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Tandem champions and surf shop owners to be honored with bronze statue in Dana Point

Steve and Barrie Boehne, a tandem surfing duo who have won more championships than any other team, will be honored with a bronze statue in Dana Point at the Watermen’s Plaza.

It’s a bronze statue the community will flip over.

Barrie and Steve Boehne, considered among the greatest tandem wave riders, will join the cast of surfing standouts honored in recent years with statues in Dana Point’s Watermen’s Plaza.

The Boehne couple started tandem surfing in the 1960s, competing in the niche sport for nearly 40 years and winning more contests than any other tandem team in history.

They were the world tandem champions in 1972 and 1995, and between 1968 and 2005 won the United States Surfing Championships four times, the Makaha International Surfing Championships five times and the European Championships in Biarritz, France, five times.

They also helped popularize tandem surfing after being featured on the ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and in LIFE Magazine.

On dry land, they are also well-known surf shop owners who first opened their Infinity Surf Shop in Huntington Beach before moving it to Dana Point to raise their kids, Dan and Dave, in the quaint surf town. The business has existed for 52 years.

Steve Boehne started surfing in 1959 in the South Bay at spots such as Torrance Beach and Palos Verdes Cove. He was shaping boards by age 13, and in 1968 went to work for Gordie Surfboards.

The first Infinity Surfboard was shaped in 1970; it was a 7-foot balsa wood with a single fin.

When the shortboard revolution hit, Boehne was quick to pick up on the trend, shaping about 50 boards a week for several Huntington Beach shops. In 2014, he earned a spot in the International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame.

He married Barrie in 1971, and together opened up their shop.

Boehne was always an early adapter of innovations hitting the water.

When sailing catamarans became popular in the ’70s, he made boats. As windsurfing became hot in the ’80s, he designed and sold surfboards with sails attached. Kayaks and surf skis came onto the scene, and he started making those.

In the early days of stand-up paddling, he transitioned to shaping those boards, which were similar to the big boards he used to build when in the ’70s he and wife Barrie were the top tandem surfers in the world.

“When we were younger, tandem surfing and skateboarding with our friends, we were just having fun,” Boehne said in the city’s announcement of the statue selection. “We had no idea that nearly 50 years later we would be recognized for doing crazy stuff.”

The statue will be inspired by a video from 1975 showing the couple tandem skateboarding, with Barrie Boehne hoisted above her husband on one of their first custom-made tandem skateboards.

The statue of the couple is expected to be finished in 2023, created by artist Bill Limebrook, who made the other statues already in place of Joyce Hoffman, Bruce Brown, Hobie Alter, John Severson and Phil Edwards. Watermen’s Plaza is just across from Doheny State Beach.

A statue of filmmaker Bruce Brown is unveiled at Watermen’s Plaza in Dana Point, CA, on Thursday, Sep 19, 2019. The plaza also has memorials to Hobie Alter and Phil Edwards on Pacific Coast Highway. The statues mark Dana Point’s continued effort to tap into its rich surf history and culture. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The idea for Watermen’s Plaza is to honor those in Dana Point’s history who influenced the surfing industry at a local, national and global level, city officials said.

Ten life-size statues are planned at Watermen’s Plaza depicting surf industry pioneers and legends with local ties to Dana Point.

“We are thrilled that we have this opportunity to honor our local legends. The career success of the Boehnes, as well as their long-term commitment to our city as owners of Infinity Surf, further epitomizes the role of Dana Point in surf culture,” Mayor Joe Muller said. “It’s been exciting to see how our plaza has evolved and what it means to this city and its history.”

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