They say a house is only as strong as its foundation.
If that is, indeed, the case, then the Surfing Heritage Foundation, located in San Clemente, California, will stand forever. And that is exactly what its founder, Dick Metz, had in mind.
“Back during the depression, my dad had a little restaurant right in the sand in Laguna Beach,” Metz recounts. “He offered a couple of the lifeguards to keep an eye on me, because I was only like 5 or 6, and he’d give them a beer and a hamburger. So they took me surfing and diving, and I’ve been in the industry ever since.”
Metz soon met who would become his lifelong business partner, Hobie Alter, and would run more than twenty surfboard stores across the nation. And over the next fifty years, Metz would never meet a surfboard he could say ‘no’ to.’
“I learned to surf on redwood surfboards,” says Metz, “and over the years, as the surfboard was constantly changing, people would come by with their old boards and say, ‘I’m gonna get rid of this thing.” And I’d say, ‘Let me save you a trip. I’ll give you a t-shirt for it. And over the years, I’ve accumulated the biggest collection of wooden surfboards in the world.”
When Dick finally reached retirement age, he searched for a place to donate his boards, which were mostly being used as décor in Hobie shops around the country, but he couldn’t find one suitable.
“There were museums,” he says, “but they were all small and staffed with hard-working volunteers. They really didn’t have any long-term staying power. They didn’t own the building. They didn’t have any endowments or money.”
So Metz took his lifelong experience in the industry to his peers, names like Quiksilver, Billabong, OP, Bing, Hansen, Noll, Yater…you get the idea.
“I asked all of these guys, ‘What should I do with all of these damn surfboards?’ and almost to man, they all encouraged me to do a museum, an archive, to stage these things.”
The result: The Surfing Heritage Foundation, 10,000 square feet of surfboards and so much more. The SHF now houses the largest archive of surfing history and memorabilia in the world.
“I call us the Fort Knox of Surfing,” says Metz.
Yeah, solid gold at that. And with such a solid core, a solid foundation, as well.
For more information: Visit the Surfing Heritage Foundation
Sources: Dick Metz, Founder, Surfing Heritage Foundation