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mctavish, platt, spencer, 1967 

McTavish, Platt, Spencer: The Short Vee Bottom, 1967.

McTavish, Platt, Spencer.
Surfing World
Volume 10 Number 1, December 1967-January 1968, pages 31 to 39.

Alby Falzon's transcript of a conversation on the current state of surfboard design by the leading shapers at Denny Keogh's surfboard factory in Brookvale, circa October-November 1967.

Although the magazine's cover date is 1968, the photographs can fairly accurately dated  as late October-early November 1967.
Generally the lag between composition and publication was at least six weeks, but in this case the previous edition, Volume 9 #6, was dated Nov-Dec 1967.
This would have given the editor two months to prepare the January edition and i
t is possible that it was available on the news stands before the New Year.

While photograghs of Nat Young at Long Reef, probably shot by Bob Evans or Albie Falzon, were also published in this edition, another from this session had been published earlier on 19 November 1967 in the Sunday Telegraph, Bob Evans noting:

"Just last week, 'Nat' took delivery of an 8ft. 8in. vee-bottom, vee-back ver­sion of the new super-board trend, from Gordon Woods."

- Evans, Bob: What happened to Nat Young?
The Sunday Telegraph, Sydney, November 19 1967, page 96 (?).

As it is well recorded that Nat's first short vee-bottom board was built only after seeing the design the Keyo factory, which is consistent with the Falzon photographs and interview being recorded at least several weeks earlier.
Furthermore, he article included one photo of Ted Spencer riding a very short vee Keyo, reported as 5ft 6'', and by the end of November, Ted had jettisoned the wide-tail design and was now riding Little Red, a +8ft pintail.

The article features a fine example of late 1960s graphic design by Koller and the article is richly illustrated by a large selection of Falzon's excellent photography.
The photographs reproduced below (all cropped, one of each contributor) were selected as those best indicating the short length and wide tails of the boards.
The caption on one photograph of Ted Spencer indicates the board is 5 ft 6'' (page 36, not reproduced).
Note that by the end of November 1967, Spencer had replaced his wide tailed boards with Little Red, an 8'4" x 23" pintail shaped by him and Bob McTavish at Keyo Surfboards.
In addition, there are three images of Nat Young at Long Reef.

Page 31

Not too long back I took a tape recorder to Danny Keyo's boardshop where three surfers are working on a new radical approach to board design ... with the idea of getting their views, thoughts and feelings towards the 7' 6" boards.
The factory was in full production and the sensitive recorder picked up every thing, but I did manage to siphon some of the three-way conversations which are presented below.
The photographs were taken at Long Reef and show McTavish and Spencer on their short boards.
The pictures of Kevin Platt were 'shot' on a good morning at Queenscliff.

The reasons we're producing these boards are for higher performance.

You couldn't get the good lines in a longer board.

There was too much wasted space in the long boards.

Manoeuvrability was sacrificed to gain speed.

It's just got basic things in it ...flats and "V"'s.
It's not drawn out.

Every little bit of the board works.
If you came back from the nose about 1' 6" and cut a foot out of it, then just glue it back together again, that's more or less what we've got now.

It's a compact definite shape of its own, though.

The plan shape is good but the bottom shape is fantastic.
The plan shape now has got to be the bottom shape.

The thing is just a series of complex curves.
The concave is the rail, the bottom is the rail, everything is one thing.
Three or four very simple lines are drawn down and you pull the board around these lines.
There's no difference between mine and Kevin's board.
They're all basically the same principal (sic).

Mine kinda drops down at the front and has a flat underneath.
Bob's has the concave to do the same job.

You accumulate a vast amount of knowledge that your equipment must eventually become obsolete.
It must happen all of the time because your knowledge of the water increases so much, that you demand a much higher performance from your board.

Every surfer is doing it.

