Richard Kenvin, Surfer's Path and a Path to Bob Simmons...

I like Surfer's Path. It's a magazine that is about being a surfer in this world - as much about environmental issues as surfiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing (the key didn't get stuck it's just that since watching Endless Summer that's almost the only way I hear the word surfing in my head now).

In the current issue (Issue 75, Nov/Dec 2009) there is an article about Richard Kenvin. The article first grabbed my eye due to the typeface. I am familiar with, and love, the design of David Carson (originally discovering him due to his work on RayGun magazine) and as I read the text "richard kenvin" I thought of his work. So, I was delighted to find that he had designed the section and written the intro. "Richard Kenvin is probably the best surfer you've never heard of..." the article begins. Correct so far: I had, indeed, not heard of him. I was drawn in already to an article that I knew I would pore over for much longer than the time it would take to read.

Richard Kenvin is 48, has had to quit drugs and alcohol and he, clearly, has a quiver to die for. There are photographs of him with an asymmetric Ekstrom, surfing a 6'9 Skip Frye 'longfish' and, of course Alaias. But two pictures which really caught my eye, due to the shapes of the boards and fins visible in the bottom turns were captioned: "Two Simmons planing hull projections at Windansea, 2008." I love this too: obsession with the surfboard, the craft and design history of the objects that allow us to slide around on the waves. The experience of different boards, I believe already in my early months of surfing, will be as important to me - or more so perhaps - than the manoeuvres I may manage to perform on them. And I was right, in a very childish way, I re-read and looked through this article over and over again (and there's not a lot to read, it's just little quotes/comments from Richard with the pictures).

Next came the coincidence: browsing YouTube I found this video posted by The Surfers Journal, not because I was looking up Richard Kenvin, it was just suggested to me:

So, I looked up Bob Simmons. All I need to write here really is that all surfers should find out what they can about Bob Simmons. (There's an article here at Legendary Surfers.) What a visionary and what amazing boards! Simmons invented the lightweight board, twin fins and pioneered the planing hull. To discover, after initially staring at those pictures of Richard Kenvin on a Simmons shape at Windansea, that Bob Simmons died there at the age of 35 was very poignant. (I fully intend on posting a picture here of me surfing a Simmons shape within the next few years! Ha ha, yeah well, you never know!)

Richard Kenvin says "surfing isn't what you think it is." And he's right. It's much, much more than I thought it was... history, design, art and craft, environment. That's why I like the article so much (in a magazine that understands context, design and surfing): it drew me in and lead me deeper into surfing.

(Now to find out more about Skip Frye, who I've already seen in Sprout...)


  1. Easy, get yourself a subscription to THE SURFER'S JOURNAL, that's a proper magazine.
    Ahhh the Skipper, now you're talking, one of the masters of trim and glide.

  2. Thanks for that - I loved Raygun !
    Great article isn't it - and totally inexcusable you don't have a life time subscription to the Surfers Journal.


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