Source Documents
renwick : winter board riding, 1959 

Ross Renwick : Winter Board Riding is best, 1959.

Ross Renwick: Winter Board Riding is Best.
Australian Outdoors
July 1959, pages 32- 33 and 59-5.


Page 32

Weather conditions during the summer cause the surf to be rough and unpredictable.

During winter, however, calmer conditions make the surf just right for good board riding.

Right: A gentle offshore breeze holds up this wave
as John Williams of Avalon corners.

The amount of interest shown to surfboard riding this winter has amazed even the oldest and  most sceptical, surfers.
Last winter, the second since tbe introduction of balsa boards into the balancing game, saw about fifty riders consistently using Sydney's metropolitan beaches.
This year the number would fluctuate between the three and four hundred mark.
Enough balsa to stretch from one end of Freshwater Beach to the other and bad again, plus a few spares.

Other surfing centres like Torquay, Wollongong and Newcastle also report the presence of many more light blue torsos than is usual for this tune of the year.
Even Terrigal and Avoca have become quite popular as interesting winter beaches.
What is the reson for this sudden general interest in winter surfing - more accurately, boardriding?

Though most beaches are deserted the surf during winter is easily the best.

Huge storms in the Antarctic region at the bottom of Australia, and in Bass Strait, send a wonderful southerly swell up the East coast.
The swells, even, smooth and steep, swing around the rocky headlands and sweep beachwards, building up straight while the good rider cuts them to pieces.Rarely a winter weekend goes by without there being a good surf somewhere.

In summer, affected   by high humidity days with ever-changing wind directions, the surf is choppy and uneven for much of the time.
Rarely can a wind get set in the one direction,  pushing up high, steep swells, before the weather map changes and the surf goes down.
In winter conditions are predomin­antly southerly and rarely change.
The surf has plenty of chances to nse and stay up.
Interfering winds are unlikely to ruin it.

The usual procedure is for the wind to blow from the south or sou-west for a few days then switch to the south-west.
The sou'-wester' is the boardman's best friend, for it not only keeps the surf up, it steepens the waves and smooths the chops from their faces and keeps them green until they break on the inshore banks.
Its  a fine weather wind, too, and fine days in winter are as enjoyable  as the summer ones, once the initial shock is overcome.

So the primary reason is that the surf is better, more consistent.

The secondary reason is that the beaches are less crowded board-wise so there is more possibility of a uninterrupted corner.
In summer most beaches are crowded with boards and the chance of being speared by out-of-control surfboards is not slight.
Many of the better board riders find that it is more dangerous in a three foot surf on a sunny day than it is in a twenty foof surf in a cyclone.

In  summer the swimming for  the public Cm the  board  man, "Sag* another restriction h av«- £ in  winter.    Nor 7^*1 contend   with sDea5?> boats surf sk.s, inspectors. children *v on his hoard whe* *f? beach, suburban 'c»l 5 W>* or the locust ta^S riders v. ho swarm aroiiiH*5 when the weather ls surf is small. *^
So for the purist the «»
is much happier - evcn

But. vou say, the cold
wind .                                                     • • 1
Anybody who ha> donem,^ swimming will tell vou .. isn't that much colder. And ti*2 Well, the wind gets cold sonȣ But who cares if the waves i.v Overall, winter riding is very^ ant, with the exception of Qm$ when it is obvious that anyti&ft cept the quaffing of rum in te. large fires is impractical. Even at very cold days it is possible tocj half an hours surfing, provide are plenty of waves and do cold waits.

The average warm winter dtj: manv advantages over its counterpart. There is no sun]^ yet the temperature can ciifl*J| very pleasant 70 deg. plus. -backed by sandhills or are particularly pleasant, tk? the heat even after the m « The water is cold, but do* than  when  the seasonJP*{ October/November. -water for a few mwutes acclimatises and it pleasant. Cramps are Jf**,, are in summer, when t£*y by tired muscles undergo changes in temperature. 4^ 8o winter surfing » ^ ^ the cold season. Ana

Page 33
... stay, because it's the most thrilling, ... the best ... the most consistent ... and the least interrupted.
If your board riding needs improving now's the tune to do it.
If you haven't anything to do one weekend get your board out of storage, head for the nearest beach and get into the balancing game.
The surf busi­ness is now open 52 weeks of the year.

 Formation of Surf Board Riders' Club

Winter surfers' facilities increased from zero to one with the formation of the Surfrider's Club, the ftrst sporting club in Australia to be con­nected with surfing.
It will be run on the same lines as football, racing and other sporting-social clubs.
The club has been organised by board designer Gordon Woods and leading rider Bob Evans.
Membership is limited to 250.

