Interesting Bill Barnfield article

For those of you not familiar with Barnfield. In the 70s and 80s he was one of the premeire shapers in the world. He is credited with being the first to take accurate rocker measurements. As i understand it everyone who was anyone in pro surfing at that time who surfed the north shore had a Barnfield in their quiver. Many here on the north shore blame him for turning in all the backyard factories when he built the first “legit” factory here. Anyway he talks aout this in the article i have posted below. ------------------------------------------------------------ Author: Nathan Myers Contributor(s): Bill Barnfield Published on: April 25, 2001 Related Subject(s): Barnfield, Bill – Interviews , Surfers – United States – Interviews , Surfboards – United States – Design and construction Throughout the 1980’s, Bill Barnfield was one of the top surfboard shapers in the mecca of top surfboard shapers, the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The following interview was conducted as part of the research for a much larger project, and it should be noted that Barnfield was specifically asked to list his each and every accomplishment, and that he is not arrogantly going on and on about his achievments. His only purpose in providing all this information was to set the record straight where others have misled. He is, in fact, an outgoing outdoors extreme adventurist, who took care of his business life and family life with soul and savvy so that he could actively pursue the thrills he loves: surfing, mountain biking, and yacht racing. While history has tripped over his name more than once (Nat Young’s book, “The History of Surfing” reversed a photo of Bill, turning the goofyfooter into a regularfoot surfer), his innovations and dedication to surfboard shaping will not be forgotten, and have most likely been utilized on the board you ride today. So here Bill Barnfield sets the record straight on the role he played in surfing’s greater drama: WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN? In my grandmothers house in Cherry Valley, Ca. 12/10/48. My dad was from a farm in Pennsylvania, 22 year in the Navy, 14 of them in the submarine service. Mom was from a farm in Wisconsin. I have 2 older sisters and a younger brother. WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? Banning, CA, till I was a Junior in High School. My parents divorced and I moved to El Monte, CA with my mom to try something new. I graduated from Arroyo High School there, in 1967 and after cruising around So Cal for a few months in my new Firebird, I moved to 33rd street in Newport Beach, CA. I hadn’t been surfing actively for awhile but we got a surfing roommate from New York who needed a surfing partner so I sort of got back into it… and then it hooked me again full on…! WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU BEGIN SURFING? First place I “stand up” surfed was Imperial Beach, CA. That was in about 1961 or 62. My first recollection of experiencing the" magic" of riding waves was at Pismo Beach, CA. on an air mattress in about 1956 when I was about 7 years old or so. All through the '60s I surfed with friends driving down to the beach whenever we could. We were total surf Nazis. I was the “thing to do” at that time and we bought it hook, line and sinker! I think my first board was an 8’9" Wardy. Coral and white in that classic Wardy graphic of the time. WHERE AND WHEN DID YOU BEGIN SHAPING BOARDS? I began working on boards in the early ‘60s but shaped my first board in about 1967/68 when I was living in Newport Beach. It was a re-shape of an old South Shore longboard. I shaped it into a 7’ Pintail. I moved from Newport to Santa Barbara and was living in Santa Barbara in '68 with the Donovan Brothers (Bill & Stan). We lived in the Hammonds Mansion at Hammonds Reef before they tore it down. I made boards there in one of the unused rooms of the 56 room Mansion. We played football every Sunday on the huge lawn and waited for the surf to come up. Surfed the Ranch, got to know Yater, Bev Morgan, Greenough, Margo, etc and had a ball! Sometime around this, I think Bernie Baker rolled into town. Being a Goofy Foot, I got pretty sick of rights by the end of the winter. I met a guy named, Kent Wienker (he became an alcoholic later) from Seattle WA, that was going to SBCC. He was a Goofy Foot also, so we began exploring for Lefts. Once summer came, and the surf stopped he said he knew of a place in Oregon that was an insane left…we packed up and headed for Seaside,Oregon in the spring of '69. We met some guys there that were making surfboards. Dan Mathews, (now a school teacher in Coos Bay, OR), Art Spence (now in Prison), Jerry Harrington (later committed suicide). I worked with them making boards. I was mostly the Sander. We were called Tillamook Head Surfboards, because of the headland that created the Left point break in Seaside, Oregon. Frankly, we were extremely progressive in our