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surfboard shooting in australia, 1909-1940 

Surfboard Shooting in Australia, 1909-1940.

100 Years of Surfboard Riding
in Australia.

 Right: Tommy Walker, Manly Beach, circa 1909.
Illustration by Lesley Speed, Linda Champion, Geoff Cater, 2009.

In early 1939, at the instigation of Hawaiian and Australian press, the Surf Life Saving Association in Australia prepared plans for several international surfboard riding competitions, the first to be held at Waikiki later that year.
The prospect of a visit to the revered home of surfboard riding was eagerly anticipated by Australian surfers and competition to be included on the team was intense.
Amoung the many newspaper articles leading up to the Hawaiian tour, journalist Harry Hay presented an account of the origins of Australian surfboard riding, noting that boards were in use before the famous demonstrations on Sydney's beaches by Duke Paoa Kahanamoku in the summer of 1914-1915.
This prompted a short response from one of these early boardriders, Tommy Walker, indicating he purchased his first board in Hawaii in 1908 and included a photograph of himself and the board taken in 1909 at Manly Beach.

Despite the title, this analysis is not confined to surfboard riding but, of necessity, includes the development of other wave riding craft on Australia’s beaches in the period.
Furthermore, given the domination of the surf life saving movement in the period, the study would be deficient not to account for this influence and the interaction of complementary and competing designs.
Specifically, the surfboat, the surf ski and the surfoplane are included along with short (prone) and long (ridden standing) surfboards.
Conversely, the development of body surfing, or surf-shooting as it was originally termed, is only briefly mentioned.
While there is, at least to this writer, an obvious connection between body and board surfing and developments in swimming technique at the turn of the 20th century (variously known as the Australian or American Crawl), this appears to have been completely overlooked by swimming historians.
Body surfing skills were a necessary pre-requisite for the confident use of any type of surfcraft and it was certainly Australian surfers’ success in surf-shooting at the turn of the century that encouraged their experimentation with surfboards.
By the mid-1970s, the importance of body surfing skills was significantly reduced with the universal adoption of the leg rope (USA: surf leash).

Before 1900.
The earliest surfboards used in Australia were constructed from one solid piece of timber.
The first description in an Australian publication is by Charles Steedman in 1867:

“A small deal (pine) board, about five feet long, one foot broad, and an inch thick, termed a ‘surf board,’ ”. (1)

This is a substantial board, similar to dimensions reported in Tahiti (2)  and Hawaii (3)  in the nineteenth century.
Despite Steedman’s identification of the craft as a "surf board”, the text does not clearly describe the technique of wave riding and there is no indication where he observed this practice.
This may merely be a poorly transcribed account of any of the numerous previously published reports of Polynesian surfboard riding, and remains, at present, an historical anomaly.

In 2008, Murray Walding detailed a five foot six inch huon pine board, purchased on Tasmania’s east coast that “may well be oldest board in Australia”.
This is similar to the dimensions prescribed by Steedman in 1867.
Claiming the board dates from the 1890s, the previous owner related that it “had been copied from Hawaiian boards brought to Tasmania by whalers”. (4)

From 1870 the American whaling industry was in rapid and terminal decline and in "1880 the Indian Ocean and Australian grounds were untroubled by American whalers, although the locals were still active.” (5)
While whaling had a long history in Tasmania, initially from shore bases before moving to offshore whaling ships, it was largely a spent force by the 1890s and the last of the fleet, the Helen, was hulked about 1897. (6)   Certainly, prone boards similar to that identified by Walding were in use in Tasmania and Victoria by the 1920s, see below.

The possibility that visiting whalers were the first surfboard riders on the Australian coast is an interesting proposition given that whaling was practiced as early as1828 from bases at Cremorne and Mosman in Sydney. The demand for whale oil saw further bases operate from  Eden of the south coast of NSW, Kangaroo Island and Victor Harbour in South Australia, Port Fairy in Victoria, and Port Lincoln in Western Australia.

The willingness of Polynesian islanders to enlist in the whaling industry is well established, the most famous, no doubt, Herman Melville’s fictional Queequeg in Moby Dick (1851).
Although the novel does not contain any reference to surfboard riding (Melville did write about it briefly in the earlier Mardi and a Voyage Thither,1849), after the destruction of the Pequod, the narrator is saved by clinging to Queequeg’s (prophetically constructed) coffin, in some respects a hollow surfboard, the similarity in template noted by John Dean Caton, in 1878. (7)

When a longboat was swamped in the surf when transferring stores on the Baja coast in1857, the ship's captain, Charles Scammon, reported:
“There were several Kanakas (Hawaiian islanders) among the crew, who immediately saw the necessity of saving the boat: and selecting pieces of plank to be used as ‘surf-boards,’ put off through the rollers to rescue them.” (8)
This survival technique is not without precedent, the earliest use of a timber plank as a rescue device recorded by Homer in The Odyssey, circa 800 BC. (9)
Later, the account was reprised by Luke's account of a ship wreck on the coast of Malta in The Acts of the Apostles, when those who were unable to swim were able to survive with the assistance timber planks. (10)

While there is a probability that some Polynesian whalers traveled the world with their surfboards in the nineteenth century, determining a history of their activities is likely to be difficult and their impact on any local population conjecture. (11)

Footnotes: Before 1900.
1. Steedman, Charles: Manual of Swimming: including Bathing, Plunging, Diving, Floating, Scientific Swimming, Training, Drowning, and Rescuing.
Henry Tolman Dwight, Bourke Street, Melbourne
Lockwood and Co, London, 1867, page 267.
2. J. A. Moerenhout, who observed Tahitian riders kneeling on their surfboards (circa 1883), reported the craft as "a plank three to four feet long".
Moerenhout, J. A.: Travels to the Islands of the Pacific Ocean.
Translated by Arthur R. Borden, Jr.
University Press of America Inc.
4720 Boston Way, Lanham, Maryland, 0706.
3 Henrietta Street, London, WC2E 2LU England, 1993, page 360.
3. Circa 1825, Rev. William Ellis's described Hawaiian surfboards as ”generally five or six feet long, and rather more than a foot wide.”
 Ellis, Rev. William: Polynesian Researches: Hawaii
 A New Edition, Enlarged and Improved
 Charles E. Tuttle and Company
 Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo Japan, 1969, pages 369 and 370.
4. Walding, Murray: Surf-o-rama - Treasures of Australian Surfing.
The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing Limited, 187 Grattan Street Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia, 2008, page 3.
5. Mawer, Granville Allen: Ahab’s Trade-The Saga of South Seas Whaling.
Allen and Unwin, 9 Atchinson Street, St. Leonards NSW 1590, 1999, page 327.
6. Ibid., page 330.
7. Caton, John Dean: Miscellanies
Houghton, Osgood & Co. Boston, 1880, page 243.
8. Scammon, Charles M: The Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of North America.
Dover Publications, New York, 1968, page 261.
Originally published by John H. Carmany and Company, San Francisco, and G.P. Putman's Sons, New York, 1874.
Noted by Serge Dedina: The First Surfers in Baja.
9. Homer: The Odyssey,  Chapter 5, Verses 365 to 463, circa 800 BC.
10. Luke: The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 27, Verses 41 to 44, circa 60 AD.
11. Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum
Surf Exhibit Summer 2005: Island Kings, Whalers & Beach Boys- How Pacific Whaling Introduced Surfing to the World.

In Sydney, the use of boards (significantly smaller than Steedman’s) was commonplace by 1907:
“An ingenious little contrivance for assisting the bather in shooting, is an oblong board, about twelve by sixteen inches in dimension.” (1)
These early boards were probably flat with rounded edges; a feature probably designed to reduce the chance of injury to the rider rather than an attempt to enhance performance.

In 1910, Harold Baker, captain of the Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club, noted similar sized boards with a rounded nose and built from cedar rather than pine:

“The surf-board 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 thickness.
It is square at one end, and half-round at the other.
The rounded end is to the front when shooting.” (2)

Boards of this type progressively became introductory boards for, mostly, juvenile surfriders.
At one of Duke Kahanamoku’s demonstrations at Freshwater Beach in 1915, in a photograph of a large crowd of onlookers, five youths carry boards of different dimensions. (3)
Their role was largely supplanted with the introduction of the inflatable surf-mat in the 1930’s.

There is anecdotal evidence that experienced Australian surf shooters began to experiment in the early 1900s with larger boards to replicate the widely reported skills of the famed surfriders of Polynesia, who rode upright.
They were probably inspired by a combination of written accounts, illustrations, photographs, and/or first person oral accounts from visitors to Hawaii.

Throughout the nineteenth century almost every account by Western tourists travelling to the Hawaiian Islands included some mention of surfboard riding. (4)
The most widely published and effective was Jack London’s article “A Royal Sport”  (1907) which recorded his introduction to surfboard riding, encouraged by Alexander Hume Ford and under the tuition of George Freeth. (5)
Ford was instrumental in establishing the most influential of the early Hawaiian surfriding clubs, the Outrigger Canoe Club at Waikiki in 1907, paralleling the formation of the first surf life saving clubs in Australia.
On the strength of London’s article, George Freeth was subsequently employed to demonstrate surfboard riding in California.

Initially, the construction of larger surfboards in Australia was probably based on available drawings or photographs of Polynesian surfboard riders.
Although the earliest illustrators struggled in depicting the fundamentals of surfboard riding, by the turn of the century most faithfully represented the correct alignment of board, rider and wave. (6)
The improvement was probably assisted by the availability of photographic images that correctly demonstrated the complex dynamics.
The influence of photography is seen in a dramatic illustration of a female surfboard rider published in 1911 by Australian artist, Norman Lindsay. (7)
The contribution of still and motion photography to the ongoing development of surfboard design and surfriding performance should not be under-estimated.

C. Bede Maxwell credits the champion swimmer, Alick Wickham, with shaping the first surfboard in Australia “from a length of driftwood picked up at Curl Curl.”(8)

Wickham was not the only Sydney surf shooter said to experiment with larger surfboards.
At Freshwater, circa 1905, “The Bell brothers, Frank and Charlie, spent crazy hours on a narrow outhouse door in the Freshwater surf” (9)  and several years later at Manly “Fred Notting painted a brace of slabs and named them Honolulu Queen and Fiji Flyer; gay they were to look at but they were not surfboards.”  (10)

Footnotes: 1900.
1. Harris, Phil: “Surf-Bathing in New South Wales”, in
The Red Funnel
27 Rattay Street, Dunedin, New Zealand, Volume V, Number 1, August 1907, page 6.
2. Baker, Harold (Harald): “Surf Bathing”, in
Baker, Reg "Snowy": General Physical Culture.
G. Robertson & Co., Melbourne, 1910, pages 57 and 58.
3.a.Young, Nat with McGregor, Craig: The History of Surfing.
Palm Beach Press, 40 Palm Beach Road, Palm Beach NSW 2108, 1983, page 47, Credited 15 January 1915, courtesy of Snow McAlister .
3.b. Hall,Sandra  and  Ambrose, Greg: Memories of Duke - The Legend Come to Life.
 The Bess Press PO Box 22388 Honolulu, Hawaii 96823, 1995, page 40. Credited Courtesy Heather Rose.
4. “Every man, woman or child who has ever written home concerning the Sandwich Islanders, have described their ‘surfboards’ “.
Warren, Thomas Robinson: Dust and foam; or, Three oceans and two continents.
C. Scribner, New York, 1859, page 245.
5. London, Jack:  “A Royal Sport” in
A Woman’s Home Companion, October 1907.
Reprinted as Chapter VI in
London, Jack: The Voyage of the Snark.
 Macmillan, New York, 1911.
6.  In a comparison of 19th century illustrations and his photographs of surfboard riding, Henry Bolton noted: "Some pictures ...  represent the surf-riders on the seaward slope of the wave, in positions which are incompatible with the results."
Bolton, Dr. Henry Carrington: "Some Hawaiian Pastimes"
Journal of American Folklore, Volume 4, Number 12, January - March, 1894.  Pages 21-25.
7. Lindsay, Norman: Illustration for “The Recipe for Rubber”.
The Lone Hand, 214 George Street Sydney Australia, 1st June 1911, page 92.
8.  Maxwell, C. Bede: Surf- Australians Against the Sea.
 Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1949, page 235.
9.  Maxwell: Op. Cit.
10. Maxwell: Op. Cit.
Tommy Walker, 1908-1909.

During the preparations for the 1939 visit of Australian surf life savers to Hawaii,  journalist Harry Hay noted in an article titled Australians Are "Tops" in Surfboard Riding :

"The Hawaiians introduced us to this exhilarating, thrilling pastime, and to these romantic tropical islanders is due our warmest thanks.
But typical of our race, the youth of Australia has developed the art until to-day they are the equal In
skill of their dusky natatorial neighbours.
This assertion was verified during the 1915 visit to Australia of famous Hawaiian swimmer and surfboard expert, Duke Kahanamoku.
He enjoyed our surf, but despite his great knowledge of surfboard riding, he admitted that the young Australians excelled his own efforts under the unusual local conditions, of which, of course, he had little experience." (1)

While Hay may have overstated the locals' skills, he is certainly qualified to confirm that Sydney boardriders were active before the arrival of Kahanamoku in the summer of 1914-1915.
He was one of the early (body) surf-shooters, a member of Manly LSC, a champion member of the Manly Swimming Club and competed in swimming races against Duke Paoa Kahanamoku and George Cunha during their Australian tour. (2)
Hay was instructed in the finer points of surfboard riding at by Duke at Freshwater in January 1915 (3) and later wrote one of the earliest books on swimming and surfing technique, discussed below. (4)
Two weeks after Hay's article, The Referee quoted from a letter under the heading "Tommy Walker Says- " I Brought First Surfboard To Australia":

"I saw an article by you in 'The Referee' re surfboards,  so enclose a photo of myself and surfboard taken in 1909 at Manly.
This board I bought at Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, for two dollars, when I called there aboard the 'Poltolock.'
I won my first surfboard shooting competition at Freshwater carnival back in 1911, and that wasn't yesterday." (5)

The photograph is reproduced, right.
Apart from the apparently definitve "first surfboard" claim (which was likely added by the paper's sub-editor and not made by Walker himself) Walker mis-spells "Poltolock" and his appearance at the Freshwater carnival is, marginally, inaccurrate.

The sailing vessel was the Poltalloch, a steel-hulled barque built in Belfast in 1893. (6) and the earliest record of it visiting Sydney is 13 June 1910, carrying a cargo of timber from Portland, Oregon. (7)
However there is a distinct possibility that Walker boarded and disembarked from the vessel at another port or ports.

