- The Washington Times - Monday, May 30, 2005

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (AP) — Master surfboard designer Dale Velzy, who helped popularize surfing along the California coast and at one time made more of the world’s surfboards than anyone else , has died. He was 77.

Mr. Velzy died Thursday of lung cancer at the Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, hospital administrative supervisor Brian Noakes said yesterday.

“Velzy’s lasting legacy is the billion-dollar surf industry,” said Sam George, global editor for Surfer Magazine. “He created the archetype and everyone has followed it: Get the hottest guys to ride your equipment, get a photo of it and market it.”

Mr. Velzy, a surfer since childhood, began repairing and reshaping surfboards in the family garage in 1949 and later opened a shop under the Manhattan Beach Pier in Los Angeles County.

He expanded the business to Venice and, later, Hermosa beaches, joining Hap Jacobs in 1953 to produce boards under the Velzy-Jacobs label until buying out his partner six years later.

Mr. Velzy’s most famous board was the “Pig,” which debuted in 1955 and is now a collectors’ item valued at more than $3,000.

He also helped launch the surfing-movie genre by providing money for the 1958 documentary film “Slippery When Wet.” The film’s maker, Bruce Brown, had a national success in the 1960s with the acclaimed documentary “The Endless Summer.”

By the late 1950s, Mr. Velzy was considered the world’s largest surfboard manufacturer, operating five shops and two factories that sold as many as 200 custom-built boards per week. He made boards for legendary surfers such as Duke Kahanamoku, George Downing, Mickey Dora and Harry Robello.

In 1959, the Internal Revenue Service shut down his shops after it found faulty record-keeping. He reopened the business a decade later.

Mr. Velzy is survived by his longtime girlfriend, Fran Hoff, and his son and daughter.

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