designs back than due to the access to great uncrowded waves and the fact that we were able to design totally around function, as we weren’t restricted by any dominant “scene” or prejudice. The boards we were making back then were, thin, dome deck, slender railed, with a slight flip in the nose. The boards were actually very similar in principle to what is being commonly ridden today. This was a great time of creative growth and experience! In those early days, we were visited by many old friends, Corky Carrol, Micky Munoz, Mike Doyle, Roger Adams, Mike Croteau etc. When Mike Purpus came with Dan Merkle and a ton of guys with cameras, Stan Donovan was visiting me and reminded us of how Merkle had crowded up Jalama. So we and the Oregon Locals sort of ran them out of town. We were all friends but what they were up to was not socially proper nor respectful of the quality and unknown nature of the site and residents. I also met my eventual wife “Wendy” in Seaside. She had just turned 16. We are still together after 27 years of marriage and have 2 excellent daughters, 16 and 20. The next summer '70, I left Santa Barbara and went back to Seaside, where we did the same thing again as Tillamook Head Surfboards. On my travels up and down the coast I pioneered surfing many “unknown” spots that are commonly surfed today. In '71, I spent the summer working and riding for Hobie Surboards at the request of Micky Munoz. That fall I went back to Oregon for a couple of months. My roommate there was Randy Barna. He was a top flight Skier. He talked me into moving with him to Bend, Oregon to ski Mt Bachelor for the winter. This sounded fine to me! He had went on ahead of me. On the way there I stopped in Portland to spend the night at John Brewers house. He was a great skier and fair surfer. (Shortly after this, he was hit by a train at a crossing, Paralyzing him from the waist down. He was devastated for a long time but finally rallied back and now races cars and is one of the top guys in the country.) While at his house the latest issue of Surfer showed up and I looked at some pictures of Pipeline and thought…“I can’t become a ski bum without having surfed Pipeline”…so I called Randy and told him he could use my car…but that I was going to Hawaii! I never did like the cold anyway! WHAT YEAR DID YOU FIRST MOVE TO HAWAII? I first went to Hawaii for the winter of '71/'72. I tried to get their sooner. I applied to crew a glass bottomed boat from Newport to Hawaii. Problem was, I told a friend also, and they chose him over me…Oh well! That winter '71/'72, I made a name for myself surfing Pipeline with Gerry, Mike Armstrong, Tom Stone etc. The famous “Late Take Off” Surfer Magazine Mural, shot by Steve Wilkins, was actually me dropping in by the skin of my teeth. What a great winter for Pipeline! It has never really been the same since. I rode for Lightning Bolt, worked with Gerry on board designs, and did some glassing work for them. What fun! TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LABEL EVERGREEN SURFBOARDS THAT YOU HAD UP IN OREGON? Wow! How did you know about that? After that winter in Hawaii I returned again for the summer in Seaside. Myself, Art Spence, and Lanny Schuler (now shaping sailboards?) became Evergreen Surfboards in summer,1972. Actually, it was supposed to be just Art and I, but Lanny moved up there from CA and mooched his way in with Art, before I got back from Hawaii. Lanny was a nightmare! But we made some insane boards and surfed our brains out. DID YOU WORK GLASSING BOARDS FOR AL MERRICK? This is one of those Pre-Printed “facts” that needs to be corrected. In the fall of 1972, I went to Santa Barbara and Wendy went back to Hawaii. There I met Al Merrick. He was a backyard, ex-con, ex-hippy, ex-drug dealer, who was just getting his act together. I stayed that winter and summer in Santa Barbara helping Al get his factory together. I Built much of the facility and trained his staff. Mark Andrini was the Laminator (glasser). I never “Glassed” for Al Merrick! I don’t know how this rumor ever got started. Maybe Al started it, as I don’t know who else would say it. Saying I started glassing for Al, makes it sound as though I was a protege of Al’s. When in fact the influence was very much so, the other way around. Al is a great friend and I don’t tell this story to denigrate him but just to correct the facts. Frankly, Al wasn’t a very good surfboard maker then. I took Mark Andrini down to Hobie where Bobby Patterson trained him for a whole day on Laminating. I trained Polishers, Sanders etc. I did mostly Sanding, Glossing and Pinlines, until I got people to do those jobs and then in Sept. of '73 I went back to Hawaii. If you know the “old” Santa Barbara" scene, you know that it was a pretty “closed” world back then. Al was a newcomer and not readily accepted by the old guard or cool guys. I talked my friends, Ronnie Wolf, Dicky Nelson, Danny Espinosa and others into riding for Al and I talked him into