home catalogue history references appendix

Click for catalogue
              entries by date - start 1914 with Duke's 8ft 8'' 
pods for primates*
pods for primates : a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900 - a product of re-search
. was selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia, and archived annually in their online collection, 
7th June 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2107, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.
Site last updated: 7th June 2022.

On the Origin of Surfboards
or, On the Origin of Watercraft and Oceanic Navigation.
  Occasionally transcribing:
Jacob Bronowski:
The Ascent of Man, 1973.


If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called 're-search,' would it?  - Albert Einstein.
Life is a waste of time, and surfing is just as good a way to waste it as any. - Mickey Dora, 1975.

*The first edition was presented online about 1998, originally titled 
pods for primates: a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900.
The title was taken, borrowed, stolen, or in homage to, Bob McTavish's
 seminal articles
on the history of Australian surfboard design:

Pods for Primates : Part 1      and       Pods for Primates : Part 2
Tracks, Number 31, Apri 1973            Tracks, Number 32, May 1973. 

Left: Bob McTavish and Little Red, Honolua Bay, Maui, December 1967.
Photograph: John Witzig.
Surf International, Volume 1 Number 12, 1969.

The cover was kindly signed by Mr. McTavish at the launch
of his book, Stoked!, at Manly Beach, November 2010.

Subsequently, the website appeared under the URL

As its scope and content has somewhat exceeded the original parameters, 
from June 2013 the page headers are being adjusted to the URL.

The URL was similarly derived from another prestigious source,
Surf Research
was Californian company producing a range of products from the mid-1960s,
 including their coloured and scented surf wax,
The principals were Garth Murphy, Mike Doyle, and Rusty Miller.
Doyle and Miller were outstanding surfers,with substantial competitive careers and regularly appearing in magazines.

Left: Cool waxmate for surfboards by surf research, circa 1970.

At the end of 1960s the Californian company was sold and Mike Doyle relocated to Mexico, Rusty to Kauai,
Garth Murphy emigrated to Australia where he marketed Waxmate from a post box in Byron Bay, circa 1970.

In the early 1970s, Rusty Miller also relocated to Australia and he currently resides in Byron Bay.
Rusty contributed to Witzig's ground breaking Tracks and featured in the Bali sequences of Albert Falzon's The Morning of the Earth.

Left: Cover of 
Dixon, Peter L.: The Complete Book of Surfing, G.B., 1966.

Rusty Miller, Sunset Beach,  c1965.
Photograph by Dr Don James.

The cover was signed by Mr. Miller while attending the 30th anniversary 
of the introduction of Simon Anderson's Thruster at
North Narrabeen SLSC, 20 November 2010.

Many thanks to Rusty, Tricia, and Simon.

See Glossary : S : Surf Research

Geoff Cater.            email:        phone:  02 4448 490 
Information and Inspiration, thanks to ...

Bruce White and
Gordon Woods,

Above and below, Ken Grieves, Caroline Islands, 2010.

Sydney University Board Riders, 1970.

John McInnes

Geoff Fox
(1958 - 2004)

Paul Flack and
Gordon Woods,

Unfortunately this site and blog is no longer online. used to  regularly contribute content to the once highly recommended

Some Reviews and Comments

MIA, circa 1999: My first contact was a highly complimentary email from Rod Rogers of
Baltimore, Maryland, who had recently begun his web page, My Paipo Boards and ... More, now at
Unfortunately, the original has disappeared from my files.
Rod recently noted:
My, how things have changed in 13+ years !!!!
I clearly remember your early pages as they were one of the few to contain any paipo information much less so much rich data on surfing.

Although is a messy, cut-rate, hard-to-use site (at least of this writing), it is
by far the best single source of information for early Australian surf history.
- Matt Warshaw: History of Surfing (2010) Sources, page 479.

Ten years later, Matt Warshaw generously emailed:
Hi Geoff, I don't think we've ever communicated, but having turned 60 I have to factor in memory loss become making any kind of declarative statement.
Anyway, I have been a regular and avid reader-user-content-stealer of surfresearch-com for as long as it has been up.
What a godsend of a website.
Thank you so much for all the time and effort you've put into the project, and I hope it goes without saying that you can likewise take any content your find on Encyclopedia of Surfing.
He also added:
I saw a week or so ago, on your site, where you mentioned that surfresearch has become part of the National Library. What an incredible honor, and well deserved.
- Matt Warshaw, December 2020.

Hey SURF RESEARCH how about you apply your Anglophilic focus to surfing by our Sydney region Guring-gai and Darawhal Kooris.
I know you find this unpallatable.
Hint; Start with Kayee mai Gal clan (Manly) at Bombora (place where waves Thunder) maybe quote a credible witness, say an Officer of His Majesty"s Navy or two (Easily found just look).
Also consider Marou-Bora and Wamberal (Wam-Bora) by Tarra Gal clan.
Dont be shy now can apply your Menzies era view of the world to some real surfresearch.
- moondoggie, posted on Forums, Friday Jun 01, 2012.

To Mr Cater, the true champion of the sport.
 - Nick Carroll, handwritten dedication in Phil Jarrat's Australia's Hottest Surfing Legends (2011) page 106, Freshwater SLSC, 2012.

Hi Geoff, Great site ... I really enjoyed fin history
You have a great site and it is doing surfing proud..thanks for your efforts.

- Cheyne Horan
, July 2013.

Geoff, I just love your research, keep it up.
- Bob McTavish, March 2013.

Geoff Cater's great website (sic) has been an invaluable resource, and many times all lines of inquiry, and Google searches, seemed to lead me back to it.
I'm pleased to learn the National Library of Australia has seen fit to archive this treasure.