The club's activities will include running surfboard riding competi­tions, developing a code of ethics for the sport and organising a team to compete in the Hawaiian world board riding championships, held every year at Makaha Beach.

Summertime Blues.
Crowded waves like this one seem to beg for
serious accidents.
Less enthusiastic riders
give it away in winter,
leave more space
for the die-hards.

Progress in Board Design
Pig boards are still the most popu­lar forms of equipment although there is a small move back to the square-tailed hot dog board.
The hot dog board is shaped the same as the pig, although it does not have a pointed tail.

Pig boards are being modified for use in a big rough surf.
Previously they had their greatest width about two feet from the back.
This made them very fast to turn but they were hard to handle in big seas because they had to be operated too close to the front.

(Continued on page 59)

Page 59

(Continued from page 33)

Now the trend is to have maximum width in the middle or even towards the front so that the rider can get towards  the back of the board when things begin to happening too fast for him.

An extreme type of pig board was developed during the summer.
It was called the Teardrop.
Its maximum width is right at the back from where it converges straight to the front forming a a verv acute triangle.
Its turning speed is fantastic but it is very slow across a wave and hopeless in a big sea.
It follows a fairly accurate rule — the faster a board can turn, the harder it is to ride in a big sea.

Exaggerated turned up backs are going out.
Though they make a board easy to spin, theymake a slow across a wave and hard to surf in big seas.
Most pig or hot-doggers being built now have a straight back with average lift at the nose.

Sides are being rounded and left thick; this way they cut more smoothly.

Generally the weight objective is between 20 and 25 pounds.
Lighter than 20 pounds may scrafice stability.

Some Surfing Spots, favoured by winter conditions.


Manly is one of Sydney's best southerly wind beaches
During summer nor'easterly winds move the sandbanks close inshore so the surf is usually a short one.
In winter these banks form further out in deeper water because of the consistent southerly trend.
Because of this there is a longer and taller surf.
Like all good southerly beaches, Manly is not directly exposed to the south but is protected by headlands which block out most ol the wind and chop but allow the swell to swing around the rocks into the beach.
There are two main sandbanks which form wave peaks, one off the point in front of the clubhouse, the other about 150 yards down towards South Steyne.
The corner from this one is back towards the clubhouse into the rip known as the escalator.

The vol­ume of water running out to sea here causes deep water and makes it an ideal escape route from large waves.

Out to sea from Manly and half a mile farther north is the Steyne bombora.
Very few riders have attempted to crack the wave that rises over this sunken reef, for it only runs when seas are large and is rarely smaller than 15 feet tall.
Sometimes it is as high as 40 feet and very wild.
The reef forms all sorts of whirlpools but apart from this it is difficult to tell where the wave is going to break.

Half a mile out to sea from the southern end of Manly Beach lies Bluefish Point, projecting northwards and sheltering the picturesque little still water bay called Fairy Bower.
The rocks at the northern base of this point are known to surf boarders as Fairy Bower Reef.
In a southerly sea the waves swing around this point atfer they pass the en­trance to Sydney Harbour, breaking around the rocks. but leaving an unbroken shoulder out in deep water which peters out in the deep ocean water off Manly Beach.

This is one ot the only places in the metropolitan area where huge waves can be ridden in comparative safety.
The swell is caught near the rocks and cornered north towards the deep water where the wave never breaks.
Once on the shoulder the rider can follow the wave as it travels around the corner into Fairy Bower Beach, completing a 200 yard U- shaped ride.

Safe as it can be, Fairy Bower is no place for the unskilled or the unwary.
If the rider is caught by the breaking wave he is likely to be smashed against the shallow reefs.

There is one rock in particular which is the size of a large car and which, on an ebb tide, can completely bare itself as the waves curve over it.
A bad spot to be caught in a parallel corner.
As the wave breaks from the left it forms a huge  moving tunnel big enough to drive a train

Page 60

his tunneling break hurls the rider around the wave circle at tremendous speed.

Deewhy is the most consistent bench during the winter and Is usual­ly a few feet bigger than Manly.
It is more  exposed than Manly and Is often more choppy.

The wave is caught as it rounds the baths at the south end of the beach.
It crashes hard against the rocks and allows 100 yards of excel­lent corner before a sandbank Is reached.
This bank is in  front of the clubhouse and holds up the wave for a fast corner back In towards the rocks and then around behind the swimming pool.

Be wary when the waves are big and the wind is blowing from the east, for the water builds up in the southern comer and causes one of the biggest, fastest rips you are likely to encounter anywhere.

In a moderate surf, Deewhy is a wonderful hot dog* surf as the shoulder of the wave provides an unbreaking wall 20 or 30 yards wide.

