Rich Harbour

Rich-Harbour_2-1Here’s a few words and photos about the honoree for this year’s Seal Beach Founders concert on October 6th 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Seal Beach Pier:

It’s the quintessential American story.

A young boy discovers and pursues a passion that most people would consider a mere side hobby or summertime recreation, and creates, almost by accident, his own destiny.


Rich Harbour at San Onofre 1975

Rich Harbour’s story is probably familiar to many Seal Beach locals. Back in the fifties a fifteen year old Rich was bitten by the surfing bug, so his father generously gave him his first surfboard. This surfboard was soon stolen from the side of his house (probably by some lowlife Gidget-crazed inlander.) After much pleading and begging, Rich discovered that his father’s generosity would not extend to buying a replacement board. Not one to let a minor setback to keep him from the waves, Rich built a new surfboard to replace the stolen one and resumed surfing. For most people, that would be the happy ending to the story, but not for Rich.

Stringer glued - ready to shape # 1 harbour

Stringer Glued, Ready To Shape #1 Harbour

Stung by older surfers making fun of his crudely shaped but functional new board, Rich decided to do better. He crafted two new boards (one for himself and one for his brother) that were so well made that they inspired not ridicule from the other surfers, but offers of cash if Rich would build them similar boards.

Shaping # 1 Harbour

Shaping #1 Harbour

Soon Rich had a profitable side business building surfboards for locals. As his reputation grew beyond local surfers, the business expanded from part of his parent’s garage to various garages around town. After a few years, Rich is presented with a choice. He can continue studying at the Orange Coast College of Architecture or commit completely to building surfboards as a full time career.

About 1965

About 1965

It’s clear what choice Rich made. Ultimately, he opens Harbour Surfboards at 329 Main Street. As his business grows, surfing grows with it, transforming itself from a hobby into a multi-million dollar industry. Over the five decades, Rich Harbour have remained at the same Main Street address, creating innovative new board designs and offering new surfing merchandise and accessories. The core business remains the same. 329 Main Street has been used for shaping surfboards since 1962.

Christmas card 1969

Christmas Card 1969 (The Family-Safe Version)

But Rich’s story isn’t just an American story, it’s also a Seal Beach story. He may have an international reputation, but he has lived here all his life and been influenced by the Seal Beach landscape, its people, and its surf. There are many surfing legends, and maybe some of them have had streets named after them, but only Rich Harbour has actually named a street in Seal Beach (Silver Shoals Avenue. Please ask Rich for the full story).

Workers at the cCosta Mesa Sattelite shape facility

Workers at The Costa Mesa Satellite Shape Facility

This has just been some of the highlights of Rich Harbour’s life and career. For a fuller unabridged and uncensored version, Rich is offering a new revised version of his book, The Harbour Chronicles.

Taking an order_1962

Taking An Order 1962

One can’t help wonder what Rich’s life would have been like if that lowlife inlander hadn’t stolen his first surfboard years ago, but with a name like Rich Harbour, his life must have been destined to be successful and probably have something to with water sports.

1st Banana Model

First Banana Model

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10 Responses to Rich Harbour

  1. Are you related to Allen Harbour? I think I went to HBUHS school with him. He played basketball.


    • Michael Dobkins says:

      I’m not sure if Rich Harbour is even online or if he is going to ever see this post. I doubt there would be a second unrelated family of Harbours sending students to HBHS, so it seems almost certain that Allen is related to Rich. How he is related is something you’d have to ask Rich himself. maybe you can give him a call at Harbour Surfboards.

      Take Care,


    • richharbour says:

      Alan is my brother. who is 5 years older. He married Pauline DE Sadeleer, daughter of the doctor that delivered me.


      • Craig Dauber says:

        I, Craig Dauber, moved to Seal Beach in June 1960 as my Father was in the Navy he was stationed in Long Beach but as I told him I wanted to learn how to surf he rented in Seal Beach. I the summer of 1961 I bought an Ole for $10 and walked with a friend to the Seal Beach Power Plant. My 2nd board was a custom Harbour for $80 which I have no idea what happened to it. I recall that board was the 8th or 9th he I watched him shape it. I did have a Jack Haley as I patched dings for him but shortly thereafter we were transferred to Japan and Seal Beach became a memory. I visited Rich in 1990 but he had no memory of me. Other Seal Beach locals remembered me but with three children and ten grandchildren my life has gone on. Happy to have been a small part of Seal Beach, Craig!


  2. majskyking says:

    Hey, Michael…I and my girlfriend made plans last week to attend the Harbour presentation/concert today.

    Downside? When I took my dog for a walk at 8:00AM, the temp was about 78 degrees…and I know it’ll get hotter as the day progresses. If it’s hot here in Newport, it’ll be just as hot or hotter in Seal Beach.

    I’m, if you recall, no spring chicken (79), and was diagnosed in March with a bone marrow illness…so cannot spend much time in sunlight.

    While a kid in Seal Beach I would long for days like today, simply cannot do it! Dammit! Was going to wear my “Seal Beach Grammar School class of 1948 T-shirt, too!!

    Elaine and I will attend the next festivity…for sure!

    Thanks for keeping me posted of events.

    Bob King


    • Michael Dobkins says:


      It’s good to hear from you. I missed the concert myself because I was down in San Diego on vacation. There is a slide show on October 27, so maybe we can finally meet then.

      Take Care,


  3. Any chance you can add some captions/info about the photos? Especially the one in front of the August house.

    Awesome stuff as always.


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