SURFBOARDS BY THE GREEK
Bob Bolen started surfing in 1958 while still a student at Bolsa Grande High in Garden Grove, California. Nicknamed “The Greek” by high school buddies because of his Greek ancestry (his mother’s maiden name was Karydis), Bob learned to surf mostly at Huntington Beach. He also loved heading south to surf Dana Point, before the harbor was completed in 1968. "It could be howling onshore at Huntington but Dana Point would be clean and fun," Bob remembers. "I surfed with Dick Dale a few times. Mickey Munoz would come around once in awhile, and Ron Drummond was out there catching waves in his aluminum canoe. It was a lot of fun.”
The Greek made his first surfboard just a year after he started surfing, and began building boards for himself and a few friends. Shapers are often mentored before going out on their own, but not The Greek; in 1959, he just bought a blank from Bill Holden and started mowing foam. In 1960, he opened his famed surf shop at 408 ½ Ocean Avenue in Huntington Beach, and the brand “Surfboards by The Greek” was born. For the next twenty years, Bob was one of the top board builders in the business, known for his many popular model designations that included the Eliminator, Liquidator, Maui Model, Outlaw and The Pickle.
Bob closed the doors to his surf shop for good in the summer of 1980, but surfing will always be a part of his life. In the year 2000, The Greek – along with fellow Huntington Beach local Mike Ester – established the International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame. Each year, the organization honors a select group of surfboard shapers, picked by the previous year’s inductees. Since inception, the ISBHOF has recognized nearly 100 craftsmen, all of whom have literally helped shape the surf industry.
The Greek is an energetic, affable guy who truly loves the surf lifestyle and continues to be one of the sport’s innovators. He still builds a small number of surfboards each year; in fact, the picture on the left was taken of him just a couple of weeks ago, shaping an Eliminator for one of his old friends.
Until next time,