the catalogue #335
|1930 Risby Bros. Solid Wood Belly Board 3ft 6"||
|inches||L2||3ft 5 1/4''|
Nose Lift :
Tail Lift :
Other, Flyer/s :
Tail: rounded square with hole for hanging storage.
Bottom: flat with two cross cleats.
Rails: rounded square
Rocker: flat with nose lift.
Image right : Tail cleat and hole.
Deck: Risby Bros.Ltd., Elizabeth Street, Hobart - bronze plate at sweet spot. Image right.
Deck: natural timber. Possibly originally stained or varnished.
Dimensions and photographs Australian Surf Museum, Manly Suf Life Saving Club, 23 November 2007.
Thanks to Ray Moran, Ray Petersen and and Manly Suf Life Saving Club.
Australian Surf Museum Catalogue (2006) No. 55 .
The board is on-loan
from Dave Montgomery, Balgowlah, NSW.
"The board was purchased from an elderly resident of Belrieve, Tasmania circa 1997.
Built of huon pine, the nose lift was set by steaming the timber ande bending it over a metal pole.
The hole in the tail is original and allowed the board to be hung flat against a wall after use for drying and to decrease the possibility of the timber warping.
The owner purchased the board new and had several black and white photographs illustrating the boards in use.
This was in signficantly sized waves, large and powerful enough for some riders to ride in a standing position."
- Dave Montgomery in phone conversation, November 2007.
Many thanks to Dave for his assistance.
Between 1848-1894, they built Spy (a cargo schooner), Nellie (a cargo ketch) and a number of whaleboats.
the Register of Australian and New Zealand Vessels by Mori Flapan
At the end of the 1920s, they offered their prone "surfing boards" in a range of sizes:
BUY A SURFING BOARD
All sizes now available.
'Phone or Call.
RISBY BROS. Ltd.
16 Elizabeth Street, Hobart,
"For Everything to Build Anything".
- The Mercury (Hobart), Saturday 21 December 1929, page 3.
In early 1938, they
moved premises from their Elizabeth Street store to a new location in Collins
The clearance sale of a diverse range of products included a stock of 20 boards:
SALE OF TIMBER AT RISBY'S
Owing to Removal from Present Site, Our Entire Stock MUST Be Cleared!
20 SURFING BOARDS, in Huon Pine, shaped and cleated, with curved ends, at .... 12/6 each.
RISBY BROS. LTD., cnr. Elizabeth & Davey Streets, Hobart
- The Mercury (Hobart), Saturday 8 January 1938, page 9.
At the Collins Street
store the range of board sizes were specified from 4 to 5ft 6'', with an
addition fee for varnishing.
The previuous "surfing boards" was now shortened to "surf boards".
To complete the joy of holiday time, secure one of our
Special Surf Boards. They can be obtained in the fol-
lowing sizes at prices shown:
4ft. 6in. long .. .. at 14/ each
5ft. long .. .. .. .. at 15/ each
5ft. 6in. long .. .. at 16/6 each
Varnishing, 3/ extra.
RlSBY BROS. LTD.
Circa 400, the Paipo developed as small wooden prone board, used thoughout the Pacific Islands primarily as juvenile sport.
In Tahiti and Hawaii the boards were ridden prone, kneeling and, occassionally, standing.
Other Pacific Islands were restricted to prone riding only.
The origin of these
boards is speculative, but broken sections from discarded canoes, outrigger
floats or paddles (the blades) are possible sources.
The earliest record of these boards in Australia is by swimming champion, Charles Steedman in 1867:
"A small deal
(1) board, about five feet long, one foot broad, and an inch thick, termed
a 'surf board,' is
of considerable help to a swimmer who is crossing water on which the foam is deep -for by its aid he
can raise his head to breathe above the surface of the foam."
Steedman: Manual of Swimming (1867), page 268.
Solid timber handboards/bellyboards
were in use on Sydney's beaches before the visit of Duke Kahanamoku in
Sydney surfer and swimming champion, Harold Baker noted in 1910:
is used to a great ,advantage on flat, shallow beaches.
