By Antonio Berrocal
March 19, 2021
The first time you walk into Waterboyz Surf & Skate Shop, you are likely taken aback by our building's sheer size and unique blend of products and services we offer. Our history dates back to the 80s when our owner, Sean Fell, and a group of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze skaters discovered their love of surfing. Hitching rides to the beach, when the waves were pumping, from older brothers and friends, quickly turned to an increased passion for the sport of surfing. Their love of surfing eventually transpired to the art of hand-shaping surfboards under the label Waterboyz.
( OG Crew pictured: Dan Dunn, Sean Fell, Brandon Heartjen, Kaipo Robello, Ed Woolverton, Scott Southerland, Paul Smith, Mike Nelms, Andy Cianciotto, Brent Greene, Todd Causey, Johnny Bullock.)
Sean and friends quickly caught the attention of Gulf Coast surfing pro and legend Yancy Spencer III as many of the crew rode for his shop Innerlight Surf & Skate Shop. Eventually, Yancy started selling their boards in his store, and by 1989 Waterboyz Surfboards had their booth at the industry renown Surf Expo in Orlando, Florida. At one point, our boards were retailing across Florida, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico.
(Scott Fell, Mike Nelms, Paul Smith, Lopaka Robello, Kiapo Robello, Surf Expo circa early 1990's)
Originally, surfboard production started at a rental house on Pensacola Beach where a lot of the boys lived. From there, we built our boards at Innerlight’s surfboard factory. At this time, Sean began working closely with surfboard shaper Rick Bullock. Rick worked closely with Steve Walden, the Father of the Modern Longboard, while living in Hawaii. Rick brought years of board-building knowledge to the table after spending years working as the head shaper at Spectrum Surfboards in Melbourne, FL. Surfboard production transferred to a warehouse inside the Navy Point Plaza right off Navy Boulevard.
In this location, the guys ramped up their side hustle of screen printing Waterboyz branded clothing and other jobs for local businesses and organizations. Waterboyz shifted focus to retail sales once we moved over to the Gregory Street location. The Gregory Street location served as the foundation of what Waterboyz is today. Here, the wholesale distribution of surfboards dropped off as we realized direct retail made more sense financially. One day, the crew picked up a halfpipe from a local guy whose kids were not skating anymore. Initially, just a fun addition for the guys, the halfpipe caught the attention of local groms who would come by Gregory Street to hang out and skate. From there, we were located inside the Cordova Mall for ten years, from 1995-2005. We had two different locations for a couple of years, one in the Target shopping center off Bayou Blvd and a second location in Gulf Breeze.
(Screen printing, Jimmy Lamar, Gregory Street)
(Gregory Street Location)
In June of 2007, we moved everything to 380 N 9th Ave, Pensacola, FL 32502. At 10,000 square feet, the building has provided a perfect space to deliver the products and services we have adopted throughout the years to Pensacola and surrounding communities. From our humble beginnings, a group of stoked out surfers has transitioned to what we like to call your one-stop surf and skate shop.
Today, we have stuck to our roots, and you can still find Rick and Sean upstairs hand-crafting Waterboyz Surfboards. Local shredders frequent the shaping bay, picking Rick's brain about their next board's features and what will suit our gulf coast surf conditions. Sean leaves the shaping up to Rick and handles the remaining steps of production. No CNC machines occur in our classic approach to building boards, just Rick and Sean. So, if you're interested in your very own custom surfboard, stop by the shop or give us a call at (850) 433-2929. We even do ding repair!
(Rick with team rider Noah Allen, 2019)
That halfpipe from our Gregory Street location is long gone. However, when we opened up the 9th street location, Sean teamed up with two brothers who work for Team Pain Skateparks to build the largest wooden indoor skatepark in Pensacola. Skaters have membership options or can pay $10 to skate all day, and after 5 pm, the price drops to $5. Yearlong, we offer Skate Lessons and in the Summer Skate Camps for your kids.
(Sean Fell Glassing, 2019)
(Waterboyz Indoor Skate Park, 2021)
Cafe Single Fin:
In 2014, we opened Cafe Single Fin right inside Waterboyz Surf & Skate Shop. Funny enough, the skate park's inspiration stemmed from us selling hot pockets and popsicles to groms while they were skating in the park. After several expansions and updates to the building, the cafe represents a significant portion of the business today. Daily you can find guests studying, chilling with friends and family, or watching some of the top skaters in the area throwing down in the park while eating some delicious food. We have constructed a menu that caters to most diets and offers a wide variety of vegan options. If you want to come in for a beverage, we offer an assortment of coffees, beers, wines, and other drinks. Click HERE to check out our online menu or to order take out now.For a great time, come check out Sunday Brunch. We'll be serving up incredible food, bottomless mimosas, and live music!