As embarrassing as it is to admit, I don’t know much about surfboard design. In fact, you could probably summarize the entire breadth of my knowledge on the subject with two words: diddly squat. Despite 35 years of near-constant surfing, I haven’t the foggiest notion what effect fin rake, tail rocker, or domed rails has on a surfboard.
But my dilettante ways exist independently from appreciation, and currently there’s no better place to appreciate the evolution of surfboard design than the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. From now until January 11, 2015 you will find a comprehensive—and in certain parts of the museum, esoteric—collection of surf vehicles put together by none other than Richard Kenvin. Spread out and suspended amongst the austere Mingei setting are paipos and spoons, asymmetricals and boogie boards, fish and stingers, Simmons twin fins and TOMO MPHs.
With little question, Surf Craft deserves praise on multiple levels, and even if you were inclined to nitpick, all you could say is that it’s mildly San Diego-centric…which, in a way, is also its strength. Using his deep knowledge and connections, Kenvin has weaved players like Steve Lis, John Elwell, Carl Ekstrom, and Ryan Burch into the rich tapestry of surfboard design history like never before.
So before I spoil things even further, check out Surf Craft for yourself. Connoisseurs can revel in the comprehensive and esoteric nature of the show, and dilettantes can learn and pay homage to the visionaries and boards that brought them so much joy.