Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cher Pendarvis: Part Three

1969-70, shaped by Tom Threinen, with glassing help by Cher. The 5'8" Arch Tail Twinny preceded Cher's first fish.
Photo by Tom Threinen

What an amazing time that must have been for you, experimenting like that and surfing with all of those greats. Can you tell us a little about working for Surfing Magazine? What did you do there?

When I worked at Surfing, it was a bi-monthly and I was the only woman on staff for quite awhile until they hired a receptionist. The staff at the time was about 5 people then it grew. I was an Art Associate and became an Advertising Designer; this was in the late mid-late 1970s.

How many surfboards do you suppose you've had, Cher? What is your current favorite?

I worked on surfboards in Ocean Beach in the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. In 1974, our friend Mike Casey was head shaper at Channin, and he introduced me to Tony Channin and Mike Diffenderfer. Channin has always been known for their quality and precision. Tony sponsored my surfboards for more than 15 years, and he commissioned me to design logos for his brands and also had me work part time at the factory if I needed more freelance work.

7'1" swallow tail shaped by Mike Casey; Channin built it for Cher's first surfing trip to Oahu to visit Rell in 1976. Shaun Tomson gave Cher hints on the design for tube riding - and she still has this board.
Photo by Tom Threinen

This was a creative time, and Mike and I worked on designing boards. It was an honor to work with Tony Channin and the crew. Mike Casey moved to Hawaii in 1978 and we continued to work together, and I rode his boards until Steve began shaping my boards.

Looking back and doing some counting, I think I've had more than 150 boards. It's been very fun, and an honor to ride each and every one. I still have some favorite boards that date back as far as 1970.

Currently my favorites are:

- Juvenile Garribaldi, 5'10 old school keel fin fish
- Frisky, 6'2 EPS quad swallowtail
- Queen Angelfish 4, 6'4 twinnie with trailer
- Kelp Slipper, 6'7 high aspect twin fin for heavier water
- Firecracker, 5'4 chambered balsa fish
- Leopard Spots, 6'10 chambered balsa high aspect fish
- Mother Garribaldi, 6'9 Skip Frye fish

I love how you name all of your boards. What is your current homebreak?

Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach (Southern California).

Your husband Steve Pendarvis, is a well known shaper. Can you tell me what defines a Pendoflex board?

A Pendoflex has a high speed torque tail design that Steve shapes into the board. After glassing it, he finishes it with a light foam decking. The Pendoflex allows you to subtly change the rocker of the board to get more speed out of your turns. Steve's Pendoflex design also helps the board to subtly conform to the wave face and tap more of the available energy.

1999 Pro Masters, riding Angelfish 3, PendoFlex, built by Steve
Photo by Jim Pigeon

Did you meet Steve while surfing?

Yes, Steve and I first met while surfing at the Cliffs, as acquaintances. Many years later, our close friend Janine formally introduced us, and we are very grateful to her.

What are you working on right now that you are most excited about?

Oh, I'm grateful to say it's many things. Being a self-employed artist, it helps to have a broad base of work that can be done. Right now, I'm working on a new edition of The Painter Wow! Book, which is an educational book which combines art and technology.

During the past 4 years, I've been working on and off as a producer on an independent documentary film, and my work included researching, organizing and conducting more than 20 interviews, and contributing photography among other things, for the project. It was an honor and labor of love to do the interviews and other work and hopefully the project will be completed someday.

Right now, I'm working on a painting commission of some Ginger flowers for a client, and helping Steve with his surfboard business. And a favorite on-going photography series involves photographs of surfing people and scenes. Steve and I are grateful to do creative work and we love the work we are blessed to do.

Cher, in all the riding you have done, is there one wave that is more memorable than others?

Thank you. Two waves, one was at Sunset on the North Shore, off the point in the Spring of 1982, the waves were about 6-7 feet. I got a long wave that had an incredible barrel so wide and dry that you could stick out your arm, out and not touch the waterfall. It was long and fast and so wonderful to emerge from the dry barrel.

The second wave was after Rell passed away in 1998. Rell used to say, "The ocean is the blood of the Earth and it keeps us connected, So if she was in Makaha and I was surfing the Cliffs, we were still surfing together."

I was surfing alone at my favorite reef in the spring after she passed away and riding an old Lis fish for fun. I felt her on the little board with me, and when I hopped near the nose to trim on the inside section, I felt her come through my heart and ride the wave with me to the beach. It was so wonderful and thrilling to share, and after that I floated on my board in the tidepool and cried happy tears, but missing our dear friend so much.

