pods for primates : a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900
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  history : the okinuee 
  the okinuee, 1957

The impact of the Malibu design was magnified by the footage shot for Ampol being shown in cinemas and subsequently in Surf Clubs.
With huge demand for the new boards and no established supply of balsa wood, compounded by a lack of technical experience with fibreglass, the Malibu design is constructed with the current hollow board technology.

The Racing Sixteen builders, principally Gordon Woods, Bill Wallace, Norm Casey and Barry Bennett in Sydney and Frank Adler in Brisbane, adapted Tom Blake's Hollow Board design of plywood sheets over a strutted timber frame to Malibu dimensions, the result known as the Okinuee.

The enthusiasm for the new design was such that Gordon Woods had built and tested his first Okinuee before the US team departed.
Gordon Woods, Phone conversation, 18 th July 2005.

Image right : Gordon Woods' Velzy-Jacobs fibreglassed balsawood Malibu surfboard, purchased from Bob Burnside (right) and his first plywood copy.
 Nat History (1983) page 90. Photograph : Gordon Woods

The principle of determining rocker by putting a curve in the bottom centre strut in the board, although limited, was already established.
Other design requirements were more problematical.

Curved profile rail shape was a feature on the Solid wood boards of the 1930's, but the Racing 16 used an easily constructed square rail.
The Okinuee required the outside rails to be cut of oversized timber and then fixed to the central struts. Crossbeams and solid nose and tail sections completed the frame.
Plywood panels were then fixed, mostly with screws and glue, and a draining plug added.
The solid rail sections were then shaped, much in the manner of the laminated solid wood boards manufactured in Hawaii and mainland USA in the later 1930's.

The addition of the fin was a major structural difficutly, since it was invarriably added after the board was constructed.
Most common seems to be mitred into the central strut and held mainly by glue and nails.
Some designers were more structurally adventerous and incorporated side supports, a precedent for the use of fibreglass rovings to add side strength to the finbase  in the 1960's.

Wood fin, circa 1957
8'' x 9'' base x 0'' span @ 1 inches  (Approximation)
Okinuee - Hollow malibu board adaptation.
Note base support and nails.
Brisbane Australia, 

Darryl Homan collection
Photograph : Michael Simmons
 Australian Surfers Journal
Vol 3 No 1 Summer 2000 page 38

Hand-painted Okinuee Nose Decor, 1957.
Book title reads How to Ride the Waves.

Twin D-Rounded keel Fins
Plywood timber,  3 1/2" x 8" base, 
fixed by dowel through deck and redwood side supports and brass screws

Although a relatively large number of these boards were built by an emerging group of manufacturers, board construction was still carried out in backyards and at Surf Clubs.
The materials were easily acquired and some surviving examples are probably home made.
Likely examples noted usually with limited, often square, rail profile.
A suprising number of these boards still exist, given they were in general production for not much more than twelve months.
Note ANMM # 00001230 and several examples at Brian Jackson Surfboards, Carringbah, NSW.
By the end of 1958, regular shippments of balsa wood were available and the focus was on learning the new (fibreglassing) and relearning the old (handshaping).

Boat Plans Pty. Ltd. produced a set of construction plans and instructions for the "Okanoie" in 1957.

See: Allan Levick, Bondi 1957
In 1957 Vern Cooper filmed his friend Allan Levick surfing at Bondi on his ‘hollow mal’, built by Gordon Woods.
This is extremely rare footage, possibly unique, featuring the Australian hollow mal, which was a plywood adaption of the American ‘malibu’ style board that first appeared in Sydney in 1956.
Big thanks to Allan Levick for providing the footage and Dennis Greaves for the digital transfer.
Kind thanks to Vern Cooper for making his amazing footage available.

This was not to be the case in New Zealand were the design specifications were quickly absorbed but the development of a locally produced fibreglass board was still some years away.
The Levine was a brand name for New Zealand hollow timber board marketed as a do-it-yourself pre-cut kit, circa1958.
Based on the Malibu board (see Okinuee, Australia) it featured a wide square tail, narrow rounded nose and a standard D fin set right at the pod.
Most interesting is the full vee bottom from nose to tail.
Common factory length appears to be 9 ft 1 inch.
Thanks to Tony Reid, New Zealand.

The Okinuee also had a further overseas influence. 
Reginal C. Blunt, a noted South African Surfer puchased an Okinuee board from Australia, circa 1959.
It is probable that the board was manufactured by one of the early Sydney builders.
Image right.. 
Plate 30. Reginald C. Blunt with new Australian board at Durban, South Africa.
Image and caption Patterson,1960,  page 111.

home catalogue history references appendix

1959 Bloomfield, John   Know-how in the Surf
Angus and Robertson 89 Castlereagh Street, Sydney

1961 Harris, Reg. S.The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961
Published by Manly Life Saving Club, NSW Printed by Publicity Press Ltd.

1966 Finney, Ben and Houston, James D. : Surfing – A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport
Pomegranate Books P.O. Box 6099 Rohnert Park, CA 94927  Reprint 1996

1968 Kahanamoku, Duke With Brennan, Joe:  Duke Kahanamoku’s World of Surfing
Angus and Robertson Publishers Sydney , Australia 1972 2nd Edition  A&R Paperbacks, Sydney , Australia

1970 Margan, Frank and Finney, Ben R. :  A Pictorial History of Surfing
Paul Hamlyn Pty Ltd, 176 South Creek Road, Dee Why West, NSW 2099.

1964 Pollard, Jack (ed.):  The Australian Surfrider
K.G.Murray Publishing Co.P/L,142 Clarence Street , Sydney Australia

1972 The Best of Tracks   (Vol. I) Editors : Falzon, Albert; Stewart, John; Grissim, John. :
Tracks Publishing Co Pty Ltd. P.O. Box 178 Avalon, NSW.
'Bob McTavish’s Personal History of Surfboard Design – Pods for Primates Parts 1' (pages 120 – 122).

1992 Stell, Marion K. :  Pam Burridge
Collins Angus & Robertson Publishers (Australia) Pty. Limited
A division of Harper Collins Publishers (Australia) Pty. Limited
25 Ryde Road, Pymble NSW 2073, Australia

1997 Warshaw, Matt : Surfriders – In Search of the Perfect Wave
Tehabi Books, Inc. Collins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

1978 Warwick, Wayne A Guide to Surfriding in New Zealand Second Edition
Viking Sevenseas Ltd Wellington, New Zealand

1979 Young, Nat ; Photographs by McCausland, Bill: Nat Young’s Book of Surfing
A.H. & A.W. Reed Pty. Ltd. 53 Myroora Rd, Terry Hills, Sydney.

1983 Young, Nat with McGregor, Craig : The History 0f Surfing
Palm Beach Press,40 Palm Beach Road, Palm Beach NSW 2108 

1985  A History of Australian Surfing  Nat Young.

1971  Modern World July   Shane Steadman/Terry Fiztgerald (possibly) : 'Surfboard Design' pages 30 to 36.

1972  Surfing World. Volume 16 #4.  Bob Evans : 'remember the time when...' pages  30 to 35. 

web sites
Malcom Gault-Williams: LEGENDARY SURFERS

home catalogue history references appendix