The recollection that "I won my first surfboard shooting competition at Freshwater carnival back in 1911" is probaby incorrect, although technically by a mere number of weeks.
The Telegraph report of the Freshwater club’s second annual carnival on the 26th January 1912 stated:
"A clever exhibition of surf board shooting was given by Mr. Walker, of the Manly Seagulls Surf Club.
With his Hawaiian surf board he drew much applause for his clever feats, coming in on the breaker standing balanced on his feet or his head." (8)

It is highly probable that this is the occasion recalled by Tommy Walker in his letter to The Referee.
The description of the board as “Hawaiian” confirms the origin of the board as imported and the demonstration of considerable skill implies that Walker had at least one full season of riding experience.

An highly interesting report from Coffs Harbour is noted by Chris Conrick:
“Reports of surfers using planks of wood on which to ride waves were not unknown at this time, as
evidenced in the following newspaper report in 1908:- ‘Board Riding Noted on Town Beach - Riders were
observed using 10 feet lumps of wood to ride the waves and in this there appeared an element of danger.’ (9)

Since the newspaper does not name the riders, it is probable they were short-term visitors and not locals.
Conrick quotes from the Coffs Harbour Advocate, 22 January 1908, but the original source is yet to be confirmed.
A preliminary search of newspapers held by the Coffs Harbour City Library and the State Library of NSW indicates the Advocate was only published once a week and there is no actual edition for 22 January 1908.
If the report has any credibility (given the date may be incorrect), it raises the possibility that the riders may have been Hawaiian boardriders in the crew of a visiting ship.
Alternatively, one of the surfers may have been Tommy Walker, who is thought to have worked in the coastal shipping trade and is recorded as riding his board further north at Yamba circa 1912. (10)

Footnotes: Tommy Walker, 1908-1909.
1. Hay, Harry M.: Australians Are "Tops" in Surfboard Riding.
The Referee, 9 February 1939, page 15.
2. New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association: State Championship Carnivals - Official Souvenir and Programme.
Municipal Baths, Domain, Sydney, January 1915, Event 7.
3. Corbett, W.: "Kahanamoku in the Surf."
The Sun 12th January 1915, page 7.
4. Hay, Harry: Swimming and Surfing.
Jantzen (Australia) Ltd., Lidcome, Sydney, 1931.
5. The Referee, 23 February 1939, page 16.
6. The mis-spelling was confirmed in conversation with John McRitchie, Manly Library Local Studies Unit, following contact by Dr. Garry Osmond at the University of Queensland.
7. Rely to email enquiry by Lillian Simpson, Public Enquiries Librarian, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney.
8. Daily Telegraph 27 January 1912, page 21.
9. Conrick, Chris: The Northern District Surf Life Saver
Newcastle Branch of the S.L.S.A. (Inc).
Henderson Drive, Merewether Beach, NSW.
PO Box 2333, Merewether, 2991 NSW,1989, page 96.
10. Photographs held by Manly Life Saving Club Australian Surfing Museum and Yamba Museum.

Charles Paterson's Board, 1909-1912.
Before Walker's letter to The Referee was identified in 2009, many surfriding historians suggested that an authentic Hawaiian surfboard was procured by the North Steyne Life Saving Club identity and later Surf Life Saving Association President, Charles D. Paterson, sometime between 1909 and 1912.
Unfortunately these reports do not cite contemporary documents and, remarkably, there is no mention of his surfboard in several subsequent articles written by Paterson himself. (1)

The earliest published report appears to be by C. B. Maxwell in 1949:
"... in 1912, C.D. Paterson, returned from a world tour with a 'real' surfboard from Hawaii; a solid, heavy redwood slab that no one could manage in the rough surf of North Steyne.
It was handed down to the other end of the beach where men like the Walker Brothers, Steve McKelvey, Jack Reynolds, Fred Notting and Basil Kirke, all but turned themselves inside out and upside down to master its management." (2)
While Maxwell extensively researched her book on the Australian surf life saving from unlimited access to official records, this account was undoubtedly based on anecdotal reports, possibly from some of the participants.
Unfortunately there is no record of any relevant interviews in Maxwell's papers held by the Mitchell Library, Sydney. (3)

Reg Harris, Manly Life Saving Club historian, presented an expanded parallel account, with some major variations:
" Mr. C. D. Paterson, a foundation member of North Steyne Club and president of the Surf Bathing Association of N.S.W. (later the S.L.S.A. of Australia), procured a board from Hawaii.

North Steyne club members tried, without avail, to master the intricacies of riding the heavy board.
After they had suffered a lot of injuries and bruises, it was the general opinion that our surf was not suitable for board-riding.

The board came to be regarded as a lethal weapon, so it was taken to Mr. Paterson's home at The Spit, where it became the family ironing-board.

It had excited the interest of members at the south end of the beach, however, and in the 1912-13 season a number of Manly L.S. club members decided to persevere and master the art.
They included Jack Reynolds and Norman Roberts (both killed in World War I), Geoff. Wyld, Tom Walker (Seagulls), a 13-year-old boy named Claude West ... and an outstanding woman surfer, Miss Esma Amor.

They used boards of a Gothic shape, made from Californian redwood, designed and constructed by North Steyne member Les Hinds, who was a local builder.

The boards were 8 ft. long, 20 in. wide, 1 1/2 in. thick, and weighed 35 pounds.
They were flat on both sides, but had rounded edges to give a firm hand grip." (4)

Note that of the various early boardriders reported by Maxwell and Harris; the Walker Brothers, Jack Reynolds, Basil Kirke, Fred Notting, Geoff Wyld, Claude West, and Miss Esma Amor were all later identified as proficient board riders. (5)
Harris' report that Paterson's board ended up as a ironing board in the family household has become part of surfing folklore, however, given its probable size and weight, the proposition always stretched credulity.

In his excellent history of surfing movies published in 2000, Alby Thoms reports that Paterson brought the first known solid wood Hawaiian surfboard to Australia on returning from a world tour in 1909, significantly earlier than the date suggested by Maxwell and Harris. (6)
Thoms essentially reproduces the account of early surfboard riding in Sydney by Maxwell (also noting Wickham and the Bell brothers), however he does not indicate a source for the earlier date.

Newcastle SLSC historian, Chris Conrick, also suggests the date as 1909, based on unidentified official documents, with a slightly different scenario for the board's acquisition:
“According to Surf Life Saving Assoc. records, the first Hawaiian surfboard to find its way to Australia was by
way of a gift to Mr. C.D. Paterson, the president of the association in 1909.” (7)

In 2007, Mark Maddox substantially reprised the story of Paterson's board in an article published in a history of the North Steyne Surf Life Saving Club (8).
Citing local historian Dr. Keith Amos, Maddox reports that Paterson was encouraged to procure a surfboard by "an American visitor" (9), which he obtained on a visit to Hawaii, sometime before 1912.
He reproduces an unaccredited post-1914 newspaper cutting with the recollections of an unidentified North Steyne member and, the previously noted, Basil Kirke, when at Manly in 1911:
"one weekend ... C.D. Paterson brought back from Hawaii a surfboard, first of its kind.
Basil Kirke, Tommy Walker and Jack Reynolds launched the strange looking object and, after many spills, succeeded in riding it." (10)
Maddox then notes Tommy Walker's performance at the Freshwater carinival in January 1912 (see above), although he implies Walker was a representative of the North Syene Club and not, as reported by the Daily Telegraph, a member of the short-lived Seagulls Club, one of four active at Manly beach during this period. (11)

The various claims for Paterson's acquisition of an Hawaiian surfboard between 1909 and 1912 appear to indicate significant inconsistencies with the account of Tommy Walker.
Clearly, further research, particularly in identifying relevant contemporary documentation, is required.

Footnotes: Charles Paterson's Board, 1909-1912.
1.a. C. D. Paterson : Notes on the President's World Tour.
Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: Annual Report and Balance Sheet 1924-1925.
The Manly Daily Print, 18 Sydney Road, Manly, 1925, unpaginated.
1.b. C. D. Paterson : Sydney Surf Beaches.
Sydney Bridge Celebrations, Art in Australia Limited,1932, pages 42 to 47.
Futhermore, a report of a meeting of the Manly Council noted:
"Alderman Paterson seconded the motion. The practice of taking boards into the surf should not be allowed."
- Evening News, 22 January 1913, page 10.
It would appear strange for the man who was responsible for introducing the surfboard to Manly Beach to then support its prohibition.
2. Maxwell: Op.Cit.
3. Papers pertaining to C. Bede Maxwell’s Surf: Australians Against the Sea, 1949.
Mitchell Library, Sydney, ML MSS 196.
4. Harris, Reg. S.: Heroes of the Surf - The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961.
Manly Life Saving Club, NSW, Publicity Press Ltd., 1961, pages 53-54.
5.a. Maddox, Mark: The First Surfboard, in
Benns, Matthew: 100 Years- A Celebration of Surf Life Saving at North Steyne, 1907-2007.
 Nort Steyne Surf Life Saving Club
 PO Box 310 Manly NSW 1655 Australia, 2007, pages 36 to 39.
5b.The Surf. (Twenty editions: 1st December 1917 to 13th April 1918)
Printed by Shipping Newspapers Ltd.,16 Bond Street Sydney
Published for the Proprietors by Con. Drew, "Marie" Ramsgate Avenue North Bondi, N.S.W.
Various editions.
5.c. West won several surfboard competitions in the 1920s.
6. Thoms, Albie: Surfmovies
The Blue Group, PO Box 321 Noosa Heads, Queensland, 4567, 2000, page 20.
7. Conrick, Chris: The Northern District Surf Life Saver
Newcastle Branch of the S.L.S.A. (Inc).
Henderson Drive, Merewether Beach, NSW.
PO Box 2333, Merewether, 2991 NSW,1989, page 95.
This reference initially noted by Dave Kelly contributing to forum, January 2008.
8. Maddox in Benns: Op. Cit., pages 36-40.
9. The "American visitor" was possibly Alexander Hume Ford, see
Ford, Alexander Hume: Australia Through American Eyes.
The Red Funnel
27 Rattay Street, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Volume VI, Number 5, June 1908, pages 466 to 470.
10. Maddox in Benns: Op. Cit., page 38.
11. Unaccredited:  Marvellous Manly : The Alluring Village of the Pacific Ocean.
Australian Country Life, Sydney, N.S.W., Volume 7, Number 6, December 15 1911.
Apart from the Manly Amateur Swimming Club (page 23), the article also records the Manly Surf Club (page 25), the North Steyne Life Saving Club (page 27), Manly Life Saving Club (page 29) and the Manly Seagull Surf and Life Saving Club (page31).

Expansion of Surfboard Riding, 1910-1912.
At this time surfboards were a significant presence in the waves on the northern beaches, although their specific dimensions are unclear.
S. and G. Champion note that in September 1910:
“The secretary of the Freshwater Surf Club wrote to Warringah Shire Council, pointing out that the
police officer stationed at Freshwater, acting under the authority of the council, had prohibited the use of surf boards.
The committee of the Club thought if the use of boards were stopped, it would deprive many of young members and visitors of the full enjoyment of the exhilarating surf.” (1)
While it is possible that these were small handboards, they were more likely larger boards which were potentially far more dangerous.

Despite deciding to ban surfboard use at Freshwater, complaints continued to be forwarded to Warringah and Manly Councils.(2)

In a Mid Pacific Magazine article published in January 1911, ostensibly promoting Australian ski fields, the current Director of the N.S.W. Govenment Tourist Bureau, Percy Hunter, noted:

"we now have a board or two at Manly beach."  (3)
As Hunter had personally experienced surfboardriding at Waikiki, his article strongly implies that these were full sized boards ridden in a standing position.
This observation possibly refers to Walker's board, any others ("a board or two") either further imported boards from Hawaii or locally produced reproductions.
While little is known of the timber, design or construction of these boards, like their Hawaiian and Californian counterparts, they were probably cut from a milled and seasoned billet about four inches thick, strictly limiting the amount of bottom curvature from nose to tail (the rocker).

Local government concerns for public safety, similar to those at Freshwater, also expressed at Cronulla (4) and further south, at Thirroul near Wollongong (5) indicate that experimentation with surfboards was in evidence on other metropolitan beaches.

This is further supported by various anecdotal reports.
Dee Why SLC historian, E.J. Thomas notes:
“A Deewhy identity of the period (pre-1914), 'Long Harry' Taylor made a board resembling an old-fashioned church door, but his efforts in the surf were so futile they became ludicrous." (6)

There is a similar report from the North Coast at Newcastle:
“Joe Palmer claims that the first club member to use a surfboard on Newcastle Beach was Cecil Lamb, one of the staff of the Gentlemen's Club in Newcomen Street, in the 1911-1912 season”. (7)

An account of Duke Kahanamoku's surfboard riding exhibition at Cronuulla in February 1915 (see below) noted:
“While there were already surfboard exponents on our own and other metropolitan beaches, Duke
Kahanamoku first focused public attention on surfboard riding in NSW.” (8)

In Queensland, circa 1912,  prone boards '' four to five feet long, one inch thick and about a foot wide
slabs of cedar or pine " were in use on Coolangatta Beaches. (9)

By March 1912 the potential danger of surfboards to the general surf-bathing public had come to the attention of the NSW government and their use was proscribed under the local government act:
“10. Where any inspector considers that the practice of surf-shooting (i.e., riding on the crest of the
breaking wave), whether with or without a surf-board, is likely to endanger or inconvenience other
bathers, such inspector may order bathers to refrain from such practice or to remove to a place
where such practice will not cause danger or inconvenience.”  (10)

Footnotes: Expansion of Surfboard Riding, 1910-1912.
1. Champion, Shelagh and George: Bathing, Drowning and Life Saving in Manly, Warringah and Pittwater to 1915.
 14 Tipperary Avenue, Killarney Heights NSW, 2087, 2000, page 131.
2. Champion, S. and G.: Op. Cit., pages 131, 160.
3. Hunter, Percy: July Skiing in Australia
Mid Pacific Magazine, January 1911, pages 11-15.
This article kindly provided by Craig Baird (Surfworld, Torquay) in August 2009,  who noted it:
"came to me via Dr. Garry Osmond (University of Queensland) after I had forwarded a Surfers Journal Article about Alexander Hume Ford (that) mentioned Percy Hunter's articles."
4. Young, Faye M.: Building Strong Traditions - A History of the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club 1908 – 1957.
 Fox-Young Consultancy, PO Box 206 Sylvania Southgate, NSW, 2224, 200, page 29.
5. Middleton, Ron and Figtree, Allen, S.: The History of the growth of Surf Lifesaving Clubs on the Illawarra Coast of New South Wales and the Development and Official History.
 Illawarra Branch of Surf Life Saving Clubs of Australia, 1962, page 10.
6. Thomas, E.J.: The Drowning Don't Die- Fifty Years of Vigilance and Service by the Deewhy Surf Life-Saving Club 1912-1962.
Deewhy Surf Life Saving Club, 1962, page 30.
7. Conrick: Op. Cit., page 95.
8. Unaccredited: (probably) Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club History, circa 1960.
Framed text displayed at Cronulla Surf Design Surf Shop, Cronulla Street Mall, Cronulla NSW, circa 2000.
9. Harvey, Richard : A Surfing History of Queensland - Gold Coast  The Sunshine Coast  Byron Bay
Olympic Productions and Publications Pty Ltd, Gold Coast Queensland,1983, page 8.
10. Local Government Act, 1906, Ordinance No. 52, Public Baths and Bathing, in
New South Wales Surf Bathing Association: Handbook 1913-1914.
Surf Bathing Association of N.S.W., Sports Club, Ltd., Hunter Street Sydney, 1913, page x.

Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, 1914-1915.
Surfboard riding was given massive impetus with the Australian tour of Hawaiian expert, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, in the summer of 1914-1915.
Invited by the NSW Amateur Swimming Association to demonstrate his swimming technique and appear at a series of competitive carnivals, his arrival was eagerly awaited and the prospect of him demonstrating his surfing skills was canvassed as early as 1912:
“Should Kahanamoku come to Sydney (he is claimed to be the world champion surf-shooter in
Honolulu), he will surely astonish local surfers with is (sic, his) evolutions in the breakers.” (1)

While for many commentators it has been all too easy to date the beginnings of surfboard riding in Australia from the visit of Duke Kahanamoku in 1914-1915 (2),  the previous chapters demonstrate that this was not the case.
As is often evident in history, the story teller may have a vested interest in securing a position of prominance for a compatriot, a family member, their club, their association, or themselves.
For example Manly surfboard champion, Claude West, confidently proclaimed in 1939:
"I was the first Australian to  take up surf-board rlding. ...
I Iearnt on Duke Kahanamoku's board, which he left here after introducing surf-board riding to Australia before the war." (3)

Kahanamoku was not the first Polynesian to profoundly effect Australian surfriding.
Tommy Tana, from the island of Tanna in the New Herbrides first demonstrated the rudiments of surf shooting (body surfing) in the 1890s at South Steyne, Manly.
Tana influenced a group of Manly locals, one of whom, Fred Williams, became the leading exponent and an enthusiastic instructor. (4)
Polynesians also influenced the development of the crawl stroke in Australia, notably Alick Wickham. (5)
Following the formation of the surf life saving clubs in 1907, Pacific islanders appeared at several carnivals before 1914 in exhibitions of their surfing skills.(6)

Whereas in ancient Polynesia the surfriding elite were largely members of the royal class who, presumably, rode surfboards built by an artisan class of canoe builders (7) ; in the twentieth century, in a tradition associated with Duke Kahanamoku, elite riders were often at the forefront of board design and construction.

Upon arrival, surf-oriented members of the Swimming Association, notably Cecil Healy, encouraged Duke Kahanamoku to demonstrate his surfboard riding talents and although he had not brought a board, he indicated that one could be shaped for any upcoming demonstrations. (8)
Local enthusiasm saw a billet hastily prepared, which may have had the template cut before Duke, “proving himself a fine craftsman”, prepared the rail and bottom shape. (9)
This appears to be suggested by Harris:
“A timber firm, George Hudson’s, donated a piece of sugar pine 9 ft long, 2 ft wide and 3" thick.
The firm did the rough cutting to Duke’s instructions then he finished off the finer designing of the bottom of the board, to give it lift on a wave.” (10)

After shaping, the board finished at 8 foot 8 inches long and 23 inches wide (11)  and made its first recorded appearance in the surf at Freshwater on the 24th December 1914. (12)
 In the New Year, further exhibitions were held on the 10th January at Freshwater and later that day at South Steyne on Manly Beach. (13)
There, Kahanamoku was joined by local surf-shooters, apparently keen to compare their skills with the visitor and in front of a considerable audience:
“The breakers were favorable for the pastime, and the Honolulu champion made some magnificent returns to the shore standing on his big surfboard.  He was however, greatly impeded on this occasion by local surfers, who wished to give exhibitions of their own at the same time.” (14)
Further surfboard riding exhibitions were held in February at Deewhy (15)  and Cronulla. (16)

Given the technology of the day, presumably, after cutting the template with a hand saw the board was rough shaped with an adze and/or a draw knife and then finished with various grades of sandpaper. (17)
It is also to be expected that several coats of a natural oil and/or marine varnish were added to the board to prevent the timber from becoming waterlogged.

Sugar pine was not the preferred timber for Hawaiian board building:
“The board used by Kahanamoku weighed 78lb, and was sugar pine. He would have preferred redwood, but a properly seasoned piece of that particular timber, sufficiently long, could not be procured in Sydney. The necessary shape is almost that of a coffin lid, with one end cut to very nearly a point. The surf riding board is thicker at the bottom than at the top, tapering all the way.”(18)

In interviews with the press, Duke made it clear that light-weight was a critical feature that improved surfboard performance:
“Then too, Kahanamoku was at disadvantage with the board. It weighted almost 100lb, whereas the board he uses as a rule weighs less than 25lb.” (19)

The board appears in several photographs taken during the tour and the template is, compared with all the other boards associated with Kahanamoku, unusual.
Specifically, the narrow nose template is uncharacteristic of most boards produced after the tour despite the reported influence of Kahanamoku’s design:
“Sid 'Splinter' Chapman (at Coolangatta, Queensland) could still recall the dimensions sixty years later ‘because the design that the Duke used was the best.’ “(20)

The template is certainly different to the “surf shooting board” shaped by Oswald Downing of Manly in 1917, currently on display at the SLSA headquarters at Bondi Beach.
Downing, a trainee architect, may have also been responsible for drawing up plans for the solid wood board printed and widely distributed by the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. (21)
One reasonable explanation for this variation is that the template of the Freshwater board was not strictly Duke’s design, but was incorporated into this first effort by the tradesmen at Hudson’s.

While the board has immense historical significance, it is likely that other boards subsequently shaped in Australia by Duke were the real models upon which local builders based their designs.
Following personal instruction by Duke Kahanamoku in surfboard riding at Freshwater, Fred Williams and Harry Hay were reported to comment "well we've already ordered a board each … and we are going to master that game beyond any other." (22)
There is a strong implication that the boards are to be ordered directly from Kahanamoku.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald implies there were several boards built during January and may have included one shaped by Duke’s companion, George Cunha, although this is the only currently known reference to his association with surfboard riding during the tour:
“The executive had practically arranged another method of raising a sum for patriotic purposes for Friday 19th (February, 1915), at which the Hawaiian party were to be made the means of adding to the price of admission by auctioning several surf boards made by themselves.” (23)

Presumably, there were vigorous attempts to secure seasoned redwood billets of suitable dimensions to build these later boards, one of which made its way to Cronulla, the property of ex-Manly surf-shooter, Ron “Prawn” Bowden. (24)
In 2008, a possible second board was unearthed, it’s owner suggesting Duke shaped it in 1915 for a member of the well-established Horden family (25), however at this point the board’s provenience awaits further documentation. (26)

Certainly the total number of surfboards on Sydney’s beaches was increasing:
“When one Australian had learned the art, others became interested and soon Tommy Walker, Geoff Wild (sic, Wyld), Steve Dowling, “Busty Walker, Billy Hill, Lyle Pidcock and Barton Ronald (sic, Ronald Barton?) began to make boards similar to the one Duke had made.” (27)

Kahanamoku’s Freshwater board was handed over to George and Monty Walker of Manly who, “because of the fine work Claude West had done in popularising surfboard riding, eventually gave it to Claude West, and he still has it, a prized possession.” (28)
Claude West, a youth of 16 at the time of Kahanamoku’s visit, became the leading local surfboard rider. Originally a member of Freshwater SLSC, he later moved to the Manly club.
He dominated SLSA surfboard events until 1924-1925, when West’s mantle as the premier performer passed on to another Manly club member, “Snowy” McAlister.
Claude West donated the board to the Freshwater SLSC in 1953.(29)

Kahanamoku’s most famous protégé was Freshwater teenager, Isabel Letham, commonly credited as Australia’s first female surfboard rider.
In January 1915 she accompanied Duke in a demonstration of tandem riding at Freshwater (30)  before appearing with him at the Deewhy carnival on the 6th February. (31)
This was not her first pubic appearance at a Deewhy carnival, the previous summer Letham had competed in a woman’s surf race in front of a crowd of several thousand. (32)

Footnotes: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, 1914-1915.
1. Merman (Corbett W. F. C.): Wonderful Hawaiian - Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.
The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 30 October, 1912, page ?
2. Probably the most influential work has been Nat Young's History of Surfing (1983) where he noted the arrival of Paterson's board in 1912 which "a few local body surfers had tried to ride, but couldn't" (page 42), and accredits a photograph on page 47 as "15th January 1915 Duke Kahanamoku introduces surfboard riding to Australia."
The book has had numerous editions, the latest in 2009, however the text of the early chapters has never been revised.
Young: The History of Surfing, 1983 and subsequent editions, pages 42 and 47.
3.Daily Telegraph Thursday, 9 February 1939, page 7.
4.a.  Maxwell: Op. cit., pages 6 to 11.
4b. Lowe, A. M.: Surfing, Surf-Shooting and Surf-Lifesaving Pioneering.
 36 Augusta Road, Manly, 1958, pages 25 to 29.
5.   Healy, Cecil: Tuppa Tup-pala - Otherwise Known as the Crawl Stroke.
The Sunday Times, Sydney, 1913.
6.a. Champion, S&G: Op. Cit. page 159.
Cites Sydney Morning Herald 1 December 1911.
6b. Champion, S&G: Op. Cit., page 177.
Cites Sydney Morning Herald 30 December 1913, Daily Telegraph 30 December 1913.
6c. Manly Life Saving Club: Manly Surf Carnival - Official Programme.
Saturday, 6 January 1912.
7. Finney, Ben and Houston, James D.: Surfing – A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport.
Pomegranate Books, P.O. Box 6099 Rohnert Park, CA 94927, 1996, pages
8. Cecil Healy: The Duke Reaches Sydney.
The Referee, 16 December 1914, page 1.
9.  Maxwell: Op. cit., page 236.
10. Harris: Op. cit., page 54.
11. These dimensions personally measured at the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club, 2005.
The Daily Telegraph, Friday 25 December 1914 , page 7. reported:  “8ft. in length, 3ft. in width”.
In Nat Young's Book of Surfing (1979) and his Surfing Fundamentals (1985, 1993) the dimensions are noted as 3.6 m x 61 cm x 7.5 cm x 31 kg (11 ft 10" x 24" x 3").
This is possibly a typographical error (twice?) as 2.6 m is close to the correct 8 ft 8".
12. Corbett, W. F.: Wonderful Surfriding- Kahanamoku on the Board.
The Sun, 24th December 1914, Page 6.
13.  Corbett, W. F.: Kahanamoku in the Surf.
The Sun, 12 January 1915, page 7.
14.  Unaccredited: Display at Manly.
The Sun, 11 January 1915, page 6.
15.  Unaccredited: Kahanamoku in the Surf.
The Daily Telegraph, 8 February 1915, page 4.
16. Unaccredited: Cronulla Surfing.
The St. George Call,13 February 1915, page 5.
17.  See Snow McAlister: Sprint Walker, Solid Wood Boards and Victorian Surfing.
Tracks magazine, Sydney, circa 1972.
Reprinted in The Best of Tracks, 1973, page 191
18. Corbett, W. F.: Op. Cit.
Note there is considerable variation in the reported empirical measurements, for example the surfboard weight in this and the following report.
19.Sydney Morning Herald, 25 December 1914, page 7.
20.  Harvey, Richard: A Surfing History of Queensland- Gold Coast-The Sunshine Coast-Byron Bay
 Olympic Productions and Publications Pty. Ltd., Gold Coast Queensland, 1983, page 8.
21. The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook
 Eighth Edition (Revised 1932)
JNO, Evans and Son Printing Coy., 486-488 Kent Street Sydney, New South Wales, 1938, page 169.
22. Corbett, W.: Kahanamoku in the Surf.
The Sun, 12 January 1915, page 7.
23. Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 1915, page 10.
24. (possibly) Cronulla SLSC: Op. Cit.
25. US Online Surf Auction 2008, images subsequently printed in:
Winnimam, Jim: Vintage Surfboards 1 - A photo history of surfboards and surfing collectables.
 US Vintage Surf Auction, November 2008, pages x-x.
26. While the Horden family were financially capable of easily paying the high price these boards no doubt fetched, their connection with surfriding is not established until …
27. Curlewis, Adrian: Notes on surfboard riding prepared by S.L.S.A., circa 1948, page 2.
Papers pertaining to C. Bede Maxwell’s Surf: Australians Against the Sea, 1949.
Mitchell Library, Sydney, ML MSS 196.
28. Curlewis: Op. Cit., page 3.
29. Alf Henderson: Boards.
In Myers, K. (Editor): No Lives Lost : The History of the Freshwater Surf life Saving Club 1908 – 1983.
 Printed by A. Windsor and Son Pty Ltd, 4 James Street, Wateroo, 1983 page 56.
30. Letham, Isabel: Making Waves : Isabel Letham 1899 – 1995.
 Selections from the Isabel Letham Collection, held in Warringah Library's Local studies Collection.
 Warringah Council Information and Cultural Services, 1996, page 5.
31.a.  Unaccredited: Sensational Surf Riding.
The Sydney Morning Herald 10 February 1915, page 6.
31.b. Healy, Cecil: Duke in the Surf.
The Referee 16 February 1915, page 1.
32. Champion, S&G: Op. Cit., page 197.
Cites: Sydney Morning Herald 16 February 1914, Manly Daily cuttings February 1914 in the Dee Why
LS&S Club minute book.