That is incredibly beautiful, thank you for sharing that. As our last question, I’d like to ask what advice would you give to a girl today, who wants to learn to surf?

If you have friends that surf, ask them if you can come along and watch and when you're comfortable, ask if you can try a board. You may even ask for some pointers. It's important to learn how to swim first, if you don't know how already. And nowadays there are classes and surf clubs in many junior high schools and high schools. YMCA's close to the coast offer surfing classes and camps.

I would love to encourage young women with the ocean to stick with surfing if they are inspired.

Cher with her new, 6'7" high aspect twin fish
photo by Steve Pendarvis

Thank you, Cher! This has been an absolute honor. You embody the spirit of aloha and are an inspiration to so many.

Cher is in the the current issue (Vol 18, No. 6) of The Surfer's Journal, where she penned an article on Walter Munk (pg. 92).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cher Pendarvis: Part Two

Rell, Susie & Cher
courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

Cher, you were friends with Rell Sunn. Do you have a favorite story about her?

Rell and I met in 1975, waxing up for a heat in a WISA event in Oceanside and spent much of that summer surfing together and we had great fun! Rell loved to look for special vintage goodies in second hand stores and it was always fun to make little stops after surfing with her. I still have a 1950s silk Hawaiian dress that Rell bought me for $1, in 1975, and we shared this dress on occasion. Rell and I were close friends for more than 25 years.

We visited back and forth many times, and sent faxed letters to keep in touch. When I was visiting her, we had great times surfing Makaha, the South and North Shores, and she took me diving for fish and we would gather shells at special beaches on the West side. Once we were diving on a clear day near Kaena Point and we saw a big Ulua. Rell wanted to spear it, but the fish was too fast. Later, I think she did go back and capture this fish. Rell showed me to true Aloha.

When did you start shaping, glassing and painting on boards?

Picking up from patching dings to earn my first board in the mid-1960s, I was comfortable with surfboard building materials. I began building boards with my first husband and dear friend, Tom and friends in 1968. I did a little shaping for myself in the early 1970s, but Tom was more adept at it, so I focused on color work, glassing and designing and making fins when I worked, to earn money for college. Tom and I worked with Mike Sheffer building Fresh Fish Surfboards, also our own, and for friends.

1970, Cher glassing her 5'2" fish
courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

It was a thrill to shape a family board this year with Steve, on my 59th birthday. Since this was the beginning of the last year of my 50s, I wanted to build a board from start to finish. It is a "6'7" high aspect twin fin fish.

How did you feel about the transition from longboards to shorter boards?

I loved my last longboard, the 9'8 Surfboards Hawaii Model A. Surfboards were getting shorter after Nat Young won the 1966 World Contest in Ocean Beach on his shorter, more maneuverable board, Sam.

My first short board was an 8 foot Hansen 50/50, and after that we began experimenting and building our own boards. Our boards went shorter very quickly after that.

We began to build our own boards in 1968, first from cut down longboards, and soon after that, we were buying blanks from Mitch's Surf Shop in La Jolla. Mitch was a good friend and you could buy all of the supplies for making your own boards at his shop.

Design was changing rapidly and many friends were experimenting, and we loved sharing ideas and trying one another's boards. It was an exciting time.

Cher, featured in an ad for Channin, 1976. Riding the 7'1" Channin Swallowtail shaped by Mike Casey.
Photo by Aaron Chang

From some of these photos, it looks like you are a real charger on the short boards. Did that come naturally to you once you started surfing short boards?

Jamie, I loved the shorter boards, they were faster and more maneuverable. I love the glide of nice longer boards, too. I have always loved to grow and push myself with surfing. It's just so much fun and so creative. The fish has been my favorite surfboard design since 1970, but I love to ride a lot of different shapes, as well.

Who at that time was your inspiration and did you pick up any tricks from other surfers?

My main inspirations were Thomas Threinen, Skip Frye, Bunker Spreckels, John Riddle, Jeff Ching, Larry Gephart, Steve Lis, John Brockway, Larry Bertlemann, Shaun Tomson and of course, Steve Pendarvis.

Jeff Ching was especially inspirational because his surfing was extremely quick, and stylish and smooth. Jeff was the first stand-up surfer to ride a fish, and I was in the water when he first borrowed Stevie's kneeboard and began surfing it standing up. Shortly thereafter Stevie shaped Jeff his own fish. Most of the early fishes were 4'6-5'6.

