The first impression you get of Bob Long's surf shop when you walk in is that its an Aladdin's cave of Stand Up Paddle surfing equipment. Its literally packed to the roof with boards, paddles, wetsuits, clothes and everything else you can think of. The shop is located on 4320 Mission Blvd, just a block back from the beach.
Bob has been running the shop for about 15 years and while other surf shops in San Diego were ignorant about stand up paddle surfing Bob decided that he was going to embrace the sport.
Bob says "I had seen Rick Thomas stand up paddle surfing since 2000, and I used to be one of those guys in the line up joking with him about what he was up to, then in 2006 I was surfing at Queens in Hawaii and there was a paddle out for a boy who died. About 200 surfers paddled out and after the ceremony about 25 of them stood up on their boards and paddled back in whooping and cheering and I thought - I gotta call Rick!" (out of respect for the deceased, SUP riders lie prone on the paddle out and stand up on the way back in).
Luckily Rick did not hold Bob's joking against him and told him what equipment he needed and only one week back from Hawaii Bob put orders for a board in with Ron House, Walden and Infinity (nothing like being keen!). After two sessions in the bay to get used to paddling on flat water Bob headed out into the surf and was hooked.
The shop is literally packed to the roof with boards and paddles. All the time I was there a steady stream of customers came in and out picking up and dropping off kit. Bob hires out Stand Up Paddle Surfing boards and has a great range of C4 waterman's, Jimmy Lewis, Stu Kenson, Infinity and Walden to name a few.
I asked Bob how he found being a stand up paddle surfing orientated shop and it was clear he relishes it. "when Clark Foam stopped trading the industry went into a tail spin, board prices went up, resin prices went up as did gas prices. People in the industry were panic buying blanks and it made consumers stop buying boards. A lot of people became really despondent with the whole surf industry and then stand up paddle boards came along and it really provided a boost. People were not so hung up on buying a custom board, and SUP has really helped the acceptance of EPS core epoxy boards, although some surfers still want a hand shaped SUP, most are happy with the great epoxy shapes available."
Finally I asked Bob what he thought the future for SUP was "Its going to get bigger, its going to be assimilated more into surfing and I think families are going to be getting into is as it is the perfect sport for all ages. I think we are going to see more combination boards that are good in the surf and on flat water as that is where the demand is right now, that is until Laird does something else crazy !"
If you are in San Diego and you want to go stand up paddle surfing Bob's Mission Surf is, by far, the best stocked and best informed place to go.
Website : http://www.missionsurf.com/