Duke's Impact, 1915-1918.
While Kahanamoku’s swimming carnivals included visits to Melbourne, Victoria, and Brisbane in Queensland, the surfboard riding demonstrations were confined to the beaches of metropolitan Sydney.
However the extensive press coverage given to Duke's surfing exploits expanded his influence far beyond those beaches where he appeared in person.

In Sydney, his impact was immediate.

A report in the Sydney Sun in January 1915 illustrated that the danger of surfboard riding enthusiasts to body surfers was not imaginary:
“Despite the continual outcry against surf-boards, the dangerous aids to shooters are still being used, and one last night at Coogee hit Mrs. Martha Green, aged 60, with such force that she is now in Prince Alfred Hospital with her right leg broken in two places.” (1)

One month after Duke's departure for further swimming and surfing demonstrations in New Zealand, the programme of the Surf Bathing Association of New South Wales' First Championship Carnival, at Bondi Beach on Saturday 20th March 1912,  featured:

" 'Duke' Surf Board Shooting.
A Display will be given by Members of the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club
during the Final of the Surf Pennant Championship." (2)

In Victoria, official regulation was apparently of minor concern to seventeen-year old Grace Wootton (nee Smith) who began riding at Point Lonsdale on a borrowed prone board, brought from Hawaii to Australia around 1915.
She became a proficient and enthusiastic surfrider and the following summer had her own solid timber board, approximately 6 ft x 16 inches wide, built for a cost of 12 shillings by a local carpenter. (3)

In Queensland, Charlie Faulkner read of Duke Kahanamoku's surfriding and used his experience (and board?) as an aqua planner on the Tweed River to ride at Greenmount in 1914-1915. (4)

Following the Kahanamoku tour, Isabel Letham became a noted surf-shooter and surfboard rider, reported to be “teaching board shooting”, and an “expert at aquaplaning.”  (5)
In 1918, she traveled to America with hopes pursuing a career in the film industry. (6)
After a brief return to Australia in 1921, Letham was appointed Director of Swimming at the San Francisco Women’s City Club until 1929 when, as a result of a serious injury, she returned to Sydney. (7)

With Australia’s ongoing commitment to the British war effort in Europe it may be expected that the enthusiasm for surfboard riding generated by Duke’s demonstrations would have been severely curtailed.
Surf life saving club members readily volunteered for service, severely depleting the ranks of many clubs during the war and several became inactive. (8)
A number of serving club members, such as Manly surf-shooter, Olympic swimmer and journalist, Cecil Healy, failed to return. (9)

However, with no general conscription, enlistment at twenty-one and limited involvement by women, surfboard riding continued to flourish on Sydney’s beaches to the extent that a weekly newspaper from Bondi, The Surf, featured (body and board) surf-shooting over the summer months of 1917-1918. (10)
The third edition carried brief instructions for surfboard riding by Frank Foran, then captain of the North Bondi SLSC. (11)
Of the fifty-one surfboard riders identified by name, a significantly large number were female (eighteen, a ratio approximately 2:1).
“Busty” Walker is noted acquiring a new board at Manly, while at Bondi Arthur Stone is said to be building several and Reg Fletcher has painted his surfboard white.
Ron Bowden is reported surf-shooting at both Manly and Cronulla, probably on his board shaped by Kahanamoku in 1915, noted above. (12)
Other surfboard riders identified include several previously noted: Isabel Letham, Fred Notting, Geoff Wyld, Esma Amor, and Alick Wickham.

Across the border in Queensland, the Greenmount Surf Lifesaving Club procured two copies of Duke Kahanamoku's design, probably from Sydney.
The arrival of the boards prompted the construction of several replicas made and ridden by Sid 'Splinter' Chapman, Andy Gibson and a surfer known only as Winders.
As in NSW, the increased use of surfboards raised issues of public safety and in 1916 Coolangatta Town Council established restricted areas, infringements punishable by board confiscation. (13)

In 1919, Louis Whyte, a Geelong businessman who witnessed one of Duke Kahanamoku’s exhibitions at Freshwater, travelled to Hawaii with the intention of learning the art.
He purchased several used redwood boards from Kahanamoku before returning to Victoria where he and Ian McGillivray rode them at Lorne.
One of the boards is held by the Surfworld Museum in Torquay, one is in the hands of a private collector and one was incorporated above the fireplace of the Whyte family beach house at Lorne. (14)

In the mid-1920s, Manly boardrider and lifesaver, Ainslie "Sprint" Walker, was transferred to his employer’s Melbourne office and initially surfed on his board at Portsea and Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsular.
As the son of William Walker, one of the pioneer surfriding family from Manly and major figures in the life saving movement, “Sprint” was a second-generation Australian surf-shooter.
He eventually focused on Torquay on the West Coast, the beach he considered best for surfboard riding, and was instrumental in the formation of the Torquay SLSC.
After the clubhouse burnt down in 1970, destroying one of his early solid timber boards, Walker and “Snowy” McAlister built a replica from Canadian redwood with an adze in the traditional method. (15)

Footnotes: Duke's Impact 1915-1918.
1. The Sun, 24 January 1915, page 4.
2. Surf Bathing Association of New South Wales: First Championship Carnival (Programme)
Bondi Beach, Saturday 20th March, 1915.
Caxton Print, Phone City 1419, unpaginated.
3. Wells, Lana: Sunny Memories - Australians at the Seaside.
Greenhouse Publications Pty Ltd., 385-387 Bridge Road, Richmond, Victoria, 3126, 1982, pages 157-158.
4. Harvey: Op. Cit., page 8.
5. The Surf.
Number 3 page 4, Number 6 page 3, Number 7 page 4, Number 10 page 4, Number 13 page 5.
6. The Surf, Number 13 page 5, Number 20 page 3.
7. Letham: Op. Cit., page 13.
8.a.  Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) page 30.
Cites SBA: Annual Report (1917-1918).
8.b. Young: Cronulla SLSC (2000), page 30.
Cites SSLA: Handbook (1923), page 7.
9. Fenton, Peter: They Called Him Boy.
 Random House Australia Pty Ltd., 20 Alfred Street Milsons Point, NSW 2061, 2006.
10. The Surf: Op. Cit.
11. Ibid., Number 3 page 6.
12. Ibid., Walker: Number 4, page 3. Stone: Number 8, page 2. Fletcher: Number 15, page 2.
Bowden: Number 4, page 3. Number 6. Page 4. Number 12, page 4.
13. Harvey: Op. Cit., page 8.
14.a. Thoms: Op. Cit., page 23.
14.b. Walding: Op. Cit., page 4.
15. Snow McAlister: Op. Cit.

The 1920s.
Throughout the 1920s, although the surfboard was not an officially recognized life saving apparatus, the surf life saving clubs often included displays by surfboard riders at their carnivals. (1)
In this period, each surf life saving club had their resident board builder.
At Manly, Les Hinds continued to supply the locals and others, notably Palm Beach board rider, and future SLSAA president, Adrian Curlewis’s second board in 1925-1926. (2)
Club stalwart and land developer, John Ralston introduced two solid boards to Palm Beach in 1919, later personally building several. (3)
For the Collaroy SLSC, following in the footsteps of Buster Quinn, a cabinet-maker at Anthony Hordens who built a board for Ron Harris in 1922 (4) , Bert Chequer shaped boards, preferably from cedar, but more often in the less expensive, redwood.
Competitively priced relative to Hind’s boards, Chequer supplied boards to riders as far away as Victoria and he, as well as Curlewis and Claude West, championed the use of surfboards as legitimate rescue equipment.  (5)

By the end of the decade, some riders applied a variety of decorative features to their boards, usually on the nose area of the deck.
Members of the life saving clubs added the logo of their club in paint, matching the embroidered badge on their swimming costume.
The rider’s name or initials were other popular additions and sometimes the board was given its own name, in the manner of Fred Notting’s Honolulu Queen and Fiji Flyer, circa 1908, and noted above.
Very occasionally, the décor included an illustration such as a cartoon character drawn from popular culture. (6) Usually these décor features were painted on the board but in some cases simple text was carved into the timber.
While oiling and varnishing the timber remained the dominant method of preserving the timber from the salt water, some boards were fully coated with paint.
As in the case of Reg Fletcher at Bondi, the most popular colour was white (7) and only rarely was a board multi-coloured. (8)

For timber boards, structural damage was promoted by the timber becoming waterlogged and after drying, cracking longitudinally along the grain.
Unlike hollow timber and the later fibreglassed boards, which tend to break across the centre, a severe collision could split a solid timber board in two from nose to tail.
This was probably a common problem with a tendency for Australian’s to ride their boards hard into the beach. In Hawaii, boards that had begun to split longitudinally were secured with a “butterfly wedge” that was inserted across a crack. (9)
Oswald Downing’s board shows a major split down the board that has been repaired with a simpler rectangular wedge near the nose.(10)

One solution to the problem used by Australian board builders was to shape and fix a sheet metal nose-guard, usually copper, attached with nails or screws. (11)
By the mid-1930s, a more sophisticated method was the addition of the nose plate, a bar of stainless steel mitred into the timber about 12 inches (30 cm) from the tip of the nose and fixed with screws. (12)
This effective structural feature is unique to Australian boards of the period and does not appear on contemporary Hawaiian or Californian boards. 

Footnotes: The 1920s
1.a. North Steyne Surf Life Saving Club: 4th Annual Carnival (advertisment).
Saturday 19 December 1925 at 2.45pm.
Printed by the Manly Daily Press.
1.b. Australian Surf Life Saving Association: Annual Surf Championships (advertisement).
Bondi Beach, Saturday 27th February 1926 at 2.30 pm,
Printed by Mortons Ltd. Sydney.
Both items displayed: Between the Flags Exhibition, ANMM, Sydney, 22 April 2007.
2.a. Curlewis, Adrian: Personal notes on surfboards, circa 1948.
Papers pertaining to C. Bede Maxwell’s Surf: Australians Against the Sea, 1949.
Mitchell Library, Sydney, ML MSS 196.
2.b. Brawley, Sean: Beach Beyond - A History of the Palm Beach Surf Club 1921 – 1996.
University of New South Wales Press Ltd., Sydney, 2052, 1996, page 55.
Reference: L. V. Hind to A.Curlewis, Curlewis Papers, SLSA Archives.
3.a. Curlewis: Op. Cit., (Personal notes).
3.b.Maxwell: Op. Cit., page 238.
A board shaped by Ralston was held by the Quicksilver company, circa 2004.
4. Brawley, Sean: Vigilant and Victorious - A Community History of the Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club 1911-1995.
Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club Inc., PO Box 18 Collaroy Beach 2097, Australia, 1995, page 48.
5.Op. Cit., pages 95-96.
6. Thorn, Jim: The First 75 Years- A History of the Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf life Saving Club, 1908-1983.
 Surf life Saving Association of Australia - National Council.
 "Surf House", 62 Buckingham Street, Sydney 2010, 1983, page 22.
7. Letham: Op. Cit., page10.
8.Phillips, H: Surfing Beaches of Sydney N.S.W.
 Photographer, Printer and Publisher.
 99 Victoria Avenue Willoghby, NSW, 1930 page ?
9. Butterfy ?
10. Oswald Downing: Surf Shooting Board, circa 1917.
Surf Life Saving Museum, Surf House, 1 Notts Avenue Bondi Beach, NSW 2026.
11.   Manly Surf Lfe Saving Club: Australian Surf Museum Catalogue.
Manly Life Saving Club Inc, Surf Pavilion, South Steyne, Manly NSW 2095 Australia, 2006, page/number 1.
12.a. Harris: Op. Cit., page 44.
12.b. Brawley: Op. Cit., page 56.

Surfboards were not the only craft on the Sydney’s beaches.
From the turn of the century the members of the Sly family of Manly performed many surf rescues with their fishing boat.
Usually launching from the protected waters of Cabbage Tree Bay, they became experienced at rowing through and shooting the breakers into the beach, giving demonstrations of their skill at several surf carnivals between 1903 and 1908. (1)

At Bronte, Walter V. H. Biddell designed the three-man Surf King in 1908, comprised a timber frame, painted canvas and tin tubes, stuffed with kapok.(2)
His next design, the Albatross circa 1910, was a more conventional four-man surf boat similar to the American dory.(3)
In 1908, Manly SLSC obtained their first surf boat, a double ended clinker built with oars Nos. 2 and 3 rowing side-by-side on the centre thwart.(4)
This was followed in 1913 by M.L.S.C., designed by Fred Notting, a Manly SLSC member and noted surfboard rider, which was commonly known as the “Banana boat” due to the accentuated rocker. (5)

Surfboat sweeps, often themselves surfboard riders (6), were noted for their wave riding bravado.
In the 1920s, the Holy Grail of big wave riding was the Queenscliff Bombora, which broke on extreme southerly swells, actually rolling in to Freshwater.
The first recorded attempt to ride the break was in 1928 by the crew of North Steyne’s Bluebottle with Ratus Evans as sweep.
Although they caught a large wave, the boat was swamped in the whitewater and the crew assisted by Queenscliff SLSC members in their surfboat. (7)
The next attempt, in 1939, by the Manly LSC surfboat under Frank Davis had a similar result, this time assistance provide by the Freshwater boat with Don Wauchope as sweep oar.(8)
The Freshwater Club, in a boat nicknamed “Struggles” and captained by George Henderson, would be eventually credited with successfully riding several waves at the Bombora in 1948. (9)

In June 1961, Sydney newspapers featured front-page photographs of Freshwater boardrider, Dave Jackman, riding a large Queenscliff Bombora wave and claiming it as a first.
Jackman himself reported that several surfboard riders, including Claude West, had preceded him in the late 1930s, although he notes West was assisted out to the break by the Manly surf boat. (10)
Roger Duck and Lou Morath, a member of both the Balmoral Beach Club and Manly SLSC, were also credited with riding the Bombora on surfboards before Jackman’s celebrated rides of 1961.(11

Footnotes: Surfboats
1.a. Galton, Barry: Gladiators of the Surf: The Austalian Surf Life Saving Championships - A History.
 AH & AW Read Pty Ltd, 2 Aquatic Drive Frenchs Forest NSW 2086, 1984, page 13.
1.b. North Steyne Surf Bathers and Life Saving Club: Official Carnival Programme.
Saturday 28th March 1908, Event Number 3.
2. Daily Telegraph, 29 December 1908, page 3.
3. Maxwell: Op. Cit., pages 89-90.
4. Harris:Op. Cit., page 44.
5.a. Maxwell: Op. Cit., pages 91 –92.
5.b. Harris: Op. Cit., pages 44-45.
6. For example, Bronte sweep (circa 1952), Bill Wallace, was a noted Sydney surfboard builder from the late 1950s to the 1970s.
7. Maxwell: Op. Cit., pages 112 –116.
8. Maxwell: Op. Cit., pages 116 –117.
9. Myers: Op. Cit., page 40.
10. Jackman, Dave: Great Beaches, in
Pollard, Jack (ed.): The Australian Surfrider.
K.G.Murray Publishing Co.P/L,142 Clarence Street, Sydney Australia,1964, page 100.
11. Franki, George: The Balmoral Beach Club - 75 Years, 1914-1989.
 The Balmoral Beach Club, The Esplanade, Balmoral NSW, 1989, page 41.