Soon, Tom shaped me a 5'2" fish, and this little board changed my surfing. It was so free and fast, almost like a bar of soap skating across the water.

My first fish had hard down rails that were inspired by some of the edge boards that Bunker was riding at the time. I loved helping build this fish and glassed it and made the fins.

Tom was a stylish longboarder in the 1960s, and made the transition to shortboards. He was inspired by George Greenough and fell in love with kneeboarding. Tom built himself spoons, tri plane hulls and fish kneeboards.

He, Stevie Lis, John Brockway and other kneeboarder friends, Louis Greco, Mitchell Pelegrin, Marshall Myrman, the Huffmans, Mark Skinner and others... their deep tube riding was inspirational.

Cher surfing a 5'5" fish in Mexico, 1974. Shaped by John Belik and glassed by Cher. This was Cher's fourth fish and she still has it. The photo was used on the press release for the first ever women's pro contest, The Hang Ten Women's Pro Malibu, 1975.
photo by Tom Threinen

Bunker Spreckels was a very creative surfer, who was very fun to surf with and died tragically at the age of 27. During the early 1970s era that Bunker was around, we rode edge boards with small fins or finless, and were speeding sections and then slowing the fast little boards by slipping/sliding 360s and helicopters similar to the folks riding finless boards now. I became fascinated with tube riding and loved traveling the coast with our kneeboarder friends in search of barrelly waves.

When we were working at Surfing Magazine in the late 1970s, I met Shaun Tomson, whose tube riding was ground-breaking. We got to see Dan Merkel's first shots of Shaun at Off the Wall when he first brought them in to Surfing.

Shaun kindly gave me pointers on tube riding and shared ideas for a board that Mike Casey shaped me for Hawaii. At that time, we also met Larry Bertlemann, and surfed with Larry, and other inspirational Hawaiian surfers on the North Shore.


Please stay tuned for Part Three tomorrow!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Surf Fridays!

“The first time I saw surfing was in 1956 and I was 6 years old. My mom and I were living in Oahu, having moved there from our native California, as my father was deployed on a ship in the eastern Pacific. Mom and I loved to watch the surfers gliding on the waves, like dancing on water...I dreamed to surf from that day on...” Cher Pendarvis

Riding the 6'9 shaped by Tom Threinen at OB jetty in winter 1968-9
photo courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

I was fortunate to meet Cher Pendarvis at the Mattson Family Art Benefit. She had generously donated two photographs and I remember being impressed that there were several guys who were trying to outbid each other like mad for her photos. I first learned of Cher actually, by reading photographer Liz Cockrum's blog. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.

Cher has an amazing life story with surfing. She taught herself at a time when there weren't many other girls surfing. Initially discouraged by her parents, she had to hide from them for a while that she was learning to surf.

Cher glassed boards and made fins for friends to help work her way through college and she was one of the first ever women's professional surfers.

Off the lip at OB Jetty, January 1969
photo courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

Cher was also the first woman on staff at Surfing Magazine & surfed with Bunker Spreckles and Shaun Thomson. Now a self-employed artist working with her husband Steve Pendarvis, Cher is an every day surfer who loves to share her stoke with others.

As this is being published, Cher is on a flight to Oahu to attend and help with the Rell Sunn Aloha Jam and work on some projects with friends.

For this interview, we shared a lot of emails back and forth and one of the most poignant things Cher said to me was, “There's just so much enthusiasm and excitement about the past and present, and I am so grateful to be a surfer, ocean woman.”

May we all be fortunate enough to feel like that. This will be a 3-part series and I hope you enjoy as much as I did, learning more about this special lady.


I was really curious why your parents didn't support you surfing - did they think it was dangerous for a girl?

My stepfather was a navy officer who did not like surfers; he thought all surfers were bums. Keep in mind that for many, the surfing lifestyle represented freedom and fun, kind of wandering and bohemian, and back in the 1950s-early 1960s that could be scary to someone who had grown up in the depression in the mid-west like he had; My stepfather was very bitter.

And you borrowed boards until you saved up enough to buy your own - did you surf without your parents knowing, for awhile?

Yes. I had to sneak to the beach for awhile.

Practicing a hard bottom turn on 9'6" Dewey Weber Standard Speed
photo courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

You were first entranced with surfing while living in Oahu - is that also where you learned to surf?

