Hermosa Museum hosts Velzy plaque unveiling

Hermosa Beach Mayor Raymond Jackson,surfboard builder Bing Copeland, Velzy plaque organizer Jacquelyne May, Matt Velzy and Hermosa Historical Society director Mark Shoemaker.

by Kevin Cody

A gathering of Dale Velzy admirers and contemporaries, including surfboard builder Bing Copeland, 87, gathered at the Hermosa Beach Historical Museum on Sunday, August 27, for the unveiling of a bronze plaque commemorating the Velzy’s Manhattan Beach surf shop. Velzy began shaping surfboards in the late 1940s, under the Manhattan Beach pier before being ordered off the beach by the city.

The plaque is to be installed in front of the Strand House restaurant, at the bottom of Manhattan Beach Boulevard, where Velzy opened what is believed to be surfing’s first retail store.

During the Manhattan Beach council’s approval process, that assertion was challenged by former Manhattan Beach Historical Society President Gary McAulay, who noted there is no evidence that Velzy’s surf shop was the first surf shop.

As a result, the plaque was weasel-worded by the Manhattan council to read Velzy “Opened one of the world’s first known surfboard shops.”

Which is not the reason the plaque’s unveiling was held in Hermosa Beach and not Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Museum director and curator Jamie Erickson said. 

Hermosa was selected for the unveiling, Erickson said, because the Hermosa Historical Museum has a surf and paddleboard collection. The collection includes Velzy paddleboards used in the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race. The day of the plaque’s unveiling coincided with this year’s Catalina Classic which ended at the Manhattan Beach pier earlier in the afternoon.

Installation of the plaque was spearheaded by Copeland, Velzy’s son Matt, Manhattan Beach resident Jaquelyne May, and the South Bay Boardriders Club.

The plaque’s installation date has not been decided.


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