the story of the legendary Zephyr skateboard team
The Z-Boys, also known as the Zephyr Competition Team, were a group of surfers turned skateboarders formed in Venice and Santa Monica, California in the mid-1970s.
The Z-Boys story involves three key people – Craig Stecyk, Skip Engblom, and Jeff Ho.
In the winter of 1968, Engblom and Stecyk were hanging out when they saw Jeff in his truck.
Ho ran his own Jeff Ho surfboards.
Craig suggested Skip teaming up with Jeff, and soon after, they were a trio renting space on Granville Avenue for $ 300 a month.
“Jeff was incredibly hip,” recalls Stacy Peralta in Michael Brooke’s book “The Concrete Wave”.
“He had multi-colored glasses, drove a 4×4 truck in the 1970s when they weren’t popular, and was an amazing surfer. He was what you might call ‘Superfly’.”
Young businessmen needed a name for their new business.
“I chose the name Zephyr because I wanted to be the last name in the phone book,” said Skip Englebom, who was already an experienced skater.
New company Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions (JHS & ZP) was now a surf shop and surfboard shaping facility headquartered in the heart of Santa Monica.
The business was growing rapidly.
In 1971, Ho, Engblom and Stecyk wanted a surf team to represent their brand in competitions.
Two years later, they had already recruited their first star.
Nathan Pratt, 14, had learned to shape surfboards at JHS & ZP and quickly surfed alongside and wore the same shirts as Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams, Tony Alva and other more experienced wave surfers.
They all lived in “Dogtown” of Santa Monica and surfed The Cove, a post-industrial surf spot located in Pacific Ocean Park (POP), an old abandoned jetty.
“We were riding our bikes at 4 am surfing and had to be careful not to get beaten up by roving gangs,” Stacy Peralta once revealed.
But when the lines in Southern California were flat and wave-free, a new sport was emerging on the nearby tarmac: skateboarding.
Who created and who were the Z-Boys?
The year was 1973.
“Tony Alva and Jay Adams approached Skip and showed him the new Cadillac urethane wheels. Skip realized how good the wheels were and started buying them for the store, ”says Brooke.
“Jay’s father-in-law, Kent Sherwood, owned a fiberglass store, and it was decided that Kent and his partner Dave Sweet start making skateboards for Zephyr.”
Ho and Engblom saw the four-wheeled board revolution explode before their eyes and quickly formed a skate team sponsored by JHS & ZP.
They also knew they could do something better than Bahne skateboards. So after the failure of a fragile prototype, a new seesaw design changed the paradigm.
Now all they needed was a name for their troop and their talented surfers-skaters.
The founding members of the Zephyr competition team were Allen Sarlo, Chris Cahill, Jay Adams, Nathan Pratt, Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva.
Soon after, the original Z-Boys squad consisted of the following 12 skaters:
Wentzle Ruml IV
Additional members who join the Zephyr Skate team are:
It was time to deliver.
New members began practicing and improving their old-fashioned tricks and maneuvers on the outskirts of four schools in Santa Monica.
Those who witnessed the early days of the Z-Boys noticed that they clearly portrayed wave riding to street riding.
In other words, the legendary California skate team were literally surfing the outdoor urban environments of their city and neighborhoods.
Everything was skatable, and they even dragged their hands against the ground as if they were hanging onto the barrel.
Some of the most memorable skate photos in sports history take us back to this post- “Skater“golden period.
Craig Stecyk and his clinical eye for dramatic, intense and highly expressive photos found themselves in the iconic “Dogtown Articles” series published in Skateboarder Magazine.
“There wouldn’t have been Dogtown without Stecyk,” said Jay Adams.
Glen E. Friedman was another pivotal skate photographer of the 1970s. Later, he would partner with Stecyk and release the mind-boggling book “DogTown: The Legend of the Z-Boys”.
The first real test
The Z-Boys’ first public appearance was at the 1975 Bahne / Cadillac National Skateboarding Championships, commonly known as the Del Mar Nationals.
They knew what was in skateboarding – it was the first big skate competition in a decade.
Although she was criticized for her aggressive low-riding style by older and more conservative skaters, the Zephyr competitive team took the event by storm.
The JHS & ZP team and their punk rock attitude earned them a place on the podium in three of the six divisions.
Peggy Oki won the women’s freestyle division, Jay Adams and Tony Alva were third and fourth in the junior men’s freestyle and Dennis Harvey was second in the junior men’s slalom.
The Del Mar Nationals mark a turning point in the evolution of skateboarding and its multiple disciplines.
“Our concept of freestyle was completely different,” Nathan Pratt explained in a June 1977 interview with Skateboard Magazine.
“Nobody did any handstands or wheelies or that kind of crap – it was a performance style, not a trick style.”
“We said we were going to skate our way, not their way. So we entered this competition and did a complete, high performance, aggressive skate.”
Craig B. Snyder, author of “A Secret History of the Ollie”, notes that Jay adams, “the most creative member of the Zephyr Skate Team,” even pulled off a Bunny Hop in “a sequential, hyperkinetic burst during his freestyle routine.”
Zephyr’s executive approach to competition also reflected the team’s enterprising attitude.
“I went up to the registration desk, put the stuff back [entry forms and entrance fees] and say, “We’re the Zephyr team, and we’re here to win,” “Skip later revealed.
Droughts, swimming pools and inheritance
In 1976 and 1977, southern California experienced a climatic event that would have resulted in the first and fourth driest years in Golden State history.
As a result, water has become – like waves – a scarce resource. It was time to turn off the tap and save water at all costs.
And backyard pools were certainly not a priority. In fact, it was almost criminal to fill them with clean, fresh water.
All of a sudden, empty pools were an opportunity and a new playground for 1970s California skateboarders.
In addition, they resembled ocean waves, with their curved shapes, smooth concrete, more or less steep slopes and walls from top to bottom.
Swimming pools, also known in the skate world as “bowls”, gave birth to aerial and vertical skateboarding.
The Z-Boys paved the way for a growing interest in skateboarding.
The team slowly disintegrated, with several members securing highly paid sponsorship deals from several skate companies.
In 1977, the most famous skateboarding team of all time broke up and finally broke up.
But their legacy is immeasurable and can be relived in the documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” and the film “Lords of Dogtown. “
The Z-Boys were the first avant-garde countercultural movement of skateboarding and restless innovators. They were responsible for bringing the sport of freestyle and slalom to green in pipes and swimming pools.
Zephyr was one of the most influential surf and skate manufacturers of the 1970s.
The myth and legend of Dogtown live on.