PV’s Luke Marshall’s AP surf course
By Mike Purpus
In a style evoking 1960s surf star David Nuuhiwa, the cool hand of Palos Verdes High senior Luke Marshall stays bent casually high in the air as he arches on the tip while perched on his 10’ metallic blue tinted Davenport Surfboards “4065” model noserider. Besides sharing the same silky smooth noseriding abilities, 6’4” build and goofyfoot stance, the 18-year-old Marshall must share Nuuhiwa’s and my own hair stylist from the ‘60s with his shaggy brown and sun-bleached hairdo. What he doesn’t share with many legendary surfers is a distaste for schoolwork. While Marshall’s perpetual bronze can pigeonhole him as a beach bum, in actuality, he is an “A” student taking AP classes.
“Luke is different from all the up-and-coming surfers, where the prospect of surf stardom permits time away from the classroom,” said local longboarder Shawn O’Brien. “He’s the opposite — against the grain. With his commitment to school work, he’s forgone surf sessions and his high school surf team. In his limited water time, he’s gotten exponentially amazing.”
Since freshmen year, Marshall has “put in the time” to get into a good college. This year, he feels he has a handle on his academia.
“This is my last year in high school and I want to give everything I’ve got. All though I can’t go to surf team practices because of my first period class. I am talking to the coach about getting on the team to compete in all the school surf contests,” Marshall said. “It’s been murder working on getting into a good college.”
The Rancho Palos Verdes resident started surfing when he was 12 with his dad at Torrance Beach. At 15, Marshall became a full-blown surf rat, scavenging for any knowledgeable tidbit of surf history and culture. His busy schedule did not allow him to enroll in the PV High shaping class. On his lunch breaks, he shaped his first board in the PV shaping classroom — of course something different than a conventional three-fin thruster.
“When I really feel crazy, I break out my 5’8″ Mini-Simmons. It’s based on a Bob Simmons Spoon from the late 40s. Simmons spoons are some the most sought collector boards,” Marshall said. “Many of the hot current long and short board shapes of today are based on the planing surfaces and hydrodynamic theories Bob pioneered with his shapes.”
Marshall sought other ways to absorb surfing. He approached Adam Davenport, shaper of Davenport Surfboards, to help out at the factory Davenport managed, Aquatech in Hermosa Beach. Davenport hired him as chief broom sweeper. Marshall said he “could feel the history” in the factory. Aquatech’s building was home to Mike Collin’s Shoreline Glassing for 30 years. In the 60s, it was home to the world’s biggest surfboard operation, Greg Noll Surfboards.
“Luke is a shining example of what pure heart and hard work will get you,” Davenport said. “When I first met Luke, I knew I had someone special. He just needed a guide to steer him in the right direction. I only hope I have lived up to what a great example of Luke is as a human being. I just can’t stop thinking of the positive adjectives to heap on him. I am just so proud. Surfing is so small a part of the pride and love I feel for Luke.”
As a member of the Davenport Surf Team, Marshall could not stop raving about Davenport and his new 4065 Model.
“It’s the best surfboard I have ever ridden. It’s the perfect nose rider. I also have an 8′ 8” Davenport V-Bottom Model called the ‘V-type.’ It is super versatile allowing me to do big turns before creeping up to the tip,” Marshall said.
Marshall is dedicated to being strictly old school. He wants to bring back 60s style surf clubs and club contests to the South Bay.
“I would like to re-start Bay Cities Surf Club. In the 60s, it had all the best South Bay surfers and did well in all the surf club contests up and down the coast. The Malibu Surfing Association is rebooted and going strong with several great club contests every year. San Diego still has the Windansea Surf Club,” said Marshall. “Eddie Solt and Wright Adaza did such a good job with their old school 60s Hermosa Beach HotDogger Championships last year that there is no reason why they couldn’t have a club surf contest as well.”
Marshall is a Torrance Beach local who can also be found bouncing off-the-lip at all the top local spots. In the summertime, he clocks in early at Malibu, San Onofre and spots in the Cardiff area.
“Rincon is my favorite wave,” he said. “You just can’t find a cleaner wall on the California Coast.”
Last year Marshall was surfing his home break on a big day when an eight-foot wall popped up outside. He turned and dropped in late, freefalling down the face trying to set his edge. It was too late. He spun out at the bottom with the rail of his board crushing his nose.
“The pain was unbearable and I couldn’t breathe. Blood was everywhere and I could hardly swim to the beach. I had to go straight to the hospital,” he said. “The worst part was I had a beautiful date waiting to go to the Homecoming Dance. After the Doctors patched me up in the ER, I took her to the dance looking like that ‘Silence of the Lambs’ guy.”
Marshall’s surfing life is simple, an accumulation of all his surf homework. In addition to past surfers, he draws his inspiration from contemporary longboarders: O’Brien, local legendary surfer/shaper Tyler Hatzikian, OC’s Alex Knost,and Jared Mell, and San Diego’s Devon Howard.
“The plight of the goofyfoot longboarder is that they tend to surf a little too ballerini-esque with dainty footwork,” said O’Brien. “Luke comes from the Hatzikian goofyfoot school of hard turns. He’s got the South Bay Hotdogger power perfected, all from surfing the unruly South Bay beachbreaks.”
He will be applying to University of California Santa Barbara and University of California San Diego. UCSB has a perfect right point break on school grounds while UCSD has Black’s in its front yard, which breaks like the North Shore’s Pipeline.
“Luke has the underlying mantra of all surfers — surf good waves — all shown through his college choices,” O’Brien said. “He might get some flack from fellow surfers in his age group for actually taking school seriously, but Luke’s the one who’s got it figured out.” ER