Larmont, Mike


Surfboard shaper and board manufacturer from Durban, South Africa; the country's dominant boardmaker in the late '70s and early '80s. Larmont was born (1951) and raised in Durban, began surfing at age 12, and in 1972 was selected as a member of South Africa's team to the World Surfing Championships. In the years to come, as South African photographer Pat Flanagan recalled, "other surfers from Durban caught all the headlines, but Mike challenged them to greater heights, especially when it the surf was bombing and nearly out of control."

Larmont's shaping career began in 1968, as the Australian-inspired shortboard revolution took hold in Durban, and Larmont found himself in possession of a brand-new but suddenly obsolete 9'4" longboard. He sold the 9'4", bought a polyurethane surfboard blank and a hand plane, borrowed a bread knife from his mother, and spent eight hours crafting himself a vee-bottom shortboard. Three years later, Larmont met Hawaiian surfer and boardmaker Randy Rarick, who became an informal mentor, helping Larmont not only only with his shaping craft, but with business advice.

The first Larmont Surfboards retail shop opened in 1973 in Durban, and was eventually joined by branches in Margate, East London, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. In 1975, Larmont began shaping for Lightning Bolt as well as his own label. Larmont made boards for 1977 world champion Shaun Tomson, as well as Michael Tomson, Mike Esposito, Jonathan Paarman, Bruce Jackson, Peers Pittard, and Paul Naude—the cream of South Africa's surfers in the '70s and early '80s.

In 1976, Larmont cofounded Zigzag magazine. The original editorial office was located on the rooftop of Larmont's board factory.

Larmont remained active in organized surfing, and in 2002 he helped coach South Africa to a win in the World Surfing Games, held that year in Durban.