Aloha! welcome to the 18th episode of The Temple of Surf, The Podcast.
Guest of the 18th episode is surfboards collector Mark Buggs, from California.
Let's discover more about him, his amazing surfboards collection, future projects and much more!
The episode is available in all major podcast platforms, but if you want to read the transcribe of the full episode , you can do it here. Forgive us about potential spelling mistakes as this was computer-generated.
TTOS: Hi, Mark. And welcome to the show. What are you today?
I'm back in California from my four months quarantine in Mexico.
TTOS: How did it go over there? I heard from the news that, California is even worse than Mexico, right?
I would say California is a cesspool of the COVID-19, but I think a lot of that could be exaggerated because they've increased the testing, which that means an increase in positive cases, whereas before they didn't, they weren't testing so much as they are currently do.
Where I was in Mexico, Southern Mexico was probably the ideal spot to quarantine because it was a particular region, is the land of right-hand points with the basically no one there and a solitude. It was pretty amazing.
TTOS: And you spent there quite a long time! I heard also that there has been an earthquake in Mexico when you were there…
Yeah, the, I was actually standing on the top of a sand dune, looking over the beautiful right-hand point when it hit.
it was very eerie, I was just watching the whole point shift back and forth, and then rock started coming off the point…. it was getting a little scary there for a moment, but overall, not too bad, just some broken stuff off the shelves.
I was down there with Tom Curren for four months.
We'll be seeing some probably some pretty good, amazing footage at a rip curl in the coming months of that.
TTOS: Yes I saw, I follow your, your stories in Instagram…..at least you had a good trip companion
Had some special times. It was pretty amazing,
TTOS: let's fast forward everybody to 2021 because between the earthquakes, covid, unrest, wildfires in Australia…it's a very tough year.
Anyway, today we're going to talk about your surfboard collection and, definitely, you have one of the biggest, most qualitative surfboard collections that I know….
the first question that I have for you is what, in your opinion, the most important thing in surfing?
Probably the vehicles that we ride, right? The boards that we ride, like for NASCAR drivers, right?
The most important thing for NASCAR drivers, typically, is the car he's driving it, right?
TTOS: Depends on how you see it…… in fact this is what I want to know with my question….some can say the surfboard, other people they might say having fun or other people, they might say other things…
I think there are multiple answers on that….
There are mainstream surfers, weekend warriors, core surfers, competitive surfers, but I think in general you gotta have most people get the bug, the bite of that in order to be inspired.
The surf, you know, becomes very painful and you do get the bite, or it becomes very therapeutic with the ocean and the surroundings.
And then of course it is important the people that you're with when surfing….so it becomes a very natural high and very therapeutic for you, but is equally important If you're a core surfer, is the equipment that you're riding.
TTOS: Then in that case, yes, it's like a Nascar race driver, right….you need to have like a great surfboard…
I have been very blessed to be exposed to the surf culture, to a certain degree and being able to have traveled the world and to various beautiful places on the corners of the globe.
Here in Hawaii and everywhere, the surf culture is very rich and deep has deep roots, but unfortunately, now with modern times and everything online and everything being mass produced, it's slowly, unfortunately losing the core of the culture, where it came from, at least to a certain degree…
TTOS: I see what you mean, you know, like now people, maybe, they surf more in the Instagram that they do surf in reality.
Especially in board building….back in the days, surfing, was more about style and lifestyle,
Board building was more of an art than compared to today, where it's just mainly mass producing and computerized pumping out boards.
It was an art form with all the resin, 10 lines, artworks, foiling of fins and layups of fins and, the personalized aspect of discussing it with your shaper or your shop or wherever you got your boards built.
That is gone now and that was a big part of our surf culture back then, it was just building and then surf design progression during the sixties through the eighties ….
TTOS: It's very relevant because I was talking with Stu Kenson that actually is in the 11th episode of the podcast and basically he told me “like us shapers from, let's say, the old-school that we are shaping since the 40/50 years, if we know the surfer that we are shaping for, we can really make a board that makes the difference…not everybody can do that. We know it because we shaped thousands of thousands of boards for thousands of surfer. And for us, it's super important to know the surfer, his ability, preferences, etc…”
Well, the feedback they give is important; in today's world only a very small percentage of surfers have that relationship right? Their services are usually reserved to pro athletes.
A very select few could actually work with their shaper and fine tune their equipment.
Back in the days, in the seventies, you would be able to have that relationship typically with your shaper because you would go down to his shop, pull a blank out, he would hand shape it right in front of you , you would have a couple of beers, smoke a doobie and talk stories and build out a board and typically build it around a fin that you would usually pull off the rack of fins.
