EXPRESSION SESSION

May 17, 2023

Video by: Stacy Peralta & Ian Hayes
Video by: Stacy Peralta & Ian Hayes
Bing family member and team rider Tom Craig has been a surf stoked grommet for over 50 years. He’s also got quite the collection of vintage Bing surfboards in his quiver. What better way to share the stoke with family and friends on the Central Coast than to hold the 1st ever BING “Expression Session”? We sat down with Tom to get some insight on his relationship with Bing, his amazing list of surfboards, and how we can convince him to make this epic gathering of frothers an annual event.

    

1. Give us a little background on who Tom Craig is and your relationship with Bing Surfboards.

 

Here is a little background on myself.

I was born and raised in Hermosa Beach in 1951.

When I was a kid, my parents nicknamed me Wart because I was always hanging on their neck. Back then, everybody had a nickname.

There was The Flea, the Fly, the Hawk, Da Bull, and many others.

 

My dad was a surfer from the mid 30's and he introduced me and my brother to all the local surf crew, including, Dale Velzy, Greg Noll, Dewey Weber, Sonny Vardeman and Bing Copeland.

My dad got me surfing at age five at San Onofre.  He made all of our balsa boards from scratch.

I bought the 1st edition of Surfer Magazine in 1960 at Bing's original shop on the Strand, where we hung out as beach rats. Bing's wife, Conlee and family lived a block from us too.

 

In 1965 Bing gave me a job as cleanup boy at the factory and sponsored our South Bay Skateboard Club that included Brian and Bruce Logan.  During that time, Bing was negotiating with Donald Takayama to have his own model.  Bing told me that if this deal goes through, it will change his whole life, and it sure did!  David Nuuhiwa, the Slickemeyers, Rolf Aurness and my elementary school buddy, Dru Harrison joined in with several other hot riders. 

 

I was asked to be a member of the Bing Surf Team, which was a highlight of my life.  In 1966, Bing planned a Team trip to the Hollister and Bixby Ranch, where all thirty of us boated in from Santa Barbara Harbor in a sixty-five-foot dive boat.  I wrote a story about that adventure and Bing put it in his book years later.

 Throughout my life, Bing has been a major influence. He is the most generous guy on the planet,

sponsoring us with boards, T-shirts and Team jackets, but mostly his positive attitude and family values are at the top of the list.  We have been good friends for over sixty-three years.

 

2. List all of the Bing Surfboards in your collection. Which ones are your favorites and why?

 People always ask me how many Bing boards do I have in my quiver. The list is pretty extensive with two Donald Takayama Models, three Nuuhiwa Noseriders, four Nuuhiwa Lightweights, one Dick Brewer Pipeliner, one Bing Lotus, one Pintail Lightweight Hawaii, two 1963 stock Bings, two Bonzers, one stock Foil, one Australian Foil, one Karma, one Bing V Bottom, one Mike Eaton Swallowtail and one Bing Ugly.  

I guess I like Bings.  My favorite is my green tipped Nuuhiwa Noserider that I used in many of the longboard contests in the 80's and 90's.

It is featured in my Bing Expression Session video.

 

My son Cody Craig would ride one of my Nuuhiwa Lightweights in all the vintage longboard contests and always ended up in the finals, so I toyed with the idea for several years to break out some of my old boards for the local hotdogs to test out. 

 

3. Where did the idea for the "Expression Session" come from?

 

The Bing Expression Session became my focus over the last six months.  This was not a surf contest, but a gathering of local Central Coast talent. It was an invitation to about thirty men and women that I surf with fairly consistently from Morro Bay to Cayucos.  

I asked my artist buddy, Mike Teague to come up with a classic design for posters and shirts.  His skill level is up there with Big Daddy Roth and Rick Griffin. 

 

4. Give us some insight on your local breaks and the local surf community.

 The Central Coast can be fickle and very tide sensitive most of the time.

This winter proved to be a big challenge because of major storms and huge surf.  Our local Estero Bay Surf Club wasn't going to do their annual Big, Bad and Ugly longboard event this year, so I grabbed that opportunity for the February President's weekend.   As luck would have it the rain stopped, the wind was light offshore and the waves were in the three to five foot range. The local talent showed up, dressed in full wetsuits and colored jerseys ready for action.  My other good friend, Rusty Birchell brought four of his Bing boards to share too.

 

Now all I needed was my buddies Stacy Peralta and Ian Hayes to video.  Kelly Stewart, Carly Kaiser and Mike Teague were there to capture the still photos. The whole town showed up to watch the action.  There were no heats.  There were ten to twelve people out at all times, with lots of board swapping, shoulder hopping, switch-foot maneuvers and even an Iron Cross.  

 

 

5. Who was invited to the Expression Session and who were the standout surfers for the day of competition?

 

The standouts were Miranda Joseph (Most Stylish Surfer), Quaid Birchell (Best Noseride), Leon Burrows (Best Wipeout), Garrett Swanson (Best Cutback) and Lars Neshime (Best Fin First & Best Wave).  This was judged by all the participants.  It was an epic day that will be hard to beat.

 

 Several magic moments happened that day.  My six year old grandson and 4th generation surfer, Ford "Onofre" Dudley was on the beach, cheering on his dad Shawn who ripped it up on a Nuuhiwa Lightweight.

 

My main goal was for everyone to have fun, get some good footage and be able to present it to Bing for his 86th birthday.  It all came together and I was able to send it to him on his big day!  

Happy Birthday Bing!

 6. Do you plan on making this an annual event and would you ever consider running a similar event in Southern California at a place like San O?

 I have been asked if this will be an annual event.  That's a good question.  We will see if the stars align for next year, so I'll keep you posted. The other question was would I consider bringing my boards down to a similar event in Southern California like San Onofre.  That remains to be seen, as it takes several large vans to transport all the equipment.  Maybe we can encourage other Bing owners to bring their quivers on a special day.

 

I can't thank Bing enough for being so supportive to me all these years.

Thanks to Matt and Margaret Calvani for carrying on the Bing name and Grey Lockwood for sending up all the shirts, hats and stickers for all the participants. Thanks to Mike Teague for the epic design and Andrew Baty for additional artwork and T-shirt production.


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