This feature originally appeared in SURFER Volume 61, Number 3. Since that issue’s release, due to the impact of the pandemic on SURFER’s business, the staff has been furloughed indefinitely and all content production has been paused. Hopefully SURFER will one day return, in some form, but in the meantime please enjoy this feature from the final issue.
“This is the perfect mom board,” says 41-year-old Margaret Yao Calvani, pulling a mint green, single-fin mid-length from the crammed board racks lining her garage in North County San Diego. “I used to be more of a longboarder, but once I became a mom and started schlepping buckets and wetsuits and towels and snacks down to the beach, carrying a longboard was too much.”
The space around us—a scene likely familiar to any parent who surfs—is overrun with boards, strollers, tiny bicycles, miniature wetsuits and a half-finished load of laundry. At Calvani’s feet is a car seat and behind her is a folding table that sometimes functions as her work desk. It’s covered with papers, a yellow toy car and a volcano-making kit.
Calvani and her husband, surfboard shaper Matt Calvani, own Bing Surfboards in the small surf haven of Encinitas. The two met 15 years ago when Calvani was a competitive longboarder riding for the Hap Jacobs surfboard label, which Matt was shaping for at the time. Before the couple had their children—6-year-old Jacob and 2-year-old Coco, who have since taken over their parents’ quiver space—they were living “fancy free”, as Calvani puts it, surfing daily and going on surf trips whenever their growing surfboard business allowed.
Sliding her mom board back into the racks, Calvani says that between running the business and taking care of her children, she’s surfing less than ever before. “We used to go check the waves, drive from break to break, drink coffee at the top of hills looking at surf,” she says. “All that, gone. There’s no more luxury. There are no more free moments. We’ve both put surfing on the backburner, and surfing was such a huge, regenerative piece of our lives. It’s shocking to look back and think, ‘God, when was the last time I surfed? Was it that time like 2 months ago?’”