Pictured: Gene Cooper and Mary Osborne with “Greeny”, Mary’s new 9’10” Cooperfish Single Fin. Credit: Mary Osborne Collection
By Mary Osborne
I have fantasized about having a Cooperfish surfboard from the very beginning. I was about 16 years old when I saw my first Cooperfish longboard up in a surf shop in Santa Barbara. The board I saw was extremely sexy, sleek, shiny, classic and far too expensive for a teenager with only babysitting money. My brothers and a few friends rode Cooperfish boards so I was very familiar with them and always lusted for one through my beginning years of surfing. In fact, I lusted for almost 15 years before I got my first board from Gene. Gene and I would occasionally run into each other out the water, parking lot, or at a surfing event. For years we would always talk about him building me a board, but it wasn’t until 2013 when I finally convinced Gene to do it.
It all started when I borrowed a friend’s Cooperfish out a Rincon one afternoon because I was bored with my current quiver of longboards. I wanted something more classic, heavy and a “looker” – ya know, something people look at and go “Wow!” Rincon was about 3-4 feet, uncrowded with perfect longboard sliders. I was having the time of my life on that borrowed board. I had nose rides for days and the board paddled so fast and easy. Overall, there was just a different feel to this board I borrowed. It felt like magic under my feet. Immediately after my session I called Gene. The conversation went something like this… “Gene, it’s Mary. It’s come to that time where you need, in fact you must, make me a board. I am in love with this board I just borrowed at Rincon and I must have one just like it in my quiver.” Gene laughed and agreed to make me one.
The following day, I took that very same board I rode at Rincon into Gene’s shaping room. He copied a few things from it while magically blending his special skills to make a new unique board he knew I would love. Luckily for me, Gene was on a deadline for a surfboard show in San Clemente and was already shaping about 4-5 boards for this event, so there was no turning back for him. It was a green light… and soon I was to have a new Cooperfish in my quiver.
During the shaping process I was in between my surf travels and was able to sneak in and watch Gene perform his magic. His shaping room was full of classic masterpieces and colorful resins splattered on the floor. The smell of resin was like roses to my nose. His one of kind designs were everywhere and I was frothing to order more. My heart skipped a beat when I saw my sexy new Cooperfish directly in the center of the room. Gene had used a light green tint with a special rice paper inlay for the design. I was in love…
Due to the surfboard show, it took about 2 months after the board was completed until I could get my hands on it. My first session was at Rincon and it was a memorable one. The waves were a little bit bigger than expected, actually a lot bigger. A random sneaker Northwest swell filled in the day I took “Greeny” (I named the board) out. It was well overhead with sucking up barrels and a very heavy current. It was actually super challenging for my new 9’10” heavy single fin. The Queen of the Coast was doing her thing while giving me a ride of a lifetime. I managed to take a few waves on the head, went swimming a couple of times, and got slammed on the suck ups when I pearled on the take off. Not really my plan for session one on Greeny. However, once I figured out the Cooper, it was a dream come true. I slid into a couple of inside beauties that were a blast. She rode like a true gem!
I can’t thank Gene enough for finally making me one of his boards. It is a big honor to have his handcrafted work of art in my quiver. “THANK YOU!!”
Final notes from Chris Grant…
While this stretch of California lies dormant for most of the summer months, a couple of small waves occasionally sneak into the various bends in the coastline. I had never officially met Mary Osborne before this session, but smiles and laughs came so easily that it felt as if I was meeting an old friend. Our schedules only jived for a mid-afternoon surf so the lighting was harsh and there was a bit of onshore wind …none of which mattered because Mary rode the tiny waves with such style, I completely forgot about the quality of the conditions. While in the water Mary introduced me to her open-ocean paddling boyfriend, Brandon, who rips on all types of surfboards as well. If I wouldn’t have known better, I would have already thought the two were married because they seem so great together. Fast forward from this summer day to a few weeks ago and they’ve decided to make it official. Hearty congratulations on your engagement, Mary and Brandon! Stoked for you both!
Photos: Chris Grant / Jettygirl.com | Cooperfish photos courtesy of Mary Osborne’s personal collection
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Mary Osborne – official site (includes surf camp and retreat information)
Mary Osborne on Facebook
Mary Osborne on Instagram
Gene Cooper on Facebook
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