Surfer-shaper and longtime owner of Briny Breezes, Florida’s Nomad Surf Shop, Ron Heavyside, died over the weekend at 69-years old. A Fixture in the Florida surf community nearly from the time surfing was introduced to the state, Heavyside started shaping in 1964, shortly after moving to South Florida from Southern California. He opened Nomad in 1968 in the corner unit of his father’s television repair shop. Nearly 50 years later, the shop which is currently run by his sons, Ron Jr. and shaper Ryan Heavyside, is a nearly 6,000 sq. ft. South Florida institution, tethering the insular and eclectic Briny Breezes surf community to the surf world at large.
Heavyside was just 20-years old when he opened Nomad (though he’d been shaping since he was 14). Some of Heavyside’s handiwork–late-60s and early ’70s era single fins, reminiscent of the free-spirited, wayfaring surfing generation from which the shop takes its name–still hang from the rafters in front of Nomad. Over the next five decades, the shop played a pivotal role in cultivating what is now a vibrant surf culture in and around Briny Breezes, sponsoring local surfers and providing the surf craft de rigueur of each successive decade.
With a shaping bay and glass facility on premise to this day, Nomad retained its core culture, even after Heavyside’s retirement. With his sons at the helm of day-to-day operation of the shop, Heavyside remained a consistent presence in the community, entertaining visitors and locals alike with his boisterous sense of humor and legendary stories.
Last year Heavyside was nominated for induction in the 2020 class of the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame and those in the South Florida surf community who’ve visited Nomad or ridden one of Heavyside’s many hand-shaped surf crafts can undoubtedly attest to the worthiness of the Sunshine State legend’s future induction.