Oct 24, 2021

Some Thoughts On Tom Morey


                                        This is my shot of Tom in front of the original Boogie build shop, right after it opened.

Back in high school, I worked for WAVE Corp. in Ventura. This was after Tom Morey had left the Morey Pope and WAVE, and moved to Kauai...so I didn't know him back then.

When I moved to San Diego to go to college in the early 70's, I got a job at Gordon and Smith grinding fins. Tom had just returned to the mainland with his new wife Marchia, and they were living in the north county. He came to work with Larry Gordon, and together they did the Waterskate. Tom and Larry also toyed with the idea of making and marketing the Boogie, which was Tom's primary passion but on Larry's back burner. They made a solid foam and glass plug for the Boogie, and hoped to mold it in ethafoam. At first it was finless, then somebody glassed a set of twin fins on it to make it more ridable.
I surfed the solid prototype after it had fins. It had a wide tail with deep, flared-out concaves. Hard as hell to ride.

The Waterskate never really caught on -- high volume boards weren't in vogue back then -- but the surfers who rode them loved them. 
Skip Frye on a Waterskate...

Tom left G&S and began to develop the Boogie on his own. He brought me along, and I became Tom and Marchia's first Boogie employee. We worked out of his breezeway in Carlsbad. I assembled the kits that went out, and even got to watch Tom at his desk creating his legendary Boogie assembly instructions.

One chilly fall morning, I shot some 8mm footage of Tom riding an early Boogie at Seaside Reef...sans wetsuit! (He saw Boogie riding as a throwback to simpler times, and wanted to convey that feeling.) I believe it's the first film ever shot of a Morey Boogie being ridden. Some of that footage was used in this little promo film.

Fast forward to the 90's, I wrote a article on Tom in Surfer's Journal. I did it without his knowledge or blessing. He had a powerful presence, and I didn't want him to influence the article. I wanted to find the sweet spot between his contradictory elements...that of a selfless visionary and that of a world class promoter. 

There was no way to know if Tom was going to like it, but after that article came out Tom and Marchia came by Spencer Kellogg's shop in Ventura, Our Blue Planet. I wasn't there shaping that day, so I missed him. Spence said they were stoked, and I was relieved to hear that! I sat with Tom on the beach at Malibu a few months later, but he never brought it up. That was Tom.

Anyone when knew Tom also knew he needed a real world anchor. Marchia was far more instrumental in the success of the Boogie than most people realize. Tom was free to fly in the clouds thanks to Marchia.

It's ironic, but if it wasn't for the Boogie, the modern surfmat may not have been developed. The Boogie put all the high quality mat makers out of business (like Converse/Hodgman), leaving nothing but 'off-shore' cheapies. That created the need to build our own mats. Funny how things work out.
Thanks for everything, Tom and Marchia!



Speedshaper said...

I remember him coming by the Rick shop and giving me a badly photocopied instruction sheet. It had the entire build process of the Boogie. He really wanted people to get the design in the water and surf it. I had been riding a Styrofoam "Surfie" without swim fins. It was molded with two strips of wood in the interior and twin keels. When the "meatball" flag went up, requiring surfboards to leave the water, I would keep riding waves on it. It was modified it with sharp rails and protected with a layer of latex house paint. I had difficulty sourcing the foam core material for the Boogie and eventually gave up on building it. A few weeks later, I got one of the best tubes of my life in Hermosa Beach on the Surfie. A couple of months later, it disintegrated into those nasty Styrofoam pellets and I couldn't find the ones with the wood "stringers" anymore. If I'd have made the Boogie, I would have got a lot more waves and would probably still have it! It was nice (and smart) of him to share the design at that point. He was always thinking and innovating from a unique perspective.

proneman said...

Good stuff PG.

harmless neighborhood eccentric said...

Very good stuff Paul

pranaglider said...

You live a charmed life.
Thanks for sharing.

cherlita said...

Paul, Thank you for your wonderful posts in honor of Tom. What an incredible creative and inspiration he is. Tom is forever in our hearts. Aloha, Cher and Steve