Then you would ride the board, come back, fine tune it three months later….
In modern times, these kids are people just click online and buy a board off the rack and then it's shipped to their house, you know?
TTOS: Exactly. And I remember that, I don't remember which shaper I talked to, said the, we were shaping the surfboard, but for the glassing, you had to go to another guy and pay the other guy
You were paying the shaper and then you were paying the glasser to add the glassing on top of your surfboard.
Yes, but is still very common today….
You know, shapers are all very kind of particular who they want glassing their boards, even in today in modern times.
Not so much, obviously in these big companies like CI or FireWire where they have a big mass production line. Smaller shapers who have their own shops, are very particular in who they want glass and their boards, because that affects the performance of their boards, as well as the type of glasswork that's, you know, sanding and everything else that comes off of the production line, you know…
TTOS: But anyway, everybody does his own business, even if the computer shaped surfboard is another kind of a public, isn't either kind of a consumer than a classical hand shaping
Let's talk about your first surfboard. Do you remember your first surfboard and do you still have it?
Unfortunately, I still don't have it, but it was a “Small Faces”.
I was born and raised here in California, Southern California, my dad surfed and he introduced me into surfing when I was probably ,pretty young around nine or ten.
I think he bought my first surfboard through the “penny saver” (people that lived in Southern Cal. remember the penny saver) and I remember vividly that we drove up to this guy's house somewhere up in West LA and we bought this board, it was like a 1969 Small Faces, ash deck, dive in tail with like a green fin.
He drove me out the same day to Malibu and I remember vividly pulling up and it's like pumping, solid five feet breaking through the pier.
He threw me out in the water there and I just remember getting pounded on the short pound and that it's pretty classic, but I just remember vividly watching these waves, peeling, and guys streaking through the pier.
And I got a couple of waves, but unfortunately, that was many moons back.
Who knows where that board is at this point? Small Faces was a company based out of Newport, it was like a needle, it was like probably six/something and probably under nineteen…pretty classic.
TTOS: If somebody has still that board please, to contact you, because I'm sure it's going to be taking a, big place in your collection.
I don't remember exactly its color, but It's probably firewood by now, it was 1978…..
TTOS: Let's talk about your collection, how many surfboards you currently have today and please tell us a little bit more about it, a very qualitative collection, as far as I know, but I want to hear more from you……
I got inspired to collect over 20 years ago.
What inspires you to collect is generally when you're a grom, growing up.
I grew up in the late seventies and early eighties and obviously the core of my collection is from that era, but also I have a few sixties boards, you know, some wood boards from the fifties, forties….
What inspired me was to collect was the progression of surfing, the shortboard evolution period, you know, from 1969 through 1985
I have transitional boards from 1969 when things were going from longboards to short V bottoms into the single fin, the bonzers…
Collecting shapers, for example, I would focus on those shapers that kind of went through that shortboard evolution period of late sixties to eighties, like Dick Brewer, Ben Aipa and a bit a handful of others.
Collecting boards from each era during that evolution from 1969 like the transitional Aipa to “Dan Railer” to single fins to diamond rails, late seventies in to the twin fins….
I have boards that kind of re-flex the evolution of shaping through that period of over 20 years which kind of fascinates me.
You can see the progression of that shapers experience through that critical period of time for surfing and shaping and short boards,
Approximately I have now close to 400 boards.
I like to preserve of what is today, I'm not really buying and selling and flipping, I swap things out, upgrade, cause I’m typically particular on the quality of the boards I collect originals, not re-dos even if I do have a few re-dos that have a provenance on them as I love boards with provenance that have a history, a story behind it.
It's all about the story behind the board, let’s imagine what a lot of these boards went through and all the stories and all the places and all the hands that they've been through and the waves they have ridden.
TTOS: I guess when you are at the beginning of a collection, you buy a little bit of everything, right? Just for maybe a name or something that you particularly like…. and then, when you start to have like an important collection, like yours, I think definitely you need to go for provenance, as you said, top quality, right?
Yeah, sure! When I first got into the board collecting space, I was kind of all over the place….that's normal with any collector typically, but then as you gain knowledge, you typically try to fine tune that collection.
I enjoy collecting boards that have obviously provenance, art boards, airbrush boards, pro boards, boards to ride as I like riding a lot of the stuff I collect,
There are certain categories in board collecting, typically it's either art and pro boards…
I like Hawaiian stuff, the eighties boards with those bright colors, twin fins…. A little bit of everything…
TTOS: And then you decided to create a website, right?
