John Elwell at Wind n’ Sea Shack, La Jolla, CA


John Elwell holding his 10’6 Simmons’ board at the Windansea shack. Don Oakey’s in foreground & two 6’0’s/Patterson Bros.? & in back/Carl Eckstrom’s? I thought this would be a good picture showing what was going on in 1952 with shapes of boards. The smaller boards are only six feet, used by the younger, smaller surfers. The board closest is Don Oakey’s who is a big man who made a thicker tail. The influence of the Simmons board designs was to take more weight out of the tail and nose with foiled rails. Note the board in back with more of a Hot Curl shape. I believe this Carl Ekstrom’s board. The small and light Patterson brothers and their Windansea friends really could surf these shorter boards with much more faster maneuverability. Simmons was impressed and made 8ft. models with slots for himself, Morgan, and the Meistral twin brothers in Hermosa.


  1. boomerbarry says


    I have been looking for a picture of Bob Simmons where he is standing on the beach prior to the Sept. 26, 1954 death that named the reef. A picture that I once saw at someones house in L.J. way back in the late 60’s. That picture shows Simmons with his board planted in the sand and we see the right back profile with his head and body slightly turned towards the water. He is holding his board with his right hand midway up the board. he has surf trunks on and his feet are inches away from the water.

    Why do I want to see this picture? I want to make a sculpture out of rebar and try to catch the essence of Simmons. It will be a bit larger than life (like Bob Simmons) and weighted on the bottom so it will stay upright underwater. I would like to see this installed near the reef.

    Why do I want to do this? I want to honor the man who surfed La Jolla waves, designed the tool the has directly evolved into what rusty preisendorfer and others of our generation have wrought. Now we have machine built sticks that use CNC and 3d modeling. All good and bad designs are beholded to just a few shapers, and Bob Simmons is at the top of the stack.

    My first board was a balsa board made by Al Nelson, and he put the skeg on just off kilter that it hummed when I made a bottom turn. I vowed to make my own from then on. I made a few but soon I was buying the popular boards.

    In 1960 I made my first board directly influenced by Bob Simmons and more directly by Andy Jones. That board was foam and was 8′ with a rocker with WindanSea in mind.

    Obviously you know me John but for this forum I shall be just the kid who named Wipe Out Beach and learned my waterman skills from Bob Shea at the Children’s Pool.

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