Atlantic Beach banker returns to his first love – surfing the waves
Already a banker by trade, Barry Shaw became a professional surfer at the age of 42 in 1994. The story is just as interesting and surprising.
Barry was born in Jacksonville in February 1952. His father, a naval pilot during World War II, earned a doctorate. in post-war psychology. He later became the chief of VA psychology services for Florida.
âI grew up in Fort Lauderdale and started surfing a styrofoam belly board using swim fins when I was 9 years old. Barry says of those very early years.
It switched to a Hansen, then a custom Oceanside “noserider” surfboard that is fondly remembered, with its two staggered spars and blue tint. When the shortboard revolution began in the late 1960s, he and his friends started making their own by cutting longboards.
âI cut a Bing and even took it to Rincon Beach in Puerto Rico. It’s ‘Hawaii of the East’,â he said of that first surfing adventure. âI had a bad wipe-out and it took two hours to walk on the beach to find my board where it ended up after drifting.
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He was only 16 and it was spring break. He and his friends flew to Puerto Rico for a week-long planned adventure.
âMy dad told me my mom didn’t sleep during the week,â he said.
At the airport there was only one cabin with roof racks. It was driven by a man named Kahuna, a name known to surfers for its spiritual significance.
âHe dropped us off at the end of a dirt road leading to the beach and left. There weren’t any restaurants, hotels, or even places to camp, âBarry said. âWe met a lady who must have been 90 and maybe 80 pounds.
âDona Maria told us that we could camp on her land if we dug drainage ditches around her house for her. I had been a scout and I knew how to make fires. I was also made a cook. We built a palm leaf hut, âhe said.
According to Barry, the surf was excellent and “amazing”. He also had his first taste of rum, which made him drowsy. It was fine, however, as they had trouble sleeping with the sand and bugs.
The surf club scene in South Florida could be pretty intense, Barry recalls. He was a member of the Greenback Surf Club, with his neon purple shorts and gold embroidery.
âIf you went to the ‘wrong beach’ with the ‘wrong colors’ it could get violent,â he said. “The South Florida Club had neon green shorts.”
When he graduated from high school, he and two friends decided to head to California in a borrowed Vista Cruiser. It only took them three days and they ended up in Cardiff Beach, just off Pacific Coast Highway 101.
One big crash in 101 drew many police cars and many surfers, including new friends from Texas, started yelling at the police. They cleared the accident and parked in the parking lot.
Barry and a Texan grabbed their boards and paddled to surf. They didn’t know it was illegal for children under 18 to be in California without adult supervision.
All the rest of the crew, his two friends included, were arrested and taken to jail. When he and the Texan friend walked in, it was just them. Barry went to jail the next day and agreed to leave the state with his friends.
When asked how old he was, he told them he was 17; the paper he was offered to sign was withdrawn and he was also arrested. His friend’s father was a lawyer who convinced police over the phone that Barry was responsible and agreed to let him go if they promised to return home.
“We had a police escort to the border and the return took three days,” he said. âAll for one day of surfing for my friends and two days for me!
It will be a long time before he returns, thanks to the surfing contests.
His next adventure was a trip to Hawaii with longtime friends Greg Arnett and Bill Stewart, still a famous surfboard maker. If Arnett sounds familiar to you, he is perhaps best known as the founder of Arnett Sunglasses.
They found that the sometimes violent localism problems of its South Florida beaches were much worse in Hawaii.
âThe locals were saying, ‘You took the plane here; we grew up here ‘and you might get a punch in the mouth just for paddling to surf many beaches. You had to be invited or, at best, ask permission from the local leader, âhe said. âI was lucky. Famous shaper Rich Parr made me a board. I had long hair back then, as did some of the Hawaiians I surfed with; they saw my board and wanted to try it out.
âWe have to be friends. You had to be respectful, polite and come out too, âBarry said.
He couldn’t find a job because some people worked for $ 1 an hour. They had free accommodation thanks to a friend, but he started to lose weight, about 18 pounds in all.
When some money arrived from his house, he went to the Hawaiian Skillet for a meal.
“The owner said:”Hoale, [derisive term for non-Hawaiians] do you want to do the dishes? ‘ I said ‘yes’ and went straight to the kitchen, âhe said. “Nine dollars an hour.”
Shaw returned to California after befriending several famous surfers. He attended university from 1973 to 1977 and majored in marine biology. He took a job doing environmental impact studies, even specializing in limnology, looking at freshwater lakes and estuaries.
In January 1997, Barry found himself in a swamp in central Florida with a gun with bullets special for snakes and other critters when it started to snow, among other things.
“I asked myself, is this really what I want to do? ” he said.
His father, an industrial psychologist, gave him a book to read on finance. He told Barry that he could find him an entry level management training job at a bank because he had a degree.
âI then followed a training course in all banking professions and obtained my evening finance diploma, which then became a 30-year career. I eventually became vice president of finance, âBarry said.
He had been busy and absent from surfing for a while and was happy to return as his new job did not require travel.
He had been successful in competition as a young surfer. He even placed fifth in a professional surfing competition that was scheduled to take place in a lake, where he was surfing behind a ski boat because the ocean surfing was so bad!
His old surf club had reorganized under the name Florida Longboard Club. Now, together with his two sons, he began to participate in club competitions. Longboards were once quite heavy, but at that time they were well under 20 pounds.
In 1991, surfing legend Greg Noll organized an invitational longboard in Puerto Rico. Visiting legends included Rusty Miller, Phil Edwards and Mike Doyle.
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Barry returned to win the 1992 edition as an unsponsored amateur. He turned pro in 1994 and finished 7th in another competition. Her high school friend, master shaper Bill Stewart, became a sponsor with Arnett Sunglasses and Billabong.
He then returned to California to surf a contest in Malibu.
âI was happy to pay $ 100 entry because I could surf Malibu with only three others! he said.
Still a banker, he took advantage of his vacations to participate in competitions. He meets Jimmy Buffet, becomes friends and ends up working with the singer, also a longboard surfer.
Barry was invited to compete in the Hobie Classic in 2002 and had to ride a ârealâ longboard built before 1970. He chose his old Greek âEliminatorâ. He was the only guy from outside Orange County, Calif. To advance to the final and he was happy with his fifth place finish.
His last professional event was the Easter Cocoa Beach Invitational. In his final round, he would surf against Justin Quintal, then 15, who was in his first pro contest.
Barry and his wife Kelly have two sons, Hobie and Drake. After enduring too many hurricanes in South Florida, they (almost) retired to Atlantic Beach Golf & Country Club, where they built a dream home on the fairway.
He travels to surf and to attend auto shows with his âwoodyâ, a restored 1953 Chevrolet Handyman. It’s a classic surfer’s vehicle, and his mother had one when he was a child.
Barry is still a very active âkidâ himself as a stand-up paddle and longboard surfer.
Bill Longenecker is a resident of Neptune Beach and a regular contributor to Shorelines. Send your comments to [email protected]