Wax On, Wax Off: Board Collector Kris Tom of TheVintageSurfboard.com By Bradley Beylik in Wax On, Wax OffFriday, Aug. 14 2009 @ 2:34PM
Along with boardshort and swimsuit dispensing vending machines and a generally blown-out corporate vibe, last night’s Retrospective at the Standard had its moments. For one, the event featured a rare selection of surfboards from the late 70s and early 80s. We had the chance to catch up with Kris Tom, a board collector who brought five of the ten boards on display, and ask him a few questions about his collection and his life as a surfer.
Growing up in Rancho Cucamonga (not an ideal place to start one’s surfing career), Kris had a sense early on that there was something pervasively cool about surfing. In the early 80s, he and his friends bought boards to impress girls, despite never having ridden a wave. For the first time, though, in 1982, they eventually made the trek to the coast, arriving at Newport Beach in the heart of the Echo Beach era. They were exposed to the fast-paced lifestyle and brightly colored smattering of hot locals surfing steep, glassy waves on the famous sandbars of upper west Newport. “We realized this wasn’t just something that was cool, it was really an awesome sport,” says Kris. He’s been surfing Newport ever since.
Kris has been collecting boards for over twelve years, mostly gems from the late 70s and early 80s. His favorite board in his collection, and possible the best-looking board at last night’s event, is a 1985 T&C, a 5’9″ early tri-fin model with an adjustable and removable middle fin. But it’s hard out there for a board collector. In fact, after twelve years of collecting, the Echo Beach Retrospective at the Standard is the first time he has opened his collection to the public. “There’s not much exposure,” says Kris. ” People just didn’t really have a way to showcase[their boards].” So, in march of this year, Kris launched a website called TheVintageSurfboard.com. It is a forum of sorts, where board collectors from all over the world can not only display photos of their collections, but also tell what Kris calls “the story behind the board.”