Immediately impressed, Schmidt and Adler then tried to launch a new American-based company producing and marketing the pre-paddleboard hybrid watercraft. But it never gained traction.
Forty-five years later, after finding his old Surfski buried in mud, Schmidt’s trying to bring it back.
Of his recent “reunion” with his vintage watercraft, Schmidt said, “I lost track of it (and Adler) after I gave it to my dad, who had Alzheimer’s. My mom thought he’d thrown it out. But my brother was cleaning beneath my dad’s house, and found it encased in mud with just the fin sticking out.”
After “reconnecting” with his long-lost, multi-use board, Schmidt realized now what he’d realized then: What a rare and special watercraft it is.
“It’s deeper and more unwieldy than a surfboard, but it floats a little easier,” said Schmidt demonstrating, kayak paddle in hand, with the completely restored Surfski courtesy of his friend, surfboard repairman Joe Roper.
“It’s easier to learn (on). You can catch a wave outside more like a longboard. I can beat anyone long boarding in catching a wave outside. Or, I can take it to the bay and use it as a kayak.”
Now, said Schmidt, it’s time to bring the Surfski back to life.
Price was one of the issues that beached the Surfski the first time. “It was above market (then), $400,” said Schmidt. “It never really caught on.”
But with the right price tag, and proper marketing, the Surfski might just prove to be navigable in financial waters,” Schmidt noted. “I think it might sell in the $1,100 to $1,200 range,” he said, pointing out paddleboards now cost about $400 to $800.
Schmidt took his new and improved Surfski out to test drive it for the first time the weekend of July 20-21. “She is seaworthy,” he exclaimed after his trial run. “Also, got the green light from my investors to move forward with production of the all new Surfski.”
The fiberglass Surfski would have to be made from a wooden mold. “We would fabricate it based on this,” Schmidt said.
Who knows, besides possibly being a profitable new business enterprise, the Surfski just might turn out to be historic.
“I believe, after some research, that it is one of the only remaining American-made Surfski’s in existence,” said Schmidt. “It’s a local idea transplanted from Australia that never really took off.”