An Infinity made possible through dedication, acceptance of change
Riding Tandem — When looking up the definition of tandem in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it would be fitting to find a picture of Steve and Barrie Boehne.
Look at the word, either as a noun, adverb or adjective, and the Boehnes fit the bill. As a noun, tandem means, “a group of two people or things that work together or are associated with each other.” Check. They’ve been working side-by-side for more than four decades—as tandem-surfers, as a married couple and, since 1971, as business partners when the first Infinity Surf Shop opened in Huntington Beach.
It’s a partnership that has traversed the globe with Steve and Barrie sitting amongst the 1970’s top tandem surfers and competing together until 2007. It has seen the birth of two sons, the beginning of a brand, the evolution of sport and the creation of more than 40,000 surfboards—most at the hands of Boehnes, Steve along with sons Dave and Dan—bearing the lemniscate or infinity symbol, a perfect representation.
And so, Infinity Surfboards has stood the test of time, due—in equal parts—to the Boehne family’s commitment and its patriarch’s ability to embrace change without reserve. Longboards, shortboards, tandem boards, waveskis and stand-up paddleboards, name it and Infinity shapers probably make it. They haven’t fought surfing’s cultural transformation; rather, they’ve accepted trends and ridden their waves.
“Surfboards are very much like clothing, in that they are both things that evolve and styles that change,” said Steve Boehne. “We look back at the bellbottoms of the ’70s and say, ‘Well those are kind of funny.’ But in the same way you look at the surfboards of the ’70s and they are hilarious and weird.”
“Boards evolve and things come back,” he added. “You try to make yourself fall within the trends … So, you look at what’s popular and make it recognizable to the brand.”
Boehne started surfing at 12. It was 1959 and he hit South Bay spots in Torrance and Redondo Beach. He shaped his first board with neighbors a year later and hasn’t stopped since. Content with the waves of his youth, an inland move to San Bernardino introduced him to a new world. The young shaper was forced to explore and wound up in Dana Point and San Clemente surfing the likes of Trestles and Doheny.
In 1968, after hundreds of garage shaped and glassed boards, Boehne landed a job with Gordie Surfboards where he grew in his craft and averaged finishing 50 boards a week for local surf shops.
“When you shape, it is almost like being an artist … at the end of the day when it is done, you see all the boards lined up that you shaped that day,” Boehne said. “You are physically tired, but mentally fulfilled.”
Soon after, Steve met Barrie through tandem surfing—she was an accomplished tandem surfer who had partnered with the epitome of a waterman, Preston “Pete” Peterson, while Boehne was a novice.
“She really learned how to swim once she started surfing with me,” Boehne said.
The Infinity brand was born in 1970 after a round of beers produced the name and logo. Boehne designed the brand’s first board thereafter—it’s a never-ridden, 7-foot, single-fin, balsa wood board with the “#1” printed on the tail. He and Barrie married in 1971 and opened their first shop in Huntington Beach.
At one point in time, Infinity Surfboards had shops throughout Southern California, in San Clemente, San Diego, and Mission Viejo. But since 1986, Infinity, and the Boehnes, have called Dana Point home. With Barrie on the books, Steve on the planer, eldest son David on the design and marketing plans and younger brother Dan, a local dentist, in the shop shaping boards on the weekends, Infinity has thrived.
But as Boehne put it, right now “is actually the best time over the last 40 years.”