Santa Barbara Surfing Museum
16 1/2 Helena Avenue: #C
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Biography - James O"Mahoney - Curator
I was born in Long Beach, California on August 7, 1945 - the day after the A-bomb was dropped. Most of my earliest memories all contain beach scenes where I remember getting sunburnt to a crisp.
My first surfing experence was when I was 7 years old. My friend and I would borrow a paddleboard from someone we knew at Alamitos Bay. We would paddle to the end of the bay and carry it out and across the street to the sand at 72nd Street where we put it into the knee-high waves and surf. The hard part was carrying it back to the bay - what a Death March - but we were Kings.
I was a gremmie like all my friends. We were Surf stoked and had to pay years of dues before we were certified kooks. I was the classic gremmie who kept every surfer magazine, surf movie poster, St. Christopher medal or anything surf related. When you are baptised in the surf, it sticks.
I competed a little in 1961 but wasn't really ready; besides we had started skiing. Skiing would fill the winters and surfing filled the summers. I started skateboarding in 1949, which translated to sidewalk surfing. I published Skateboard Magazine in 1975 and promoted most of the major skate competition up to 1979 with The United States Skateboard Association.
I started competeting in surfing in 1983 with USSA/WSA contests.
My best finishes were:
1st - 1988 Rincon Classic
1st - 1993 USSA WSA West Coast Championships
I surfed for Ireland in the 1994 Oxbow World Longboard Championships in Malibu (the oldest contestant at 49).
In 1992 I established the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum and put my life time collection on display where it is today.
James O'Mahoney - Curator