Surf Canoes and McLaren's Surf Ski.
Canoes were also used in the waves.
Fred Notting gave displays of surf shooting in his “Big Risk” canoe at the Manly and Freshwater carnivals in 1912. (1)
During the 1920's Russell Henry 'Busty' Walker used a canoe to act as a judge at the buoys at Manly Surf Carnivals and others had used canoes in the surf at Freshwater, Bronte and Bondi. (2)

At Port Macquarie, on the mid-north coast of NSW, oyster farmer Harry McLaren attempted to shoot waves in a specialized canoe called a duck punt that was propelled with two small hand paddles, sometime between 1913 and 1920. (3)
The unsuitability of the flat-bottomed punt in the surf led him to build a new craft with pronounced rocker and a long based keel fin to facilitate wave riding.
Critically, the deck was enclosed with cedar panels with a draining bung, thereby avoiding the propensity for standard canoes to be swamped. It was to be known as the surf ski and was the first successful hollow timber “board” built in Australia.

In 1928, visiting Manly SLSC member and boardrider, Dr. J. S. 'Saxon' Crakanthorp was intrigued with McLaren and others riding at Town Beach on their skis.
No doubt aware of the difficulties encountered in the surf by standard canoes, as ridden by Notting, Walker and others, Crackenthrop was so impressed he purchased one.
On returning to Manly, significantly enhanced the ski’s performance by fixing two leather foot straps and replacing McLaren’s small hand paddles with the common double-bladed canoe paddle.
The cedar panels were later replaced with marine plywood. In this improved configuration, Crackanthrop effectively claimed he was the inventor. (4)

Footnotes: Surf Canoes and McLaren's Surf Ski.
1.a. Manly Life Saving Club: Manly Surf Carnival - Official Programme
Saturday 6th January 1912, Event 2.
1.b. Freshwater Surf and Life Saving Club: Surf Carnival Souvenir Programme.
Friday, January 26 1912, Event 10.
2.a.  Maxwell: Op. Cit., page 237.
2.b. Harris: Op. Cit., page 90.
2.c. Galton, Barry: Gladiators of the Surf:  The Austalian Surf Life Saving Championships - A History.
AH & AW Read Pty Ltd, 2 Aquatic Drive Frenchs Forest NSW 2086, 1984, page 43.
2.d. Myers, K. (ed.): No Lives Lost : The History of the Freshwater Surf life Saving Club 1908 – 1983.
A. Windsor and Son Pty. Ltd., 4 James Street, Waterloo, 1983, page 85.
3.a.Best, Alleyn: Chapter 5: Surf Lifesaving Technology, in
Jaggard, Ed (editor): Between the Flags- One Hundred Summers of Australian Lifesaving.
UNSW Press, Sydney, 2006, page 123.
3.b. Uptin, Charles: 50 Years of Surf Life-Saving in Port Macquarie 1928/29 - 1978/79.
Port Macquarie Printers Pty Ltd., 65 Clarence Street, Port Macquarie, 1979, ages 6 to 34.
3.c. State Library NSW: At Work and Play– 05005, 05008, 05011. (photographs)
4. Maxwell: Op. Cit., page 245.

Tom Blake’s Hollow Board.
Congruent with the introduction of the surf ski in Australia (circa 1926-1930), Kahanamoku protégé and champion board paddler, Tom Blake, was developing his famous patented hollow board in Hawaii.
Blake Initially drilled multiple holes through a solid wood duplicate of an ancient board held by the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and then covered the deck and bottom with thin timber panels. (1)
Around 1929, he produced a lightweight model that used plywood panels over a timber frame, in a similar construction method as “the English racing shell" (2), and remarkably similar in construction to McLaren’s surf ski.
On 18th April 1931, 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.
Two years later, the first of several versions of the plans and instructions to build Blake’s hollow design was printed in America in Modern Mechanix magazine. (3)

In Australia, the knowledge “that for speed they must have less weight in their boards and more buoyancy” (4)  saw some crude attempts to construct hollow boards in the period up to 1930.
Similar to Tom Blake’s initial experiments, Claude West, circa 1918, attempted to hollow out a solid redwood board, but water easily penetrated cracks in the timber and the project abandoned. (5)

While Blake's designs would eventually dominate surfing across the Pacific into the 1950s, it is unlikely his hollow construction was unique.
As noted above, in Australia Harry McLaren's surfski was of similar construction and photographic evidence appears to indicate that hollow-type boards were used in the the world wide development of aquaplaning behind power boats.

Footnotes: Tom Blake’s Hollow Board.
1.a. Blake, Tom: Hawaiian Surfriders 1935.
Mountain and Sea Publishing, Box 126 Redondo Beach California 90277, circa 1983, page 59.
Reprint of Hawaiian Surfboard, Paradise of the Pacific Press, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1935.
1.b. Young, Nat: Op. Cit., page 49.
2. Blake: Op. Cit., page 51.
3. Paul W. Gartner : Hawaiian Water Sled
Modern Mechanix Magazine
Modern Mechanics Publishing Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 1933, page 3.
4. Curlewis: Op. Cit., page 2.
5. Ibid.

The 1930s.
In 1931, the solid wood surfboard finally received official SLSA sanction as a life saving device.
Since 1915 there were no doubt a number of unrecorded rescues using surfboards on Sydney’s beaches and, at Manly, Claude West regularly used his board to assist swimmers in difficulty.
On one occasion, fortuitously during a beach inspection by Manly alderman who were considering a ban on surfboards, he rescued three swimmers with his board while the surf boat struggled to clear the break.
The ban was not implemented and West later used his board in his celebrated rescue of the Australian Governor-General, Sir Ronald Mungo Fergerson, in February 1920. (1)

Following representation to the SLSA authorities from the clubs where surfboard riding was most popular; Palm Beach, Collaroy, Manly and Cronulla; trials were held in the swimming pool of the Tattersals Club in Sydney in the second half of 1931.
Perhaps the death at Collaroy of a local club member, George 'Jordie' Greenwell, during a belt and reel rescue attempt earlier that year tempered any misgivings of the examiners towards the surfboard and it was added to the belt and reel and the surf boat as official SLSA rescue equipment. (2)

Plans and specifications for building a solid redwood surfboard were added to the eighth edition of the SLSA Handbook issued for 1932.
There were also instructions for its use and notes detailing rescue procedure and rules for a surfboard rescue event.
Two images of surfboard riders in action, one illustrating paddling technique and a portrait shot of several riders holding their boards were included in the photographic plates. (3)

Footnotes: The 1930s.
1.a. Curlewis: Op. Cit., page 3.
1.b. Maxwell: Op. Cit., page 237.
1.c. Wells: Op. Cit., pages 91-95.
2. Brawley: Collaroy (1995), pages 91-95.
Greenwell’s death was in large swell and heavy seaweed conditions on Sunday 26 April 1931.
The examiners noted the suitability of the surfboard in heavy seaweed conditions.
Official recognition cited in Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 1931.
3. The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook.
Eighth Edition (Revised 1932)
JNO, Evans and Son Printing Coy.,  486-488 Kent Street Sydney, New South Wales Handbook , 1932
Surfboard plans and specifications, pages 196-170.
Instructions for use of Surf Board, page 170.
Rescue work with Surf Boards, includes rules for Board Rescue Event,  pages 172 - 173: and
Photographs: Propelling a Surf Board, page 83; Many of the Australian Surf Life Savers are skilled surf-board riders, page 171; Riding and shooting the breakers on Sydney beaches, page 171, Surf Boards and Riders (board portraits), page 173.

Surfriding Books, 1931.
The popularity of surf bathing and surfboard riding continued to rise and in the early 1930s three of the earliest surfing books were published in Sydney.

Harry Hay, who had impeccable credentials in both sports, published Swimming and Surfing in 1931. (1)
A member of Manly SLSC, he was one of the early (body) surf-shooters and, as a champion member of the Manly Swimming Club, was conversant with the rapid developments in swimming technique that culminated in the universal adoption of the crawl as the dominant speed stroke.
In the summer of 1914-1915, Hay played a major role in the tour of the Duke Kahanamoku party.
He was contestant at the heats for the 100 yards swimming championship of NSW at the Domain carnival on 2nd January 1915, won by Duke Kahanamoku in world record time. (2)
In the surf, he was one of the first locals to receive personal tuition in surfboard riding from Duke at Freshwater. (3)
Written in a concise and informative manner, Hay provides an excellent introduction to riding a solid timber board.

The chapter on surfboard riding in Surf- All About It (4), also published in 1931, is less expert.
A substantial book of fifty pages, with extensive quality illustrations, it lacks accreditation of author, artist or publisher.
The author, while probably an experienced journalist, appears to have based his account largely on knowledge imparted by others and not extensive personal surfing experience.
For example, the following could be said to be an optimistic view:
“It is no harder for a moderately skilful surfer to learn the use of the board than it was for him to learn the art of shooting.
And the risk of danger is certainly no more.” (5)

H. Phillips' Surfing Beaches of Sydney, N.S.W. (6), circa 1931, is a collection of professional beachside photographs with basic captions, whereas the other contemporary works use illustrations only.
The vast majority are at Manly or the beaches of the Eastern surburbs and include beachcscapes, female fashions, surf carnival march pasts and reel and rescue competition.
There are half-a-dozen photographs of surfboats, several of canoes, and a number of inflated craft.
The four images of surfboard riders in action include one rider standing on his head and a female riding prone.
A photograph of seven riders, of various ages and one female, holding their boards illustrates a range of board design and decor and, given the variation in swimming costumes, possibly representing several surf life saving clubs at a competition.

Footnotes: Surfriding Books, 1931.
1. Hay, Harry: Swimming and Surfing.
Jantzen (Australia) Ltd., Lidcome, Sydney, 1931.
Surfboard riding, pages 9-10. Surf-shooting (body surfing), pages 11-12.
2. New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association: State Championship Carnivals - Official Souvenir and Programme. Municipal Baths, Domain, Sydney, January 1915.
Caxton Print, Phone City 1419, page 17.
3. Corbett, W.: Op. Cit., The Sun, 12 January 1915, page 7.
4. Unaccredited: Surf- All About It., Sydney, 1931, pages 15 to 17.
Ibid., page15.
Phillips, H: Surfing Beaches of Sydney N.S.W.
Photographer, Printer and Publisher
99 Victoria Avenue Willoghby, NSW, circa 1930.

In the Victoria during the 1920s, narrow prone boards similar Grace Smith-Wooton’s circa 1915 board, continued to gain popularity and were later supplied by beachside guest houses for their clients.
Similar to the problem with solid timber boards splitting longitudinally as in Sydney, some boards were braced with metal nose guards or timber cleats. (1)
In the later case these were positioned on the bottom of the board and were not mitred flush into the timber.
As the boards were mostly ridden in the whitewater these were, apparently, not an impediment to performance. In Tasmania, initially the “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.” (2)
These solid timber (and later plywood) boards with pronounced nose lift, produced by steaming the timber and then bending it between two steel posts, also appeared in Victoria.
They were occasionally called Lamaroos, a name that may have derived from product labeling by a commercial manufacturer of the period. (3)
In the1950s they were supplied by beachside guesthouses for their clients, sometimes with the name of the establishment painted on the board. (4)
In America, plans for a four foot six inch long and 18 inch wide prone board, with mitred cleats, were published in Popular Mechanics Magazine in July 1934. (5)
Similar boards were also used on English beaches (6) and at Durban in South Africa. (7)
Footnotes: “Lamaroos”

1. Walding: Op. Cit., pages 205-207.
2. Young, David: Sporting Island - A History of Sport and Recreation in Tasmania.
 Tasmanian Government - Sport and Recreation Tasmania
 Artemis Publishing Consultants, 106 Hampden Road, Hobart, Tasmania, 7000, 2005, page 206.
3."Arnold Gotez (State Secretary) ... is the proud owner of a Looma-Roo board and actually owned a full sized board for one season."
The Victorian Surfer - The Official Organ Victorian State Centre
Surf Life Saving Association of Australia
Minerva Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd.  17 Elizabeth Street Melbourne.
March 1963 Volume 1 Number 3, page 33.
4.Walding: Op. Cit., page 205.
5. Unaccredited: Making Money at the Beach.
Popular Mechanics Magazine, July 1934 Volume 62 No. 1, pages 115 - 117
6. Bartlet, Vernont: You and Your Surfboard.
 Davie-Johnson Ltd, Portbrothan Bay, Padstow, Cornwall, circa 1946.
7. Postcard: Bathing Enclosure, Durban, circa 1950. Collection of the author.

The Surfoplane, 1932.
Another type of prone craft, the surfoplane, appeared on the beaches of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in the early 1930s.
Made of molded rubber and inflated with compressed air, it was an immediate success and saw a huge boom in wave riding population.
Apart from the ease of paddling and wave catching due to the buoyancy, danger to the rider and other bathers was minimal.
For this reason they were accepted in general bodysurfing areas, whereas wooden prone boards were limited to designated board riding zones.
The design would spread worldwide and for the next forty years would be the dominant juvenile craft in Australia, world champions Mark Richards (1) and Tom Carroll (2) beginning their surfing careers on surfoplanes.

