Dick Brewer was born in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1936, but moved to California with his family in 1939. He started surfing in about 1952 and shaped his first surfboard seven years later. He became a member of the Dewey Weber surf team and was enrolled in engineering school at Long Beach State. The year was 1959.
In 1960, Dick dropped out of school, packed his things and headed to Hawaii. It was a trip that would change his life forever. By 1961, he had opened Surfboards Hawaii in Haleiwa…the first retail surf shop on the North Shore.
Brewer returned to California in 1964, this time to strengthen the presence of his Surfboards Hawaii brand on the mainland. But licensing problems forced him to walk away from the very name he had created. Dick landed a job at Hobie in 1965 before moving to Harbour Surfboards in ’66 and then to Bing Surfboards in ’67. It was the beginning of the shortboard revolution, and Brewer was right there with guys like Bob McTavish and George Greenough, nudging manufacturers toward shorter, narrower surfboard designs.
Still working on the mainland, he did brief shaping stints at Greek Surfboards, Plastic Fantastic, and Inter-Island Surfboards. But by 1968, Brewer was ready to venture out on his own again. While shaping for Plastic Fantastic, 16 year-old Jericho Poppler sketched the first Brewer “lei” logo design on a napkin. That simple drawing became the iconic symbol of Dick Brewer Surfboards for decades to come. Jericho, who was working at George’s Surf Shop in Huntington Beach at the time, went on to become a championship surfer and one of the original full-time female professional surfers.
Brewer moved back to Hawaii in ’69; this time for good. Armed with his new logo design and five more years of shaping experience, he founded Dick Brewer Surfboards. Brewer’s designs have remained popular with the world's best watermen for decades; from Jeff Hakman and Buzzy Trent in the '60s, Gerry Lopez, Barry Kanaiaupuni and Eddie in the '70s, Mark Richards in the early '80s, and Laird Hamilton and Buzzy Kerbox in the '90s, Brewer was the name many chose when the surf got serious.
On May 28, 2022, legendary surfboard shaper Dick Brewer passed away peacefully at his home on the island of Kaui. He was 85. Often referred to as the “father of the modern performance longboard, he shaped surfboards for more than 60 years. In so doing, he helped shape the surf lifestyle for generations to come.