Peter “Pan” Panagiotis

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Peter Panagiotis was born in 1950 in New York City but soon moved with his family to Narragansett, Rhode Island. Being a kid from the Big Apple, Pan, as he was called, never learned to swim — but that didn’t stop him from picking up surfing at age 13. 

By 1967, Pan was competing in surf contests, and over the ensuing decades he amassed hundreds of regional titles in virtually every division, from longboard to shortboard, bodyboard to kneeboard. In that time, he also earned a B.A. Fine Arts from the University of Rhode Island.

While remaining a competitor, in 1972 Pan also began directing New England events for the Eastern Surfing Association, where he became legendary for his always-positive spirit and never-ending stoke. Not surprisingly, Pan has not slowed down and continues to be involved in New England ESA events. 

In 1976 he opened Watershed Surf Shop in Wakefield, Rhode Island, and a few years later became involved with Bic Sport Surfboards when the company introduced the first ACS production 7’9” Natural Surf Model. As an addition to the large rental and lesson fleet at the Watershed Surf Shop, this new molded surfboard proved to be invaluable for its durability and performance — especially for beginners. 

Additionally, in 1980, Hobie Surfboards introduced the Peter Pan Slug signature model, a wide, thick, easy-to-ride hybrid that has been wildly successful. Over the next 30 years, some 10,000 Slugs were sold, mostly in New England and Florida. 

As Bic Sport expanded the line in the 1980s, the Bic Surfboard line, along with the Slug, became one of the top selling brands in Watershed. Pan went on to create for Bic the 8’4” Magnum model for adult beginner and intermediate surfers, as well as a 5’10” Fish for younger and lightweight surfers. 

By 1998, Watershed was the top Bic Surfboard retailer on the East Coast. In 1999, Pan was offered a job as Bic’s East Coast Representative for sales of the surfboard line, and he took it enthusiastically. In the years since, Pan has designed several of Bic’s best selling surfboard models, all in the ACS line. In 2000, Pan closed Watershed and opened Narragansett Surf and Skate.

In recent years, Pan has added standup paddleboarding (SUP) to his arsenal of talents. He won both the 2009 and 2010 New England SUP Championships in the Senior Men’s Pro-Am division in both SUP Surf and Flat Water Racing. He’s also helped design the Peter Pan Bic Sport SUP. True to his gregarious personality, Pan remains busy running SUP schools in Narragansett, and the shop is still thriving. 

“My favorite time to surf,” Pan told Eastern Surf Magazine in 2000, “is when it’s small, windy and there’s a blizzard. When it’s like that, there’s no kooks out and no attitudes.”

Photos by Joe Mc Govern, Dick “Mez” Meseroll / ESM, Ryan Gamma, Kevin Welsh / Surf NRG and courtesy Pete Pan