Dave Chun and I became friends because we both like to build things. Then Stand-Up Paddling came along and we started to build things together. His was the analytical, totally checked-out, engineering approach while my way was…well, all seat-of-the-pants. I mean, either way, it ended up with something being built…then we went and tried it out. Because his method involved more scrutiny, examination, and breaking it all down beforehand, Dave’s stuff had a lot more chance of doing exactly what he had figured out to begin with. There has always been a lot of going back to the drawing boards where I was concerned. This is why our friendship grew…we were Yin and Yang, whatever we did always complemented the project whether anything was actually constructed or just in the discussion stage. Now, no matter what we do…be it creating something, personal matters, whatever…each has become the other’s sounding board and always with better results.
Dave was a surfer when he grew up in Kailua, Hawaii but his passion gravitated to outrigger canoe paddling and building the paddles for it. When we met here in Bend, both of us transplanting from the Islands, Dave and Meg’s Kialoa Paddles were considered to be some of the most coveted by outrigger enthusiasts worldwide and were used by the top teams. I asked Dave if he could build something for Laird Hamilton who’s fledgling SUP interest was being sidelined because his paddles kept breaking. Dave did that and of course, the rest is history…Laird created what would become a new, global sport and Kialoa Paddles would become the most desirable. SUP was similar to Windsurfing, in that both sports exploded on their respective scenes then simply peaked for no easily explainable reason.
While this was going on, the Bend Parks and Rec got involved in a project to create a whitewater park in conjunction with the removal of an obsolete and dangerous spillway and redevelopment of a section of the Deschutes River. It was an ambitious undertaking but it did result in a river wave for surfers. The wave is 5 minutes from my own and Dave’s neighboring shops. I encouraged, cajoled and even begged Dave to give this wave a try but he remained aloof for the first few years, perhaps too busy with his growing paddle business to commit to another new undertaking. The rumor mill didn’t help…the wave did have and still has it’s share of injuries…the appearance of the ambulance was fairly regular during those early summer seasons and the specter of that was like a dark cloud over the river wave.
One day, Dave, out of the blue, asked about the wave. It was mid summer and the river was in high flow, too much for ideal board surfing on the wave. I said as much to Dave but to my surprise, he started going daily with several friends. The wave is very sensitive to how much water is going down the river…too little is a weak wave, shallow water and where the injury rate goes up from falling and hitting the concrete bottom. Too much water and the wave will be all whitewater and a very rough ride. When the flow is right, it is a beautiful green standing wave that once the dynamics are understood, is an absolute joy if a challenging exercise to ride on a surfboard.
When I was a kid just starting to surf, they called it “catching the surf bug” and over the years, I’ve enjoyed seeing it happen to others just like it did to me. Dave caught the bug and before you know it, he became obsessed…building boards, trying them out, redesigning them in his mind as he rode them, going back and building new improved ones, the process continuing. Covid came along and put somewhat of damper on our river surfing with new rules but if there is one thing that surfers can figure out…it is how to go surfing, no matter what.
The result of all this is…Dave Chun Surfboards, specializing in river boards for our local wave but also just surfboards in general. And with that analytical methodology, you can be certain you are getting something very special indeed. And when your board runs into the cement and gets dinged, breaks out a fin box or whatever, Dave has a ding repair service that is like the rest of his stuff…top notch. So if you’re in the market for a new surfboard or need some love for a damaged one, check out Dave…you will be very glad you did.