Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hanging out with Molly Logan at the 2016 U.S. Open Of Surfing

The Ding Repair Tent and Molly Logan
 To quote Benjamin Franklin, if there are three things that are absolutely certain in this world, they are death, taxes, and broken surfboards. Alright, while we admittedly may have paraphrased that last part the simple fact of the matter that no matter who you are or what you ride, surfboards do break. They are not indestructible nor are they built to last forever. While the waves being surfed at the Huntington Beach U.S. Open of Surfing wouldn’t exactly be called ‘waves of consequence’ (or even be considered to be ‘mildly menacing’ for that matter), there’s no escaping the truth that modern professional surfing is truly the bane of surfboard longevity. From heavy footed power-surfing pushing the absolute limits of their fins/fin-box strength, to chop-slop aerial maneuvers that consistently test the integrity of any lamination job.  It is an absolute necessity for there to be a ding-repair specialist on hand at professional a surfing event like the U.S. Open.
              This year, Foam E-Z’s go-to ding-repair master Molly Logan returned for her sixth year tending to the beloved boards of the worlds top surfers down on the sand south of the pier. Having donated a handful of various Foam E-Z supplies and materials to her operation for the week and not wanting to pass up an opportunity to see how a World Surf League event operates behind the scenes, we took a trip down to see Molly in action and checked out her thoroughly impressive make-shift operation at the event. Despite arriving early in the morning as the first heat was just getting into the water, there was already work to be done and boards that needed fixing. Disguised as a tour of the ‘backstage’ of the event area, we were immediately off to pick up the first round of repairs for the day.
Molly's make-shift workstation 
            Being a long time veteran of both the U.S. Open and the Lowers Pro (which is held later in the year), Molly moved coolly throughout the temporarily boardwalked-backstage making relaxed, idle chit-chat with nearly everyone we passed by from contest staff/coordinators to contest athletes, and even a handful of seemingly random event guests of note. She is no stranger on these grounds. Upon returning to the ding repair tent I noticed a daily tally taped to the back wall denoting 17 repairs completed her first day here, followed by fifteen the next, and a blank spot for today’s repair tally. Curious as to how she could pack so many repairs completed in one day in a seemingly limited work space, I asked her how long the average repair takes her.

Tally 'em up!
“It usually takes me about 20 minutes per repair, maybe 30 for epoxy repairs. It’s usually just little things, it’s not too bad. One year we had to fix an epoxy for one of the athletes in the event like 30 minutes before his heat. It was epoxy too and luckily we got it done in time, it held up through the heat but we were nervous. It was the guy’s magic board and he really wanted it.”

            Having learned much of her ding-repair knowledge from local shaper and surfers such as Mike Minchinton and Guy Okazaki, Molly is more than equipped to handle the pressure that comes with handling the world's best surfers beloved equipment. Recounting her first year working the event in 2009, she told me about how she was in charge of looking after the boards of perhaps the worlds biggest surf in a year, when huge waves pummeled the pier and claimed more than their usual share of contestants boards.

“The waves were hitting the bottom of the pier and they were jet-skiing everybody out. It was the first year they had ding-repair on site and I think Kelly Slater was my customer that day (laughs).  It was his new ‘Whip’ model I think and all the camera crew were coming by like ‘oh is that Kelly Slater’s board, is that Kelly Slater’s board??’ And they saw a chick doing the repair, so that was a new thing, and I was like ‘oh my god,’ I was really nervous (laughs). That was when all the big guys used to come too, you know, Machado, Andy Irons, guys like that.”

Molly With Lakey Peterson
            Of course with no time to lose or waste at the shop, I was put to work on some of the repairs providing a helping hand where necessary. The first two customers of the day, current world no. 17 on the WSL women’s tour Lakey Peterson and Junior Men’s quarter finalist Jacob Burke, dropped off a board. Each with minor repair work to be done prior to their respective upcoming heats, work that was finished up quickly. Of course not all repair jobs are so easy. When questioned about what her most challenging repair was, Molly had this to say;

“For sure Owen Wright broken board at the Hurley Pro. It completely broken and he had already buckled five boards in that same event, and I was kind of just like, ‘seriously?’. And at that event I have a tent much smaller than this one and basically like a plank of wood to work on, and so I’m working on that trying to put this broken board back together. It didn’t look super great, but I got it back together and I went to him and I said ‘Hey I don’t know how well this thing is going to hold up after that,’ and he was just like ‘Oh that’s okay, I’m just going to give it away to some grom anyways.’ 
So that was really nice of him, he redeemed himself (laughs).”

This will get you free Acai Bowls
                  With the heat and dust of the day beginning to kick in, it was just about time for me to head out.  Of course, not before getting full use of the perks of wearing my event pass and enjoying a free Acaí bowl in the athletes area.  Alongside some very recognizable competitors, like Yadin Nicol, Alana Blanchard, and Carlos Muñoz, as they watched the event and waited for their own upcoming heats. Of course there is still plenty of time for you to catch the action of the U.S. Open this week as the event runs though the weekend. If you happen see any of the athletes break a board or two, don’t feel too bad for them.  They will surely be in good and capable hands soon enough, with their board restored to battling condition.

If however it happens to be you on the end of some unfortunate board damage, stop by the shop and we’ll have Molly take care of it right away.

-Joey Estrada

At work repairing Lakey's board for an upcoming heat

WSL Commentator Strider Wasilewski signing Molly's poster

With Junior's quarterfinalist Jacob Burke

Picking through the first batch of repairs
VIP Lounge View

Molly and Lakey Peterson

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