'Ol Yeller and El Mysterioso: a lasting legacy

A long time ago my friend Emilio kicked down an old single fin that he and his brother had shared for many years. It was as a 6’2” unsigned MTB shapes with a classic yellow resin tint and red pin lines. The bottom had six channels and a single fin box. It was my first shortboard. One day I was surfing at Tables on a small glassy afternoon. There was a guy with super long bleached white dreads shroping around on the waist high beachies.

We chatted in the water about the yellow board. Later we became friends, then roommates, we travelled to Hawaii together, he moved my shit out of my apartment when I decided I wasn’t coming back from Hawaii, we rode our mountain bikes in the Appalachians, skateboarded street in Cocoa Beach, split lanes on the bikes in Portland, hiked in the Hood River Gorge with Peta, cooked crazy good vegan meals, surfed some more, started a web project together, and then some. It's amazing how that one board, passed down by a good friend, has been the catalyst to such a strong and lasting friendship.

Some time around 1999 I took 'Ol Yeller in to Robert Strickland's shop to see about getting it remade. Strickland was a highly respected shaper and an honored member of the Cocoa Beach surf community. He eyed 'Ol Yeller for a minute then walked back to his shaping bay and came back with an old battered template. Sure enough, he'd probably shaped that board in the late 70's while he was working for MTB. He was stoked to see someone riding one of his old shapes. I wanted a new one I told him. He complied but said he’d update it with modern outline, rails and concaves. I later surfed that Strickland single fin in Hawaii, the only place that really had enough push for it to work. Tragically Strickland passed away in a boating accident while I was living in Jamaica.

Yeller moved in with my friend D$ where he lived in a dry secluded corner of the garage. The rails had split open and the board was not in rideable form. D$ took it to a master ding man who re-glassed the rails. He then ordered a Grenough flex fin and well you get the idea. ‘Ol Yeller lives and although water time is rare, the board that Strickland made still carries his legacy and so much more.

So thanks to D$ and to El Mysterioso Jr. for hookin up the banner for Ku Yah!


D$ said...

Good times indeed!

Malcolm Johnson said...


surfboard as amulet.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about that board yesterday...no shit. Can i get it back??? Ha ha.

So, a little of MY history on that board...well at least pre -the Rick and Dave love at first sight- incident. So, I remember riding in the "way" back of my brother's Jeep Wagoneer sometime in the very early 90's when all of the sudden i saw a flash of yellow fly past the rear window. We were on our ride back to Lake Wales, Fl from Sebastian Inlet driving the death trap hwy 60. At the time HWY 60 was a desolate, 2 lane HWY, bound by gator infested ditches and endless fields of palmetto and pine (not sure what it's like today), so there was always a lot of hairy passing...and my 18 yr old bro took every advantage. Well, before we left the parking lot under the bridge at Sebastian I remember my brother securing the board to the shiny chrome rack with shitty bungies. He secured it even more by also strapping the leash to the rack. Well, as I am stuffed in the "way" back with all the sandy towels and beach crap, i hear a sound of thin metal car roof expanding and i see that yellow flash. I sit up and begin to watch the MTB dragging behind the Wag down HWY 60 (just before Yeehaw Juntion...that's how it was spelled on the green sign) because the mullet head driving cracker thought it was such a great idea to also secure the board to the rack with the leash. So the MTB is dragging behind "The Wag" for about 500 feet...as opposed to landing in some soft grassy shoulder (or gator ditch). That's where all the rail scratches and splits came from. For some reason i held onto it. Then i met Rick and...you know the rest. E