With a shorter board you can manoeuvre much better.
The thing is, this new board brings in a complete new approach to surfing ... the vertical performance.
We've got to get into this vertical performance surfing and change the design of the board to suit.
Instead of surfing in a straight line, you surf in a series of arcs.

Previously, you would turn, aim and go in a straight line and make minute adjustments as much as the board would allow, which is a fair deal, I guess.
Then, we started making alterations.
Vertical performance really came in when Dora started doing that side-slipping thing.
Everyone started analysing side-slipping and climb off a turn from the front of the board and so on.
These boards allow us a high amount of vertical performance, because you've got the advantage of fantastic manoeuvrability, fantastic acceleration and fantastic speed.

You've got all this, turning acceleration and speed altogether, the whole thing under your feet.
Everything you had in the old board is under your feet plus you've got the beautiful advantage off having a noserider.

They're fantastic on the nose.
When you walk to the front, you take over a whole new set of controls and you leave the back behind.
The board is designed to operate on the nose when you're up there.
If it is not designed so, if you are up the back of the board, you press a button and you're on the nose.

People have been looking for a way to do more and more on a board, since they started surfing.
They're racing towards a goal of total action.

This will mean that there will be no time standing on a board doing nothing.
With these little boards, you take off, you drop, you turn and as you're coming up out of your turn, you're setting yourself up for a cutback.
You don't have time to think of anything else, you're flowing all of the time.

Page 32

With these boards, you're always extracting good things from good waves and you even get satisfaction from dud waves.

What you're looking for all of the time on a wave is the chance to do something with your board; well, this board gives you the chance to do something all of the time.

Being shorter, you can put it in smaller places, in small curls.
You can ride it in bad conditions and get more pleasure.

You could do all these things before, but you had to set them up.
If you wanted to do a cutback you had to set it up.
With this board, you don't have to set anything up, you can just do it.

At any time you can call on a turn, call on acceleration or call on speed.
You can call on anything with these boards before you had to look for them.

You shouldn't have to worry about boards.
You should have a perfect board in a perfect wave, so that all you have to worry about is getting through and getting kicks spinning it around.
So, all you've got to do is concentrate on riding the wave.
You shouldn't have to think about your board or the wave; it should just happen.

But, at the same time, your board being so small, demands your attention.

You make a board perfectly, a custom board perfect in every detail, then, you go out and ride it.
So, if there's anything wrong with it, you know straight away, you don't have to worry about it.

You can cut and make valuable tracks because you've got no length.
You've got more curves in proportion.
You hunt down a little track, ram down it, gaining a hell of a lot of speed on a really tight little arc left hand cutback.
Then, you'll transfer on the other side of your board and do a really powerful forehand turn.
Things happen really fast and the arc's getting smaller.
Your back aches from turns.
You might be out there surfing and not enjoying it then all of a sudden you'll throw a turn and WHAM, you feel your guts being pressed down in your spine.
You feel a sensation in the turn.

That's what the whole deal is ... feelings.

Putting the "V" in a long board was like putting a super charger on an ordinary car.
Now, they've got the same thing in a smaller frame.
Which means you've got that much extra power.

All we're doing is pushing more things into them.

The next thing will be improvements in materials.
You can't get stuff well enough out of the blanks, you're going to have ...

Page 33

... to bend them.
Foam is no longer a piece of surfboard, it's just a piece of moulding clay ... you just pick it up and play with it, play with it with your hands till the shape comes out of it.
You're just moulding these and it's a very good feeling.

The materials that we're making the boards out of, will eventually change.
They'll have to.
George Greenough's belly-board is still the ultimate piece of surfing equipment.
It's got everything.
At the moment, we can't make a board with the back on it to do what his does so, we have to change the shape underneath.
The "V" helps to make it flexible even though the board is solid.
It gives you that feeling ... the way the two verticals act against the wave.
You get a definite fulcrum point.