We lived in California, Hawaii, The Philippines, Japan and for a few years in Florida. I first saw surfing at Waikiki when my Mom and I were living on Oahu in 1956, when I was 6 years old. My Father was deployed on a ship in the Pacific. I remember we were so excited, "Mommy, it's like they're dancing on water!"

My Mom and I dreamed of surfing then, but instead I was enrolled in ballet classes. After Hawaii, we lived in The Philippines and Japan, and moved back to California in the Bay area.

When I was 11-12 years old, I taught myself how to swim and practiced ocean swimming to be more comfortable in the water, still carrying the surfing dream... and getting ready for surfing.

1966, Florida Gulf Coast, first time riding her second board
Photo courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

My first wave was when I was 13, on Easter weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida, on a hollow lifeguard paddleboard. I asked Mom if I could ask the lifeguards if I could paddle out on the lifeguard board and she said OK. Mom was an artist and more free-spirited than my stepfather, and vicariously wished she could surf (even earlier when we were in Hawaii in the 1950s).

It was exciting to begin surfing, and yes, I did have to "sneak" to the beach for awhile after that first outing on Easter. Most people thought that "girls don't surf!"

I began meeting people when their boards would wash up on the beach, and I'd ask if I could ride a board when the person was done. I taught myself.

What was the ratio of girl to boy surfers at that time?

The hard-core surfers were mostly young guys, and there were a few girls. My stepfather wanted to retire in Florida and it was hard for my Mom and I to leave our native California. My parents moved from California to Florida's west coast during my last year in Junior High school. There were surfers in St. Petersburg, but they were a closed group until I got to know them better.

I looked forward to returning to California, and did so after graduating high school.

Sunset Beach, Florida, 1967 with a 9'8" Surfboards Hawaii Model A, named "Mr. Tricks"
photo courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

What did your Mom say when she finally saw you surf?

My Mom saw me surf a bit in my teens and she was supportive. My Mom passed away from cancer in the summer of 1968 and I was not yet 18. Very heartbreaking.

When you saved up to buy your first board, how much did it cost and what board was it? What color was it?

My first board was a used 9'7 O'Hare that had been broken in half and repaired. It was very heavy and cost $45 at the shop where I was patching dings. It had a thick redwood stringer and a wide, diagonal green stripe where it had been repaired.

It took me all summer of patching dings at the surf shop and doing chores to earn this board. I asked my stepfather and Mom if I could bring it home and he replied, "Well you earned it, you can bring it home."

Did you compete?

Yes. In the winter of 1971-1972, Skip Frye talked with me at Sunset Cliffs when I was riding one of my fishes and told me that I was one of the best women and should consider competing. I was blown away. Skip has always been very kind and supportive of our surfing and board building. I did not know about the other women, as I had not competed in the US Championships. I was working hard on college studies, working on boards and surfing mostly at the cliffs, and Baja.

In March of 1974, Skip told me that Jericho Poppler was founding Women's International Surfing Association with Nancy Katin and some other women, and he gave me a recommendation and contact information to call Jericho. I then became a founding member of WISA. Skip encouraged me to follow up, make friends and compete.

1974-1975, I worked hard to compete in WISA and earned a ranking that qualified me to be one of the first ever women's pros, I was in the top 3 on the West Coast as an amateur going into the pro events.

photo courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

In September 1975, I placed in the first ever Hang Ten Women's Pro at Malibu in 1975, even winning over Margo Oberg in an earlier heat, and but she came back to win the event and I placed. Later Margo complimented me as a groundbreaking, creative surfer from California. Margo is a great competitive surfer and a true champion.

I did not stay with professional surfing for long, due to my family situation at the time. And I was not able travel to Australia and South Africa when I was invited to surf in those Pro events.

When Margo Oberg said your surfing was groundbreaking & creative - did you already kind of realize that it was? What a compliment!

Yes, what a wonderful compliment, from Margo, I was very honored. I knew that we were riding unusual, creative boards that we were building, and my Channin boards were unusual and new/creative for the time. We were blending inspiration from my early fishes with some of Mike Casey's ideas, even in the mini guns that he shaped for me at that time.

5'2 fish shaped by Tom Threinen and glassed by Cher in 1970
photo courtesy of the Cher Pendarvis photo archive

Please stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Buttons Kaluhiokalani - Surf Fridays!

