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Down the line. Rob Gilley Photo

T The Art of Trim by Robert Wald

he first time I learned of Skip Frye was through my Palos Verdes High School friend and classmate Denny Tompkins,

at 18 years young, one of the finest surfers in the land. Te year was 1968. Surfer Magazine had just published an issue featuring a pictori- al on the Hollister Ranch in the north reaches of Santa Barbara County. Denny had a fresh copy of that issue prominently displayed on a 45 degree slanted bookshelf in his room. It was neatly opened to the most beautiful center- spread surf photo I have ever seen. A man of few words if he ever said any-

thing at all, Denny, I surmised, was pleased to be featured in that issue of Surfer. Tompkins was one of three top surfers, along with Mike Hynson and Skip Frye that were hand-picked by Surfer Mag to be documented for a future photo exposé by the most talented of surf pho- tographers, Ron Stoner. Assignment: Crash the gates at highly

private, absolutely no trespassing Hollister Ranch; Objective: Return with epic surfing photos worthy of a feature pictorial to: Surfer Mag, Dana Point. Much to the disdain of certain Santa Bar- bara locals, the talented quartet did just that.

Trimming perfect waves, not another soul,

Tompkins, Hynson, and Frye were in the zone deep, dropping late; and Stoner, negotiating sea bluffs for quality camera angles, his Nikon motor-drive smoking frames while passing freight trains moaned lonesome to shotgun cowboys and blue ribbon cattle. Along with a perfectly

formed, mirror glass right point break, two pelicans were rid- ing, gliding sea surface wind currents into eternity with Skip Frye in the foreground, pad- dling solo, dead-ahead into the Cojo lineup. With this setting Stoner captured what I feel is the surf shot of the century. Tough the photo doesn’t liter- ally illustrate a surfer riding a wave, it captures every suggestion, every feeling and nuance of surfing as a true solitary, soul inspirational sport. Visually, nothing has ever equaled what Ron Stoner captured that day, and probably never will. So with that center spread laying open on Denny Tompkins’ bookshelf, I was introduced to Skip Frye.

Fast forward, 43 years. A lot of life has

passed and I finally meet Skip Frye in real time, this time at his shop in Bay Park. Skip recently celebrated his 70th birthday, yet has the flush, true child-face of a boy 60 years younger. Centered by his spiritual

commitment, his wife Donna, dedication to his work, good friends and thousands of fans surfing the world over, Skip Frye continues to keep it real, both in and out of the water. On August 4, 2011, Skip was

Skip Frye Tom Keck Photo

inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame as a Surf Pioneer. During the induction ceremony, Peter Townend remarked, “...Frye’s

influence on surfing transcends many levels. And it could be argued that surfoard design in the USA progressed largely because of his innovation in the shaping bay. A smooth, pol- ished surfer, Frye is renowned as a ‘master of the undervalued art of trim--finding and hold- ing a pure angle in the fastest part of the wave. His roots run deep...”

A Skipper Is Born “My father was stationed in Pearl Harbor

when I was born Harry Richard Frye, in San Diego, on September 7th, 1941,” Skip said in a recent interview with Te Ocean Mag. “In fact, he was aboard the carrier Enterprise when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7th, 1941, exactly three months to the day aſter I was born. Te Enterprise escaped the attack because she was out at sea on maneuvers that morning. Te ensuing war prevented my father from seeing me for the first time until I was 2 years old. Being the only male in our house- hold for the period my father was serving in the Pacific theater, I was nicknamed ‘Skipper’ in charge by my mom. Ever since then, the name has stuck.”

Early Forays Into Surfing Skip’s first surfing experience occurred while

he was a student at Mission Bay High—it was the spring of 1958. “Bill Duncan was a class- mate of mine who lived in Bay Park the same neighborhood where I grew up,” Skip said. “He was one of few people who owned surf- boards back then. One morning he invited me to go surfing, just south of the lifeguard tower

The Ocean Magazine • February/March 2012 13

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