sponsoring them with boards. I discovered Davey Smith (remember him) as a very young kid surfing the afternoon windswells at “the pit” with me. We became good friends and I brought him into the Channel Islands Team. Al doesn’t seem to like to remember this too clearly…but fact is…this is exactly what happened. Much later…I finally talked Al into coming to visit me in Hawaii in the late '70s or early '80s, I can’t remember for sure. This was his first trip to Hawaii. I had been making Tommy Curren’s boards with Channel Islands stickers etc. Al had a photographer (John ?) take several rolls of pictures of us shaping together. He wanted to use them to establish his connection to me. (I was the cool shaper dude of the moment, ha!) I taught Al a lot and introduced him to Shaun Tomson, etc. Al never used the photos and has never given me credit for my influence or connection to his rise to fame. But like Rusty who I also helped, in the same fashion, you can easily track the stellar rise in their careers, shortly after working under my influence and instruction. Rusty has made some small comments here and their about my helping him and I thank him for it… But Al has been totally silent. It seems to be the odd nature of this business! I still love him anyway. And I have much broader interests and bigger goals than impressing the latest crop of surfing grommets. On the other hand, it would be nice if the facts were logged in correctly somewhere in the history of surfing. WHEN YEAR DID YOU BEGIN WORKING FOR LIGHTNING BOLT? As mentioned before, 1971 which is when it started, if I remember right. But I began to actively shape for them in about '73. I would do everything on the boards complete, so they were like my personal pieces of gallery art. I sure wish I would have saved some of them! I think that both Jack Shipley and Gerry would confirm that I was one of the original Lightning bolt guys that helped to define and establish Lightning Bolt as the premier surfboard company of the '70s. This was a great time. Kind of like being at Apple Computer in the early days. As time went on, I took on the task of handling many of the team riders boards, even though Tom Parrish rose to huge fame during that same time by his affiliation with Hackman and the Bronzed Auzzies. Don’t get me wrong Tom deserved all that he got…9 pages…if I remember right. That and Bradshaws huge article, were the last times the magazines ever promoted shapers in that dramatic fashion. I missed out on that kind of promotion and got mainly smaller dribbles here and there. Some of my riders back then were Angi Reno, Margo Oberg, Jackie Dunn, Brad McCall, Brian Bulkley, Butch Perriera, Debbie Beacham, Sandy Ordille, Critter Byrne, and a host of others. Later, I made boards for Shaun, Alan Sarlo, Tom Curren, Simon Anderson, Maurice Cole, Bobby Owens, Buzzy Kerbox, Tom Carrol and of course the huge list of other cool surfer dudes. I hung in there with Duke Boyd (what a nightmare) and there Bolt Corp. after Gerry left. It was a very sad time, but I didn’t want to leave my devoted riders hanging so I put up with a lot of crap from corporate people who had no clue what they were doing or what was going on. WHAT OTHER COMPANIES HAVE YOU SHAPED FOR? Pretty much just Evergreen, my own Barnfield Performance label and Lightning Bolt. I did make a few Shaun Tomson models for him to sell retail but that wasn’t significant. I, of course, have continual requests to “work” for other big brand name companies, but I am really just a soul surfer and shaper, so this kind of “production shaping” model doesn’t attract me. I just work with a fairly exclusive customer base, where I personally shape every board for them and try to enjoy life, my family and my other interests. I am still a pretty active shaper, currently my prime team rider is Flynn Novak…rated #2 in Hawaii Jrs. Last year, and a staff writer for Surfing Mag. THANKS BILL! OTHER BILL BARNFIELD FACTOIDS I was trained as a machinist in School and worked in those kinds of jobs. Therefore, I always saw the surfboard as an object in 3 dimensional space that could be defined by numbers and be replicated easily if the machine (shaper) was skillful enough. Because of this, I developed what I call, “Measurement Controlled Shaping” or MCS. This was a system of defining all the critical points on a boards and establishing a method for measuring them for the purpose of duplication or accurate changes to each of them. While it is not widely known, this is what I taught many other shapers (some learned better than others). This system and technique had a profound effect on the surfboard industry from the mid '70s and on, but few would know to credit me with it. Previous to this, shapers would sort of just conjure up ideas and then attempt to whittle them into some semblance of the idea they had in mind. This kind of strange mix of black magic, art, and sculpture, would occasionally produce great boards but left little possibility