Long before Dogtown Coffee was a Santa Monica coffee shop, it was something else entirely. A surf shop catering to the heavy local surf contingent. It was 1971 when Jeff Ho, Craig Stecyk III, and Skip Engblom opened up the aptly named Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions. Nathan Pratt, Allen Sarlo, Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Chris Cahill would soon find employment at the shop, bonded by their shared passions for surf, and eventually, skate. They were on the surf team before a skate team even existed, The wooden pilings of the pier were gnarly, and the Zephyr Team surfers would spend the mornings tearing the dilapidated crumbling Pacific Ocean Park apart. It was a dangerous and heady place to surf- not for the weak at heart. In the afternoons or on flat days, the surfers would skate around, do errands for the shop, and hang out with each other. As skateboarding began to explode in popularity, the Zephyr Team began riding in contests. In 1975, the team expanded. Bob Biniak, Wentzle Ruml, Paul Constantineau, Jim Muir, Shogo Kubo, and Peggy Oki were added to the roster and the Zephyr Team would be complete. 

That same year, the Del Mar Nationals took place. This skateboarding competition would show the world its first glimpse of a completely different type of skateboarding. When the Zephyr Team rode, people had no idea what they were doing. While the other participants were doing 360 turns with headstands, Zephyr was pulling low turns and surf-style cutbacks on the banked walls. They road with controlled cruelty that hadn’t been seen before. In the end, many of the Zephyr team ended up on top. The world of tight shorts, 360s, and headstands was quickly replaced by the Zephyr low-slung surf style of that day. 

But the magic of Zephyr surpasses much more than the introduction of a new skate style. These trailblazers also managed to forever alter the foundation of Santa Monican culture in and of itself. After all, their legacy is a lesson in originality. It reminds us to challenge expectations. To create our own paths. Their original introduction to the skate world was met with negative reactions. Disregard. Perhaps Jay Adams summed it up best when he wrote about pool skating “The cops would come and kick us out… We didn’t think that we were doing anything wrong.” To everyone else, their pool skating was an enigma, but that never got in their way. Truly, the visionaries of Zephyr paid no mind to what others had to say about their skating. They persevered, continuing to practice until everyone else finally understood the appeal and genius of their craft. 

This is all to say, Zephyr certainly helped foster the signature carefree attitude associated with the Santa Monica community. After all, you can still find hints of this philosophy embedded in today’s Santa Monicans. We are adventurers. Go-getters. Free Spirits. We don’t let the norm dictate our course. And we have Zephyr to thank for that. 

This blog is brought to you by Dogtown Coffee, a local Santa Monica cafe and home to the Salty Dog cold brew coffee, Munchies Breakfast Burrito, and other Santa Monica breakfast favorites.