Peter has been surfing since 1963, and was included in the first group of inductees in the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 1996. He has won both professional and amateur contests in both surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, body boarding, and knee boarding over the years, and continues to compete at all levels. He recently won the Adult Ironman award at the East Coast Championships Northeast Regional Surf-Offs, finishing 2nd in the Shortboard, 2nd in the Open SUP, 2nd in the Open Bodyboard, and 5th in the Longboard events. Pan has been an integral part of the Bic Sport Research and Design Team for almost two decades.Photos: Joe Mc Govern
When and how did you first get into surfing?
I first began surfing when I was 13 years old, with my best friend, Russ Norman. He suggested that it was a good way to meet girls. I could not swim very well but tried it anyway.
What's your favourite surfing spot?
It is the same beach that I caught my first wave at, the Narragansett Town Beach. It possibly the worst beach break in the world. No…it is the worst beach break in the world.
Best wave you ever rode?
Probably the left peelers at Pacayamo in Peru. I was there to judge the BIC Sport World One Design Longboard Championships. It was an absolute perfect sand bottom break.
How did you get involved with BIC?
We were selling lots of Bic surfboards at our surf shop, the Watershed, in Rhode Island, as well as renting them and using them for all or our surfing lessons. The Bic Sport national sales team thought that I might be able to help out with US sales, so I got hired. That was in 1999, and I have been at it ever since.
I have been fortunate to be able to design several surfboards and paddle boards for the company over the years, including the Magnum, Fish, Super Magnum, Big Boy, as well as several SUP’s.
What made you decide to set up a surf school?
I can honestly say that the original reason I set up the surf school was to avoid sitting in the surf shop and clerking. I devised a way to get out of the store and surf all day and it worked. The business has built up over the years, and I now teach lessons right through the winter.
What sort of surf camps do you run?
We run four-day surf camps during the summer months at two locations, the Narragansett Town Beach and Matunuck Point in South Kingstown. Both camps are popular, and we take kids as young as 7 years old. We emphasize having fun, and many campers come back over and over again.
Any plans to do something similar outside of the USA?
I believe in the “Peter Principle.” I am at my highest level of incompetence and am perfectly happy to stay there.
What advice would you give someone wanting to give surfing a go?
I think it is very important that you learn properly from a professional certified surf instructor, not your boyfriend or bro. They are not going to take the time to teach you correctly and you will probably get disgusted and quit.
What board would you recommend to a first-time buyer?
The best choice is the 8’4” Magnum for just about everyone. I designed it to work in all conditions, with excellent floatation. It is very easy to paddle and catch waves on. If the person is more than 175 lbs., I would suggest the Super Magnum or our new version of that which is coming soon. This will handle up to 250 lbs. and make it easier for larger surfers to catch waves.
"I love giving surf lessons!"
And to someone with a bit of experience?
My friend Gerard, who is probably the premier surfboard shaper in Europe, has a fleet of “Super Frog” and “Earth” short and long boards that are in the BIC Sport line. Someone could certainly find the right board for whatever conditions they need from his quiver.
Have you ever surfed in Europe? If so, where? And how was it?
I surfed several times in France. The surf was awesome in both Vannes, where the Bic surfboard factory is located, and in southern France, near the Spanish border. The beach babes were incredible.
Are you involved in any other sports?
I am involved in many other sports. I am an avid snowboarder, and teach snowboarding at the local ski area in the winter. I work as at group fitness instructor at several area gyms, specializing in kick boxing, body sculpt, and “Surf Set,” which is a very popular exercise class done on a small moving surfboard. All this exercise helps me to surf better. The older you get, the more you have to work out to stay in top surfing shape.
What's your favourite post-surf snack?
My personal favorites are Snickers bars and Cheetos.
What do you like doing when you're not out on the water?
I enjoy working at the Bic Sport warehouse in West Wareham, Massachusetts, dealing with both local and out-of-state customers. I like delivering both surfboards and SUP’s to area dealers, so I can get a good idea of what is selling and what is needed.
If I am not working, I am teaching at the gym, or watching Netflix.
Is there any new surf talent you would recommend looking out for?
Any hot beach babe…especially the topless ones in France.
What makes the perfect wave?
Any wave is perfect if you are only one riding it. Size, quality, and conditions can all be sacrificed for NO crowds. It doesn’t matter how good a wave is, if there are 5 kooks dropping in on it, in front of you.
How old are you - if you dare tell us?
Wicked old…. Almost fossilized.
What's your real name?
How did you get to be called Peter Pan?
I attribute that to one of the best surfers to ever come out of Newport, Rhode Island, Brad Stoner. He was announcing at a big surf comp an ESA contest, and could not pronounce my name. He called me Peter Pan, and that was in 1967.
Are you Married? Kids? Do they surf?
Yes. My wife, Jane, used to surf and skateboard but retired after some nasty wipe-outs. My daughter, Tricia, surfs with me all year long. My son, Ted, was a champion skateboarder, but now is into boxing.
What's your favourite :
Music: Jazz and Reggae
Food: McDonalds and Burger King
Destination: Atlantic City…surf all day and gamble all night
Alternative sport: Kick boxing, running, and snowboarding.
How long have you been stand-up paddleboarding for?
II was introduced to the sport a long time ago, interestingly at a Bic Sport surfboard photo shoot in Maui. I got involved into competing both in racing and surfing with them, shortly afterwards. Hopefully, my input in designing them has helped Bic Sport over the years.
How popular do you think the sport will become?
It has been raging for several years in the states, and continues to be very popular, especially in the Midwest.
What type of SUP boards do you ride and for what purposes?
I really like the 9’2” Ace Tec Performer for surfing and competition. It is very loose and feels good on all kinds of waves. I love the 11’ 0” Wing for cruising around and teaching lessons. I have an old 12’6” super light Race Pro for flat water comps.
What is your choice in SUP paddles?
I will continue to compete in both surf and flat water comps, as well as do my regular lessons and demos for BIC Sport.