Written by Neil Pearlberg
Life is full of unexpected turns — in and out of the ocean. Glen A. Dewitt fulfilled a childhood dream of surfing and coastal living when he and his wife, Kathy, moved from the East Bay to 37th Avenue in 1969. Thing was, he was jobless. In need of direction, the surfer got it two-fold — with surf fins. Dewitt visited a fledgling fin company in Live Oak with two requests.
“I need a fin and a job,” Dewitt told Tom Knight, a surfboard shaper for West Cliff surfboards, who had begun making fins to keep up with the demand of the fast-growing surf industry.
Knight sold Dewitt a fin. And two days later, Knight offered Dewitt a $95-a-week job, glassing and polishing fins. A year later, Dewitt and Knight solidified their bond by becoming co-owners of the Rainbow Fin Company.
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Soon afterward, life became fast and furious. On the surface, everything seemed perfect for Dewitt. However, between fatherhood, surfing, work, and partying, the reality was that life was spinning out of control.
Realizing personal change was needed, Knight and Dewitt closed Rainbow Fin, moved their families to Napa and both enrolled at Pacific Union College to study theology. Yet, as much as living in the hills above Napa was a spiritual awakening, they found it difficult to support their families as full-time students.
Then, a surf trip to Bolinas delivered them a new opportunity and another change in direction. While stopping by Smooth Hill Surf Shop there to see some friends, they were asked if they knew how to make skateboards.
“We can make those,” said Dewitt, seeing a means to put food on the table. Knight and Dewitt went to school during the day. At night, they were glassing, cutting, grinding their new orders for downhill racing skateboards.
“We were back as artists and we were back in the money,” Dewitt said. Soon, Smooth Hill Surf Shop gave them an order for surfboard fins. Though Knight and Dewitt were operating out of two tiny sheds in the hills, they took on the order. Completely unplanned, Rainbow Fin Company was coming back to life.
“The time was right,” Dewitt said. “We were kind of both over college. We both felt that we needed to get back to the ocean.”
Get your Rainbow Fins today. Check out: RainbowFins.com
Off the Lip Radio Show features legendary surfers and skateboarders in their Santa Cruz, California studio. You can listen in on KSCO 1080AM radio in the Bay Area every Tuesday evening starting from 7PM PST. Now, you can watch the YouTube Live stream from inside the studio right here on TheSurfChannel.com!