This board was made as an homage and gift for all-time-great surf photographer LeRoy Grannis and is a re-interpretation of the “Swastika” boards produced by Pacific Systems Homes that were considered state of the art when Grannis started surfing in 1931 as a 14-year-old. Six or seven years later, when Velzy himself started surfing at Hermosa Beach, Grannis was one of the best local surfers in the area.
No great surfboard collection is complete without one of Velzy’s wooden boards. The legendary shaper, who died in 2005, is a giant figure in the sport and lifestyle. His revolutionary “Pig” design from the mid-’50s, produced at “Surfboards by Velzy and Jacobs,” is a milestone that ushered in the era of true high-performance surfing because of its ability to turn on a dime. By 1959 he was “world’s largest manufacturer,” operating five shops in Southern California. The craftsmen he employed and mentored became some of the biggest and most respected names in the business.
Velzy loved Hawaii and its people, having first visited The Islands as a Merchant Marine seaman during WW II. In the post-war years he made custom boards for several of the top surfers in Hawaii, including Conrad Canha, often credited as the world’s first real hot-dogger. During the mid-’50s Velzy made a fleet of rental boards for the newly-opened Hawaiian Village Hotel. Velzy employed many Hawaiians at his California workshops and in 1960 he opened the first large-scale commercial board-building facility in Honolulu. A world-renowned surf spot, Velzyland, is named for him on Oahu’s North Shore.
Velzy’s pioneering empire crashed just before surfing’s first major boom in the early 1960s and he was marginalized in the shortboard surf scene of the 1970s and early ’80s. But Velzy enjoyed a spectacular second act beginning in the mid-’80s with a steady stream of commissions for replicas and reproductions like this fine example. The board is balsa wood with seven redwood stringers, a redwood tailblock and a mahogany fin.