The world is full of surfers, each with their own personality, concentration, and angle through which they carve their turns. But among the millions of differences, geographies and predilections, most of us share a basic sameness: We start and end each surfing day in our garages. While surfing has never lacked for its share of one-room hovels with surfboards strewn about and hung from the rafters, at some point in our maturation we aspire to something more, an area that is completely dedicated to the pursuit and support of our passion. Part organizational experiment, part religious shrine, part history museum, the archetypal “surf garage” has a place in the culture of greater import than first realized. No doubt a list comprised of the greatest surf garages of all time would reveal some outrageously customized temples that any of us could spend days perusing. Walking into the proper garage should be a sensory-bending experience, an overwhelming straight shot to the consciousness of the unsuspecting visitor. If a surfer’s body resides in the home, certainly his soul exists in the garage, primed at all times by the heady collection of momentous and photos dedicated to the remembrance of a surfing life well lived.
With that in mind, what would the surfer’s “ultimate garage” resemble? Each of us in our own way attains some measure of this greatness with every well-placed surf rack and wetsuit hang-spot, but much like the hunt for the perfect surfboard, the embodiment of the perfect garage is something of a lifetime query. But if we could, if we would, what might it contain? Presupposing something more realistic than the result of a disposable income, I think most of could agree on something resembling the following:
First and foremost, a surfer needs space. All of us have endured the debilitating restrictions of the architect’s one-car limitation. But for a proper launch pad, let’s figure on a four- or five-car garage. Bigger is better. A detached barn at a suitable distance from the main abode? Now we’re talking.
Once on the inside, how to fill up all that space? Surfboard storage is key. We need enough racks to house a properly-sized quiver, with selection running the gamut from short to long. In addition, let’s not forget the kink: We need room for the eclectic, the well rounded: the Greenough-inspired Neumatic surf mat, the elegant sleekness of a Joe Bark paddleboard, the historical portability of the custom two-man outrigger. Plenty of hang-up space for all the backup gear – the swim fins, leashes, paddles, boxes of wax and fishing gear. The rack needs to be accessible, protective, and above all else, usable. Most of my dings have been acquired just getting the things in and out of the garage, but in a properly designed ultimo, that design flaw could be once and for all purposefully eliminated. That a suitably-sized wetsuit or towel-storage area is nearby is a given. The ultimate garage houses the ultimate selection, and diversity is the backbone at this level of the game.
The list of backup and ancillary tools could be as thorough as your American Express allows. But supposing some measures of restraint, you’d have to envision a new four-stroke PWC with affixed rescue sled. Two or three new Parmenter tow-boards on padded racks beside the ski, a few various sized tow ropes slung over the handlebars. Alongside the big-wave testosterone tool, de rigueur might be a small, 15-foot surf skiff, something to access the remaining wilderness portions of our coastline while hunting for some quality and isolation with your closest friends. Over in the corner, a custom galvanized box trailer with a selection of ocean kayaks at the ready for those flat-day expeditions.
But the surfer’s supreme garage is something more than a matter of physical storage; it has the responsibility to outrageously reflect the inner flame that drives all of us. When not restricted by the workbench, custom cabinets or needed racks, the flat space would be covered if not obliterated by hundreds of archival photos, topo maps, keepsake posters and treasure-like minutiae collected along the trail over the years.