older people. 

On the East Coast it's far more seasonal, but the cool thing is that people put their whole summer into surfing. Here people will rent a house out in the Rockaways or Montauk and surf all summer. East Coasters are more die-hard in a different way.

I've surfed here when it's cold - with snow on the ground!  We got it easy [in California] - the water doesn't get as warm as it gets here in the summer, but it definitely doesn't get as cold in the winter! And it's more accessible all the time.  

Here people are committed. If it's crappy and flat or it's big and perfect or whatever in between, people are going no matter what. It's the weekend, they have time and they are going. At home we don't have that as much. It's definitely a different culture that way. 

Montauk is a very special place. It always has been. It's the yang to the city's ying. It's the exact polarity. I think it's really important for people to have that.

Today I met a whole family, two little girls, a seven year old, nine year old and mum and dad and they are all surfing together. I still surf with my dad the whole time and that's something that really bonds us. It always has. 

To do something like surfing and share that with your whole family is really special. And it's a lifestyle you're bringing in and it's about waking up early, eating good food, doing good things for you. Surfing really bonds family units together. Before you didn't see that, but in the last 3-5 years I really feel like it's opened up to a lot more people. 

The opening up of different kinds of equipment is really helping. Before, all people saw was high performance short boarding. Now it's eggs, retro single fins, so it's so accessible. More and more people are shaping those - you don't have to be the best surfer to have fun with them.

Thanks to Kassia for her time and smile!

Words by Ed Thompson
All images - © Julien Roubinet (except mentioned otherwise)