of duplicating it again or altering various points on the board while keeping other points constant. Some of the shapers I introduced to this were, Rusty, Al, Rawson, Mike Willis, Linden (via Hiendrich Von Shulenburg), Croteau, Arakawa, Carper (via Rusty and working for Arakawa here in my factory), Maurice Cole, Bulkley, Quigg Jr., and untold others. Many shapers also learned it through my working with their team riders and those riders feeding it back to them. For example, Critter Byrne/Tom Carrol brought it to Phil Byrne. Eventually, everyone picked up on the basics of this system as the competitive atmosphere required it. If you wanted to hook and keep good surfers on your boards you had to be able to duplicate good designs over and over with small improvements. I can not over emphasize the value of MCS to the surfing world at large but it is a story that has never been told and likely never will be… Probably, the biggest reason I was never credited with developing and popularizing it, was because those whom I taught it to, and were therefore, the only ones who could have made this info public… simply didn’t want to tell anyone what they were up to, let alone risk decreasing their cool factor, by telling anyone who showed them how to make great boards. MOUNTAIN BIKING As you may know, I started mountain biking back in the late '80s. Eventually, getting pretty into it, especially Downhill Racing. I do this on a National and World level. I am currently 2nd in the Nation (missed first by 29/100ths of a second) and am the reigning World Champion in my Class, 50-54 Masters. Pretty cool for an old surf dude. I compete against hard core bikers and old MX racers. So it is pretty unique that a surfer can give them a run for the money. If my currently broken leg (femur) heals up ok, I will probably go after the National and World titles again this summer…though my heart is not as committed as I was in past years. Just a side note…I attended the Worlds with my old friend from Seaside, Kent Wienker. We never really stayed in touch much, but he happened to get into cycling when he stopped drinking and cleaned up his life. We bumped into each other 30 years later, at a Nationals Race at Crystal Mtn. Washington. So we made plans and attended the World Championships in Quebec, together. That was really a blast from the past. It is truly a small world out there! YACHTING As the Skipper on my Yacht “Hallelujah” I won the “Around Oahu” race and am considered among the top yachtsmen in Hawaii. I have sailed across the Pacific and with my Friend Dave Collignon, in about '75 designed and built a Yacht that we raced and is still active in the yachting scene here in Hawaii. WINDSURFING I pioneered the early development of early wave riding, sailboard designs. Making them in the style and function of surfboards. I received a lot of flak for this as many thought sailboards should look like “sailboards”. I perciveried but by the time others were doing similar things few remembered where they first saw it. I was also the first to make the slotted fin on my boards, which later, my employee Mike Rogers, went on to make for people. Even he didn’t get credit for it…My original creation of it never even got on the map. Oh well! BIG SCREEN I was the inspiration for Chandler in the movie North Shore. I was hired as a technical advisor to Gregory Harrison to shape his character into the North Shore Guru Shaper dude that was seen on screen. I charged the producers a lot for this and since many gave themselves up cheap, to be involved… they were quite offended by my high costs, so I wasn’t included in the credits. Gregory and I were friends before this, and still are to this day. BUSINESS Built the first surfboard factory on the North Shore that was perfectly legal and to code. I have never “socially” recovered from this one. Everyone hated me for doing this. I was accused of turning in all the underground guys and trying to destroy them. Ha! I never turned in anyone and didn’t need to. We were doing over a million dollars a year and were cranking. Still I got blamed for every trauma that any backyard business ever experienced and still get blamed for them today. I shrank down the factory and enlarged our retail store into the space, because I got tired of dealing with a bunch of whinny immature surfboard makers who didn’t know how to manage their lives or businesses and expected me to do it for them and constantly blamed me for their failures in life. What a relief! we do over 2 million and I don’t have to deal with any of those guys unless they want their bicycle tuned up…and then my staff totally handles it, and I go surfing or ride my bike in the mountains. We are considered one of the premier Mountain Bike shops in the world and are regularly used in various media. Mountain Bike Action Magazine did an article on us and called us a “Magical Place”. We were most recently featured on the Travel Channel, and too many others to mention here.