Aloha from the island of Oahu! Jay and I spent a couple of days surfing in Waikiki and I am proud to say that on Wednesday, we surfed twice in one day. And yesterday was my birthday, and I got to surf. It was the very first time I've ever surfed on my birthday.

I am very happy here. We drove to the North Shore yesterday afternoon and are in awe of its beauty. We are staying in a beautiful cottage that comes with two bicycles and on the property there are two sheep, some chickens and a cat. The roosters start crowing before the light breaks, but we don't mind. And, I just ate some fresh pineapple.

I am pretty excited so I have to tell you that just a couple of hours ago, we went to Ted's Bakery and ran into our wedding photographer, Adam Palmer. This was after I read a book in our cottage last night about the North Shore, and then noticed that he was the photographer! Adam had the day off and was taking his kids to jump off the rock at Waimea.

Oh yes, we ran into Jay Adams at Ted's, too! But just before we stopped in the bakery for that chocolate haupia cream pie, we spent a little time on the beach with Buttons Kaluhiokalani.

Buttons and Jamie 
photo by Jay Watson

Buttons is an open, kind and generous person. Here we are at Backyards this morning. Very windy. I think it was a good hair day for Buttons, but not for me.

Now, Jay and I are going to go check out Velzyland, Pipe and maybe take a jump off of "da big rock". Reporting from the North Shore, this is PLuv wishing you much Aloha and a very happy Surf Fridays.

p.s. To see what Buttons has been up to lately, check out this great interview on Liquid Salt.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Surf Fridays!

all photos © Jay Watson Photography

PineappleLuv was very impressed with some blog posts this week from a handsome and talented photographer by the name of Jay Watson. It's a gorgeous series depicting Northern California surfers during "Our Only Summer Swell". I decided to do this interview in person, over leftover Chinese food. And it was all business - there was no kissing or hand-holding.

Jay, what are some nicknames you have?

Juice, JDub, J-dawg. And my dad calls me Buck.

What are the best few songs you've heard in the past few days?

My Kingdom, Echo & the Bunnymen; Caribou, The Pixies; Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Old Dirty Bastard.

Why does classical music make you "hyper"?

Because it's associated with being soothing and because I don't like that style of music, it makes me want to break something.

What is your favorite iPhone app besides email? They're all tools. With the Wordpress app I can update my blog. I use SportsTap for NBA scores. Shazam is crazy technology. I can't believe it actually works.

What are some things you've always wanted to do that you've never done before?

- Ride a horse while shooting a gun
- Steal a car while shooting a gun out the side of a window while turning a corner with the wheels screeching
- A 24 hour solo mountain bike race
- I want to be sent to Japan for work
- And build a log cabin.

Do you have a favorite shot from your series this week?

Probably the overhead shot of the little grommet climbing down the cliff.

You are going to Oahu next week. What are you most excited about?


What is your favorite meal that I cook?

That arugula rice dish or the chicken lime soup.

Most influential photographer that you've never met?

Robert Frank.

I was going to ask you what equipment you are using these days, but instead I want to hear something you talked about recently - about how "what" you are shooting with doesn't matter...

I hate how photographers get obsessed with the tools. Filmmakers and photographers are like that but other artists aren't. I don't like the purity of "Oh it's film or it's digital". They're just tools. I could go on, but it's almost as simple as that.

What is the most fun shoot you've ever been on?

Probably something for Garage Magazine. Maybe Bobby Green at the El Mirage Desert. Such a beautiful place, amazing light and car...

Do you have anything fun planned for your interviewer this weekend?

We have to pack!


Thanks J-dawg. Currently you can catch Jay's work in the November issue of Inked Magazine - the Freddy Corbin feature.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November is a Good Month for Magazine Covers

Issue 289 of Surfing World Magazine - Australia's oldest surfing magazine, since 1962. Illustration by Oscar "Ozzie" Wright. Beautiful magazine.

The Guest Editor Issue of Surfer, November 2009. I love this cover of Ryan Burch. Photo by Todd Glaser. Joel Tudor does a bang up job, everything stood out to me. Very artistic. Inside cover says, "Surfing is so diverse; for everyone it has a different meaning and purpose in their lives. For me surfing is a tribe, not a f--king sport. It's my family. I wanted to give readers a small taste of what inspires me every day, so this is a piece of my world." - Joel Tudor

updated to include an awesome cover of Nordic Surfer's Mag - illustration by the one and only Seamouse. Congratulations, Seamouse!