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Running Over Archie Endo

Running Over Archie Endo

This is a photo of my friend, Archie, known along the Straits for his classic longboarding skills, his polite demeanor, his classic rides (as in vehicles- this being one of several).
This is a typical day on the Straits of Juan de Fuca, so, if you’ve heard there are sometimes waves, sometimes great waves there, no; rumor; don’t bother.
In many ways Archie is a throwback to a time when surfing was about the flow, the style; any aggression aimed at the waves rather than other surfers.
Archie learned to surf in his native Japan, and, though riding a nine foot plus board was out of fashion when he started, he never wanted to be a short boarder.
Archie, now long-but-selectively Americanized, is an expert on salmon production, specifically salmon eggs, and has been all over the world, always near a coast; usually spending the summer in Alaska, working long, long hours.
This gives him some freedom, when home, to look for waves along the points and rivermouths of the Olympic Peninsula.
He owns a classic Dewey Weber Performer and another ten foot board. That would be the one I ran over on our last session. Having been skunked the previous two trips (see, skunked?), we were delighted to find rideable waves, and, even rarer, some rights.
Paddling out, I watched Archie catch the first one… knee paddle takeoff, drop, turn, glide.
In my usual over-amped mode (knowing the waves could just stop coming), three waves later, a little too far up the reef, I thought for a second about going left, then right, then… there was Archie, evidently confident that I had some control.
Nope, already dropping, I ran straight over his board as he bailed. I heard a solid ‘thump,’ figured I’d ended my session with a broken fin.
Nope; but I did put a four inch cut into the nose of Archie’s board. Luckily, on this occasion, he was riding with me. Otherwise, and it might have been fitting and just, I’d have been be hitchhiking home.
Nope. Archie chuckled about it; told me how he’d fix it. “Sort of a memento,” I offered.
“Um,” he said, “may be.”

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2 thoughts on “Running Over Archie Endo

  1. A great deal of what I know about surfing was learned through an amalgamation of my own trying and failing, reading, conversations with Frank at nxnw, and watching Archie. It would go like this: I would see Archie surfing, try to emulate and fail, go do a ton of research about what I saw and how it worked and how I failed, then talk to Frank about what I was reading and get some well-needed trimming and redirection from him. Eventually, it got to a point where it all started coming together, and Archie and I were surfing together quite a bit; and it was so incredibly beneficial. What a smart, stylish man…simultaneously capable of wise, incisive critiques and nearly limitless patience delivered with a special economy of language derived from being an already reserved man operating in a second language.

    It’s not the coast, there isn’t going to be waves all the time. The straits are a place made for a surfer like Archie, a fickle, intricate, complex set of oceanography where the payoff is glassy, longboard gliders. I saw Archie ride 6″ waves all the way into the rivermouth crouched like a baseball catcher and, incredibly, 20 or 30 yards upstream into the river. It’s slow, foggy, winding, damp drives on mossy roads and cold water. I followed the Torino and the Ranchero rumbling along in my pickup at mellow speeds into town for dinner after cold sessions. It’s a skunker, a day wasting, soul crushing gas burner for those who cannot or will not put in the time and effort to figure it all out and arrive at just the right moment for the magic….it’s a natural club when you figure it out and start showing up to find the same people every time.

    When my work and living situation changed, and I was forced to leave my surfing gear and move to make a living; Archie made a tiny, perfectly-shaped longboard out of driftwood from the strait; and he sent it with a small note saying that now I would always have a board. Having this arrive while I was driving trucks in the plains was so incredibly meaningful. It was perhaps one of the most thoughtful gestures anyone has ever made toward me…setting in stone my resolve to work through hard times and return myself to the sea.

    Literally, today, I’m working through projects with my 79 Ford…which was bought because a surfer should have a stylish and functional rig, it was bought with memories of Archie’s Torino wagon rolling snow tires on cragers. Waves here are fickle and infrequent as well, not nearly as tricky to call but colder and more physically demanding. I carry a synthesis of Archie with me as I go, in my internal jury, carefully discerning what would be the most stylish, most efficient, most refined, most balanced way…regardless of my ability to achieve those levels, I carry the standard he set and it makes me a better person.

  2. Pingback: A Comment on Archie Endo and Drawings for (Almost ready) Coloring Book | Real Surfers

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