That's where it starts ... as you go into a turn, you bite a very positive rail and you've got the flat in from the rail.
So, the turn becomes a short biting arc.
If you over turn, you rock on to a flat again.
You don't walk from the turn to the trim area because it's the same area.
The whole thing's a fast machine, the whole thing's a manouevrable machine.
The whole thing is it's a good accelerator.
You've got speed all of the time.
Another thing is, your mind is completely free to go where it wants to on a wave now.

There's going to be a whole lot of new manouevres come from these short boards.
Eventually, we'll get complete over the falls turns.

What do you mean eventually?
We'll get it tomorrow.
All you need is a few days of consistent six foot surf.

Can you imagine it.
That's one of the first sensations that you feel on these little boards ... that you can do these things. You pull a bottom turn, get to the top and then instead of losing speed, you can just pull a little cutback; how about that for a sensation\ ... you're going up the face of the wave then, snap ... you're going back down again underneath the top of the curl.

This is because of the "V" in the bottom.
You're going up the wave on one side then down on the other.

And, being shorter and wider in the tail, you've got more plaining area.
When you're pulling that cutback, you've got a lot of area back there.

Anyhow, it's no good thinking about what you're going to do.

Just let it happen.

We get our kicks from this right now; who knows, what's going to happen tomorrow.
We might go in a completely different direction.
We might get kicks from a different style, we might get ...

Page 34

... kicks from coming through the back of a wave on a late take-off.
Style was the thing for a while, now it's kicks like we've been talking about ... over the falls take-offs.
Anything might come out of it.

It's just how you feel at the moment.
You try and make your board do as you feel.

All it is really is feeling.

You're out there for experience.
Everything you experience in your life will come through in your surfing; because the whole lot is feelings.
Your living is surfing.
What you're experiencing your surfing will experience.
When other guys ride these boards, for themselves, they'll know.

Why do they get new American cars?
Because they want to have them, they like them.
They want to have as much fun as they can in them.
So, when a guy comes in, you ask what type of car has he got.
If he's got a Rolls Royce, you make him a gold-plated hunk of ...!
If he's got a Mustang you put a few lines in it.
If he's got a Mini Minor, you give him an inch board.

You give him a little Mini Minor board.
Then, you get styled boards, you get jumping boards, then, you get personality boards.

You'll get a guy walking in then, a surfboard will walk along to him and say, "come on, let's get going. Let's go, buddy."
Just like a pet shop ... you walk in and the dog's already got you pegged out.
Then, they'll take over the world.
They love us, we'll be breeders.
And we'll breed perfect surfboard riders.
Everyone else will be working in the salt mines and we'll be breeding away.

So, everybody better start loving their surfboards very much.

Next question. ..?

It's not the future we're projecting into, just looking at a trend that's started already.

Page 36

Ted Spencer, Long Reef, late 1967.
Photograph by Alby Falzon
Surfing World
Volume 10 Number 1, 
December 1967-January 1968, page 35.

Page 36
Kevin Platt , Queenscliff, late 1967.
Photograph by Alby Falzon
Surfing World
Volume 10 Number 1, 
December 1967-January 1968, page 36.

Page 38

Bob McTavish, Long Reef, late 1967.
Image #1 of a sequence of 4.
Photograph by Alby Falzon
Surfing World
Volume 10 Number 1, 
December 1967-January 1968, page 38.

Page 39

THE WIND blows strong from the nor'east but, the water is smooth with only a faint ripple to disturb the surface.
Nat Young arrives alone afternoon; the surf is 5'7''.
It is good long reef and Nat' rips.
His bottom turns are unbelievable and he snaps his fin on the third wave.

Nat Young, Long Reef, late 1967.
Photograph by Alby Falzon
Surfing World
Volume 10 Number 1, 
December 1967-January 1968, page 39. 

Surfing World
Volume 10 Number 1, 
December 1967-January 1968

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Geoff Cater (2010-2014) : McTavish, Platt, Spencer, 1967.