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Beautiful Hansen 10′ long board from the early 1960s. This board was fully restored by a surfboard restoration expert with over 30 years of glassing experience.
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Dan Hansen: Surfboard shaper and manufacturer from San Diego County, California; founder of Hansen Surfboards (https://www.hansensurf.com), and a leader of the signature model era in the mid-1960s. Hansen was born (1937) and raised in South Dakota, lettered in boxing, track, and football, and earned up to $600 a week as a mink trapper. He began surfing at age 18, after graduating high school and hitchhiking to San Diego.
In 1958, while stationed at Fort Ord army base, Hansen began shaping boards in nearby Santa Cruz, at Jack O’Neill’s shop. In 1961, after short stints with Southern California boardmakers Hobie and Jacobs, Hansen moved to the Oahu, where he made and sold boards under his own label. The following year he moved back to San Diego and opened Hansen Surfboards in the beachside town of Cardiff; four years later the company was grossing more than $500,000 a year. “I’ve always felt like I’ve had an advantage over a lot of the guys I knew in the surfing industry,” Hansen later said. “I always thought I could outwork ’em. I’d grew up on a farm. I knew what it was like to work all day in the field under a hot sun.”
Hansen Surfboards sponsored some of California’s hottest riders, including Mike Doyle, Rusty Miller, Linda Benson, and Margo Godfrey, and offered some of the most popular surfboard models, like the Master, the Hustler, the Powerflex, and the 50/50. Hansen was also good with the media: his advertisements were well-designed and clever, Hansen himself made the cover of Surfer in 1962, and he was one of 10 board manufacturers featured on a 1965 Surfing portrait cover. Hansen continued to surf often, and in 1967, he and Diane Bolton won the tandem event at the United States Surfing Championships. In the early ’70s, Hansen was an early investor in Ocean Pacific beachwear.
But Hansen Surfboards, along with the rest of the old guard surf retailers, fell into decline during the late-’60s shortboard revolution, when faster-moving backyard boardmakers were better able to respond to a whipsawing market. Hansen meanwhile seemed uncomfortable with the era’s cultural changes. “More than a year has passed since surfdom was hit by a psychedelic tidal wave,” he wrote in a 1969 surf magazine article. “There is certainly nothing wrong with this, [but] the last thing a kid needs are six strings of beads to weigh him down as he tries to catch a wave.”
Hansen moved back to the midwest, but kept the shop, which rebounded in the decades to come, and remains in the family.
In 2011, the California Surf Museum in Oceanside staged “”Don Hansen—a 50-year Restrospective.”