I'll probably revisit that as I haven't been keeping it active, I may, at some point here, when I slow down, going to start dabbling and keeping that more active as an updated blog.
The main purpose was and is to be interactive, build a community and to showcase my collection while inspiring others because there are a lot of collectors out there who have, you know, very beautiful collections of surfboards but they keep them tight to the vast, they don't want to showcase them. they're very protective of what they collect.
Whereas myself, I like to inspire others, showcase and talk stories and again, the main thing, is to inspire them.
That's where, I started surfboardline.com, the idea behind was to showcase my collection online and it's still up there, but only a third of my collection is on there currently.
TTOS: I think it's a transition between the website and your Instagram page, like this people can have maybe an overview of what is your collection of 400 boards
Instagram @buggscollection is active and pretty current.
I kind of transitioned over to my Instagram, but stay tuned, hopefully I'll revisit Surboardline.com and get that updated.
That looks kind of a cool website and people should check it out, even though it hasn't been updated in a little while, but it's still pretty cool.
TTOS: And you know, like, as you said, you can be a collector that keep things for yourself, that is a choice, but then you can be a collector that shares with the world and basically allow the world to use his collection as a reference.
it's important to preserve what was to what became and what it is today,to showcase and inspire and to have it as a reference, for people to use it.
I just want to point out in the wrong way, what I mean by that is, you know, I've seen a lot of cases over the last few years where people go on there and they take the airbrushes, color schemes off a lot of my boards and reproduce them today, which is, I think a little, not so good, but “Hey, I guess that's part of the inspiration”.
TTOS: Yes, exactly. it's like in modern painting a lot artists they recreate Picasso's……
I was talking with Bird Huffman from San Diego, the legendary shop owner and he said that during this coronavirus confinement, he had the opportunity to classify all his surfboards that are in the shop, I think over 400 as well, and what he wants to do is a website with all appropriate classification.
When I spoke with him, I said that is amazing because if we help people connecting the dots and go to the history of the world, because surfboards, in a certain way, are representing the history of a sport, but also all the all the stories and the things that have been gone through.
Certain surfboards, their provenance and the people that surfed them.
I think as a collectors, we have a responsibility is the one to share.
If we can inspire other collectors to share their collection as well, then I think it will be amazing, it will be just so interesting.
TTOS: if you had to choose one board from your collection, the most representative, which one would you choose? I know it's very difficult, but…..
I would probably, again, because there are different categories, right?
I think meaningful importance as far as the evolution of the GoPro, is probably the Steve Wilkins Jerry Lopez pipeline board, that's all original with the original housing camera housing that was in 1976, which was on the cover of surfer magazine with a 10 pages editorial and posters.
The first view of behind the surfer and the tube looking out that board that Jerry shaped, which is like an eight/six, magenta overlay, yellow deck, red bowl, white bowl at the bottom, the classic pipeline, diamond tail, glass on fin on
Probably top five, for sure, because that was just the beginning of that era of being able to attach a camera to your board pulling in a consequential barrel like pipeline, great story.
TTOS: If you had to give an advice to a young collector, which kind of advice you would give?
Just collect what inspires you and don't collect re-dos, collect only originals, just like with any space of collecting antiques or whatever you want to……. collect the original, original patina, original pieces of vintage boards or vintage antiques whatever you're buying.
TTOS: Yeah, I was thinking about the restoration of surfboard, it's a true art because certain boards, you bring in a store and they come up like new, but they lost completely the patina, they lost completely their history and they just be like a new surfboards that have nothing to do with the original.
Yeah, that is very common for a lot of young collectors and people in general that to do that.
This because they see these boards in the garage that maybe have been sitting there for 25/30 years and, it's kinda ugly, but a lot of collectors or core collectors like that, especially in Australia, which is interesting, a lot of boards that get sunburned and the suntanned Ozzy's like that more so than the Western collectors out here in the States, because they feel that it just adds patina to the age on a summer board versus keeping it bright white foam and colors..
But the more burned out it is in Australia, the more they like it typically, it's just important to try to keep it as original as possible.
I mean, again, there are certain circumstances where the glass is peeling off and it's a total destruction. That's one thing……and then it had provenance and it was maybe someone's personal board with every kid, but it's just torched, you know, that's one thing,….
