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Remembering Surfing Icon Rich Harbour Who Started Carving His Way Into SoCal History As A Teen

Rich Harbour in a ballcap and T-Shirt with his eponymous store name works on a surfboard by hand.
Rich Harbour shapes a blank surfboard deck in the workshop in the back of his shop Harbour Surfboards.
(Julian Burrell
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Rich Harbour, who started one of the most legendary surf shops in Southern California over 60 years ago, died Sunday at 77.

Harbour started shaping boards from scratch back in 1959, after his first board was stolen from his parents' house.

In a 2017 interview with our newsroom, Harbour called his first attempt "terrible."

“There was no how-to guide at the time," he recalled. "A 16-year-old kid making a board with no instructions. You can imagine.”

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He said he spent the next few months studying "every professionally-made surfboard I could see to analyze how this thing was made. What steps did they do that I didn’t?”

And he said: "No. 2 turned out good! Turned out so good that I had kids asking me to make them one.”

He first sold the boards out of his parents' garage before opening his own shop, Harbour Surfboards, on Main Street in Seal Beach in 1962. That shop now claims to be the longest-running surf shop of its kind in the world.

Richard Harbour, accompanied by former KPCC Take Two host A Martinez, stands outside the front door an sign for "Harbour Sufboards since 1959"
Richard Harbour and A Martinez outside Harbour's storefront during a 2017 interview with KPCC's Take Two program.
(Julian Burrell

Harbour and his team of shapers — many of whom went on to make names for themselves in the industry —ended up carving out more than 32,000 boards since he first went into business. His classic longboard designs from the 60s and 70s are still highly sought-after by local surfers.

Listen to our 2017 interview which aired on 89.3 KPCC's Take Two show:

Rich Harbour Talks About His Legendary Surfboard-Making Career

According to Orange County Register, Harbour's family and friends are planning a paddle-out to celebrate his life. The paper also reported that he is survived by wife Helen Harbour, daughters Melissa Harbour-Hennessy and Carrie Harbour-Nolan, son Paul Lawler and five grandchildren.