It is a piece of board, cedar for preference, about 18in. long, 10in, wide, and about half-an-inch in
It is square at one end, and half-round at the other.
The rounded end is to the front when shooting."
Baker: General Physical Culture (1910) pages 58-59.
Also see History/Duke/Detailed Analysis.
The enthusiasm generated by Kahanamoku's visit saw Sydney surfers persue the developement of the standing board and prone craft were dominated by the Surf-o-plane, circa 1933.
These prone boards
were in Victorian use as early as 1915, by a Mr. Jackson and Mr. Goldie
at Point Lonsdale, after a visit to Hawaii.
They were either imported or homemade adaptations and in 1915 they encouraged a local girl, Grace Smith Wootton, to take up the sport.
"Surfing arrived in Tasmania in the second half of the 1920s, although no clubs were formed until after the Second World War.
The man credited with bringing surfing to Tasmania is Harvie Thompson, who came to Hobart in 1926, having grown up and learned to surf at Manley (sic), NSW. Thompson soon befriended a local, Cedric Cane, and the two men became central to a project that subdivided and sold land behind Clifton Beach, near Cremorne.
Only eighteen blocks were sold before the Second World War, but by then a small, tight-knit community of shack dwellers had developed.
Their summer activities included swimming, fishing, flounder spearing and surfing.
Men, women and children surfed.
Their boards were entirely homemade from the pine sides of kerosene boxes, sawn up second-hand tables or any planks of suitable size.
During the 1930s they obtained more sophisticated commercially produced plywood boards with upraised forward ends.
Harvie Thompson's much-prized board was fashioned from cedar.
Most, if not all, boards were hand-painted with marine motifs."
Young, David: Sporting
Island - A History of Sport and Recreation in Tasmania., pages
205 and 206.
"Female surfers on Clifton beach in the 1920s.
Courtesy: Diana Gee."
Note the holes and
ropes at the tail of these boards to allow the boards to be hung to dry
after use as described in the account by Dave Montgomery, above.
Plans of solid timber
prone boards were pulished in Popular
Mechanics magazine July 1934 and
Science magazine August 1935.
These illustrated that such boards were already in use in the USA and publication in such magazines probably saw these plans distrubuted world wide.
The design was popular
in the southern states of Australia and in New
Zealand, South Africa
Hence the descriptive name, Empire boards.
Although many were probably home made, this and several New Zealand examples were probably factory made - note regular shape, nose lift and paint decor.
With the development
of an adult surfing culture, prone boards became essential in acquiring
basic surf skills. In the 20th century, the Paipo has been re-invented
|the Surf-o-plane||the Bellyboard||the Kneeboard|
|the Spoon||the Coolite||and the Mat.|
Also see Paipo Catalogue
Wells pages 157 - 159
Edmunson pages157 - 167, note Figures 51 and 52.
Maritime Museum of Tasmania: Homemade- Surfing in Tasmania
solid wood belly board, New Zealand 1940's 5ft
Longboard Surfshop (NZ) On-line Auction catalogue, 1999.
Boy with bellyboard, UK circa 1960
Edmunson ; page 162
Text reports dimensions as 4 ft x 12'' x 3/8''
Waterproof resin-bonded or marine plywood.
cost up to 30 shillings ($3.00)
Grace Smith Wooton and Win Harrison
Point Lonsdale Victoria, circa 1916.
Wells page 157
The board was made by a local carpenter,
cost 12 shillings ($1.20),
with her initials carved in one end.
Years Active: 1848-1894
Where Built: Hobart, Tas
Number of Vessels: 2
Type of vessels: Cargo schooner, cargo ketch
Names of vessels: Spy, Nellie
Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Sporting Island -- A History of Sport and Recreation in Tasmania
The book, Sporting Island, by David Young highlights important events, activities and people who have influenced and contributed to the development of sport and recreation and helped shape the Tasmanian community in which we live. The book will provide a background to Tasmania's sporting and recreation heritage and enable Tasmanians to understand their sporting and recreational cultural.