As his logo art suggests, Lance Carson is known for his incredibly relaxed noseriding style and powerful cutbacks. In fact, despite his lack of interest in organized surf contests, he was rated #2 (behind David Nuuhiwa) on a 1965 Surfer Magazine list of the 10 most accomplished noseriders in the world.
Lance was born in Santa Monica, California in 1943 and raised just up the beach in Pacific Palisades. When doctors told his parents that water activity may help his spina bifida condition, Lance started surfing Malibu at the age of four on a balsa board his father made for him. An engineer for Northrup Aircraft, his dad designed and shaped the board from notes he took while watching Dale Velzy shape some boards on the beach in Malibu.
By 1956 and barely a teenager, he was a part of a group of Malibu regulars that included the likes of Mickey Dora, Mickey Munoz and Mike Doyle. According to Doyle, they called Lance "Jet Pilot" because of his perfectly straight, pointed nose.
In the early '60s, Lance went to work for Jacobs Surfboards as a salesman in Hap's Hermosa Beach shop. By 1965, Lance had become an accomplished shaper and Jacobs introduced the popular Lance Carson signature model that year. Refusing to abandon longboarding during and after the shortboard revolution, he bought a couple of paddleboard blanks in 1976 (that was all that was available at the time from which to shape longboards) and Lance Carson Surfboards was born. His classic longboard shapes are still available from authorized dealers in Southern California, Florida and Oregon.
Lance Carson helped popularize our sport with his graceful style and noseriding prowess. Also, his dogged commitment to longboarding contributed significantly to its revival during the '80s. Needless to say, it is as popular today as ever. But perhaps an even greater contribution Lance made to surfing was as an environmentalist. In 1984, when such causes weren't nearly as popular as they are today, he was the driving force behind an effort to clean up the Malibu Lagoon. Later that year, Lance co-founded the Surfrider Foundation with fellow Southern California surfers Glenn Hening and Tom Pratte. The foundation is a non-profit organization committed to the protection of our oceans and beaches, which boasts some 40,000 U.S. members and chapters in five foreign countries. With fairly sluggish growth until 1991, the Surfrider Foundation won a $5.8 million lawsuit against two Northern California paper mills--the second-largest Clean Water Act lawsuit in U.S. history!
Photo: John Durant
Lance Carson has been very helpful to Last Wave Originals, and we appreciate his friendship very much. You can still order a custom board from Lance by checking out his website, which is www.lancecarson.com.