Gordon Duane was born (1931) in Los Angeles, and began surfing in 1951 in Hawaii, while stationed on a Pearl Harbor naval base. Two years later he shaped his first board. Duane began building boards commercially in the mid-’50s, working out of his parents’ garage in Lynwood. In 1956 he opened Gordie Surfboards, a beachfront shop at the foot of the Huntington Beach Pier; dozens of other surfers were making and selling boards, but only Hobie Alter and Dale Velzy had similar storefront retail operations. “For the years 1956 through the early 1960s,” said Surfer’s Journal publisher Steve Pezman, “the city didn’t know it, but [Duane] owned Huntington Pier as far as the surf was concerned.” In early 1958, Duane was one of the first manufacturers to put a wooden stringer down the center of the just-developed polyurethane foam-core surfboards, for added strength and rigidity.
Gordie Surfboards burned to the ground in late 1958, destroying more than 100 stock boards, along with the rest of the store’s inventory. Duane reopened a few hundred yards to the northeast, on Pacific Coast Highway, where he stayed in business until 1988.
In the late ’50s and ’60s, Gordie Surfboards were noted for their wild abstract resin designs and their curving, intersecting, multilaminate stringers. In the 1970s, Gordie Surfboards sponsored the “Hole in the Wall Gang” surf team, which did well in amateur contests up and down the coast, despite being years older than the competition. “Our mean age is mean,” Duane deadpanned in an interview.
Duane was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1997. He passed away in 2011, at 80, of natural causes.
Gordie Surfboards legacy is carried on by his Daughter Sheree Curoso and granddaughter Cristin Hurley.