Rich Harbour was born in 1943 in Seal Beach, California. He started surfing at the age of 16 after receiving a surfboard for a birthday gift. Just a couple of months later, it was stolen out of his garage, leaving Rich without a board or the money to buy a new one. Taking the initiative, Harbour scrounged up a blank, sawed it in half lengthwise, glued in a redwood stringer and created the first Harbour surfboard.
Before long, word got out in the Seal Beach area about the boards Rich was making, and in 1962 he dropped out of college to open Harbour Surfboards. As demand grew, Rich recruited some great craftsmen to help produce his boards. He also assembled one of the most formidable surf teams on the West Coast, which included such notable surfers as Jock Sutherland, Mark Martinson, Steve Bigler and Rich Chew.
The Harbour Surfboards shop was home to some of the best selling models of the ‘60s, including the Banana, the Cheater and the renowned Trestles Special. All of these boards remain highly collectible.
As the ‘60’s drew to an end and the shortboard revolution took hold, Rich enlisted the help of Robert August to create fresh, new shapes. Always experimenting with rail contours and templates, Harbour continued to provide surfers across the U.S. with up-to-date surfboard designs. Utilizing his skills as a precision craftsman, he began to build laminated wooden skateboards during the skateboard resurgence of the mid-70’s. He built boards for a number of companies, but ultimately decided to leave that side of the industry and stay focused on surfboards.
Throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, Harbour built new models to ride the longboard resurgence that was sweeping the world of surfing at the time. The Nineteen, The San-o, and The Classic were just a few of the boards he introduced during the period. In 2019, after nearly 60 years of shaping surfboards (more than 32,000 of them, according to Surfer Magazine) and after weathering the many changes to the surf industry, he created his final masterpiece. After health issues took their toll, Rich Harbour died at his Seal Beach home; it was Sunday, July 11, 2021. He will be remembered as an understated, highly respected craftsman and mentor to so many.