Big News! Surfing Legend From Florida Ron Heavyside Of Nomad Passes

April 15, 2018 • Big News !

Eastern Surf Magazine and sends out heartfelt condolences on the passing over the weekend of surfing legend Ron Heavyside owner of Nomad, Florida’s oldest running surf shop now in it’s 50’th year located in Briny Breezes and the longtime board builder of the similarly named label.

Ronald Richard Heavyside was born in Montreal, moved to Los Angeles at 2, and arrived in Ocean Ridge, Florida, in 1962 just turning 14 and then eventually going on to found a legendary east coast board manufacturing institution and a small, exceptionally vibrant local retail empire with true community spirit like all great surf shops.

The early day’s with Ron building boards while establishing a true Right Coast manufacturing institution out at the Hypo Luxo Road factory. Photo: Courtesy Tom Warnke

When Heavyside began crafting boards in earnest out in the unforgettably named Hypoluxo Road  industrial complex he and his friends dubbed them with the unequally unforgettable name “Nomad”  because the name perfectly captured the Endless Summer ethos of the tribes of  surfers in the mid-to-late 60’s and 70’s who were wandering the Seven Sea’s in search of the perfect wave.

In an e-mail and phone conversation today with Eastern Surf, longtime friend and surfing buddy, Tom Warnke, Executive Director of the Palm Beach County Surfing History Project for the Florida Surfing Museum had this to say:

“My old friend and high school classmate, Ron Heavyside passed on today.  Ron was 69 years old.  He was nominated and hopefully will be inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame at the next induction ceremony in 2020. ”

Ron with son’s Ryan ( left ) and Ronnie who run the Briney Breezes retail operation. Photo: Courtesy: Vissla

Continues Warnke, “Ron started shaping surfboards in 1964 and was still shaping until his passing.  Just last week Ron was in better health than at any time in the past few years, joking with friends and reminiscing about his days pioneering the sport of surfing in Florida. Two days ago Ron was admitted to the hospital with stomach pain, and the exact cause of his passing is not known. It is a sad day for all of us, and we send strength and sympathy to his family”

Truer words were never spoken and will be posting a more in depth look at this influential, pioneering retail / surfboard builder tomorrow.

To Mr. Heavyside’s immediate family – and the incalculably larger, extended Nomad surf shop and Nomad surfboard building family – we are truly sorry for you loss. – Mez –

A classic Nomad diamond tail. Photo: Courtesy Swaylocks /

  • Elaine Donaghue

    So very sorry to hear of your dad’s passing, Ronnie and Ryan. He was very known in the community of Ocean Ridge for many years…The Nomad Shop has been his and hi son’s for years. Ocean Ridge life will not be the same without your dad. I hope he slipped quietly into the sunset without too much pain…he will forever be in icon of the community. Godspeed to him and sincere condolences to you boys. You did him very proud.

    Warmest regards, Elaine Donaghue and family

  • Rod Smith

    Ronnie & Ryan, we are also truly saddened to hear of your Dad’s passing. We’ll be in touch later today; until then, please accept our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy. The Heavyside Clan has lost another “one of a kind” type of guy! Cousins Rod & Raye Smith

  • Donna Mcnulty

    Ryan and Ronnie, so sorry to hear of Ron’s passing. You know how I used to love his visits here to the US Blanks warehouse. I will never forget some of the times we had swapping stories. He will truly be missed by Aaron and me. Much Peace Donna

  • “My first surfboard.”

    I was eight years old living in Briny Breezes, FL with my family in a tiny cottage about 250 steps from the beach.

    The old Florida kind. No AC and no dishwasher. On most nights, the dishwasher was my brother and I.

    Every day we’d walk up the hill and step onto the beach sand to check out the waves.

    Frank, our next door teenage neighbor would play the drums and surf almost every day.

    And boy was I jealous.

    My dad never wanted us to be a “surf bum”, so getting a surf board was out of the question. But it wasn’t until a hot summer day that my brother Chad, John Thomas, and I made a pact…

    Today was the day we’d get a surfboard.

    We searched through drawers, scrounged through the last of our birthday money, and emptied our already emtpy pockets to pool our funds.

    John had $4, Chad pinched $6 (the oldest had all the money), and I somehow found $5.

    So as we walked down the street to Nomad Surf Shop we had one goal…

    Get a surfboard for $16.

    We entered the beachy shop to find some friends and some intimidating surfers with their blonde hair flopped over their faces.

    The kind of kids who’d punch you in the face for taking their wave or looking at them the wrong way.

    So as we wavered through the shop we saw the guy we knew and it was time.

    My brother walked over and asked him with some childhood confidence, “can we buy a surfboard? We have $16.”

    Our faces red and embarrassed from such a question.

    And all we heard was a laugh. “Hahaha. Is that all you have kid?”

    A gulped and sqeeked out, “yes sir.”

    “Alright. Come with me.” As he waved his hand.

    We followed him to the back secret room. A place that I’ve never been before to open up a world of old beat up, busted, and brown broken boards destined for the trash heap one day.

    “Here you go kids. Take a look around and whichever one you choose, it’s yours.” He bellowed.

    I looked at John and my brother in complete shock as we walked out of Nomad together all clutching our choice.

    I’ll never forget that day.

    But a few days ago that same nice man had passed away.

    Thank you for our first surfboard Mr. Heavyside.