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Velzy prototype ‘Star Wars’ model shortboard. Shaped by the late Dale Velzy (1927 – 2005) in the late 1990’s. 1 of only 4 made, two blank and two done in red. All original condition.
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History of Dale Velzy
Dale ‘Hawk’ Velzy
Dale Velzy is known as the world’s first commercial surfboard shaper. He was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1927. Of Dutch heritage, his family was long affiliated with the art of wood craftsmanship. His father along with being a woodworker was also a lifeguard. The young Velzy would surf all day at surf breaks surrounding Hermosa Beach while his father would shape surfboards. Velzy turned out to be a rebellious young boy, quitting school at seventh grade to run away upon discovering his father’s plan to send him off to military school. He eventually was administered in the Merchant Marine Corps at sixteen years old. During his time in the Merchant Marines, Velzy toured the Hawaiian Islands and was exposed to the surf culture of the islands.
After serving in World War II, Velzy began shaping surfboards in Manhattan Beach, California. Surfboards of the 1940‘s were considerably hard to ride and transport due to their size and weight. Velzy saw an opportunity to innovate. After much trial and error, Velzy started shaping surfboards using balsa wood and fiberglass, resulting in lighter and easier to ride boards. Soon, he earned a reputation locally for manufacturing and repairing surfboards. As a young boy, Velzy earned the nickname ‘Hawk’ for his skill at spotting coins on the beach, a nickname many would confuse for Velzy’s keen eye for detail in his shapes. He quickly outgrew his first shop in Manhattan Beach opened in 1950, a shop which would later be credited as the very first commercial surfboard shop. He then expanded operations to an old shoe repair shop where he started putting a logo on his boards which read “Designed by Velzy”.
Velzy then formed a partnership with Hap Jacobs in 1953 to open a bigger shop in Venice, California. Around the same time, Velzy came up with ‘The Pig’ model, named for it’s wide section near the tail. This new shape proved to be a game changer by allowing “hot-dogging” tricks such as nose riding and head dips. As Velzy’s empire grew, he decided to buy out Jacobs in the late 1950‘s. Timing was not on his side as the IRS came knocking soon thereafter, shutting down all of Velzy’s operations due to unpaid back taxes. Velzy was blindsided. He had placed trust in his accountants and businees advisors and they let him down completely. After his financial hardship, Velzy began shaping for other labels such as Hobie surfboards. In 1962 he opened a shop in Newport beach which he shut down 4 years later upon moving to Arizona. Velzy moved back to California in the late 1960‘s, buying a ranch in San Clemente and shaping boards on a contract basis.
Velzy is credited to have conceptualized many of the promotional techniques that are now considered standard in the surfing world. He was the first surfboard manufacturer to assemble a surfing team, a practice that would become very popular among board makers in the future. Dale ‘Hawk’ Velzy made many contributions to the surfing world and as a result was one of the first group of surfing pioneers to be inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfers Walk of Fame in 2003, two years before passing away due to lung cancer.