What's new with Hot Rod Surf?
I am happy to say we have returned to our roots and are now offering our line of Hot Rod Surf performance surfboards, fins, and leashes. It has taken a little over a year to get everything back into production. I took my time to make sure the boards, leashes, and fins are the high quality I was looking for and at the same time trying to keep the pricing reasonable. It’s been super fun making surf goods again and I’m excited about the current lineup and the potential for future additions.
It’s been awhile since Hot Rod Surf produced surf hard goods?
Yes. In the earliest days of our brand we produced surfboards, leashes, and even Hot Rod Surf surf wax. It's crazy to think that was over 20 years ago. We have now returned to our roots and I am pretty happy about it. Just like in the past there is an emphasis on local use and everything is designed to be optimal for our San Diego, Southern California breaks.
What made you return to producing performance surfing products again?
Passion for making something cool and it’s really what I have been interested in recently. I am driven to create things l would first use myself and then let the product grow from there. Each of our Hot Rod Surf fins and surfboards are designed as a piece of art and also performance equipment. They must be aesthetically pleasing and also perform as good as they look.
What was up with the years since this reissue?
As an artist I follow where my creativity takes me. For a number of years I was building and designing motorcycles and hot rods, as well as producing movies and books. Whenever Hot Rod Surf release a product I like to be 100% committed to making sure it's right with a clear focus. By nature this means I can't do everything at once. I will discontinue, or really take a break from something if it can’t have my full energy put into it. I will only release a product that has my full attention. It's always important to keep the quality standards high. It’s just what I do and it is what helps keep our Hot Rod Surf brand vibrant over the years. Being dynamic means changing up the focus once and awhile and it also always makes it fun and interesting.
I think everyone knows there is very little margin in surfboards?
That's also one of the reasons we put production on pause years ago. Just like the original idea our boards and surf products are produced out of passion and love of creating something cool first and at the same time it's important to try and make products priced affordability in the quality goods category. For our new batch of surfboards we are experimenting with some different machining and tooling production which should bring consistency to each of the models we are offering as well as some more affordability. With the surfboards it’s about the passion first and if we move enough we will to be able to add to the product lineup and make even more cool stuff.
What are the different models in the works?
With the surfboards we are producing classic longboards which are a bit of a departure from our roots in predominantly performance one off short boards we were producing before. I have fallen back in love with the retro style and attitude that makes surfing so much fun and the classic longboard is the perfect extension of that feeling. What matters is getting out there in the environment with the waves, ocean, sand, family, friends and just totally enjoying the beach vibe. In many ways it’s leaving behind the idea of everything needs to be more blown up and slicker and more competitive. It is getting back to the roots and just having fun and being free and the longboard represents this attitude and way of being. More specifically we are producing two versions of our 8'0" longboard and 9'6" longboard. One of each will be single fin and the other models have optional side bite fins for everyone who wants to step up the performance handling once and a while. Our single fin models have a removable center fin so different style fins can be experimented with. Since the boards have an interchangeable center fin we have our own line of Hot Rod Surf longboard fins as well as tri fin thruster set ups. We are also making some pretty cool new leashes. The boards will be ready for release this summer (2017). Our ‘Ride Fast Live Free HOTRODSURF Surf Kulture’ leashes and fins will get you in the lineup and shredding your local break without costing too much and they are available right now just before summer.
Surfboard fin models?
There's our short board ‘Surf Fin Series’ which are a standard size honeycomb performance fin also available in wood and resin for a more classic look. Nothing too radical on these, just a good performing all around quality fin shape at an affordable price. We are also producing the premium longboard ‘Woody Series Fin’ in various sizes ranging from 7” to 10”. The ‘Woody Series Fin’ design bleeds into the ‘Psychedelic Fin Series’ made with multi color resins and also available in 7” to 10” sizes. The fins are designed to fit standard fin boxes so everyone should be able use one if they are running that set up. The Hot Rod Surf ‘Psychedelic Fin Series’ will be also be available this summer (2017).
Where did you get the inspiration for reviving the Hot Rod Surf surfing products?
The past few summers (15'-16') I started a new tradition of heading out on a summer road trip up and down the coast camping, riding motorcycles, and surfing. It had been years since I had been to some of these special spots I enjoyed as a youngster. We took one of our Hot Rod Surf 8’0” longboards from the 1990’s that was just sitting around the backyard and was about a twenty year old board with a triple stringer and it worked great. The stress free feeling that comes with longboarding is where it's at. I noticed some people are re-skinning vintage boards which seems really neat also. When a longboard gets older there’s a history that attaches to it and it can still be used. Another cool thing I've noticed it that's it is now almost 50/50 dudes and girls out in the water which is great to see the sport be more balanced. I am always inspired by vintage surfing photos from the 60's and 70's. Recognizing breaks and spots in old photos is a trip and gives our surf culture continuity. Retro photos with some sort of a hot rod, which really back then was considered as a type of jalopy , stacked to the hilt with boards and people hanging on in every direction are always fun. I think some of our Hot Rod Surf photos are now considered ‘vintage.’ Some things change over the years but what's more interesting is that a lot of cool stuff remains the same at its essence. Classic is something that is good in any era. Color wise I am inspired by the minerals found in our San Diego back country like garnet, fire opal, and tourmaline. A fair amount of the streets in my neighborhood are actually named after the minerals and precious stones found in our local mountains. I have worked our local colors into our new surf series product line wherever I can. Surfing has a natural connection to the environment so it makes sense to use these vibrant colors found in nature. The goal is to make something that is classic, works well, and enhances the whole experience out in the water.
Any favorite stops on your summer road trip?
I try and make them all my favorite but I would have to say Malibu, Topanga, and Rincon are always all time. There's something about the light at Malibu with the subtle cove and the great history. The light is golden in Malibu. The Wall is still there but the graffiti is all gone. For the motorcycle part of our trip being able to ride motorbikes on the beach and camping right on the waters edge is pretty cool and that's all about Pismo. We have so many classic surf spots here in San Diego it's not really necessary to travel to get good surf but it is fun to experience something a little different sometimes. My home town of San Diego is always my favorite. We are blessed with every kind of surf break from Tourmaline to The Cliffs, Windansea, Mission Beach, Hennemans, Hermos, Horseshoe, 25th Street, Rivermounth, Seaside Reef, San Elijo, Pipes, Beacons, Ponto, O’Side, Bird Rock, IB, La Jolla Shores,, Cardiff Reef, Swamis, and of course Blacks. It’s really incredible when you think about it.
Which are your favorite San Diego surf spots?
My favorite right now is Tourmaline and PB Drive and Point. They are all right in my backyard and are fun breaks. I used to send all our customers who where beginners to Tourmaline because the wave is a little more mellow as well as the vibe which was and still is more inclusive and forgiving for people just starting out and now I'm over there rocking a longboard. There's so few people in the lineup compared to the 90's when there was 15 to 20 people surfing every peak up and down Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. A lot of times in the winter there is almost no one out along the beach breaks anymore. Half of surfing is the ritual and hanging out, and the other half is paddling and riding. At a certain point it's kind of fun having other people around to share the experience with.
Anything you want to end with?
I’m just look forward to developing more surf products. So stay tuned as we re-grow our Hot Rod Surf product line.
Mark Whitney Mehran
HOT ROD SURF