Dr Ernest Smithers of Bronte, a Sydney doctor, developed the Surfoplane in the years leading up to 1932. (3)
It is unclear how Smithers came to his design, but in Europe experiments with inflated watercraft had been in progress for over sixty years, as reported by Charles Steedman in 1867, sometimes disastrously:
“not long since, in Paris, the inventor of a patent air-mattress was actually drowned, together with his assistant, through the mismanagement in some way of a specimen of his artificial life-preserving apparatus which he was exhibiting in public.” (4)

There are competing claims for the inventor of the surfoplane, (5) for example SLSA historian Sean Brawley credits Bondi’s Stan McDonald.
Examining the events of Black Sunday, the most celebrated rescue in the history of Australian surf life saving on 6th February 1938, Brawley comments:
 "The surfoplane had been introduced to Bondi Beach a few seasons earlier by Stan McDonald.
On his retirement, McDonald had designed a rubber surf mat that he called a 'beacher'.
Along with his chairs and mutton oil tan spray, McDonald leased the mats in their hundreds; riding them became a popular surfing activity at a time when board riding was still a marginal and almost exclusively a surf club activity.
The surf mats soon became more popularly known as 'surfo- planes', the name of a rival surf mat manufacturer." (6)

Brawley’s best approximate date for McDonald’s introduction is circa 1934 (“a few” = 4 of less?), certainly post dating E. E. Smithers’ and C. D. Richardson's patent application for a "rubber surfboard” on 7th October 1932. (7)
The next summer the Patent Office accepted a trademark design from Smithers and Richardson for the "Surfo-plane" (8) and, by the mid-1930s, the company promoted them as hire items in advertisements. (9)

Surfing film historian, Albie Thoms notes the surfoplane ''was soon in mass production, being hired by the half hour on Sydney beaches, and proving popular with all ages and both genders.  Surf-o-planes were... filmed for Movietone News 6/7 (1935), ... Movietone News 7/15 (1936), ... Movietone News 8/13 (1937), ... Movietone News 9/14 (1938), which included shots of Dr Smithers riding his invention at Bronte, ...and ... Movietone News 10/6 (1939)." (10)

Concerns about the potential danger of surfoplane riders to led to calls for them to be segregated from bodysurfers, but an inqury by a  SLSAA sub-committee in 1936 found no evidence for such drastic action. (11)
Around this time, surfoplane racing was included in some SLSAA carnivals, often dominated by Cronulla's Bob Holcombe who had nine consecutive wins including the 1938 Australian Championship. (12)
The craft were extremely popular with Manly Life Saving Club reporting 261 rescues in the 1938-9 season, half of which were carried out on or swept off rubber floats. (13)
In 1955 surfoplane plans and photographs were included in the Gear and Equipment Handbook. (14)

Although the surfoplane was used worldwide, including a report that included it in events at the Makaha Surfing Contest in the later 1930s (15), the exact process and chronology of this distribution is unclear.
In the United States, surfoplanes, “also called ‘surf rafts’ or ‘floats’- were being used in Virginia Beach, Virginia in the early ‘40s and in Southern California by the late ‘40s.” (16)

By the late 1960s its status in Australia as the dominant juvenile craft was under threat by the Coolite, a soft lightweight polystyrene board and by the mid-1970s, the rubber surfoplane had been largely replaced by an updated design, the inflatable canvas surf mat.

Footnotes: The Surfoplane
1. Knox, David: Mark Richards: A Surfing Legend.
 Collins Angus & Robertson Publishers Pty. Ltd. 25 – 31 Ryde Road Pymble NSW 2073 Australia, 1992, page ?
2. Carroll, Tom and Wilcox, Kirk: The Wave Within.
Ironbark, Pan Macmillan Publishers Australia Pty. Ltd., St. Martins Tower, 31 Market Street, Sydney, 1994, plate facing page 86.
3.a. Thoms: Op. cit., page 40.
3.b.Alison Lee, the daughter of Dr. Smithers noted he “worked for eight years to develop it.”
- personal correspondence by email, September 2001.
4. Steedman: Op. Cit., page 44.
5. Based on anecdotal evidence, in 1999 I had credited the invention of the surfoplane to Frank Beaurepaire (posted on which prompted to email from Alison Lee, noted above.
This material was subsequently adjusted, significantly enhanced by Albie Thom’s Surfmovies, (2000), also noted above.
6. Brawley: Bondi SLSA, page 134.
7.Official Journal of Trade Marks and Designs, Volume 3, Number 13, 1933, page 432.
8.Official Journal of Trade Marks and Designs, Volume 3, Number 13, 1933, page 1421: 14th December 1933.
9. Thoms: Op. Cit., page 40.
11. Meagher, Mack, and Crain: Report on Surfoplanes.
Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: Surf in Australia, September 1, 1936, pages 12-13.
12.a. Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: Surf in Australia, January 1, 1937, page 25.
12.b. Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: Surf in Australia, March 1, 1938, page 22.
13. Bloomfield, John: Know-how in the Surf.
 Angus and Robertson, 89 Castlereagh Street, Sydney 1959 pages 54 to 57.
14. The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Gear and Equipment Handbook.
Sydney, Australia, First Edition, October 1955.
White section: Float and Flippers photographs.
Pink section: Drawing 25, Design and Measurements of a Rubber Surfboard or Surfo-plane, page 179.
15. Reference ????
16. Warshaw, Matt: The Encyclopedia of Surfing.
Viking, Penguin Books Australia Pty Ltd
250 Camberwell Road Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia, 2004, pages 367-368.
Blake’s Book, Fin and Big Surf Handle, 1935.

In 1935, Tom Blake published his seminal book on surfboard riding, Hawaiian Surfboard. (1)
Setting a blueprint for many subsequent works, the book featured a history of the sport starting with ancient Hawaiian legends, surfboard design, instruction on board riding and rescue techniques, a discussion of contest formats, and a detailed surf guide to the breaks of Waikiki.
Probably just as significantly, the book included a number of Blake’s photographs, shot from the water of surfboard riders in the waves of Waikiki.
Seven photographs from the book were also reproduced in National Geographic Magazine in May 1935 (2), however, the article’s introductory photograph, a self-portrait of Blake and his current surfboard quiver circa 1932 with a detailed caption, was not included in the book.
It is impossible to know how many copies of Blake’s book made their way into the hands of Australian surfboard riders in the 1930s, but the specially blue-tinted images in National Geographic, a publication with international circulation, were probably far more likely to be available.

The same year, Tom Blake added a long base keel fin to his hollow board design, a feature that had already appeared in Australia on McLaren’s surf ski circa 1928.
At the same time Blake also added a circular shaped stainless steel “big surf handle” mounted on the tail of the board, as an aid to controlling the board from the tail. (3)

Blake’s fin did not appear in any of the published plans of the his paddleboard from 1933 to 1946 (4), but a two inch keel fin with a 14 inch base was included as “a necessity” on a 11 foot Square Tail Hollow Riding Surf Board, dated 1937. (5)
The stainless steel tail handle, originally fitted to Blake’s Kalahuewehe hollow board, appears not have to been widely adopted by Hawaiian or Californian hollow board riders, based on a large number of photographs of the period.
In Australia, however, “a gip handle at stern as safety measure” was specified by the SLSA in their Handbook of 1947 as a necessary addition to hollow paddleboards. (6)

Footnotes: Blake’s Book, Fin and Big Surf Handle, 1935.
1. Blake: Op. Cit.
2. Photographs by Thomas Edward Blake: Waves and Thrills at Waikiki
National Geographic Magazine, May 1935 Volume 47 Number 5, pages 597 – 604.
3. Lynch, Gary and Gault-Willians, Malcom: Tom Blake : The Uncommon Journey of a Pioneer Waterman.
Published by the Croul Family Foundation, Corona del Mar, California, 2001, page 141.
4.a  Paul W. Gartner: Hawaiian Water Sled is Easy to Build.
Modern Mechanix: How to Build It 1933 Annual
Modern Mechanics Publishing Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1934, pages 84, 85 and 86.
Originally printed in: Modern Mechanix Magazine.
Modern Mechanics Publishing Co. Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 1933, page 3.
4.b. Tom Blake: Riding the Breakers on this Hollow Hawaiian Surfboard.
Popular Mechanics Magazine.
July 1937 Volume 68 Number 1, pages 114 – 117.
Reprinted in: How to Build Your Own Canoe, Kayak or Surfboard, Number 30.
Popular Mechanics Press, 200 E. Ontario Street Chicago 11 Illinois, 1940, Second printing 1946 pages ?
5. Tom Blake: Riding the Breakers on this Hollow Hawaiian Surfboard.
Popular Mechanics Magazine.
July 1937 Volume 68 Number 1, pages 101-102.
6. The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook
Fifteenth Edition, Revised June 1947,
The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia, Sydney, Australia, page 213.
Laminated Surfboards.

Hollow construction was not the only design that sought to produce a lighter surfboard in the 1930s.
In California, billets were prepared by laminating together lightweight balsa wood strips reinforced with a number of redwood stringers and bordered by redwood rails, nose and tail blocks.
Chambering the central timber sections, before the billet was laminated, could further reduce weight.
The use of timber stringers, and occasionally nose and tail blocks, was later transferred to foam board construction in the late 1950s.
Similar to the publication of plans of Blake’s hollow surfboard design, various models were detailed in an article in Popular Science Magazine in August 1935. (1)
A Californian garage door manufacturing company, Pacific Homes, produced commercial boards, initially labeled as the Swastika model, which was renamed with the outbreak of World War 1.
Employees of the company included Gard Chapin, stepfather to the inimitable Micki Dora (2), and Bob Simmons, often credited with the introduction of the first laminated fibreglass surfboards circa 1948. (3)

It is unknown if the published plans for the laminated surfboard had any impact on Australian builders, but one report indicates Bern Gandy acquired an imported board, probably from California, and surfed it at Lorne in 1935-1936.
Gandy subsequently built a 10ft 6'' replica and took this board with him to Sydney in 1938. (4)
A board of similar construction to the laminated design, said to be from a Geelong family but its providence otherwise unclear, is held by a private collector. (5)

Footnotes: Laminated Surfboards, 1930s.
1. Hi Sibley: Better Ways to Build Surfboards.
Popular ScienceMagazine, August 1935 Vol 127 No,2  pages 56, 57 and 91.
2. Steyck, C. R. and Kampion, Drew: Dora Lives - The Authorized Story of Miki Dora.
 T. Adler Books, Santa Barbara. 2005.
3. There is currently no serious published account of the development of the laminated fibreglass surfboard, circa 1948.
Most evidence is anecdotal, complicated by Simmons’ drowning in 1953, or based on surviving examples of his work.
The best account to date is probably:
Marcus, Ben: The Surfboard - Art Style Stoke.
Voyager Press, MBI Publishing Company LLC, Gaultier Plaza, Suite 200, 380 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-3885 USA, 2007, Chapter 4.
4. Unaccredited: Press clipping, on display at Scott Dillon's Legends Surfing Museum, Coffs Harbour, June 2005.
5. Walding: Op. Cit., page 7. Walding dates the board as circa 1935.

Australian Hollow Boards.
While it is readily assumed that successful hollow boards were built in Australia as a direct consequence of the dissemination of Tom Blake’s plans, there may have been other influences.
It is difficult to conceive that Manly surfboard riders were not impressed with the performance of McLaren’s hollow surf ski as introduced by J. S. Crackanthorp in the very early 1930s.
At Manly, Claude West had experimented with a crude hollow board in 1918, as previously noted, and “Snowy” McAlister, presumably in the early 1930s, followed with a “different”, but unspecified, design similar in template to the common Gothic solid board. (1)
C. Bede Maxwell notes “Frank Adler of Maroubra seems to be the first Australian to compete on a hollow board”, circa 1934. (2)
It is variously reported (3) that Adler adapted his design from plans in an American magazine, most probably the Blake plans printed in Modern Mechanix in 1933.
Regretably, the official history of the Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club fails to record any details of Adler's surfboard design. (4)

A Photographic Anomaly:
Ongoing research has yet to confirm the provenance of a photograph of tandem riders, reproduced right, that potentially calls into question the current understanding of the development of the hollow board in Australia, 

This copy was printed in a collection of black and white photographs under the tittle "The Old Timer's Album" in Surfer in 1965. (5)
The accompanying text reads:
"This shot won a photo contest as a 'Typical Outdoor Sport' in 1920.
Taken at Bondi, Aust. by Jack O'Brien."

Given the board's obvious extreme thickness, it is highly probable that it could have only been hollow. 
The search for the photograph's original publication details is ongoing.

Footnotes: Australian Hollow Boards.
1. Curlewis: Op. Cit., page 2.
2. Maxwell: Op. Cit., page 240.
3. Reference ??? Adler Profile, Australian Longboard Magazine 2000?
4. Symonds, Tom: Maroubra Surf Club: The First 75 Years.
Lester-Townsend Publishing, Sydney, 1982.
5. Various contributors:"The Old Timer's Album" (Part 1 of 3)
Surfer Magazine, March 1965, Volume 6 Number 1, page 22.

Surf Skis, 1930s.
During the 1930s, the surf ski proved very popular at many beaches. (1)
Importantly, the high floatation, the stability of the rider while sitting and the ability to adjust the craft speed by paddling meant that the rider could avoid the breaking curl and safely take a straight line towards the beach, similar to surf boats and effective in surf competition.
While the skis could (and did) transverse the wave face, this feature encouraged their use at beaches that generally did not have suitable conditions for quality (that is, transverse) surfboard riding.

