If you’re swapping out your quiver as fast as the milk is going bad… you’ll need to take a look at this.
Sitting humbly beside the bustling Newport Beach Blvd, a quaint little surf shack deceives unknowing passersby. This temple of stoke is equipped with any and all surfboards that have been birthed from some of Southern California’s finest local shapers. The equipment transcends utility as passionate artists create products for surfers by surfers. It’s a culture and the vibes are felt from the moment you walk into The Board Club, to the moment you try one of their boards on for size. Twinnies, bonzers, thrusters, soft tops, single fins, and even boogie boards all come together to cater to anyone looking to draw some clean lines while riding A1 equipment… is that your rotting milk I’m smelling from here already? The 31 flavors of surf, if you will. It’s a perfect venue if you’re looking to explore different surfing styles while staying true to Newport’s local artists. The Board Club has taken disguise as a modest little surf shack, but what Peter Belden has created is far beyond what meets the eye. Your crush concierge, Peter Belden, is the owner, operator, ex nomad, college athlete and all-around good dude, seeking to tighten the seams of a local community by developing a hub for lovers of wave life that’s brimming with innovation, passion and good conversation.
After graduating from the University of California Los Angeles Peter dabbled in a few different ventures including real estate for about 10 years, after which he found his footing selling data analytic software to companies in San Francisco. One of those companies being Dollar Shave Club. Ever heard of it? After pursuing this venture for about five years, money was consistent. Like most of us, though, the money was paying the bills, but the passion and fulfillment just wasn’t there. Sometimes we prioritize stability over our dreams until life smacks you in the face. It wasn’t until the death of a dear friend, colleague, big wave enthusiast, and Newport household name, Ben Carlson, that gave him the confidence to take the leap and chase his dreams. The loss of Ben Carlson had such a large impact on so many of our lives here in Newport Beach, and it’s a beautiful thing what triggered Peter thereafter.
So, Peter quit his job, sold his car and put everything in storage. He decided to eat-pray-love until he discovered what he wanted to pursue in life that would truly fill that void he had been feeling. The journey first started in Indonesia where he stayed for a couple months and then he spent six months living out of a van in Australia. While getting absolutely worked at a surf break by the name of Guillotines, Peter quickly came to the conclusion that his groveller bought off of craigslist was simply not going to cut it at this place.
The waves demanded more and so did the industry. With a limited budget for even food and gas, he understood that rental places were not going to supply for Pete’s demand and purchasing a new blade was simply out of the question. What Peter didn’t know was that along his scavenge for a cheap sled, he was actually on the way to discovering his idea for The Board Club. After spending much time at the local board riders club in Australia, a light bulb went off in his head. Peter shared with us, “I thought what if people could pay a monthly subscription and not have to rent some piece of shit. So after spending days at coffee shops writing out the business plan, expecting to find a fatal flaw that I just wasn’t seeing—due to the fact that I’ve never worked in the industry. The more I researched, the more I wrote it out, it just started to make more sense as I went along.” With his wealth of experience in data analytics, Peter was able to develop an idea and incorporate a subscription model into the business that fueled an opportunity to combine a unique approach to profitability with one of his greatest loves—surfing. The kinks were ironed out and the blueprint for his idea was ready to take off. His bags were packed, and he was on his way home to revive the culture and community of wave riding. Shortly after he touched down in the U.S., it only took nine months for his idea to come to life. Today, it’s a well-respected establishment along the boulevard that has given surfing a second life. All are welcome, quality products are made with love and affordability and most importantly, The Board Club has strengthened and expanded the local surf community all at the same time.
Here's a little more on our conversation:
What are some of the coolest places that some members have taken your boards?
“Not just my surfboards but like stickers and sweatshirts too. I can’t tell you how often people tag me on Instagram with a board club sticker in Bali or wearing a shirt in Puerto Escondido. My favorite thing is like cruising around on my bike and passing someone with a board club shirt but they don’t even know me, but it just gives me the biggest grin seeing people repping my shirt.”
Give us a run down on some of the shapers you've been working with and maybe some shapers that are coming on board!
“So, we just got Lost Lib techs and obviously its Lost, tried and true, the Lib Techs for me especially with the business model they are so durable and stay pretty clean. I realized that shortboards are really difficult because they get beat up so quickly and lose their value the fastest and requires such a larger inventory because you have to satisfy every quarter inch there in a whole other category so the Lib Techs at least for me from the business model perspective their great and the members love them because it’s a well-known brand and their durable. Everyone Is familiar with your standard shortboard but what people have not ridden for example are a funky twin fin asym or like a rad single fin. The stuff that's expensive or it's hard to drop $600 bucks on, I've got here and for only $90 bucks a month you can ride all this weird shit you've always wanted to. I try to maintain 50% of the boards as local shapers because I want to keep the connection between shapers and surfers rather than going to Lost’s website and self-diagnosing a board. For example, Todd McFarland is not well known but he makes this rad twin fins shortboard outlines with drivey fins like their beautiful boards, but nobody recognizes his logo because most people are brand whores lol. Board club solves 3 main problems: Gives you access to boards. Provides a community to surf with. And teaches you ocean techniques to make you surf a little safer. Rather than having them go wedge and get absolutely wrecked and they know proper etiquette. As the business is concerned it’s a much bigger piece of the pie to tend to.
Best breakfast burrito in town?
“Alta surfer burrito, as cliche as it sounds or super pollo”.
Best beer in town?
“I’ve been hooked on Helmsman. The brew master is a dude who I actually played water polo with in college. He actually won brewer of the year when he was working over at Stone Brewery”.
What has been your magic stick recently?
“That's actually the problem with Board Club, there are just too many boards to choose from, but I've been really liking the small single fins lately, like 5’10”.
Where's the best cup of Joe in town in your opinion?
“I’m Honestly not a coffee snob. I'll drink 7-11 coffee. My Keurig might also take the cake”.
So what's next for you and Board Club?
“I mean right now, after 4 ½ years, the concept is proven I have a good understanding of the business processes and logistics of making it all come together. like I said there's no blueprint on how to do this. So now that i'm at this stage what i'm currently doing here is was not my final vision on how to do this, it was more of a boot-strapped way to prove to myself that i'm not crazy and now that i have that figured out what my next step is possibly a bigger location raising real money and that bigger location would have a bar, steam room, lockers and hot showers. You look around and surfers aren't spicoli falling out of vans anymore all stoned. I have aerospace engineers, ceo’s, young children, 70-year-old women, every walk of life. There's no place for surfers like that now, you know? All these other sports have places where they congregate. Surfing doesn't have physical locations where they can meet up besides maybe a facebook group that calls themselves a club, but I want to have a real club house and that's what I want The Board Club to become”.
Appreciate you Pete! Check out some more at newportboardclub.com or go swing by and say hello!
408 31st St.
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Written By: Reese Perez