- Tim Baker: Acknowledgements, Australia's Century of Surf (2013) page 264.

Get over yourself Mr Serious.... and by the way the 'rudimentary' style was also exhibited by Duke and co.
The quality of the waves was also 'poor' in both cases.
You are a pompous ass and youtube or a viewer flagged your comment as spam... lol!
Get back to me when you've ridden a 17 foot 70 pound redwood board, with video to prove it.
- Roy Stuart (Roy Stuart Surfboards, NZ),
November 2013, in response to my comment on the inclusion of modern footage, apparently of himself, in a youtube posting featuring Duke Kahanamoku at Waikiki.

first of all i got to say is what an amazing job of reaserch you guys do, an second that is the easyest webpage to use, scroll up & down,  click on pictures etc..
you can really feel the passion for the sport, the histoy & for those who has made what it is today.

ps. sorry about my inglish
Roberto Martinez Rodriguez,
Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, September 2014.

Geoff Cater is the Burning Bush when it comes to Australian surf history, and just surf history in general.
- Ben Marcus, September 2014.

I value referencing your site from time to time... great to see someone who takes the time to catalogue much of the core essence of our all consuming passion!
- Andrew Close, South Australia, July 2015.

I should take this opportunity to thank you for a fantastic resource. I use Surf Research often, and not just for research but also for entertainment, procrastination, inspiration...
- Stu Nettle, Editor, October 2017.

 I love your site. It is no exaggeration to say that it has been an inspiration for many of the things I do at Shred Sledz! Please keep updating Surf Research; I find it an invaluable resource not just for my own research, but it's also just a pleasure to read.
- Henry Knapp,, December 2017.

Your research is absolutely amazing! You have given so many people some of the most amazing surfing history knowledge. Thank you.
- Ozzie Surfer,Central Coast NSW Surf Museum and Historical Society, January 2021.

Keep up the work on the  site. It is helpful for people researching.
-Tricia Shantz, March 2021.

The Photographs
H. Phillips: Surfboard riders, Manly Beach, circa 1928.

Note the range of board design and decor, in particular the text, I'en nui, on the nose of the board to the far right .
Also note the age range of surfriders and the female surfrider.

- Phillips, H: Surfing Beaches of Sydney N.S.W.
Photographer, Printer and Publisher
99 Victoria Avenue Willoghby, NSW, 1930.

The item is not dated but has one photograph at Bondi dated March 22nd, 1930.
2. John Witzig :  Bob McTavish and Little Red, Honolua Bay, Maui, December 1967.
Surf International, Volume 1 Number 12, circa 1969.

In the winter of 1967-1968, Nat Young and Bob McTavish took their recently developed wide-tailed vee-bottom boards to Hawaii.
Joining them in Maui were George Greenough and Manly'sTed Spencer, his flight to Hawai'i courtesy of Surf International's first place prize
for the Windansea Contest, held on Sydney's northern beaches in November-December 1967.
Shaped by Spencer and McTavish at Keyo Surfboards in mid-1967, it was an 8ft 4" x 23" stringered rounded pintail.
Fitted with a Greenough fin, it had a c
lear deck and red gel-coat on the bottom.
Their surfing was documented in Paul Witzig's Hot Generation (1968) and Eric Blum's The Fantastic Plastic Machine (1969), as well as in numerous magazines and books.
Despite the extensive promotion of the vee-bottoms, in fact, variations of Ted Spencer's pintail were to be the dominant design in Australia for the next twelve months.
This rare photograph of McTavish riding Spencer's board is just one gem in
John Witzig's fine portfolio of surf photography.

The board was previously described on this page as:
Ted Spencer's 'Little Red',  8ft 9" x 22" stringerless rounded pintail. Possibly Shane Surfboards.

I also noted: The board itself, however, broke in two at the Honolua Bay sessions.
The dimensions were an estimate and the manufacturer was an educated guess, based on multiple viewings of the footage.
The board's demise was based on
Bob McTavish's account of the Honolua Bay sessions, A plastic drinking straw... , Surf International, Vol. 1. No. 3  February - March 1968, page 11.

In November 2003, Ted Spencer emailed:
For what it's worth, so called Little Red board was 8'4" in length single stringer 23" wide and
was shaped by Bob McTavish and I at Keyo Surfboards in Brookvale Australia.
It didn't break badly in Hawaii and I took it back to OZ.      Regards, Ted.

Many thanks to Ted Spencer for this invaluable contribution.

Ted Spencer, Little Red, Lahina, Maui, December 1967.
Photograph: John Witzig
- Nat Young: History, pages 98 - 99.This is KAOS.
Max: My web page gets 500,000 hits per month!
Siegfried: I find that very hard to believe.
Max: Would you believe 500 hits per month?
Siegfried: I don't think so.
Max: How about 5 hits, and one recommend to a friend?

e don't Twitter,
ve don't Blog, ve don't Linked-in, ve don't Instagram, ve don't Pintrest, and ve don't Facebook, here!
Zis is KAOS!!!
- Ludwig Von Siegfried, Vice President in charge of Public Relations and Terror.

By the dawn of the 21st century,
surfboards appeared all around the globe.

Including this 9ft Malibu stashed in the barn of
Shaun the Sheep
on Mossy Bottom Farm.

The duck and four birds ride an ironing board
on a wave of the farmer's trash.

home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (1999-2022)  : : Home
This page is hosted by
The Real Mattress and Base Co.
Berry, NSW.

A companion site to

The Annotated Recordings of Bob Dylan.

Steal a little and they throw you in jail, Steal a lot and they make you king.
- Sweetheart Like You, Infidels (1983)