Steve Walden Biography
Steve Walden is recognized throughout the surfing industry as “The Father of the Modern Longboard .” There is no doubt that his contributions to the evolution of the original modern longboard have been profound. An accomplished professional surfer, Walden grew up in the heart of the surfing revolution on the beaches of Southern California . He first entered the surfboard manufacturing industry in 1968, a time in which the longboard was a dead relic of the past. At the age of 20 he started shaping in Huntington Beach for Greek Surfboards. A year later he opened his own surfboard manufacturing facility, followed by a retail surf shop. During the ensuing 4 years he became one of the largest producers of surfboards in the United States , distributing over 10,000 surfboards. He also came out with his first major innovation—”The Wingtail ” which significantly revolutionized surfboard design.
In 1972 Walden moved to Hawaii , and continued to manufacture surfboards under his own label and for prestigious Hawaiian brands such as Lightening Bolt, Surfline Hawaii and Hawaiian Island Creations. In 1973 Walden made his first longboard —the concept of which was the beginning of the modern longboard design. Using his knowledge in state-of-the-art shortboard design, he integrated the speed and maneuverability inherent in a shortboard (6’–7’ long) into the longboard (8’–10’ long) and reduced the weight of the traditional longboard by 60 percent. This essentially boosted the longboard performance “from a 6-cylinder to a V-8.”
Thus began his passion for developing a high-performance longboard . Fifteen years ahead of his time, he was the main longboard shaper in Hawaii and began developing his long-standing reputation for his avant garde concepts, always with an emphasis on advanced performance. He continued to fine-tune his designs by trial and error, testing them on some of the best surf on the North Shore of Hawaii. His significant design accomplishments during this period included the Shovel Nose and the Rocket Tail/Wing Fin.
1981 found Walden back in Southern California , where his designing took on even more radical changes. In 1983 he worked with Al Merrick at Channel Islands (one of the premier shortboard manufacturers at that time). His development of the longboard continued, and he more highly refined the rails, curve, and hull design for a greater degree of cutting-edge performance. These elements were combined into one primary design, giving birth to his famous “Magic Model.” This board went on to become the industry standard for modern longboards .
Over the next 15 years , as technology advanced and his design knowledge and surfing expertise increased, Walden continued to perfect his longboard models. In his quest for optimized performance, he incorporated unorthodox materials such as aluminum reinforcement for strength and polyester chrome mylar for speed. The use of shiny chrome mylar on the bottom of the board also created the most noticeable aesthetic change to date .
Walden currently operates a surfboard manufacturing facility and a retail surf store in Ventura , California . He continues to actively compete in professional competitive surfing, and in fact holds one of the longest recorded nose rides in competition history, a 37 second ride at C Street. He attributes this feat to the excellence of his nose-riding design. His most recent industry precedent is a longboard designed specifically for the female surfer. Steve Walden’s longboard innovation continues...