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It was around the age of four that Brad Steph recalls playing in the waves around Bob Hall Pier with his parents. “My parents split up, and my dad moved to Galveston. I then kind of had dual citizenship, staying with my dad some and my mom some. It was while in Galveston, in the summer of 1963, that I started surfing. My dad took my stepbrother and me to 25th Street next to the Flagship pier, and we rented boards from Mr. Dalbosco, who had a surf shop nearby.”
Though the rich history of surfing stretches back long before even the United States, it is constantly finding new life with each generation. “The 1960s was an amazing time of transition in surfing. When I started in `63, the boards were on average 10' long and heavy, easy to ride but hard to perform on. By 1968, the short board revolution was in full swing. We were trying everything possible and some things [thought to be] impossible,” Steph recalls.
Surfers traveled up and down the coast of Texas, to Mexico, and California, some even ventured to Hawaii in search of waves. “By 1970, I had settled on a 6'10" Brewer single fin. This was a state-of-the-art surfboard made by a world famous surfer/craftsman from Hawaii, Dick Brewer,” Steph explains. “It was a time of experimentation in surfboard design and riding style. As surfers, we became kind of like a tribe, making friends with other surfers where ever we went. There was also a contest scene that developed in Texas in the `60s with the Gulf Coast Surfing Association.” Steph surfed in Texas competitively for about 4 years before moving to California.
As popular then as now, Horace Caldwell Pier in Port Aransas was a hot spot for surfers, because the waves there are better suited to the old longboard style of surfing. “As far as my part in all of that, I was just one of hundreds of kids who enjoyed the beach and the surfing lifestyle. Actually, my first job, at age 15, was renting out surfboards just south of Bob Hall Pier. I worked for a fellow named Joe Layton. He had a trailer full of old 9’ 8" longboards. During the summer, he would drop me and the trailer off at the beach on Friday afternoon and come back on Sunday afternoon. Times were different then, a lot more relaxed. The following summer, I had my driver’s license and hauled the trailer out there myself. I spent pretty much every day and night out there for two months,” Steph remembers.
“I started competing again in 1999, and managed to get a few State Championships in the Legends division, and one 4th place in the United States Championships,” Steph says. However, while Steph has had a few accomplishments displayed at the Texas Surf Museum over the years, he is most proud of his son Micah Steph who has made a name for himself in the world of surfing.
Steph attributes his good health to surfing, along with stretching and meditation as well as a clean diet. He tends to gravitate toward simple ingredient foods, and nothing from a box. Now, living within walking distance to the beach, the seasoned surfer tries to catch waves any chance he gets. Steph says, “I think after you do something well and do it long enough, it becomes who you are, not what you do.”