The Legend of the Sphynx on Seal Way




The Sphynx watching over the surf

The legend goes sort of like this… Blackie August a die hard local surfer owned a beachfront house in Seal Beach. This wasn’t any old house it  was the ultimate beach pad in Seal on the boardwalk at 1303 Seal Way.

  One evening in the late 50’s or early 60’s some of Blackie’s friends (depending on who tells the story, Harry Schurch, Jack Haley and a couple other local guys) had a bit too much wine to drink and helped themselves to a Plaster of Paris sphynx that had been decorating one of the local public buildings in Long Beach.  They decided that it would not only make a fine addition to Blackie’s roof, but in some mythical fashion, look out over the ocean and care for all of the local surfers.  They quickly nick named the Sphynx “El Supremo” and  Blackie made sure the Sphynx always had a fresh coat of paint on all the the right parts –  picture green with red nipples.

Around 1968, Blackies son, Robert August  (who was later to become famous as one of the surfers chronicled in the movie “The Endless Summer”) was the main shaper here at Harbour Surfboards.  Robert August, Rich Harbour, Mark Martinson and Danny Nelson had been room mates in Sunset Beach when Blackies beach house came up for rent and the crew quickly moved in.

merry xmas sphinx

1303 Seal Way / The Sphynx House 1969 / R to L: Danny Nelson, his girlfriend Helen, Rich Harbour and Robert August


The house had a lot of history, from drunken ceremonies honoring “El Supremo” to boardwalk headquarters for both summer girl watching and winter surf.  Oh, the stories that house could tell and the amazing people that passed through!    And in a twist of fate, Rich also met his wife Helen at the Sphynx house and they have been together ever since for 44 years.


In the late 70’s the property was sold for demolition.   Rumors went around that a lady named Lisa Gager was cruising the boardwalk when she saw the demo crew about to toss the Sphynx into the scrap pile.  She rescued it and after some years of toddler riding, a well-worn head is all that is left.

About a month ago, Lisa came by the shop here and said she had the mythical Sphynx head in her yard and she wanted  donate  to Harbour Surfboards for all to enjoy.   It has now been returned  to once again watch over and care for all of the local surfers we love so much.  In honor of our 60’s history we plan to unveil the Sphynx this Saturday at the Sunset 60’s contest for all to pay homage once again.


One of our favorite ads from 1968 published in SURFER Magazine  / January Volume No. 9

How things used to get done… Pen, Paper and a Postage Stamp!

SURFER Magazine / January Volume No. 9

SURFER Magazine / January Volume No. 9

Dear Rich,

Just returned from a side trip to Portugal.  Found some great surf at a place called “Sagres.”

The board I’m going to describe – I would like to have in Puerto Rico.

Foil type thickness.  Thickest part forward.  Widest part forward.  No hard edges except for last foot.  Straightest tail possible with pointed egg shape rail.  Give boat type belly with extra kick.  Not too far back right at the end.

Length 7’8”

Width 22 ¼”

Nose 17 1//4”

Tail-Radial look – 14-15 – slight hip

Thickness 3 ¼”

Rail thickness med-mild – 50/50 stock

Tail Block – rounded

Fin – Long and flexible.  Thinned out

 (Followed with 4 stick man drawings of Old Trim and New Trim.  Old Track and New Track with “full on brodie control”)

 This idea may seem a little far out but at least we can give it a try.  I will phone you from New York and find out where you sent the board.  We’re on our way to Paris right now.

Later,  Mark