Two distinct designs of surf ski began to emerge, the wide body model used for wave riding and an elongated ski to improve paddling performance for racing, first developed by Jack Toyer of Cronulla in 1936. (2)  Concurrently, at Maroubra 'Mickey' Morris and 'Billy' Langford introduced the double ski, although their first model proved too narrow. (3)
The broad-beam model, like a surfboard, was ridden in a standing position when on the wave with the addition of a leash connecting the paddle to the nose, probably to keep the two apparatus together in the case of a wipeout, which was more probable when riding while standing.
One, unaccredited, photograph of several broad- beamed models was included in the SLSA Handbook of 1938. (4)
These skis were first seen on film in Movietone News 8/51 in 1937 at Manly, the riders both sitting and standing. (5)

After extensive testing at Maroubra, the surf ski was adopted as standard life saving equipment in 1937 (6)  and included in the Australian Championships as a rescue event with a paddler and patient. (7)
The skis proved very popular and it was suggested that "the new craze is giving the surf board some very keen opposition." (8)
The same year, Surf Ski Manufacturers at Smith's Avenue, Hurstville marketed "the new Ultra-Modern Surf Ski" at seven pounds and fifteen shillings including delivery by rail or boat plus packing at two shillings and sixpence, or fifteen shillings deposit and payments of three shillings and sixpence per week. (9)

At the end of the1930s the surf ski made its first excursion outside Australian waters:
“The Walker Brothers sent a surf ski to Duke Kahanamoku at Honolulu and members of the Australian Pacific Games Team which visited Honolulu in 1939 say Duke was often seen paddling around on his ‘ski from Australia’.” (10)

Despite official sanction, skis were not included in the SLSA Handbook of 1938, except for the photograph noted above, and in December, these skis competed with canoes in an SLSC carnival. (11)
The SLSA Handbook was later adjusted to include notes on Rescue Methods and Rules for Control by Clubs for surfboards and surf skis (12)  and eventually plans were included for an 18 feet single and a 22 feet double ski. (13)

Footnotes: Surf Skis, 1930s.
1. Thorn, Jim: A History of the Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf life Saving Club - The First 75 Years, 1908-1983.
Surf Life Saving Association of Australia - National Council.
"Surf House", 62 Buckingham Street, Sydney 2010, 1983, page 53.
2. Bloomfield: Op. Cit., page 69.
3. Maxwell: Op. Cit., page 245.
4. The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook.
 JNO, Evans and Son Printing Coy., 486-488 Kent Street Sydney, New South Wales, 1938 (Tenth edition), page 180 (photograph).
5. Thoms: Op. Cit., page 40.
6.  Ibid.
7. Galton, Barry: Gladiators of the Surf: The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships - A History.
 AH & AW Read Pty Ltd, 2 Aquatic Drive Frenchs Forest NSW, 2086,1984, page 79.
8. Unaccredited: The Surf Ski- An Australian Invention.
Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: Surf in Australia, January 1, 1937, page 17.
9. Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: Surf in Australia, January 1, 1937, page 17.
10. Curlewis: Op. Cit., pages 3-4.
11. The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook.
 JNO, Evans and Son Printing Coy., 486-488 Kent Street Sydney, New South Wales, 1947 (Fifteenth Edition), Plate 32, page 103.
12. SLSA: Op. Cit., 1947, pages 211 – 213.
13.  The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Gear and Equipment Handbook.
First Edition October 1955, pages 175 and 177.
Lou Morath, ‘Blue’ Russell and Surfboard Trials, 1939.

Australian solid wood design reached its pinnacle in Lou Morath’s board built sometime before 1939.
The board has the classic Gothic template and rocker with a stainless steel nose plate mitred into the deck and a complementary plate fixed across the tail.
Foreshadowing later designs (1), two-thirds of the deck area is reduced in thickness creating a concave section to accommodate the paddler, and presumably assist when riding.
In addition, two finely carved channels are located in the deck on the rails approximately two thirds forward and a second pair at the tail, added to provide a firm hand grip when pushing the board out through the surf.
The nose section of the board was originally decorated with a painted Manly club logo, a segmented circle surrounding a surf life saving reel.
Later, a Outrigger Canoe Club logo; as evidenced on one of Tom Blake’s bards photographed circa 1932, see above; was branded into the timber at below the painted Manly logo.
This was probably added as a mark of kinship, during Morath’s attendance at the Pacific Games at Waikiki in July 1939. (2)

This was specifically a wave riding board and not competitive in paddling races.
Lou Morath used a hollow plywood board for the surfboard trails, held on Narrabeen Lakes, to determine representatives to the upcoming Pacific Games.
The board was approximately 11 feet long and unusually wide with a large square nose and smaller tail both sheathed in thin metal plates.
Typical of Morath’s exceptional craftsmanship, the deck has several contrasting decorative “vee” panels down the board.
Contemporary photographs of the trials illustrate two other boards similar in size and shape, one held by fellow Manly LSC member, Harry Wicke.
He was a noted board rider who, it has been inferred, was not considered for selection due to his German heritage, in a flurry of nationalist paranoia with the outbreak of war in Europe. (3)
Wicke’s board, also with metal nose and tail sheathing, is about 10 feet long.
Built by Palm Beach SLSC member Keightly 'Blue' Russell, the board is currently in the Manly LSC’s Australian Surfing Museum collection. (4)
Importantly, these three boards are not characteristic of the standard Tom Blake hollow board template and appear to be rather an attempt to produce a lighter board similar in dimensions to the earlier solid wood.
This perhaps demonstrates an independent Australian design influence, the most likely candidate Harry McLaren’s surf ski, as appropriated at Manly by Dr. Crackanthorp.

‘Blue’ Russell, credited with “starting the kneeling paddle fashion in Sydney” (5), was himself a competitor in the trials and subsequently a representative to Hawaii.
His personal board, and several others, in the trial photographs are substantially longer than the three detailed above, probably in excess of 14 feet.
Held nose down by their riders, their tails are cropped out by the top of the image.
These models appear similar to the square nose and pin tail template to the Blake design.

Following the trails Lou Morath (Manly), Keightly ('Blue') Russell (Palm Beach) and Dick Chapple (North Bondi) were selected as boardriding representatives in a large Australian team which attended the Pacific Games in Hawaii. (6)
 As well as his solid wood wave riding board, Lou Morath probably took a hollow board to Hawaii different to the one he used in the trials.
A photograph, titled “Lou Morath and another paddler in training for the 1939 Pacific Games " (7), shows him paddling a board that closely resembles one held by the Manly Art Gallery and Museum (8) with the number “2” and “Lou Morath” hand painted in gold script on the deck.
This 14 feet long board has contrasting wood paneling of the deck, somewhat similar to the board used at the trials, and long based solid timber keel fin.
It’s pin nose and square tail are at variance with the standard Blake hollow.
The other paddler, on a board that bears the rescue reel logo used by several Australian surf life saving clubs, is possibly an Hawaiian competitor, perhaps even Duke Kahanamoku himself. (9)

Footnotes: Lou Morath, ‘Blue’ Russell and Surfboard Trials, 1939.
1. For example, George Greenough’s famous series of concave Spoon keyboards, circa 1962 to 1982.
2. The board is currently held at The Balmoral Beach Club, The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach, Sydney, NSW 2088.
3. Ray Moran, Manly LSC, suggested in conversation, September 2004.
4. Manly Life Saving Club: Op. Cit., page/number 1.
5. Curlewis: Op. Cit., Personal Notes.
6. Maxwell: Op. Cit., pages 241-242.
7. Margan, Frank and Finney, Ben R.: A Pictorial History of Surfing.
 Paul Hamlyn Pty Ltd, 176 South Creek Road, Dee Why West, NSW 2099, 1970, page 127.
8. Manly Art Gallery and Museum, West Esplanade, Manly NSW 1655 Australia. Phone : 61 2 9949 1776
9. The Morath brother’s friendship with Kahanamoku no doubt responsible for Duke’s visit to the Balmoral Beach Club in 1956, see Franki: Op. Cit., page 41.

The Pacific Games, 1939.
On inception, Australia’s invitation to the Pacific Games of 1939 was initially focused on surfboard riding or paddling events, Sean Brawley noted:
“The trip was originally the idea of the Honolulu Star Bulletin which, upon hearing of a ‘new type of board’ in Australia, challenged the Sydney Daily Telegraph to send Australia’s best board riders to see if they could beat Honolulu surf-board men in their own surf”. (1)
Critically, Brawley does not identify the “new type of board”.

Focused on surfboard competition, the Daily Telegraph detailed a brief format:
"Events proposed are surf board out-and-home paddle race, surf board tandem race, surf board
display, and surfboard rescue race." (2)

From the first, the intention was have an Hawaiian team to compete in Australia the following year (perhaps to initiate an annual series of competitions):
"A conditlon of the tour is that the Hawaiian Association reciprocate with a visit to Australia in 1940." (3)

Australian surf lifesaving officials were enthusiastic about the tour as an opportunity to promote their life saving methods in an international context.
The Surf Life Saving Association chairman, Mr. Adrian Curlewis, commented:
"I feel that while taking part in the surf board championships our represenatives should give demonstrations of surf rescue work." (4)

Another official expressed confidence in the ability of the Australian boardriders to provide a vigorous contest:
"Mr. Hunter said tests had shown Australian surfers the equal to those in other parts of the world.
'The world record for a still water swim with a surf board is 31 1/2 sec.,' said Mr. Hunter.
'I know of several who got within a few seconds of this time without special training.' " (5)
The current record holder was probably American, Tom Blake over a distance of 100 yards. (6)
" 'Paddling record times in the still water of a Honolulu canal, over a distance from 100 yards to a mile,
are held by Tom Blake, an American.' said Mr. Russell yesterday."
Daily Telegraph, Friday, 10 February 1939, page 7

While the format of the competition had yet to be specified, most Sydney boardriders thought the surf at Waikiki was considerably less testing than their own beaches, a factor that would prove to be to their representatives' advantage.
"Snow" McAlister noted:
"The broken surf of Australia demand tremendous skill of the surf-board rider.
I think our best men have enough skill to match anybody in the surf."
(6) Daily Telegraph  Wednesday,  8 February 1939. Page 1

A similar view was expressed by CIaude West:
"The type of surf we have is the toughest in the world to master, and Australians could hold their own in the easier Honolulu surf.
The smooth, unbroken roller of Honolulu would be a picnic for our men. " (7)
Daily Telegraph Thursday, 9 February 1939. Page 7

Harry Hay expressed similar view in an article, with the less than subtle title, "Australians Are 'Tops' in Surfboard Riding":
"Our waves are irregular, bank up to great heights, and break some distance from the shore.
In order to choose the correct type of wave and ride it expertly and safely, one must summon far greater daring and skill than the Waikiki rider has to do." (8)
The Referee Thursday, 9 February 1939. Page 15

John Ralston, the fomer president of Palm Beach Surf Life-Saving Club and who apparently had surfed at Waikiki (9), was far more circumspect in his assessment:
SLSAA: Surf in Australia, November 1, 1936, pages 9-10.
"A feature of the board riding in Hawaii, which strikes the Australian expert on first experiencing the
sport there, is the amazing angle at which the riders come across the wave..."
"Nobody in the world could beat the Hawaiian beach boys in the surf."
However, it is important to note that the question of surfboard design was crucial, Ralston also noted:
"But with fast, hollow boards, and training, our men could compete with anyone over there." (10)
 Daily Telegraph  Wednesday,  8 February 1939. Page 1.

While the skills of Sydney's boardriders were being lauded in the press, "Blue" Russell, also of Palm Beach, was beginning to make serious practical tests against the stop watch on the flat water of Pittwater.

"In the Pittwater tests, a light hollow board of special three ply, about 15 feet 4ins. long was used.
The board was built by Mr. Russell , who considers it as fast as boards used at Honolulu.
It weighs about 30lb., whereas a solid board would weigh about 60lb." (11)
Daily Telegraph Friday, 10 February 1939, page 7
Note Russell's use of "a light hollow board", possibly of his own design.

Before the end of February the range of program activities had expanded considerably:
"They will compete against each other in the water, on surf-boards, in Australian surf-boats, in Hawaiian canoes, and the Australians will demonstrate the surf rescue system evolved here."
Daily Telegraph Wednesday, 22 February 1939, page 1

Selection on the team to visit Hawaii was considered highly prestigous, and the enthusiasm was evident in a preview of that year's Australian Championships:
"Almost overshadowing the championship carnival in current interest is the proposed visit of swimmers, surf board riders and a boat crew to Honolulu in July." (2)

At the Championships at Manly Beach on18th March, the Surf Board Race was won by G. Connor from Bondi, second R. Russell of Palm Beach and third was J. Mayes from North Bondi (2).
However, for unknown reasons, these results were not considered sufficient to finalise team selection and further trials were held on Narrabeen Lakes, see below.

Meanwhile, various clubs were vocal in support of their champions for inclusion in the touring party:
"Bob Holcombe, widely skilled surf competitor and current surfoplane champion  of the Cronulla club, has nominated for the S.L.S.A. surf team which will tour Honolulu in June."
Volume 3 Number 8 April 1, 1939, page 14.
"All members are confident that (Newcastle) Club Champion Alan Fidler will secure a berth on the Honolulu trip."
Volume 3 Number 9, May 1, 1939, page 8.

During April, trials were conducted on Narrabeen Lakes to determine selection for the surfboard paddlers to compete in Hawaii.
Some competitors included  A. Major and R.K. Russell (Palm Beach), H.H. Wicke, R. Duck, F.C. Davis, L. Morath,
and R. Lumsdaine (Manly).
The boards, " the latest types of hollow surfboards",  were of dirverse design and lengths.
Volume 3 Number 9. May 1, 1939, page 7.
Eventually Chapple (North Bondi), Lou Morath (Manly-Balmoral) and Blue Russell (Palm Beach) were selected as the surfboard representatives.

By the end of April 1939 a detailed programme had been prepared by the Hawaiian Committee and forwarded to the Surf life Saving Association of Australia.
Beginning with their arrival on 5th July, this consisted of official receptions, parades, social outings, two nights of swimming and diving events at the Waikiki Natorium and a third at Punahou Tank. .
The first night at the Natorium was to include the100 Yards Surfboard Race for Men, Open.
Sunday, July 16, was to feature "Lifeboat, canoe, surf board, ski and outboard motor regatta at Ala Moana Canal in front of Ala Moana Park"
Some of these proposed events were:
"4. Hawaiian surf board race, 1 mile (board must be 12 ft., at least 60 lbs., 12 inches width at stern).
8. Australian ski paddling race- 1 mile-  Hawaii v. Australia.
9. Surf board relay-women (8 to team)-1 mile straight course.
11. Australian lifeboat race- Hawaii v. Australia.
13. Surf board relay (8 men to team)- 1 mile straight course."
The final day of competition, Saturday 22 July, was to include:
"1. Life-Saving Rescue Race- Australia v. Hawaii.
2. Australian Lifeboat Race through Surf.
3. 100 Yards Footrace on Sand Beach.
4. Surf Board Race through Surf.
5. 400 Yards Relay Race on Sand Beach."
- Volume 3 Number 9. May 1, 1939, page 1.

The possible incompatibility of the reel and belt and the coral reefs at Waikiki was foreshadowed:
"They say the R. and R. team for Hawaii is to be provided with military boots to race over the coral sea beds."
Volume 3 Number 10. June 1, 1939, page 14.

The boat crew was Frank B. Fraund (Palm Beach), Frank Davis (Manly) and Dickson, Harkness and Mackney (all Mona Vale).
The R. & R. squad was Les McCay, (North Cronulla), Alan Fitzgerald, (North Wollongong), Hermie Doerner, (Bondi), Hec Scott, (Newcastle), Bill Furrey (North Steyne) and Alan Imrie  (Burleigh Heads).
Doerne was a noted water polo player and team captain.
Robin Biddup (Manly) was probably selected as the strongest swimmer available, a state champion and winner of bronze medals for the 440 yards freestyle and as a member of the 220 yard freestyle relay (?) at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney.
As previously noted, the boardriders were Chapple, Morath and Russell.
Predominantly from the Sydney Clubs, the team included, perhaps diplomatically, one representative each from Newcastle, Wollongong and Burleigh Heads, Queensland.

