The South Bay Boardrider’s Club is dedicated to celebrating the rich history of the South Bay surfing culture, introducing families, youth, and our community to all aspects of ocean activities, and being guardians of our local shoreline. “Fun” is central to who we are.
Club History / Background
Surfing is, for the most part, correctly regarded as a sport for individuals, and non-joiners. Surf clubs have played a small, but sometimes influential role throughout the sport’s history. The network of Boardrider Clubs in Australia led to the first Australian state and nationwide surfing associations, and helped Australia develop into the surf world’s most successful competitive nation. Virtually every top Australian rider learned contest skills through his/her local boardriders club. California surf clubs of note today include Palos Verdes Surf Club, Windansea Surf Club, San Onofre Surf Club to name a few.
It is time for The South Bay surfing and paddling community to come together and create a club that is fun for all ages, family oriented, and makes a difference in our community and the ocean environment.
The idea for a South Bay surf club hit Mike Balzer in 2008. His son Shane was 9 and his daughter Malia was 6. They weren’t enthusiastic about dad teaching them to surf because they wanted to play with their friends and their friends didn’t surf.
“When I learned to surf in the ‘60s every street had its crew. I surfed between 22nd Street and 25th Street in Hermosa, down the street from my house. The older guys – Phil Becker, Mike Fair, Johnny Croteau, Clem Camau – looked out for us. We learned about the ocean through them,” Mike Balzer
But in the late 1960s, surf clubs, such as the 17th Street Seals, disappeared, and with them the informal mentoring program for young kids. The Bay Cities Surf Club, founded in 1963, held its last Hermosa Beach Aloha Days contest in 2004. Mira Costa grad Matt Warshaw, in his Encyclopedia of Surfing, attributes the decline of surf clubs to the influence of the counter culture and its disdain for bylaws and competition.
As an action sports photographer, Balzer was occasionally assigned to gather groups of local surfers for photos. The shoots would invariably turn into reunion celebrations. “We’d have so much fun together, everyone would say, ‘Let’s do this again.’ But typically, the only time we’d do it would be for a paddle out for someone who had died,” Balzer said. The paddle out for former Mira Costa High schoolmate Andy Lehman two summers ago reinforced Balzer’s interest in finding a way to get local surf families together on more regular and more positive occasions.
Later in 2008, Balzer mentioned the club idea to three other former Pier Avenue Junior High and Mira Costa High School schoolmates Dan Bradford, Tom Horton and Derek Levy during a lunch at El Gringo. All three embraced the idea, but had reservations because surfing is such an individualistic sport, and no one had experience starting a club or knew what it was going to take to make it happen.
Finally, on October 7, 2009, during another lunch meeting at El Gringo between Mike, Derek, and Tom, they walked out of the restaurant and decided to stop talking about the club and actually take some action. All three invited about 50 friends to attend a meeting on November 12, 2009 at Tom & Darci Horton’s home to share Mike’s idea of a surf club, and ask “Who’s in?”. The positive energy and vibe at that initial meeting was so strong there was no doubt the South Bay surfing community had been waiting for a club to bring families and friends together for fun and to give back to the community and protect our beaches and ocean environment. That was the birth of The South Bay Boardrider’s Club.
Founding Board Members:
Mike Balzer, Derek Levy, Tom Horton, Kim Komick, George Loren, Matt Walls, Tim Ritter, Kevin Campbell, Dickie O’Reilly, and Kelly Zaun.