Steve Pendarvis is a California surfer / shaper who was raised in suburban San Diego. An innovative shaper since the late ‘60s, he is well known for his custom Pendoflex boards. We recently caught up with Steve to talk about his life of surfing.
What was your life like growing up?
My life growing up was in Point Loma (suburbia San Diego) in the middle of six kids— Little League, paper routes, parochial school, summers at North OB on our red and blue rafts, running over the tourists in the swimming area. Tons of fun!
When did you get your first surfboard?
I got my first board in the 6th or 7th grade. I was 11 or 12 years old. My older brother retrieved a broken balsa board from Osprey, reshaped it into a 7’11” light blue opaque with a D fin. After that, a couple years later, a 6’10” green tint Gypsy G&S from Bill Andrews at PB Surf Shop. Not to mention some Ridout Plastics brown foam adventures in the parents’ garage, $2 a gallon resin from Kettenburg Marine, plywood fins. “Steve, make sure you chip the stuff off the floor” and “You can’t drive the car out of the garage.” We eventually made a shed in the backyard.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
Not really sure. I already had had a lot of water time.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
My dad, Mr. Plaster (a world traveler) and Mr. Lestina (WW1 fighting ace). Also, folks in the surfing mags. Eventually Skipper, John Holly, Stevie, Ben Ferris, Stanley Pleskunas, John Riddle, Larry Gephart, Louis Greco, Larry Duff, Tim Ebner, Tom Lockwood and all board builders.
When did you start shaping your own boards and what inspired you to do so?
Well, a paipo bellyboard board in the 7th grade in 1966. Then some Pendo Pinners single fins … always tinkering and building things.
Were you shaping flex tail boards from the beginning or was there an epiphany which led you down that wonderful shaping path?
Well, yes, the epiphany here is having Stanley Pleskunas ask me to hold a George Greenough shell he was working on so he could Sureform it. I’ve been itchy on this path ever since about 1969.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
Australia and Baja right point breaks … Hanalei. It’s pretty obvious. They’re all down the line right points!
Who/what inspires you?
The Big Guy. And you know, lately, a lot of these younger kids, surfing and building boards with the envelope getting completely out of shape. Yeah, baby, now we’re talking!
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
We are all just one heart beating—one after another and another. This helps out a lot when its packed in the line up.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
Hindsight and mistakes are what they are. Generally, push on and learn from them. I would shape some experiment and it would have this or that which needed to be adjusted. Geppie would say, “That’s a boy! If it was right on, what fun that would be!” (Laughs)
What are you most proud of?
Having a soft heart and plenty of smilin’.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Not a bad road to travel in this world. It hasn’t changed my life … it is my life! Cowa-flexit!
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Family and wife at the very least, Not to mention that stand-up barrel the other day after Thanksgiving without a drop out of place. Still living that one! Owoooo!
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
Whoa! So many things are getting looked at by those young and old. There is a long list.
What is your favorite board?
My little Fourth Gear Flyer fits that thought. Tri fins, twins, quads, singles, sliders and duckies. I sort of run the gamut with some fun ideas currently getting played with.
Your favorite surf spot?
My favorite spots are generally Mexico, El Cap and Sunset Cliffs.
If you were stuck on a desert island with a point break on one side and a beach break on the other, what is the one board you’d want to have with you?
The one I’m into at this time is a 6’3″ five fin set up. It would cover most of the bases—not to mention some swim fins and a good breath of air for getting dinner off the reef.
What’s your favorite meal?
My favorite food? I like it all. Of course, a nice fat banana before a surf so that the potassium burst will help me stay out in the water longer.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod? Music?
KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM. Currently I’m iPod-challenged. I have a great time just listening to the world around me, radio off and the sounds of life. Otherwise, the jazz station, lots of Makaha Sons and the like, Allman Brothers, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix, Johnny Winter. Reggae sounds are a kick too.
What causes/organizations do you support?
Here are some worthy causes that we support: The Groundswell Society, Rell Sunn Educational Fund, Ocean Beach Historical Society, Wildcoast, Surfrider, Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association, Tony Mezzadri Spinal Cord benefit, Pro Pennisula, Patagonia.
What are you most grateful for?
Besides this life in the first place, I’m grateful for all of the fun work and play, for every day and the conscious effort to convert that heartfelt energy out to every beating heart in this world.
What’s next for Pendo?
Who knows, I know He knows, but I don’t know. (Laughs) One step at a time… always tinkering. Peace out. Cowa-flexit!
FYI: At Sunset Cliffs we wore black wetsuits and were camera shy, so we did not take many photos while surfing.