*Hot dogging Is the term applied to zig-zagging on surfboards.

Long Reef at the northern end of Deewhy Beach is the closest thing to Hawaiian surfing conditions to be found in Sydney.

The surf on the beach is average, but beginning at about 200 yards out there is reef after reef for over a mile.
These reefs operate progres­sively as the surf builds up and pro­vide a high, steep wave that has no real like anywhere else in Sydney.
At the peak the wave hurls out a huge lip as it curls over.
On each side of this lip there is often several hundred yards of green shoulder.
Some of the waves, in big seas, break over a mile from the beach.
It is best during an easterly swell.
If a wind is blowing it becomes choppy and wild.

It is a fast, exceptionally strong swell and it is wise to keep looking over your shoulder to see what might be ivminK up von could be surprised.

Collaroy is one of the beaches that does not rise to a great height unless there is a huge surf at all the other beaches.

Protected from the south by the high, long peninsular of Long Reef it is usually flat, but when the waves run they are very long ones.
The best place is at the baths at the south end of the beach cornering north towards the clubhouse.

Tucked in under the oim at the north side of the Long Reef head land is Fisherman's Beach or Little Makaha.
It is not very popular be­cause of its "sharky" appearance, and jagged outcrops of rocks.
Just to the south of Collaroy, it is separated by a small rocky headland and is the haven of most of the local fishing boats.

There is rarely a surf here, except in extreme conditions, when it is good and very steep.
At times sur­prisingly big waves pop up.

Warriewood, tucked at the south of Mona Vale Beach and just north of Narrabeen has an exceptionally good surf but is used surprisingly little by nomad board riders.
It has a high southerly surf: waves swing around the rocks at the south end of the beach and can be cornered to the north and back again.
Sometimes the wave will hold up long enough to get all the way to Mona Vale, but if it doesn't it's a long swim.

It's definitely worth a look if the surf is small farther south and a choppy southerly wind is blowing.

In biggish conditions the inside of the Newport Reef is a good surf.
Sometimes the waves carry from the very end of the reef, about 600-700 yards from the beach.
They break gradually from the reef side into deep water and carry a fairly con­stant steep shoulder.

As the wave nears the centre the reef there is another small merged reef which breaks the even shoulder for about 80 yards and causes the wave to collapse on the unsuspecting surfer.
It could save lony swim if you watch this spot for a while before you go out.
In big conditions it is a good Idea to flip back over the wave rather than ride all the way to the beach for it it fairly hard to get out again.

With a fifteen foot surf running, it is possible to catch a wave from the end of the reef to the clubhouse in the centre of the beach.


Palm Beach is very similar to Manly.
It has the same escalator type rip and the same wave formation.
The difference usually lies in the tides.
If there Is a big surf, and the tide is low, Manly will be dumping whilst Palm Beach will be perfect.
If the tide is high Manly will be the best beach as at Palm Beach the waves may be too full to catch very much farther out than the inshore banks.

Though a surf rarely comes up at Terrigal, and then only during ex­ceptionally big conditions, it is usually a wonderful one when it does.
The waves can be caught at the Womberal side of the clubhouse and cornered left to the southern end of the beach Southerly swells swing around a point very similar to Fairy Bower before they head towards the beach itself.

North of Terrigal, just past Wom­beral, is Forresters Beach, very sim­ilar In layout to Long Reef although here there Is absolutely no surf on the beach itself.
The rider has to paddle about 300 yards from the beach before he gets to the beginning of the surf, 400 yards before he Is out the back.
Even in very still con­ditions the waves run very high by comparison with neighbouring beaches.
It is not a good beach if the wind is blowing but only if the swells are ocean waves from afar.

Good surfing beaches further north are Toowoon Bay and Blue Lagoon.

To the south of Terrigal is Avoca, similar to Manly and Palm Beach, and as good as either.
North Avoca Beach is good during easterly swell conditions if there is no wind.

Southwards, MacMasters and Copacabana Beaches are too inclined to the south to be much good in winter.

One of the best of the many south coast beaches is Stanwell Park.
This beach is good if the wind blows from the north or the south but is particu­larly good in easterly swell conditions.

Just south of Stanwell Park there Is a rocky point which juts out into the sea and Is backed by high cliffs.
On the headland there
is a cemetery.
This point brings up a high Fairy Bower-type wave which runs steep for a long way and eventually crashes up against the cliff. For happy surfing here make sure you are competent at flicking back over waves before they break.

Page 61

[Waves when the swell is extreme]
Nielson Park
Dobroyd Point
??? Beach
Barrenjoey (north side).

Australian Outdoors
July 1959.

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Geoff Cater (2015) : Ross Renwick : Winter Board Riding is Best, 1959.