Richie West: The Santa Barbara Era


If you were around the Ventura/Santa Barbara area from 1969 through 1973, and had even a passing interest in hull/stubby surfing, Richie West was a one of your heroes. 

Much like Skip Frye down in San Diego, Richie was (and still is) a blue collar icon. He built boards and surfed. On any given day he was either wearing a wetsuit or breathing through a respirator. If Rincon had a ripple over 3 feet, he was out at the Rivermouth. If you went by the Wilderness shop, Mike or Peter may or may not be there...but Richie was, covered in dust and anxious for you to leave so he could get back to work.

Before leashes, he surfed like he was wearing a leash. Wrap around cutbacks and deep tube rides that ended in a swim were commonplace. Any opportunity to stuff himself into the pocket was taken, without regard for the outcome. Again, like he was wearing a leash. But he wasn't. He was willing to pay the price in dings and swims to push his surfing forward.

Watch how many times he gets eaten during the Poison Oak Point sequence in Crystal Voyager. Then think about the gnarly rocks along the edge of the break there...


 His boards were beat-to-shit, but he didn't care...

The 5'10'' stubby in this picture was his daily rider, and he kept it going for years with repair after repair.

I was looking through a stack of old photos a couple of days ago, and came across this shot I took of Richie at the Rivermouth in 1972...

He's in perfect trim, with perfect body language, hovering over the perfect spot on his board, in the perfect part of the wave. On a stubby he built. It's a seemingly simple moment, but it speaks volumes to his holistic surfing talent.

The irony of this photo is that Skip Frye was out this day too. That's when I first realized how similar their souls were. Two of the hardest core surfer/builder/watermen ever of all time.

Richie West left Santa Barbara for Australia in 1973 and took his talents with him. Here's his current web page.



This is a 6' 0'' Richie-inspired hull I shaped back in the mid-90's. It had been over 20 years since I'd seem him surf, and I was still under his influence...


Addendum 2:

At the far right is the number of page views after this post was up for only three days...

No comments: