Industry News

Surfers’ Hall of Fame Honors Rusty Preisendorfer; Occy to Present Award

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Rusty Preisendorfer, one of the industry’s most prolific and forward-thinking shapers/entrepreneurs and whose iconic R-dot boards are ridden by the world’s elite surfers, is among the 2014 inductees to the Surfers’ Hall of Fame. Rusty joins with Timmy Turner, the filmmaker and modern-day inspiration who overcame a virulent staph infection to return to the water and his craft, in the Friday, August 1st ceremony at 10 a.m.

Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti and David Stanfield will emcee the event while Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper will provide a special welcome to attendees. Former World Champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo will present the Surfers’ Hall of Fame award to Preisendorfer and share his “Rusty” stories. In the middle of an exciting world title chase, Carissa Moore, this year’s other inductee, will have a special ceremony held in her honor on Friday, July 25 at 10 a.m.

“Rusty Preisendorfer is a great surfer, a great waterman and a Legendary Shaper,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame Founder Aaron Pai. “Rusty perfected the modern thruster as we know it, has always been a major leader in Surfboard technology and innovation…. Most of all though…Rusty Preisendorfer is just a fun person to be around and a super nice guy! We are very honored and excited to induct Rusty Preisendorfer into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame!”

Nicknamed the “Stradivarious” of shapers due to his reputation for quality and innovation, Rusty was born in Los Angeles to a research mathematician (his father worked at Scripps) and an occupational therapist. He became a Windansea local at a fresh six weeks of age and eventually entered shaping during a groundbreaking era with influences that included Dick Brewer, Mike Hynson and Skip Frye. While attending the University of California at San Diego, he spent his initial stint shaping for Gordon and Smith. Exploring Australia in 1974, he garnered his first serious exposure when Rabbit Bartholomew purchased one of his 8-foot guns.

Starting to gain a solid reputation in the business, he launched his own company the same year — Music Surfboards. The late ’70s proved a pivotal time, as Rusty shaped for a growing San Diego-based manufacturer called Canyon Surfboards and worked with a reputable stable of world-class riders including David Barr, Randy and Wes Laine, Peter Townend, Shaun Tomson and Ian Cairns. Rusty’s real breakthrough came in 1983 when he shaped a plain-looking tri-fin for 16-year-old Mark Occhilupo of Australia, then an electrifying world tour rookie.

In 1985 Rusty left Canyon and launched Rusty Surfboards. The iconic R-dot logo boards were ridden by more than half the world’s Top 16 surfers at the time and Rusty was the most in-demand shaper anywhere. He launched a full line of clothing in 1988, growing the business into one of the industry’s largest-grossing companies and helped launch the careers of Serena Brooke, Pat O’Connell and CJ and Damien Hobgood. After selling the clothing side of Rusty in 2007, he renewed his focus on making surfboards, experimenting with every type of post-Clark construction from sandwiches to epoxies to parabolics.

As a shaper, Preisendorfer deserves credit for perfecting the modern thruster as we know it. Subtle variations are all that separate the current standard from his early ’80s models. The boxy rails that are so commonplace today were the benchmark of Occy’s boards during his phenomenal run as a teenager.

Surfer ranked Preisendorfer fifth on a 2002 list of the “25 Most Powerful People in Surfing” while Surfing magazine named him one of the “10 Best Shapers of All Time,” in 2004 and their “Shaper of the Year” in 2008 for his command of the myriad technologies. SIMA will honor Rusty for his extensive impact on the surfing world with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Waterman’s Ball.

The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony pays tribute to those individuals who have made an indelible mark on the sport, industry and culture of surfing. Annually, tens of thousands of visitors travel to Huntington Beach’s downtown area and literally walk in the footsteps of surfing superstars and legends from several eras including Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons, Jack O’Neill, Robert August, Bob Hurley, Sean Collins, Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Pat O’Connell, Al Merrick, Shaun Tomson, Rob Machado, Skip Frye and Rabbit Kekai, who are already immortalized in cement.

The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony is open to the public, free-of-charge. Further information is available at