Steve Boehne Inducted Into International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame

Steve Boehne at work in the shaping bay, something he's been doing for decades. Photo: Jason Kenworthy
Steve Boehne at work in the shaping bay, something he’s been doing for five decades. Photo: Jason Kenworthy

Steve Boehne Inducted Into International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame

Steve Boehne and Pat Rawson, two early adopters of SUP shaping, were inducted into the International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame last month for their influence in the world of wave riding. Both shapers have been mowing foam since the ’60s.

Since Boehne started Infinity Surfboards in 1970, the company has churned out over 40,000 boards. Over his career in and out of the shaping bay, Boehne has been an innovator, winning tandem world championships with his wife Barrie, to building what many call the best wave skis in the business, to helping plane the way for the SUP industry as we know it today, to teaching both his sons, Dan and Dave the art of shaping. We thought we’d better ask him a few questions.—Will Taylor

How is it to receive this recognition alongside names like Greg Noll, Pat Rawson, Dale Velzy and all the others?
Pat and I were hanging out that day and we both felt very honored to be inducted. As far as being amongst Greg Noll and Velzy; I feel unworthy.

Would 13-year-old shaper Steve Boehne believe that he’s made an award-winning career out of making “adult toys” as you put it?
I remember going into Hermosa Beach and watching the shapers at Greg Noll’s and Jacob’s. I was garage shaping then and it was so much fun, but I really didn’t contemplate doing it forever.

You seem to accept change more than a lot of other shapers. Why is that?
You have to understand, I shaped around 5,000 shortboards in the ’70s and another 15,000 longboards in the ’80s, ’90s and 2000’s so that can become a little un-challenging. The SUP craze was just what I needed to get the stoke back. But my real love is doing the race boards. For the first four years I shaped them 100% by hand. That took about six hours each. Now I have them cut on the computer, but they are exact replicas of my hand shapes. I couldn’t possibly keep up with demand without the computer. And I like the exact consistency. That thing doesn’t get tired.

What drives you to stay in the shaping bay after all these years?
I like to work in the shop with customers but at the end of a day of talking I am kind of frazzled. At the end of a day of shaping, I look at the boards I have completed and I can see exactly what I accomplished that day. I am tired but my brain is tranquil. Trying to making a living probably motivates a bit also…

How has SUP changed your business?

That’s interesting because unlike many surf shops who denigrated SUP, we embraced it from the very beginning. It has only added to our customer base and in many ways we enjoy seeing the un-hardcore, average kind of guy come in and get stoked on paddling around the harbor on a standup.

How is it running a family business with your wife Barrie and sons Dan and Dave?

That is the very best, we are each the best at what we do. None of us could survive without the other.

How often do you get in the water these days and on what craft?
In the warm months, we paddle twice a week on our tandem or four-man (Quadnundrum) race boards. We often invite new paddlers to join us and help them learn an efficient racing paddle stroke. Then I usually surf two more days a week either on my SUP or a wave ski.

What’s next for Steve Boehne?

It will probably be more of the same. My mother worked for me in the shop doing the books until she was 83. I can see Ol’ Steve hanging out until at least then.

More Infinity here.