Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Tale of The Grape Ape

Danny D.  |  Nothing will Change

How I came upon the 68 ‘ Aussie V bottom was quite by accident. In 1982 I had finally saved enough money moppin floors and busing tables in a deli in my neighborhood to buy a surfboard. My folks wouldn’t buy me one and my friends got tired of lending me theirs. I saved up $350 bucks and purchased a Caster Twinfin with rainbow channels. It was called a Caster Channel Hull. The board was insane but I rarely rode it.  It kinda had a curse on it. The first day I came down to the beach with it, Tony Bubs , blew his cigarette smoke in my face and told me he would be happy to try it out for me. He gave it back at the end of the day when he was finished. Tony was in a gang that hung out at the pier, they called themselves “The Dudes”. I think he may have spit on me too. Pretty scary stuff for a 12 year old , but hey that’s how it went back then.
I got caught smoking some grass or something, I don’t know I’m not really sure what happened but I was in some deep shit with my folks. The only punishment that ever worked was to take away my surfboard, which they did often. They would give it to my uncle who was a tough old navy guy because they knew I couldn’t manipulate it out of him. I would frequently go over to his house and try. He would patiently listen to my story and at the end he would say “no”. It was a total waste of time.
One day I was in the garage fixing my bike and I realized there was an attic above the garage I never knew was there. I climbed up there, and there she was. The Aussie V bottom. I was shocked. What the hell was it doing up there? My dad surfed but it was obvious that he didn’t care too much for this board. He may have even forgot about it.  Getting it down from the attic was a hassle and getting it to the beach on my bike was an even a bigger one, so I decided to stash it in the rafters in the pier at the beach and leave it there. It was insurance for future punishments I was sure I would endure.
I rode it a lot, and people made fun of me frequently. There was nothing fashionable about showing up with a board like that in 1983, trust me. They called the board “The Grape Ape”. I would drag it down the beach. I didn’t care I just wanted to be in the water. I was in trouble more often than not, so I rode the “Grape Ape” quite a bit.
One day I went to find the Ape and she wasn’t where I left her. My friend told me he saw this older kid with it named Steve. When I approached him about it, he told me he found it on the beach and to fuck off.  I was bummed. What could I say, he did find it at the beach. I was pissed. There was only one thing I could do, I had to get Tony Bubs to get it back for me.
I stole some money from my mom’s wallet and purchased some Marlboro reds from a cigarette machine and rode my bike to the beach to find Tony Bubs. I explained my situation with a generous offering and the deal was sealed, he would get it back.
When the board came back the fin was gone and she was in pretty bad shape but I was happy to have her back. I took it to the surf shop and they took out the old wave set box and fitted it with a fins unlimited box and put any old fin in there. I’d say that was about 1986. It never rode the same. It had an old G and S fin in there with a ton of rake which made it super loose in the pocket. It went rail to rail really well which is what they were made for.
When the whole longboard thing came back in style in the early 90’s I decided to look at getting the Ape fixed up. There were so many dings that I had to have it re hot coated. The fin thing was still an issue and no one was really making those fins again yet, at least not where I was.
In 2009 I found a guy in Florida named Juan Rodriguez who makes exact replicas of the fins from that time period (www.oneworldsurf.com). I began talking to my buddy Tony Caramanico about bringing the board back to its original status. He gave me an old wave set box from a half of a surfboard he had laying around for some odd 30 years or so and Juan made me a fin. Jim Goldberg did a semi restoration and really made her shine. We didn’t do a full restoration because I wanted to still ride it.  And that my friends is the tale of the 1968 Bing Aussie V bottom “AKA” “The Grape Ape”. Try one out sometime.