There were seven officials or supporters, Jack Cameron, H. Spry, H. Chapple, Clem Morath, Jack McMaster, Tom Meagher, F. Boorman, and Harry Hay. (2)
Hay first competed against the competition’s host, Duke Kahanamoku, now the Sheriff of Honolulu, at Stockholm in 1912 and an active participant in the Hawaiian’s surfboard riding demonstrations in Sydney in 1915.
P. Wynter represented Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. (3)

Albie Thoms notes the team was filmed at training for:
“Movietone News 10/15 (1939) and Cinesound Review 397 (1939), and again on their departure for Movietone News 10/28 (1939) and  Cinesound Review 400 (1939).
However there was no footage of their arrival...or of the paddling race". (4)
Surf in Australia reported:
"Harold Spry, well-known Manly identity and ex-member of the Queenscliff club, will be visiting Hawaii
at the same time as the surf team.
Harold is an expert amateur movie photographer, and we hope he will be afforded all facilities to
record the team's activities in film."
Volume 3 Number 10. June 1, 1939, page 14.
The existence of any footage taken in Hawaii by Harold Spry is currently unknown.

Before the team departed, two surfboats were shipped to Honolulu to allow the Hawaiians time to familiarize themselves with the craft.
The other equipment, surfboards and the reel, probably travelled with the team.
There is possibility that surfskis were also taken, there was already one at Waikiki in the possession of Duke Kahanamoku (x), and maybe some surfoplanes.
In the preparations for a tour to New Zealand in 1937, it was reported:
"Surfoplanes Ltd. are loaning a plane to each member and the Bondi Club are loaning a reel."
Surf in Australia February 1, 1937, page 11.

The team departed Sydney on the 23rd June in the s.s. Monterey and arrived in Honolulu on 5 July 1939.

On arrival off Diamond Head on Wednesday, 5th July, we were first met by the two Australian surf
boats, manned by Hawaiians and Americans.
Then came Duke Kahanamoku in a Customs cutter, accompanied by John Williams, Secretary of the
Executive Committee, and Don Watson, Committeeman.
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 2.

On Thursday 6th July:
The team had the pleasure of being made honorary members of the famous Outrigger Canoe Club.
Water conditions were pleasant, because water temperatures here range from 66 degrees to 82, and
the weather is never colder than 56 nor warmer than 88.
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 3.

Sunday, 9th July.-The team made its first public appearance at 3 p.m. at Makapun, giving
demonstration of R. and R. with details, followed by exhibitions of belt and surf racing, surf board
riding and surf boat work.
This exhibition amazed a crowd of 15,000 with the precision of the R. and R. drill, and much
favourable comment was heard on all sides.
Later, when the boat cracked a wave, the crowd went wild with excitement and kept asking the crew to give further exhibitions, which they did, and were roundly applauded by thousands lining the highway to Makapun.
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 3.

In front of 5,000 spectators at the swimming carnival at the Waikiki Natatorium on Wednesday, 12th July:
"Robin Biddulph swam third in the 800 metres race, won by Nakama in Hawaiian record time, and in the
only other event we contested, the 400 metres relay, our team, consisting of McKay, Doerner,
Fitzgerald and Furey, was successful.
In the heats of the 100 yards board race Morath and Chapple qualified for the final by getting 1st and
3rd respectively in the 1st heat and Russell qualified in the second heat, gaining 3rd place."
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 3.

At the second pool carnival on Friday, 14th July:
"... Biddulph secured 3rd place in the 200 and 400 metres.
The relay team secured second place in the 400 yards relay in opposition to the crack Maui team, including Nakama and Hirose.
In the final of the 100 yards board race Russell secured 3rd place and Boorman 4th place."
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 3.

On the afternoon of Saturday, 15th July, the team:
"... journeyed to Waialua Beach, situated some 30 miles from Honolulu, on the other side of the island, to demonstrate to officers and men of the Hawaiian Army Recreation Office, the Waialua Agricultural Company and Community Association.
The beach was well attended by civilians and service men, and so well were our methods received
that there is every possibility of their adoption by the army.
After being entertained at dinner at the Haliewa Hotel, the team returned to Honolulu."
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 4.

Sunday, 16th July.-Competed at Aquatic Carnival held Ala Moana Canal, starting at 8.30 a.m.
A crowd of about 3,000 watched the most complete and diversified regatta ever presented in
On the programme were canoe races, barge races, surf boat races, surf board competitions,
outboard motor races and swimming events.
Our crew triumphed over the Territorial Beach patrol oarsman representing the island in the 3/4 mile
surf boat race, which was the feature event of the regatta, in the good time of 6 min. 57.7 sec.
Australia won the surf board relay over a mile in 10 min. 49.5 sec., thanks to the magnificent effort of
Lou Morath, who reduced a leeway of 40 yards to enable R. Russell to commence the last lap with a
lead of 5 yards.
Russell continued the good work and won by 30 yards.
In the 3/4 mile board race, J. May, of Honolulu, who had started under protest, won from R. Russell
and Dick Chapple, but was disqualified owing to irregularities in his entry, and the race was awarded
to R. Russell.
In the 1/2 mile swimming race Biddup suceeded in gaining second place to K. Nakama after
swimming a very erratic course.
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 4.

Monday, 17th July.-After training at Waikiki the team visited the aquarium and later visited the Bishop
museum, where surprising interest was displayed in several early native surf boards, native canoes,
paddles, hollow log drums, and feather capes and helmets.
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 4.

Saturday, 22nd July.-Our team concluded its Honolulu Pacific Games visit with a surf carnival at
Waikiki Beach in the afternoon, commencing at 3 p.m.
The Australian style programme had to be curtailed, as it was impossible to hessian the area and
thousands of spectators overflowed on to the narrow beach, crowding out the competitors.
However, the team was greatly applauded when they gave a characteristic march past display, a
unique spectacle at Waikiki.
Then our rescue and resuscitation squad, in giving a rescue display, which was explained to the vast
crowd through a megaphone by myself, drilled with machine-like precision as the huge crowd fought
for better vantage points.

After this exhibition it became utterly impossible to clear the people from the beach, and the only
other beach event contested was a beach relay race, in which our men were successful by a big
The boat crew succeeded in winning their race by the narrowest of margins after one of the most
exciting races I have ever witnessed.
With the exception of the last 50 yards the Hawaiians were always in front, and only a super-human
effort on the part of the crew enabled them to win.
There were two board races conducted, one an unrestricted race, in which Russell came second,
and a restricted race in which boards were drawn for, and Chapple secured third position.
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 5.

Monday, 24th July.-
Probably the most touching farewell was when Paul Wolf and Bob Pirie, swimming champions,
stripped on the wharf and, diving into the water, swam a quarter of a mile to wave good-bye as the
ship swung into the stream.
Extracts from Captain's Report of Pacific Surf Games, October 3, 1939, page 5.

It is unlikely Hawaiian surfers were impressed with the surfboat performance in comparison with their outrigger canoes, by now a standard tourist attraction and a source of beach boy income.
The belt and reel may have been even more quickly dismissed, its use of amongst the coral reefs of Waikiki probably highly inconvenient, possibly lethal.
The one Australian invention that did make an impact was the surf ski, one sent by the Walker Brothers to Duke Kahanamoku in Hawaii and possibly delivered by members of the Australian team. (5)
It is possible that the team also included other surf skis for their visit, and less likely but still conceivable, an example of the surfoplane.

The Australian board riders were successful in at least one event; Hermie Doerner noting in his captain’s report:
“Sunday, 16 July, 1939 … Australia won the surfboard relay over a mile in 10 min. 49.5 sec., thanks to the magnificent effort of Lou Morath who reduced a leeway of 40 yards to enable K. Russell to commence the last lap with a lead of 5 yards”. (7)

Footnotes: The Pacific Games, 1939.
1. Brawley: Palm Beach SLSC, page 64.
Brawley cites Honolulu Star Bulletin, 18 January 1939, Daily Telegraph, 6 February 1939.

2. Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, 24 January 1939.
Page 16

2. SLSAA: Surf in Australia, Volume 3 Number 7. March 1, 1939, page 1.
3. Volume 3 Number 8. April 1, 1939, page 2.

2.a. Galton: Op. Cit., page 65.
2.b. Harris: Op. Cit., page 21.
3. Harris: Op. Cit., page 17.
4. Thoms: Op. Cit., page 39
5. Hall, Sandra and Ambrose, Greg: Memories of Duke - The Legend Come to Life.
The Bess Press, PO Box 22388 Honolulu, Hawaii 96823, 1995, page 83.
6. Quoted in Franki: Op. Cit., page 41.

Post World War II.
The carnival at Waikiki firmly reinforced the continuing relationship between Australian and Hawaiian surfriders, and a second carnival was proposed for Australia.(1)
This was abandoned when war broke out in the Pacific, however relations were resumed after 1945 and in the early 1950s Australian lifesavers returned to Hawaii to prepare competitors for an international carnival held in conjunction with the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. (2)

Given that the initial impetus for the competition was a discussion of surfboard design, it is ironic that the prominent Hawaiian designer, Tom Blake, was based on the west and east coasts of America from 1937 to 1941 and unlikely to be at the Pacific Games in 1939. (3)
Apart from the advantages of observing the Hawaiian boardriders in their home conditions and the possibility of returning with a Blake hollow board, observing the board construction and access to the various published plans was just as significant.
Blake’s designs themselves made an overwhelming impact and after 1945 Australian hollow boards were faithful replications of his standard paddleboard.
After the war, Dick Chapple stenciled his manufacturing details on his boards and labeled “Hawaiian Surfboard”. (4)
While obviously alluding to Blake, the designer was not specifically noted.

The SLSA Handbook for 1947, reprised the solid wood board plans, first included in 1931, and added the Hollow Surf Board, a 14 feet model that did not credit Tom Blake. (5)
This edition, demonstrating the change in focus from wave riding to paddling competitions, added Surf Board Race Rules (6) and photographs of a race start and finish replaced the surfboard riding photographs from the previous editions. (7)
A further entry specified Surf Boards and Surf Skis Rules for Control by Clubs, wherein Blake’s “big surf handle” of 1935 was now considered a necessary addition by the SLSA as “a gip handle at stern as safety measure”. (8)

In 1955, The SLSA Handbook   was divided into four parts, No. 1 Green (Constitution), No. 2 Blue (Instruction and Examination), No. 3 Red (Competition) and No. 4 Brown (Gear).
The Pink section of the Gear edition (Drawings and Plans) updated the developments in surfcraft since 1930. The current plans for the tuck-stern surfboat and its accessories were extensively detailed (pages 168-172). The solid board was deleted, now replaced by plans for 14 feet (wave) and 16 feet (racing) surfboards (page 171). The other types of surfcraft that had been developed in the last thirty years were also detailed, an 18 ft. single surf ski (page 175), a 22 ft. double surf ski (page 177), surf ski paddle (page 171) and a rubber surfboard or surfoplane (page 179).

In addition photographs of these craft, and rubber flippers, in use were illustrated extensively in the White section (Action and Illustrative Plates).
The following manufacturers are credited in the Acknowledgements (pages 70-71):
Tuck stern surf boat: G. R. Wilson, 148 Cammeray Road, North Sydney, N.S.W.
Surfboard: Bill Wallace, 10 St. Thomas Street, Bronte, N.S.W.
Single and double surf ski: S. H. Heaton, 119 St. James Road, New Lambton, N.S.W.
Rubber float or surfoplane: Advanx Tyre and Rubber Co. Pty. Ltd., Neild & McLachlan Avenues, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, N.S.W.
Swim flippers: M. D. Turnbull Engineering Pty. Ltd., 2 Canal Road, St. Peters, N.S.W. (

In Chapter IX: The Future (page 67), the text concentrates largely on the introduction of the helicopter as an important adjunct to surf life saving techniques. Maintaining an essentially conservative outlook, "A review of present gear and its effectiveness under Australian surf conditions indicates there will be few, if any, revolutionary changes”. The writers were otherwise accurate in their predictions: “The use of fibreglass...for surf boats, boards and skis, are also a distinct possibility for the future." Australian surfboards would undergo radical change in 1956, with the introduction of the fibreglassed Malibu board by visiting American and Hawaiian surfers in 1956.

Of particular interest in the photographic section are “Single Surf Ski with decking removed to show framework” (Plate 9, page 82) and a quiver portrait of R. Young, credited as  “Surf Boards for different conditions. Left to right are boards for curling waves, for an average surf of rolling waves, and for long swells or green waves” (Plate 33, page 104). Standard Blake hollow boards, these boards are progressively longer and narrower, each decorated with Young’s name and a graphic of dice totaling 7 (one 3 and one 4).

“Standing up and riding waves to the beach on a Surf Board” (Plate 30, page 102, top) illustrates transverse riding on a hollow board on a wave of considerable size with a well-formed curl, contradicting a common assumption that these boards rode straight to the beach. This image is possibly shot from a surfboat at Fairy Bower, a powerful right-hand reef break south of Manly Beach.

Footnotes: Post World War II.
1. Letter of Acceptance by Duke Kahanamoku, dated 6th March, 1939., printed in
SLSAA: Surf in Australia, Volume 3 Number 8. April 1, 1939, page 2.

1.Mentioned by Ray Moran or Nick Carroll?
2. Brawley: Palm Beach SLSC, page 66.
  Lynch and Gault-Williams: Op. Cit., pages 147 to 161.
  Chapple, Dick: Hawaiian Surfboard, circa 1946.
On display, Quicksilver Surf Shop, The Corso, Manly, 2008.
  SLSA: Op. Cit., (1947), Specifications for making a Hollow Surf Board, pages 208 – 209.
  The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook
Fifteenth Edition (Revised June 1947) pages 274 - 275.
  SLSA: Op. Cit., (1947), Surfboard race start, unaccredited, Plate EX page 275, Surfboard race finish, unaccredited, Plate FX page 276.
  The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook
Fifteenth Edition, Revised June 1947,
The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia, Sydney, Australia, page 213.
  The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia: The Australian Surf Life Saving Gear and Equipment Handbook.
First Edition October 1955, page 171.

- Geoff Cater
November, 2008.


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