As a kid, I would often sneak into the garage just wishing that I could check out my dad's green-tinted single-fin surfboard that hung in the rafters. He didn't surf anymore, but would occasionally use the board to transport his gear when he went free diving in the kelp beds off La Jolla . Otherwise, the board never left its dusty resting place.
Since then, surfing has directed my path in life. Friendships, relationships, jobs, school; all have been influenced, enhanced or ended because of my love of surfing. It's not always the best thing, but it's been my longest lasting passion in this life and, for that, I can forgive the drama left in its wake.
One of my first jobs in high school was at a surf shop in Pacific Beach. During those years I got to sell the best surfboards and work closely with shapers, the glass shops and the guys who built the boards. Those memories are indelible, and a favorite moment has always been going to the factory to pick up a new surfboard. The smells of resin wafting in the halls, the guys working in their rooms, the sounds of electric planers mowing foam; that is the magic of a new surfboard.
One factory that has been consistently producing the finest surfboards in San Diego County is Diamond Glassing. Located in Miramar, the crew at Diamond has been manufacturing boards by Hank Warner, Skip Frye, Rusty Preisendorfer, Stu Kenson, Joel Tudor and countless other brands since 1984. If you have ever wanted to order a custom surfboard, but maybe don't know where to start, this is your place. With shapers located in-house, you can walk in and order a board the same day.
The surfboard industry grows and contracts with the ebb and flow of our economy. Things haven't always been easy since the recession of 2008, but owner Bob Boche stays positive.
"The industry is down a bit, and those soft surfboards people buy at Costco don't make anything easier," Boche said.
He follows that with an optimism that stuck with me: "People will always search out quality, and we focus on putting out a consistently better product than anyone else."
That's something Boche and his crew of eight full-time employees has done consistently over the decades, and that in turn has attracted the industry's best surfboard manufacturers. Rusty and Clint Preisendorfer (located right up the street) of Rusty Surfboards and others have been bringing their shapes to Diamond to be glassed for 30 years. That partnership with Rusty created some legendary boards over the years, and some were ridden by world champions Mark Occhilupo and CJ Hobgood.
In an age of disposable memories and cheap merchandise, the crew at this factory is dedicated to perfection and is indeed, a diamond in a sea of coal.
To order a custom surfboard from one of Diamond Glassing's resident shapers, visit them at 8625 Commerce Ave. in Maramar, or call (858) 566-7629.
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 thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.