Dale Velzy, one of California’s most influential shapers and most lively surfing figures, died of cancer Thursday morning, May 26th. He was 78. Known for his warm-heartedness and ribald sense of humor, Velzy became the largest surfboard retailer in California throughout the 1950s. A prolific shaper, his Pig and Bump designs were major advancements in performance surfboard evolution.
Dale Velzy’s grandfather was a master cabinet builder, and his father built dory boats in Southern California—using his grandfather’s tools, and with his Dad’s guidance, Dale began crafting his own boards in 1937. His partnership with Hap Jacobs in the 1950s made surfboards available to a many more surfers than any previous shaper, and he is often credited with being the main force behind the growth of the popularity of surfing in California.
He shaped under the Hermosa Beach pier in his early years, developing and continuing the archetype of the modern-day surfer. But Velzy put his own twist on everything he did. He worked as a ranch hand, loved horses and hotrods, and was known as the best surfboard salesman ever—based mainly on his love of interacting with people.
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His personal connections reach across the surfing world, and he mentored many great shapers and surfers along the way, including Donald Takayama and Miki Dora. A master craftsman with an intimate understanding of hull dynamics, Velzy also shaped much sought-after paddleboards. He is one of the sport’s great figures, whose contributions in both board design and surfing spirit will never be forgotten.