DESIGN: Tom Blake Paddle-board
DESIGNER: Tom Blake
Tom Blake hollow paddle board design of plywood panels fixed over a timber frame.
Metal nose plug
Timber rail gunnels
Long based solid timber keel fin.
Information supplied via email by Darrell Goforth, June 2004, with thanks.
Text below , with minor spelling corrections.
Photographs supplied via email by Darrell Goforth, February 2005, with thanks.
My friend and I aquired an obviously very old paddle board a while ago.
We chose to keep it, establish a bit of history and facts about it, when we could afford it, get it restored by someone who knows what they are doing, and has experience in that sort of field.
story behind the board is; I was given it by an
elderly lady for giving her a hand to move her throw
away junk, for the rubbish collection.
elderly ladies do, she continued with a story of how
she came to be in possession of the thing.
reading the section of Lou Morath's board (#191)construction,
it sounds almost identical.
See History : Tom Blake 1926 - 1935
The Hollow Paddle Board, a timber frame with plywood skin, was developed by Tom Blake in Hawaii. Around 1926, Tom Blake attempted to recreate some of the larger Olo design's that he had restored for the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. The first model was a sixteen foot solid board with a multitude of holes drilled through the blank, these were then covered on the deck and bottom with plywood panels.
He rapidly incorporated current aircraft and boat building techniques into surfboard design and his design of a light timber frame covered with plywood panels resulted in a huge weight reduction.
On 18th April, 1931 Thomas Edward Blake submitted three pages with a detailed drawing for a ' Water Sled'. and was subsequently granted US Patent No. 1,872,230 by the US Patents and Trademarks Office, Washington DC.Initially viewed with scepticism, the paddling advantages were emphatically demonstrated as Tom Blake dominated paddle races in California and Hawaii in the 1930ís.
Aware of the life saving potential of such a craft and an enthusiastic promoter of his sport, Tom Blake gave his design international exposure by publishing the blueprints and construction details, principally in various Popular Mechanics Magazines of the period. See below or Plans and Specifications. Publication saw the design rapidly adopted around the world, notably Australia, New Zealand, Peru and South Africa. In these countries it had an extended life due to the lag before these countries caught up with the developments in fibreglass and foam. In Australia the design first appearred as the Racing 16 and was later modified to a finned Malibu (1956-1958) while in New Zealand the lag was even longer and hollow Malibu boards were manufactured up to 1961. (Maxwell page 240-241).
Circa 1934 Tom Blake added a small water ski type fin/skeg to one of his hollow boards. Although an significant addition, because of the emphasis on paddling, the small size relative to the board, the increased danger and the difficulty in attachment, many riders do not consider fins as a necessity.
It rarely appears on Australian examples of long Hollows.
1. Maxwell, C. Bede Surf : Australians Against the Sea
Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1949. pages 241-242.
2. Harris, Reg. S. The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961
Published by Manly Life Saving Club, NSW Printed by Publicity Press Ltd. 1961
pages 54 - 56, and elsewhere.
3. Margan, Frank and Finney, Ben R.(Margan and Finney) : A Pictorial History of Surfing
Paul Hamlyn Pty Ltd, 176 South Creek Road, Dee Why West, NSW 2099.1970.
photographs page 118 and 127
4. Galton, Barry Gladiators of the Surf
AH & AW Read Pty Ltd, 2 Aquatic Drive Frenchs Forest NSW 2086 1984 page 64 -65
5. Thoms, Albie: Surfmovies The Blue Group PO Box 321 Noosa Heads Queensland 4567. 2000