Bill Stewart, better known as “Kentucky’s greatest surfer ever”, was born in the there in 1951, but relocated to Florida by age 2. It wasn’t until age 12, that he caught the surfing bug. One day while out with a best friend Bookie, whose dad was a surfer, Bill caught his first waves. He was instantly hooked and went on to spend that whole summer mowing 32 lawns to buy his first board, a 9,2 Hobie that cost him 32 bucks. It was 1964.
In Higshchool he excelled in Art classes but outside those school walls he lived to surf. By the time high school was over he had bought a 1963 Ford van for 500 bucks and split for the West coast. He landed in Encinitas where he made Swamis his local break. Everyday you could find bill carving the point with on his 5’6″ Plastic Fantastic twin fin. Surfing his way further north he made his way to his dream spot, San Clemente. Here he paid his dues. Paying his dues polishing, sanding, and selling boards, he took in everything he could about shaping boards. While painting, shaping and Riding for Rick James, BIll’s airbrushing skills caught the attention of OP. After airbrushing hundreds of boards for them, he was hired by south shore and then Hobie for his airbrushing and shaping abilities. Though he was working hard crafting the boards he still rode competitively, and had much success at the professional level riding for Hobie.
Stewart Surfboards, Bill’s first shop, was official opened in 1978 in the alley of Broken Dreams, Dana Point. Bill, by himself, hand painted, hand shaped, took orders, sold merch, literally running the register, in his tiny Laguna Beach shop. It was the spark of marrying his lovely bride Christy, and becoming the father of a son and daughter that fueled a new found seriousness for shaping boards. With his notoriety growing he put together a team that at the time included names like, Mike “snips” Parsons, Pat Allen, shane & Gavin Beschen.
It was in the 80’s when Bill’s inventive mind, came up with what would be the cornerstone of his distinct shape of board. He wanted a longboard that would go faster and turn harder. So the beveled rail Hydro Hull was conceived, built, and to the day is still a world wide staple in longboard design.
With the success of the Hydro Hull, the company grew and Bill opened a bigger shop, n his favorite city, San Clemente. 27 years and going strong his surfboard production is still in the same location, just up the road from San Onofre and Trestles. “We are the Kings of Customs” Bill likes to say, and the proof is in the pudding. Bill has shaped himself over 40,000 boards, and the Stewart team has 100,000+ under their foam dust covered belts.
Bill is an artist, shaper, inventor and a surfer with no stopping in sight.