|Yancy Spencer III first picked up a aurfboard and rode his inaagural wave on the Gulf of Mexico at Pensacola Beach, Florida May 1st, 1965.
Regarded internationallyas the best surfer to come out of the Gulf Coast area, Yancy remembers the summer of '65 when out of curiosity, he picked up a friend's board and paddled out among the waves.. Little sis he know the board he picked up that day would become a lifelong passion and eventually his primary source of income.
"I never really was a beach person, but as it got toward summer, it was a place where everyone hung out," says Spencer, president of Innerlight Surf Shop, Inc. "We were on the beach one day and my friend had his board the but didn't seem too interested in it. He had a girl on each arm and he was more interested in them. I asked iif I could ride it. The first wave I caught I knew the boys and girls were watching, so I goofed off and wiped out," says Spencer, the 1986 U.S. National Senior Mens Surfing champion. "But I felt like I could have ridden it all the way in. I got serious on the next wave adn rode it all the way. I was hooked after that."
Spencer, who has participated in various team sports throughout his childhood, had found his destiny. "I was too small for my age, and I wanted to excel in sports, but never could. Surfing freed me from that."
He competed in his first contest six months later, an event he regards as a milestone in his life. "There was a big event being held at Pensacola Beach,but winter was coming, and I did not have a wetsuit. I gave serious thought to giving it up. But like it usually is around here at Thanksgiving, we had a warming trend , so I went ahead and competed.
"I ended up making it to the finals and won a trophy. I had caught the best ride of the competition. A wave tubed over me, and I disappeared for the entire length of the ride. But I did not even knowI was in the tube, I had closed my eyes. When I came out of it, everyone on the pier was cheering adn screaming; it was like a football game. I looked around to see who was having a good ride, and then I realized they were cheering for me. It made me instantly popular among the surf crowd."
That first competition fueled his passion for the sport, and he began to travel the Gulf Coast from Tampa to Galveston competing wherever he could. In 1970, Spencer's efforts and goals became reality when he was name the No.1 amateur surfer on the Gulf Coast. He was flown to California to be interviewed by a surfing magazine.
"An interview in a surfing magazine is the ultimate for a surfer. I felt like I had made it when my interview appeared in that issue."
Later that year, Yancy was flown to Houston, Texas to recieve his award for being the No.1 surfer on the Gulf. It was a big night for Spencer. He was given an oil painting of himself and a 3 foot trophy at a luxurious country club. Spencer left that ceremony that night feeling empty and confused.
"Surfing was such a goal in my life; it kept me out of trouble. I did drugs occasionally but was able to put them aside when I saw it was affecting my surfing. After I turned professional, my goals became scattered."
"In a sense, wehn you are not striving, surfing is not a very disciplined life. I was never attracted to the surf bum life. I felt like I had a higher calling. But my bubble of idolization o fmy peers burst when I got to know them and see that they were human just like me."
Spencer's enlightenment came one day as he sat alone in his motel room, smoking marijuana with nothing else to do, he picked up the motel's Bible.
" I started reading it and it talked about the second coming of Christ and it really scared me. I really searched my heart. Later that week, I was in Virginia Beach and there was this really good surfer who wouldn't get stoned with me. He later invited me to church called Rock Church and I went out of curiosity."Yancy Spencer is 54 years old and has been surfing for 40 of those years.
In that time he has accomplished the following:
Gulf Coast Champ.
East Coast Champ.
U.S. Pro Longboard Champ.
In 1996 he was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame.
He is the president of Innerlight Inc., with multiple surf/ skate retail locations in eastern Florida.
He has designed boards for Greg Noll, Blue Cheer, Sunshine and Hobie. His shaping influences are Skip Frye, Hawk Warner and Roger Wood.
Shapers he is working with now are Carl Schaper and Wayne Jones.
His Big Guy Fish line is one of the best selling in America and he has designed 2 new Boardworks longboards with Carl Schaper. Both are squashtail noseriders and are available in 92 and 910.
Yancy is married to Lydia with 2 sons, Sterling and Yancy IV.