Longtime Ocean Beach surfboard shaper trying to rebuild after fire
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 08/14/19 - 08:00 AM | 1014 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The charred remains of Albert 'Ace' Elliott's surfboard shaping shed after the fire on Aug. 6. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
The charred remains of Albert 'Ace' Elliott's surfboard shaping shed after the fire on Aug. 6. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
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OB surfboard maker Albert “Ace” Elliott lost much of what he’s acquired, including 50-year-old irreplaceable memorabilia, when his shaping shed on Froude Street near Saratoga Avenue caught fire on Aug. 6.

Elliott’s workspace was full of old boards and photos of deceased friends he’d made custom boards for.

“I saw my bike was on fire in my backyard and I tried to put it out,” said Elliott, who’s been riding ebikes for years. “I picked up a fire extinguisher, pulled the plug, hit the fire — and it exploded. It just blew up in my face, like little shotgun shells going off, each one a little explosion.”

“It was a nightmare,” added Elliott of his loss. “It was my little go-back-in-time sanctuary. It’s not a dollar thing.”

Fortunately, the OB fire station was just around the corner and they came and put the fire out sparing damage to the property’s main residence.

“[The fire] took all my boards and tools, got my truck and camper,” noted Elliott. “There was a lot of sweat equity and busted knuckles in that. It was not a life or death thing. But it’s hard to put a total value on my surfboards and pictures on the wall.”

Neighbor Mark Phillips and a host of concerned others have since teamed to help the 70-year-old board shaper get back at least some of his loss, setting up a fundrasing page at GoFundMe.com.

Since the blaze, caused by a defective e-bike charger, a total of $8,143 had been raised in community donations toward a fundraising goal of $50,000.

“He’s just a neighbor and a fellow surfer who lives down my alley and we’d wave at each other,” said Phillips of his relationship with Elliott, noting, when Elliott told him what happened, he replied, ‘Why don’t we do a GoFundMe?’”

“I don’t even know how to start one,” responded Elliott.

“I knew it would be easy,” said Phillips, who said $50,000 was the target goal because, “That would make a good start on his getting his tools back.”

Phillips noted a surfboard shaper uses a lot of different tools in the trade, pointing out even foam blanks from which boards are made aren’t cheap, ranging from $100 to $400 apiece.

The response from the OB and surfing communities to Elliott's loss has been overwhelming. “It’s very humbling,” he said, noting he’s been contacted by people he’s made boards for from all over.

“I got an email from a guy in Australia who’d heard about it ,who bought a board from me in ’81. I appreciate the support.”

Pointing out he hadn’t even thought of rebuilding right after the fire, Elliott added, “I guess I will just take the money raised to help me online and we’ll build another shed.”

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