Linda Benson Bio
A native of Encinitas, California Linda Benson started surfing when she was 11 years old. She learned to surf at Moonlight Beach where she'd wait, until her brother or one of his friends, would lose a board and then she'd paddle it back out to him. Her father let her buy a beat-up old balsa board that cost $20. At 5'2" and 105 pounds, Linda would prove a gutsy and talented athlete, dominating women's competitive surfing for over 10 years.
In 1959 at the age of 15, Linda became the youngest contestant ever to enter the International Championship at Makaha. She won. That same year she became the first woman to ride Waimea Bay when she borrowed a board from the shortest guy surfing with her, paddled out and caught a couple of waves.
Linda went on to win the first U.S. Championship at Huntington Beach in 1959 and continued to hold her title in 1960, '61, '64 and ‘68 setting the record for number of wins by a woman at that event.
She tandem surfed with Hobie Alter, Don Hanson and Mike Doyle.
Winning over 20 first place surfing titles from 1959 to 1969, Linda still found time to act as Annette Funicello's surfing double in the Beach Party films and as Deborah Walley's surfing double in Gidget Goes Hawaiian. She appeared in Bud Browne and John Severson films, and she was in the first Surfer Magazine in 1960.
From 2003 to 2007, she ran her popular surfHER Surf School at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. She was the Contest Director for the Linda Benson Women’s World Longboard Pro at the Roxy Jam Cardiff 2006-2008.
Linda is featured in the 2009 film, The Women and the Waves. She is also highlighted in the ‘icon’ section of the 2009 film, Dear and Yonder. She received the “Silver Surfer Award” in 2010 from the California Surf Museum.
A flight attendant for over 35 years with United Airlines flying primarily to Hawaii and internationally provided her many opportunities to enjoy surfing around the world.
Linda was inducted into both the International Surfing Hall of Fame and the Surfing Walk of Fame. On her Donald Takayama boards, she actively surfs today as well as participates in fundraisers and exhibitions.
The Rail Grabber Story
Since I started surfing in 1959, I struggled with carrying the board. I designed Rail Grabber in 2004 to help with this challenge and after my Doctor suggested I stop carrying my surfboard on my hip. The first Rail Grabber was a very rustic version. It worked so well that I made more for my surf school kids that allowed them to carry their own board for the first time.
Once I started using it I was amazed by the response I received -- women, kids, and men would stop me and ask where I got it.
In 2009 Dennis Ryan introduced me to Dan Stevens who helped me get the design drawn and fine-tuned. I wanted a small and inconspicuous product that was basically an extension of the hand. Larry Balma and Suhas Kulkarni were my manufacturing consultants who made many things possible for me. After searching for the right material and manufacturer Rail Grabber was successfully launched in August 2011.
Rail Grabber is made of durable, UV resistant ASA plastic. It is attached to a easy grip handle by a nylon cord, tensile strength of 1800 lbs. A pad made of closed cell eva material formulated for marine applications will grip and cushion your surfboard.
It is a homegrown, grass roots product that is assembled and packed for shipping in a shed next to my house with the help of family and friends. It’s also home to my surfboards. It’s a fun place to work plus it’s a great feeling knowing the product is helping people with something that was difficult or impossible. It also allows me to feel even more connected to the sport I love... what more could a surfer want!