Boehne, Barrie


Agile and fearless tandem surfer from Orange County, California; world title winner in 1966 and 1972. Barrie Algaw was a Santa Monica High School sophomore in early 1966 when she and her father watched the Makaha International tandem event on ABC's Wide World of Sports. "Someday I'm going to do that," Algaw told her father—despite that fact that she not only couldn't surf, but couldn't swim.

That summer, while doing acrobatics with the local body-builders at Muscle Beach in Venice, Algaw met 53-year-old Pete Peterson. A four-time winner of the Pacific Coast Surf Riding Championships ('32, '36, '38, '41), Peterson was one of the few surfers from the pre-war era who was still surfing regularly—as a tandem rider, in fact, he was in his prime, winning state-wide and national events.

After training together for just a few weeks, Peterson (6' 2", 200 pounds) and Algaw (5' 0", 89 pounds) entered and won the United States Surfing Championships, followed by the 1966 World Championships, in San Diego. Algaw, nimble, strong, light and and a fast learner, was a natural. Two months later the Peterson-Algaw team added a Makaha International title to their haul for the year. "It was an amazing experience for a young girl," Algaw later said. "I still didn't know how to swim!" The male surfer at the time was generally given most of the credit when a tandem team did well, but Peterson didn't believe it. "It's gotten so acrobatic these days,"he told the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. "I would say the girl is 60% of the team."

Following their World Championships win, Algaw and Peterson were featured in Life magazine.

Peterson hurt his neck not long after the Makaha event and retired from competition. In 1967, Algaw met Steve Boehne, a surfer and board-maker from Huntington Beach. Already an accomplished tandem rider, as well as a friend of Peterson's, Boehne asked Barrie to be his partner, and then asked her to be his wife. Between 1968 and 1981, they won the United States Surfing Championships four times, as well as the 1972 World Surfing Championships, held at Ocean Beach, California—the same location where Barrie and Peterson had won a world title six years earlier. The Boehne's also won at Makaha in 1970.

In the '70s, when the surf wasn't cooperating, Steve and Barrie often skateboarded tandem in nearby Costa Mesa. Their skating performance was featured in Bud Browne's 1973 movie Going Surfin'. The Boehnes also appeared in Tandem Surfing: Keeping the Tradition Alive (2006), and Tandem Surfing: the Love Story (2011)

In 1971, Steve and Barrie founded Infinity Surfboards, in Huntington Beach; by the end of the decade Infinity was one of California's biggest board-making companies.