Gordie Duane


Photo courtesy of Duane Archives

Gordie Duane

Gordie Duane was born in 1930 in Los Angeles and grew up in the South Bay. An outstanding swimmer and water polo player, Duane was fortunate to grow up with an uncle who taught him woodworking skills. Joining the Navy in 1950, Gordie found himself stationed at Pearl Harbor and learned to surf in the warm Hawaiian waters. Hanging out at Waikiki, Duane met the Duke, Rabbit Kekai, and Abel Gomes among other Hawaiian beachboys. Having access to surplus balsa at the Navy base and with the help of Abel Gomes, Duane learned to shape his first surfboards.

Upon returning to California, Duane continued to shape boards in his parents garage in Lynwood until relocating to underneath the Huntington Beach pier where he was able to rent 4 rooms and open Gordie Surfboards in 1956. After shaping hundreds of balsa boards in that location, Duane became one of the first shapers to insert a wooden stringer in the newly introduced polyurethane blanks that started to enter the scene. In late 1958, a mysterious fire in Gordie's shop destroyed over 100 boards and forced Duane to move his shop location to a spot north of the Pier.

Gordie's superior woodworking skills led him to create boards that were known for their unique stringer designs. His abilities to shape boards that worked well in Hawaii led many to come to him for their Hawaiian boards. Many a Huntington Beach surfer bound for Hawaii had Gordie make a board or two for the Islands. Gordie's business success peaked in the late 1960's and had such names as Del Cannon, Steve Boehne, Randy Lewis, Bruce Jones, and Jim Fuller shaping for him. Duane easily transitioned into the shortboard era enjoying the challenge of shaping boards that worked at places like Pipeline. He had a loyal following of the best surfers in the HB area and shaped boards until 1988 when he lost the lease on his shop. Gordie Duane passed away on July 27, 2011.

 

 

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