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Con Surfboards (1959)
Compared to many of his counterparts who built surfboards in the '60s, Constantine "Con" Colburn could almost be considered a senior citizen when he started surfing in 1956 at the age of 22. A very savvy young businessman, Con quickly recognized the growth potential of the surf industry and opened his first shop in Santa Monica, California in 1958. Called the Surf House, it was originally a ding repair shop. By 1959, Con had changed the name of his business to Con Surfboards and operated three retail locations.
Con Colburn may not have been known for his surfing prowess, but he made significant contributions to the sport as a products innovator. Along with his Con Surfboards business, he also started ConTrol Products, a company dedicated to developing new surfing products. Between 1966 and 1971, ConTrol introduced such products as a floating removable fin system, a surfboard traction spray and the first commercially produced surf leash (called the Power Cord). Many of you may remember Slipcheck, the original traction aerosol developed by Tom Morey in 1965. Also, it was Pat O'Neill, Jack's son, who is credited with inventing the modern surf leash--even though Tom Blake experimented with a cord made of cotton rope back in the mid-1930s. But it was Con Colburn who actually began marketing a version of it commercially in late 1971. Con also is credited with inventing and introducing the leash plug during the same year; after other methods of attaching early leashes failed, Con's plug remains essentially unchanged from his original design.
Con Surfboards is probably best remembered for two models that had become extremely popular by 1967--the aptly-named "Ugly" and the "C.C. Rider." The blunt-nosed "Ugly" was introduced in response to the noseriding craze that was happening at the time, and since East Coast champion Claude Codgen designed the C.C. Rider, this popular signature model helped capture the growing East Coast market.
By the late 1970s, Con Surfboards had all but faded into surfing history. In 1988, Con retired to Bishop, California, a small resort community in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, where he died just four years later at the age of 57. Then, in 1996, seasoned surfboard shaper Bruce Grant bought the Con Surfboards name. He has since worked to revive the once-popular name and is producing "The Ugly," the "Super Ugly" and the "C.C. Rider," along with a line of modern longboards, fun shapes and shortboard designs. In 2004, the factory and showroom was moved to its present location near Manhattan Beach, California. Check out the Con website at www.consurfboards.com.