Dewey Weber Surfboards
Dec 20, 2018 08:53PM
By Mike Chamberlin
by Mike Chamberlin
You gather any surfers together and eventually the conversation will get around to…who are the top five surfers of all time? Granted, your age will determine the answer, but having grown up surfing in the ‘60s & ‘70s, here are my top five in no particular order: Phil Edwards, Greg Noll, Kelly Slater, Tom Curren and Dewey Weber.
Dewey who? Dewey Weber is considered one of the most stylistic surfers of all time. In one word, he was the original “hot dogger!” He dominated the surf scene in the South Bay for three decades in the ‘50s, ‘60s & ‘70s. 22nd Street in Hermosa Beach was his kingdom, which he ruled proudly. He mastered the longboard, ushered in the shortboard generation and then reintroduced the longboard to its current status today.
Dewey seemed to do everything with flare and style. When he was 14, Groucho Marx featured him on the national television show You Bet Your Life, as a three-time national yo-yo champion. He was a scrappy three-time CIF wrestling champion. He actually qualified for the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, but injury kept him out of competition. And, he won a Hollywood audition to play Buster Brown for the Buster Brown Shoe Company. But, first and foremost, surfing was his forte.
In the height of the surf boom of the 1960s, Dewey opened his first surfboard showroom in Venice, CA. His success then led to a shop in Hermosa Beach and his namesake eventually made its way to San Clemente.
The proud Weber surf name continues to flourish in what’s known as “surfboard alley” in the old industrial center of San Clemente. Dewey’s son, Shea, carries on the family tradition and is happy to tell you Dewey Weber Surfboards has survived 21 years in San Clemente. Shea says, “It’s funny, we are in a very historic part of San Clemente but we still have lifelong SC residents who pop in and say they had no idea we were here.”
Dewey’s surf teams were legendary who’s who of surfers from the South Bay. When they walked the beach in their red competition trunks and jackets with a white stripe running down the side, the sand parted and locals just stared in awe. Even today, the Weber Surf Team still competes with riders from San Clemente and the surrounding area.
Shea’s surf shop is also a historical museum of sorts. Murals and classic photos of Dewey line the walls. Classic surfboards with the well-recognized Dewey Weber logo are stacked wall to wall, all memories of a man who carved out his corner of the surf industry.
“My dad’s legacy is three-fold,” says Shea. “First, he was the father of hot dogging and changed the way people thought about surfing. Second, he helped create the surf industry and revolutionized manufacturing, marketing, promotion, and sales. The other piece of his legacy that is often overlooked is his role in the revival of longboarding in the early ‘80s. You can almost pinpoint the resurgence of longboarding to the 1981 Dewey Weber Longboard Classic at the Manhattan Beach Pier (that ran for seven or eight years). The return of the longboard has changed surfing dramatically by expanding the participation demographic exponentially. It also pushed board builders to re-explore many of the designs that we raced through in the transition era of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, which lead us to one of the largest categories of boards today…the alternative shortboard.”
To many, Dewey represented a man who was at the right place at the right time in the evolution of surfing. He was a small man in stature (only 5’6”), but a giant in the surf industry. But Shea was just a boy when all of this was happening. “What I remember most about my dad was going to the beach, not surfing, but just being at the beach with him.” He added, “My dad was like a kid trapped in a grown up body…he was just one of us!”
Dewey Weber passed away in 1993. On a personal note, as a young boy living in Hermosa Beach, I used to watch with wonder this acrobatic man dance on the waves. I used to think he was performing ballet on water. In later years I got to know him personally and came to realize he never really knew the footprint he left on the surf industry. He was a humble man, and I now see that in his son Shea.
Take the time to visit Dewey Weber Surfboards at 1321-P Calle Valle, San Clemente, CA 92672. I guarantee you that Shea will greet you with a smile as wide as T-Street. And he will be happy to share the long history of Dewey Weber. In 2010, Dewey Weber Surfboards celebrated their 50th anniversary. Not too many businesses can boast of nearly six decades of success. But when you combine history with quality, craftsmanship and mix in family, you have the basis for surf success. And it doesn’t hurt that it started with surf royalty…Dewey Weber.
To watch a video and learn more
about Shea and Dewey Weber go to: www.deweyweber.com