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Darrilyn, Oh Darrilyn

Tom Zahn and Darrilyn Zanuck, 1948
Matt Kivlin (right), 1949
Vicki Flaxman (left), Aggie Bane (right), 1951
Vicki Flaxman, Malibu. Photo: Joe Quigg
Joe Quigg (left) and Tom Zahn, Waikiki, 1948

Simmons wanted to ground the entire boardmaking process in numbers and equations, but it didn’t work that way. Improved surfboard design in the postwar years was advanced just as much by luck and providence, even romance. Young Santa Monica surfer-designers Joe Quigg and Matt Kivlin also launched breakthrough boards into the lineup during the late 1940s and early 1950s, but these weren’t so much prototypes as valentines—shorter, thinner, lighter all-balsa “girl boards” originally made more or...

These new surfers were the daughters, sisters, and nieces of women who’d put on workpants and shot rivets at Lockheed, Douglas, and the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, and they arrived in their teenage years with a certain protofeminist swagger.