PB Surf Club History


The first Pacific Beach Surf Club was founded in the summer of 1956 by a group of young surfers from Pacific Beach Junior High School. Its founding president was Bobby Thomas, who would later go on to become Bobby Challenger Thomas, owner of Challenger Surfboards and a huge name in surfboard innovation and manufacturing in the 1960s. Club members would meet at the home of Fred Retman who lived close to Law Street, a favorite club surf break at the time. In 1958 Fred became the Pacific Beach Junior Surfing Champion.

Other illustrious members included Larry Gordon of Gordon and Smith Surfboards, one of the most successful surfboard building companies in the world; Willy Phillips, who would later become the first USA skateboard champion; and Mike Burner, member of the board of directors of the California Surf Museum.

The club continued to grow through the late '50s and early '60s and was associated with the Pacific Beach Town Council by holding surf meets at the Crystal Pier, dances at area venues and other community services.

The 1950s saw the beginning of surfing competition in San Diego and broke ground for future area clubs such as Windansea, Swami's, Los Olas and the San Diego Surfing Association, whose members lived all over the region. The club went dormant after 1963, but some of its former members became involved in the inter-club council for the Tourmaline Surfing Park Project in 1965, America's first park officially dedicated to surfing.


31 years later in October of 1994, a group of P.B. surfers gathered together to share a few beers and discuss the rebirth of the Pacific Beach Surf Club at nearby Hennessey's Tavern, a favorite watering hole which still stands today on Mission Boulevard.

It was headed by local surf shop owner Glenn Paculba of Star Surfing Company and included: Torrey (Brown) Palacio, Bob Sommers, Marc D'Spain and Tim Taylor. Glenn would become the reborn club's first president and held the office six very successful years, while Torrey would become its founding treasurer, and saw that office through three years of expansive growth. Other club officers at the founding were: Harold Reid, 1st Vice President; Tom Connelly, 2nd Vice President; and Mary Helen Ish the first Secretary.

By early 1995 the club had enrolled 150 members, one of whom was Inge Morton, editor of the club's newly launched newsletter, “Lines.” She held the editorship during the six-year tenure of Glenn's presidency and oversaw the publication of 18 quarterly issues in all, a goldmine of information instrumental in writing this brief history.

The club was actively involved from its beginning in good causes such as raising money for the installation of an Emergency Call Box at Tourmaline; the collection of toys during the Christmas season for donations to the local childrens' hospital; traveling up the coast to Bolsa Chica to stand with other surfers in support of the Surfrider Foundation's effort to stop action on a housing development there, which would have negatively impacted a local surf break; and organizing a “Christmas Skate for the Handicapped,” benefiting more children in need. Through the years, other organizations the club has embraced and donated time and money to have been the Pacific Beach Library, the San Diego Lifeguard Service, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and WildCoast. It was the Surfrider Foundation that would always receive some kind of yearly donation though as it seemed to best reflect the ideals of the club's official motto which stated: “Friendship, Good Surf and Clean Water Forever.”