My name is Petier Bergman, I was born and raised in San Diego and started surfing in the sixties on the amazing beaches and reefs in Coronado, Imperial Beach, and Sunset Cliffs. I was always interested in building models, mostly model cars and airplanes and when I was just a kid, my older brother and I built our own slot cars with attention to every detail, include painting the racing stripes and making sure we had the correct mini-stickers of our favorite race car drivers of the day.
We were very lucky because my Dad was a Naval officer and North Island had one of the best slot car tracks in Southern California so it attracted some of the best model makers and racers, on the weekends we were at that track racing our cars and hanging out with some of the best model builders of the sixties!
I also started surfing really young and was completely fascinated with surfing to the point that it was all I wanted to do. I grew up a few blocks from the beach so I surfed almost every day and naturally, with my model making background, I started working on surfboards right away; first learning how to fix my own dings, then cutting down my 9.6 longboard into a beautiful 8.0 double-ender during the heat and excitement of the short board revolution (under the watchful eye and guidance of my older cousin who was one of the glassers for South Coast Surfboards in the sixties).
I was fortunate to have experienced surfboard builders help me take my fairly new Hansen Doyle Model and whittle it down into a beautiful tuned-in 8.0 double-ender that I rode for a couple of years, that was the board where my surfing skills improved the most.
A lot of the younger local guys at the time just sawed the noses off their longboards then clumsily glassed over where the sawed off the nose was so the boards were ugly, unbalanced and did not ride well; fortunately for me, my cut-down longboard not only looked great, but it rode really well too so once my friends saw my board and how well it rode, they started asking me to help cut theirs down too (with my surfboard mentor overlooking my work and stepping in when needed), not only did we have a lot fun doing it, but it was an invaluable experience for me and I got a lot of insight from an early age how a surfboard factory worked, how boards were built, and how they were designed and shaped!.
My eyes were wide open and working on surfboards was almost as fun as riding waves for me!!
I built my first surfboard start to finish in 1969 (under the watchful eye of an Seth Johnston, an experienced surfboard builder from Windansea) and was always fascinated with the process how surfboards were built and how they worked; I was always looking at the latest board design breakthroughs first hand, my interest focused on clean beautiful Hawaiian guns, and I was completely taken by the Lis fish; once I saw Brandon Hayes just ripping on one, then rode the Lis/Jeff Ching Fish that summer, that surfboard design changed my life. Boy was it was an exciting time to be a surfer!
I was a pretty good surfer at an early age so I needed good boards but I also wanted to build my own boards too. Whenever I had a chance, I would order a board from an experienced shaper and if I was allowed, then sit in the shaping room and watch them shape it. I would ride that board for a while then go into our little garage factory when I was in high school and build my own boards. Sometimes they worked great and other times, not so much.
When I turned 18 I traveled extensively then moved to Hawaii and home based there over the next decade, I got boards from some of the best shapers in the world in California, Hawaii, and Australia and drank up every moment I got with these masters. I did that for years until I got confident and good enough to build and ride my own boards.
I have a very unique experience as a board builder, I started out in one of the first commercial surfboard manufactures in San Diego as a very young observer and at certain point, the grisly older guys would show me how to work with resin, fiberglass, and foam patiently showing me a few things one step at a time with baby steps so I didn’t mess anything up.
I then got the opportunity to work at the first surf shop in Coronado that was owned by one of the original board builders in South San Diego, he liked me and saw how interest I was int surfboards so he took me under his wing and taught me how to sell retail and take care of customers and also he painstakingly showed me how to fix dings, and sand surfboards professionally.
At one point when I was a junior and Senior in High School, I sanded every board he built for his shop.
It seemed at the time, he knew everybody in the surf industry in the early seventies so we would constantly have famous surfers and master shapers stop by to talk story, board designs, and surf travel adventures; He even gave surf lessons to a young Prince Charles at North Beach in Coronado, right then I knew what I wanted to do and the adventures began.