A chip off the old balsa block

by Kevin Cody
Published February 21, 2008

Surfboard shaper Tyler Hatzikian thought Saturday morning at Hammerland would be a good day to test ride his replica “Malibu Chip” balsa board.

“I thought it was going to be small,” he said. Instead, the surf was overhead and steep, which are not good conditions for a 30-pound board with no leash, no rocker and the turning radius of a semi truck. Hatzikian paddled out anyway and got hammered. But not before photographer Jeff Bell of sbsurfpics.com caught him cranking turns and pulling into barrels like he was riding a modern Tyler longboard, which is also 30 pounds, but has some rocker and a leash and is built for Hammerland’s barrels.

The El Segundo shaper said he has sold half a dozen of his “Malibu Chips.” But it’s almost certain his personal “chip” is the only one that doesn’t hang on a wall. According to Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, the “Malibu Chip” (short for potato chip) was developed in the 1930s by Bob Simmons as a light (for the time), maneuverable alternative to the era’s 100-pound redwood “plank boards.” Hatzikian said he shaped the replicas with input from ‘50s era Malibu legend Lance Carson. ER