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mctavish : functional sub-styles, 1965 

Bob McTavish: Functional Sub-Styles
Surfing World
Volume 7 Number 2, December 1965.


Also see:
1970 Bob McTavish : Streaks and Slugs.
Surfer Tips : Number Forty Five, Surfer  Volume 11 Number 2 May 1970, pages 27 and 29.

Page 10

McTavish asked Bob Evans to select photographs illustrating the techniques described in this article.
Evans understood what was required , but to interpret any one shot as being truly representative of McTavish's ideas was a difficult job.
The two pictures on this page are perhaps the most clear cut example.

Top: Bernard Farrelly, a clear 'A' type, is seldom ever caught unawares.
Similarly, his graceful movement while manoeuvring with complete flexibility is well known.
Ian Wilson photo.

Lower: This unidentified surfer, by the physical cut of his jib
and his adventurous situation within the wave, qualifies as a type 'B'.
Bruce Usher photo.
Page 11
Functional Sub-Styles
by Bob MacTavish

I guess it's been said a thousand times before.
It'll be said again.
There are two fairly distinct styles of surfing that have emerged over the past couple of years.
The original two are generally dubbed
"Functional" and "Hot-dog."
Everyone knows the characteristics of each style, so I don't intend to repeat them.
But there are sub-styles forming.
Functional surf­ing is splitting into a couple of distinct schools.
They could be called "smooth-fast", "beautiful-ugly", "aesthet­ic-practical".
It's very difficult to find one word which could sum up each style, therefore description of the characteristics of each style is necessary.

Firstly, the smooth, flowing, aesthetic school as presented by such leaders as Russell Hughes, Midget Farrelly and many Californians.
Pick up just about any photo of Farrelly or Hughes and study it closely.
Study the wake, the rooster tail, the angles and inclines of their boards, body positioning and wave position, and there's something about the whole thing which is very difficult to put your finger on — definitely an aesthetic beauty, a kind of symmetry, artistic composition, an intelligent representation and interpretation of the action and other natural goodies of meaningful surfing.

There are a couple of classics which you've seen for sure.
Russell Hughes doing a cut-back outside Robert Conneely at a place near Noosa which appeared in the "Woman's Weekly" last October 20th, and Midget arching through a small Currumbin gobbly right on the beach which appeared in that very successful American bi-monthly a couple of years back.
These two are beautiful ex­amples of this smooth, flowing symmetric school, even though the Farrelly shot was taken nearly four years ago.
I guess it was this sense of the aesthetic that put Midget so far ahead of the rest of the country's surfers around that time.

All the advocates of this style — let's just call it Style "A" — arc physically built to suit it.
They are taller, perhaps slimmer or wirier than their Style "B" counterparts.
I guess surfers adjust their mental outloks
(sic, outlooks) to suit their physical limitations or advantages, which is only natural.

The Style "B" devotees don't photograph nearly as well as the Style "A" mob, as they lack the sort of beauty which can be captured in a-still shot.
They sacri­fice the symmetry and visual beauty for a more practical thing which is based around speed of movement and accuracy of positioning of the board.
They tend to surf almost ugly, but their board is generally embedded more deeply in the curl, due to their often awkward looking, but speedier, actions.
Surfers of this Style "B" school usually require a little bit of a peel to show their capa­bilities.
There haven't been very many photos or movies of Style "B", as it is still definitely in a state of emer­gence.

I hope sincerely that I don't sound biased towards one style or the other, although I am.
Physical limita­tions (short, ugly, twisted body) force me to be a Style "B" devotee.
But no doubt if I was constructed a bit longer (upward) and shorter inwards, I'd be trying to achieve the aesthetic something of the Farrellys, Hughes, Coopers, Dooleys.
Each style has its pros and cons which would probably weigh up fairly evenly.
The abil­
ity to represent each functional manoeuvre in a similarly pleasing manner, plus the perpetual striving to achieve this intangible "fitting-in" with the curl, the aesthetic bit, must break fairly even with the tight, controlled, in­volved (physically) with the curl, advancement of the Style "B" surfer.

I imagine there's equal satisfaction to be extracted from each, providing the surfer is following the course that suits his physical and mental make-up.
If a Style "A" surfer can cruise through a section in the pocket and then smoothly swing into a flowing cut­back he'd stoke himself out of his gourd, just as a B-type hard-works his way with split-second stalls, roc­keting acceleration bursts, keeping the board involved with the curl all the way, and snapping his cut-back just as the section ends, with equal result-satisfaction.
Bat if the surfer happens to be following the wrong direction, perhaps because he idolizes a surfer of opposite mental attitudes, or perhaps because he likes the look of, and buys, a board that is designed for the opposite style of surfing to the one which fits his physical capabilities, he will be enduring as much frustration as satisfaction.
Be sure of your direction.

In many cases a surfer of Style "B" employs characteristics of "A" Style and vice versa. A guy may have worked the hell out of a curl and then a long sec­tion stands up.
As a direct contrast to the hard work he has been doing, he may relax and arch as be cruises through the long section, and on emerging, snap back into the hard work again. Style "A" guys often discard their composure, and burl themselves into the curl to counter white-water action, but when the trouble is over, they regain their smooth, flowing beauty.

There are a few cases where surfers from both styles have reached a sufficient stage of advancement to actually incorporate both "A" and "B" as one.
These guys snap off all the movements, refinements, and complex­ities of Style "B" with the grace and flawlessness of an advanced "A" man.
In fact, when leaders of both styles have a really good day, they usually achieve this fabu­lous unity.
It's the surfer who can perpetually surf on this level who's the best.
I don't believe there is a surfer in Australia who can always do this.
A handful can achieve this state on really good days, and even average good days, but not every time they enter the water.

Another point is that perhaps the leaders in Styles "A" and "B" don't wish to see themselves employ both styles, for perhaps they can progress more rapidly by sticking to the one.
In this case I think that gradual adoption of the other style is part of progress, some­thing which occurs naturally, without conscious effort.
The Style "A" surfer will gradually speed up actions, work harder and still retain his fluid grace.
The Style "B" surfer will find himself developing a more accept­able, visually pleasing style, becoming more fluid with­out any sacrifice of speed of action or loss of accuracy.
I believe these changes will take place without the surfers consciously intending them to do so.

What is now a split, two definite styles, will prob­ably end up in unity again.
But the surfers that emerge will be much more mature, well rounded products com­pared to the uncut hunks of gemstone that entered the progress machine.

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Page 3


Page 35

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Page 41
Ron Surfboards

Surfing catamarans at Rainbow Bay,

Surfing World
Volume 7 Number 2
December 1965.

The Surfing Cats of Kirra.

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Geoff Cater (2015-2020) : Bob McTavish : Functional Sub-Styles, 1965.