PNW memories… Fossil – Saturday, 18 October 2003, at 3:44 p.m. Anyone here old enough to remember those beautiful Tillamook Head Surfboards? How about Evergreen Surfboards which was formed after THS? Friends-business partners-shapers-glassers Art Spence, Bill Barnfield, Dan Matthews. Incredible surfing, progressive shortboards and fins late 1960s- early 1970s. Awesome airbrushing! New designs evolved on a day-to-day basis. Visitors arriving from everywhere. A great, hardcore vibe. At one of the finest, most powerful point breaks in the world. Re: PNW memories… Dale Solomonson – Sunday, 19 October 2003, at 11:28 p.m. Yes, Fossil. Years later, I stood on the humble ground where many of those gorgeous and inspired boards were created… and got the chills just remembering.

I was working first for Al and then for Yater when Billy was in SB and I much as It pains me everything Bill says is TRUE.He was hardcore in the summer surf in SB can be fickel and Bill would get up at 4am jam to Jalama and if was no good say let go to Newport. He had this Lt blue VW bug with somekinda monster racing engine that hauled ass and he drove like a complete NUT I loved it.Marc Andreini dubed him "THE DEAN"he taught all of us a lot.We had so much fun.He deserves alot more credit.

AHHHHHH Yes, Mr. Barnfield! We were all living at V land in 1973. Michael Peterson and myself were shaping in our carport and Billy was living across the street in the “new” houses on the makai side of Kam. He would wait till dark and set his lights up in a place he’d cleared out in the keave bushes so the lighting would work. Mark Andreni(sp) was living with he and Wendy. Great times!! Billy was full of energy thats for sure! We all had a great time surfing uncrowded V land and Sunset with NOBODY at Backyards. Seems like yesterday. Aloha, TW

About 1980 or so I was getting ready for another summer trip down the coasts of Washington and Oregon when I got a call from Tony Stein, one of the local surfers at my old home break. He asked if I would mind picking up a couple of new boards for him at Cleanline In Seaside. They were Billy Barnfield boards. I told him that would be no problem as I was picking up a new board there myself. A few days later I stopped in at Cleanline, had a bit of a visit with Josh, picked up my board and made arrangements to pick up Tony’s boards on the way back up. (No sense packing them south and then back north again.) Several days later I picked up the Barnfields and headed for home, stopping for a day in Westport to see Abner and the boys and catch a few at the jetty. There, I waxed up both of Tony’s boards and scruffed a little sand on the deck to make them look used, although I was pretty sure nobody had recorded that I had entered the USA with but two boards and was now coming back into Canada with five. I can recall a couple of the guys wanting to try them out, but I couldn’t allow that as they weren’t mine to lend. I had no problem at all bringing them across the border as I was the first vehicle on the ferry at Port Angeles and the first off in Victoria. Unfortunately the reason I was first on and off THAT ferry was because I was the first guy they couldn’t fit on the last ferry and so I had spent an agonizing six or seven hours waiting for the next sailing. I think they may have cut me some slack for that. LOL A few months later when the first fall swells hit the point Tony debuted those boards. Needless to say they took him from pretty deep to all the way down the line on the good days where speed is everything. Beautiful looking boards as I recall. Take care.

I hit upon this before, Al Merrick drug through the dirt for past sins, real or imagined. But dirt slung by another born again hypochristian, isn’t it Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven, after paying the price for a mistake, real or not, are we not once again free persons, able to vote again, own fire arms. Merrick, chugging along at a nice steady pace, with multiple world champions under his belt. I only wish I was wearing his shoes. Oh, the Christmas seasons, Jesus, born and died for our sins

“Oh, the Christmas seasons, Jesus, born and died for our sins” …Amen… Peace to all… Paul

Aloha Tom do you remember Steve Buckly or Greg Jones in the same place as Andreini and Billy?

Tom, Those were special days…

So true Kirk and Greg. The early 70’s on the North Shore were magical. The surfboards, the people (classics!) Every night we would have a house full of locals, Brazilians, Aussies, haoles, all having fun playing ping pong in our living room and having a good time and then surfing together during the day. I spent 10 more years there and was hard pressed to surpass those experiences. aloha and Merry Christmas, TW

Absolutely… nice uncrowded waves and good equipment. We had it better than the guys before us (better equipment) and better that the guys after (crowds). Again, special days. Thanks for the reminder. Merry Christmas too.

I met a few pro surfers in Del Mar during the late 1980's. One of them was Sandy Ordille. Has anyone talk to Sandy at any of the pro surf events over the last few years? If you have, reply or drop her a note. Either of you can reach me at

Still have my 7’6" Tillamook Head board, and one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is how light they were glassed back then.  The cloth actually rippled the surface of the board, giving it a textured look and feel.