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Dave and Rhonda Daum at their King's Paddle Sports factory in Carlsbad. Photo by Chris Ahrens
Dave and Rhonda Daum at the King's Paddle Sports factory in Carlsbad.
Photo by Chris Ahrens

The Glide of King’s

by Chris Ahrens I don’t remember when I first met Dave and Rhonda Daum, but I do remember where: Cardiff Reef. Dave was riding his own boards, and, as I recall, they had no logos on them. They were clean, no-frills boards, and you could tell by watching how Dave, Rhonda and their children surfed them that they moved through the water quickly and without hang-ups.

The Daum family made life look easy — always quick with an encouraging word and a smile, ready to loan anyone who needed a board or a helping hand. I never did try one of Dave’s boards, but watching the joy he expressed in riding them made me believe they were better underfoot than what other grumpy surfers rode.

They fit right in and quickly became part of the group who partook in the sumptuous seafood dinners we all shared after one of us speared a halibut or brought in a few stray lobsters. The lot was opened after dark then, and barbecues and beers had yet to become illegal.

In short, we were a few years shy of being strangled by the California over-regulation mafia.

It seemed those days would roll on forever, but gradually our little crew spit apart, working more and surfing less, and we (or should I say I) lost touch with many good people and good things.

A few years later, the Daum’s showed up at Cardiff with some of the first custom stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) with the name King’s laminated on them. SUPs had already earned a bad reputation because some of its practitioners used the paddling advantage to catch more than their share of waves.

Dave and Rhonda were different; however, they were always fair, always trying to keep the peace in the lineup, paddling away whenever things got hot.

As the lineup began to boil over with animosity between traditional surfing and stand-up paddlers, Dave volunteered to help broker the peace, something the opposition refused to partake in, leaving the issue unresolved.

A few weeks ago, I visited Dave and Rhonda at their factory, King’s Paddle Sports in Carlsbad. It is there that they build quality SUPs, racing paddleboards, quality surfboards of all types, and various types of custom foilboards.

Foilboarding, if you don’t know, is that dreamy pelican-like surfing where the rider glides above the wave rather than directly over it. Some foil boards don’t require waves at all but are propelled by motors or sails, offering endless fun to anyone near a body of water.

Foilboarding looks amazing but is limited by the steep price (at least $2,500 to buy in) and an even steeper learning curve. To quote one of the latest foilboarding converts, world skateboarding champion Henry Hester, “Foilboarding isn’t difficult; it’s impossible.”

After watching novices struggle to learn the sport, I realize the truth of Hester’s statement and so find myself oscillating between my desire to learn it and the anticipated frustration I know I will endure in the process.

Dave and Rhonda have never tried to convince me of their way of thinking about foilboarding or the many ways they have chosen to enjoy the ocean. They don’t have to; being around them is enough to push me over the edge.

This 2023 write-up is from The Coast News: