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Panic on the Showroom Floor

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Photo: Art Brewer
Reno Abellira, 1969. Photo: Brewer
Shaping shed, 1971. Photo: Alby Falzon
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You've just left the theater after seeing Hot Generation in 1968, brain afire after seeing Nat Young and Bob McTavish at Honolua Bay, and the only question is: How fast can you get a new board? Right away. Tomorrow. And at a discount price, too. But only if you want a 9-foot 6-inch 28-pound noserider—which by the spring of 1968 was the Edsel of surfing manufacturing.

The major labels were in trouble right from the beginning of the year. The surf boom was cooling even before the shortboard rev...