Growing up in San Diego can bring unique opportunities into a young person’s life. Many will play baseball or soccer while some will discover the wonders of the ocean and surfing. That’s one of the special things about our corner of the world; you have access to things that many do not. Living on the edge of a continent has its privileges.
For a young Josh Hall, that meant weekends surfing in Pacific Beach and getting to know our resident legend, Skip Frye. Frye had a surf shop called Harry’s at the foot of Felspar Street in Pacific Beach in the early ‘90s and could often be found picking up trash around the block and surfing out front at Crystal Pier. To people unfamiliar with Frye, the only comparable thing I can think of is meeting Babe Ruth cleaning up trash at a public baseball field and then him asking you if you want to play catch. It really is that amazing.
Hall would venture down to the beach every weekend with his father and soon struck up a relationship with Frye’s wife, Donna, who guarded the shop and kept Skip on task with his surfboard orders. Eventually Hall was so impressed with Frye he ordered his first custom board from him. Soon he got to watch Frye shape him a 9-foot surfboard and Hall knew right then and there that he wanted to pursue this lifestyle. Hall and Frye became close friends through the years and soon, Frye took Hall under his wing and Josh became the first real apprentice under the master surfboard shaper.
Even with his association with Frye, it took a few years to get to where shaping boards was enough to support Hall full time. Hall spent a year living abroad and schooling in Spain where he discovered a love for the country, language and the wines. For a few years Hall actually imported wines to help him get by until he had a strong enough client base to shape boards for a living. Now, more than 10 years later, Hall has a thriving surfboard business just a few doors down from Frye’s shaping room in Bay Park. His business is booming overseas and Hall spends a third of the year traveling and shaping boards in Japan, France, Bali and Australia.
If you ever wanted to order a Skip Frye board but couldn’t handle the price or the wait (over a year in most cases) Hall offers a board on par with the master and the young man is very accessible and easy to talk with when ordering. The only hard part is finding him if the surf is up. Hall is always in the water between Point Loma and La Jolla when there is a swell but that’s something that should be appreciated. Too many shapers stop surfing much and don’t work on designs and improvements. Luckily, Hall paid close attention to Frye because to this day, that’s one thing both surfers still do, maybe more than anyone; catch waves and refine their shapes.
Learn more about Josh Hall by visiting his website joshhallsurfboards.com or visit his Instagram @joshhallsurfboards
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him your thoughts about the surfing world to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @hanger18