WATCHING John Geyer relax at his SOS Surf Shop, his claim of having surfed for six decades seemed implausible.
Surely he would have still been in nappies?
But it seems surfing is the elixir of life.
“I’m 70 years old,” says the tanned and buff-looking Geyer.
Growing up in Hawaii, surfing was a no brainer, and aged eight he laid claim to the surfboard owned by his restaurateur dad.
Two years later Geyer had his own board—and never looked back.
“Surfing for me has always been a lifestyle…a surfer can still go out alone with his thoughts,” he says.
Geyer’s long-term friend, John Severson, who launched Surfer Magazine in 1960, died at the age of 83 last week.
In 1964 Severson kicked off the search for the world’s best surfer, which became the catalyst for surfing evolving from a past-time into a professional sport.
Surfing seemed a natural tribute to his “dear friend”, so Geyer headed to Cottesloe last week.
“I was the only guy out there, it was beautiful…I thought of Severson and said ‘this is for you’.”
A journalist for a windsurfing magazine, Geyer landed in Fremantle in 1986 to cover the America’s Cup, met his wife and never really left.
When a mate asked him to take over his surf shop in 1992, Geyer sold his Safety Bay restaurant and turned his passion into a business.
The South Terrace shop sells all things surfing, from boards, to kites, windsurfers and paddle boards and anything in between, including wetsuits.
But SOS is serious about the sport, not the designer labels it attracts, and you won’t find brand names cluttering up the shop.
Instead the focus is on what the customer wants and needs: maintenance and repairs and follow up service.
“If you are not service-oriented you are kinda out of the game, because you can get everything I sell online,” Geyer says.
“What works is being able to guarantee a product face-to-face and fix it if it goes wrong.”
The surfing industry has changed dramatically over the years and it’s rare to find local, hand-made boards, with almost all made in China, or Thailand.
These days Geyer prefers kite surfing, which he reckons is easier on the body, but he doesn’t see himself getting out of the water any time soon.
by JENNY D’ANGER
SOS Surf Shop
305 South Terrace, South Fremantle