It is an investment you want to keep it as original as possible because it just it'll keep its value more so than if you were to tear the glass off and redo it……It looks like a brand-new board
Unless you're going to ride them, I do have some resto boards that I ride that I figured, well, eventually I'll just keep it in the sun and burn them up and they'll look, you know, old again.
TTOS: Yeah. I agree with you, it's like to buy a classic car and to put a new engine…. if you buy a classic car, then you have to deal with the smell of oil coming from the carburetor, coming from the engine, and that's the beauty of it, right?
Let's talk about you as a surfer. What is your favorite board to use today?
Depends on conditions, right?
I like riding everything, from a 1980s twin fin locomotion blonde board that I ride under two feet, to an eighties MR twin fin to a single fin, to mid-lengthn to modern surfboards.
It just really depends surf conditions, but generally when it's kind of soft I use a little bit of everything, but when there's some power, when it starts of being some tubes then I ride some modern boards like Channel Islands and Chris Borst who's Taylor Knox personal shaper and he was actually working for CI for a number of years.
On the vintage side, I surf just so many boards and it's such a crowded section of the boards, finless, twins, V bottoms, you know, it just depends…
In Mexico with the point breaks, he can just whip out so many different types of toys. It just makes it fun.
TTOS: When you were in Mexico, you ended up buying some more boards?
Well, it's funny, you mentioned that.
When you're in quarantine, right, everyone's sitting online trolling and surfing on the internet. …. I think I acquired a 80s Town and Country, A lightning bolt again from the eighties, a full airbrush art board out of Laguna Canyon here in California from the seventies.
Also, I don't know if you saw on-line, Ben Aipa is not feeling very well lately, so the family did a charity auction to raise money for his medical bills that are mounting there in Hawaii.
I participated in that, you know, for a good cause for Ben, for the family and I I've been in the market for some Aipa longboards and stand up paddle boards that he's been doing, the big Aipa, big boy stings.
I acquired some of his personal longboards and paddleboards through that auction, which I just received the last couple of days since I got home and actually took out a couple of boards yesterday, just to keep the stoke on for Ben, putting those boards back in the water and, you know, stuff like that inspires me, you know?
TTOS: We're gonna finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind.
The best surfboard that you ever ridden…
If are you asking from the vintage standpoint I would say probably an Aipa eighties twin under the TNC logo,
TTOS: Your favorite shaper
From a vintage standpoint I would still say Aipa.
TTOS: Let's go from vintage to modern days….in your opinion, the most promising shaper today.
There are so many great shapers out of Australia, but I would say domestically here, what comes to mind would be Matt Biolos and Pyzel.
With Pyzel I like obviously the relationship that John John has and the performance level.
Again, it comes back to that athlete or surfer and his shaper a relationship, really fine tuning his equipment and tuning it down to where he's put together an amazing board models that work again, of all kinds of conditions out of Hawaii.
Matt is very talented out of San Clemente and he did some of the best boards that I've ridden. He is good too in snowboards!
These two, just come to mind like today, that are hot, that I'm sure there's a number of other ones, but who have been entrenched in, you know, over the last 15 years
TTOS: you know, a lot of people when I asked the most promising shaper today, they said Ryan Burch, do you agree?
There are again so much different categories …. I'm talking on the performance side, high performance side, Biolos, Pyzel, but , when you were talking the retro side, the hipster side, I call it, that kind of generation that's happening, then sure there is Ryan Burch most definitely and a bunch of other guys very talented that are pumping out these retro boards even like the likes of Tyler Warren, you know, but on that level sure.
TTOS: your favorite surf spot…..
Currently at my age, you know, I was entrenched down in the Southern Mexico region, which has point breaks point breaks and more point breaks. I'm not going to name spots particularly, but that region is keeps me going and inspired to surf.
TTOS: Let's go back to vintage….. your favorite surfer.
Again, there's probably so many…..obviously Jerry Lopez during that whole style, getting barreled.
Larry Bertlemann, obviously, as you know, we're talking vintage of the period of shortboard evolution. We're gonna start off with Jerry pulling in and getting barrel with style and then followed up with performance with Larry Bertlemann, Buttons….
TTOS: The last question is a little bit unusual, we ask to everybody and has nothing to do with surf, we want to know….your best relationship advice,
Stay stoked and inspired
Stay stoked and inspired to get in the water, you know?
At the same time to try to preserve again what was to what is today, and then on the other side, on the environmental side trying to protect the places where we surf to keep it preserved and, you know, half the battle, especially during these times that we're going through, you know, is just staying positive and stuff. get in the water and being happy,
Recorded in June 2020