It was 1988. I was still wheelchair-bound and missing the surf when my friend, Sam, along with a few other members of my surfing family, carried me in my wheelchair across the sand at Tourmaline Surf Park and dumped me into the water.

Yeah! I was finally back in the ocean.

Sam positioned my body onto his surfboard and pushed me around in the water.

When I looked up, none other than Larry Gordon was right there – smiling at me. All he said was, “You’ve got to want it!”

Fast forward about 2 years. I was out of that wheelchair and in the ocean on a consistent basis. Sometimes surfing. Sometimes paddling. Sometimes on the outside – talking with my friends.

And sometimes flopping around like an injured duck!

I was, afterall, still recovering from a serious barefoot water skiing accident – so, there were many days that I couldn’t catch a wave to save my life. It was on one of those days that Larry Gordon paddled over to me, sat there next to me, but didn’t say anything for what felt like an eternity. Then, he looked at me, smiled, and said those words again, “You’ve gotta want it!”

For the rest of the day that day, I caught every wave I paddled for.

Thank you, Larry. I never have – never will – forget. Whether it has to do with surfing or something else I’m doing which becomes difficult, I still hear your voice and words of encouragement.

I handcrafted this wood surfboard as a tribute to Larry Gordon of Gordon & Smith. I used mostly paulownia and mahogany. Eric Gordon, Larry’s son, applied the glassed-on graphics. On the deck are two iconic images placed side-by-side; one image of Larry surfing, and the other of him working in the original G&S workshop here in San Diego. On the bottom of the board, is the G&S logo.

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