Grand Haven "Surf City"
Progression of Grand Haven Surfing
The Short Board Revolution
advent of the shorter boards in the 1970s had a profound effect on the way surfers rode
waves. Gone were the days of graceful swan-like rides on gently breaking waves
that seemed to peel forever down the sand bars. The shorter boards
required steeper, more powerful waves, as they had only half the buoyancy and
less drive than the longer boards. They were also more difficult to
What the shorter boards did have over the long boards was the ability to turn faster in a shorter radius opening up an era of 'performance' surfing that allowed the surfer to make more use of the open face of the wave and cut back into the the pocket or curl. It became more important to the surfer what was done with the board rather than what was done on the board.
Another important innovation was the use of the board leash that utilized a flexible line fastened from the surfer’s ankle to the surfboard. This allowed the rider to try more ‘radical’ maneuvers without the risk of having to swim all the way to shore and retrieve the board. Before the leash, Grand Haven surfers primarily rode waves on the 1st and 2nd sandbars to avoid the long swim in after the board in heavy surf conditions which could try the strength and stamina of even the strongest swimmer. It is laughable today, but the 1967 GLSA contest was actually postponed a week because the surf was too big!
“The big waves on the lake are almost straight up and down. You have to know what you are doing to stay on them.” Jerry Kamen 1974