Rusty is a man. Or, at least, it began as one man. LA-born Rusty Preisendorfer (b.1953) moved to La Jolla, San Diego, as a thirteen year old, got turned onto one of California’s best waves, Blacks, got good, got sponsored and learned to shape.
Before the seventies was out, he’d shaped Shaun Tomson’s world title winning boards and had crafted the sleds beneath the feet of Australian legends (and world champs) Peter Townend and Rabbit Bartholomew.
But, it wasn’t until the teenage sizzle of Mark Occhilupo aka Occy in 1984 that Rusty dumped shaping for Canyon Surfboards and created the instantly recognisable R dot. For an entire year, Occ travelled the world with one six-foot long Rusty and finished third in the world without raising much of a sweat. And, he did it without a board bag. Occ’d roll up to check-in, dump his Rusty on the luggage belt, and walk off. Could there have been a better advertisement for durability and reliability?
One year later, Rusty was invited to Western Australia to shape a collab series with Santosha surfboards’ Mick Button. The success of the partnership led to the creation of the Australian licensee of Rusty surfboards, Vegas Enterprises.
In 1988, Rusty clothing was launched. And, then, the roll really began. New schoolers Todd Chesser, Kalani Robb, Shane Beschen, Dino Andino, Matt Archbold, Taylor Knox, Chris Ward, Pat O’Connell and the Weatherly brothers (Benji and Jason) become teamriders and icons for a new era in surfing. Rusty was at the sharp end of the surf brand push into skate and snow, supporting Tony Hawk and Willy Santos.
Through the nineties, nations fell domino-like under the Rusty boot: Europe (1990), Brazil (1992), Indonesia (1994), Argentina and Chile (1997) and Japan (1999).
In 2001, Rusty had its first world champ, Florida’s CJ Hobgood. The following year, Rusty picked up Australian teenager Josh Kerr, a world aerial champion and the current record holder for the most eponymous aerials invented (Kerr-upt Flip, Kerr-azy Spin). In 2007, he introduced his Club Sandwich to the world at the Quiksilver Pro, stunning judges (a 7.5 for the one turn) and his opponent, eventual world champion Mick Fanning, who had to record a near perfect score to progress.
In 2006, the privately owned Rusty Australia (Vegas Enterprises) bent their wallet out of shape and bought the worldwide marks for the Rusty brand (apparel only). If you’re familiar with the Australian license you’ll know they injected a fashionable angle into a label that once bent traditional, but now goes kink. Meanwhile, its prized A-team, Josh Kerr, Jay Davies, Jayke Sharpe and Nate Yeomans dominate the surf press – online, in print and, significantly, on screen.