Words that were in
bold in the body of the original text are underlined here.
Thanks to Garry Crockett for his assistance in preparing this entry.
If nothing else were to occur in surfing for the remainder of this year, if 1968 were to end tomorrow, then it would still be the most productive year in surfing's history.
This has been
the year of the development, if not the invention, of many things: short
boards, light boards, V-bottoms, baby guns, flexible fins, short fins -
radical board design in general.
It also has been the year that surfers changed.
Changed stylistically because of a new shift in emphasis: from nose riding to wave riding; hot-dogging to involvement; restraint to experimentation.
It is a rare surfer who surfs in the same style that he did last year.
One of the first
things that comes to mind in discussion of the new boards is why do they
What advantages do they have over the long boards that were good enough for everyone a year or two ago?
"I have found 'V' bottoms are more responsive, more sensitive, than flat ones," says Australian Nat Young.
"You have to push a flat and only feel a 'V.'
Knife rails dig in waves, apparent uneveness at slow to normal speeds.
Round rails slip, every turn has lack of direction, no feeling.
My individual answer so far is thin rail, pulled off to an even blunt round."
of the new boards need explanation.
A square tail will generally be more stable than a pointed tail, yet in certain positions, such as working high in the wave - under the thrown-out lip - the pin tail excels.
Turned down rails generally make for more biting turns and greater planing surface: key elements to speed and maneuverabIlity.
Rocker in a board tends to decrease the planing area; and, therefore, slows the board.
A short board can drop longer on a given wave than a long board; and, therefore, can achieve a greater speed - a key to new, tighter positions.
There's a lot
happening besides the V.
Take McTavish: "Minimum drag and high rise rais, flex tails, interchangeable flex tails, ...
... false bottoms, keels rather than
skegs, bat ray bottoms - it's all happening.
So dig it, brother."
One of the most disputed questions of
the year, however, is where did the whole thing begin?
Who was first with the short board?
The new style?
Right behind these questions in prominence is: where to now?
Which of the new developments will survive the year and make 1969 an even greater year for development?
"We started the whole short board thing. .."
The origins of the short board seem
to be shrouded in some mystery.
There was much experimenting done with boards of all sizes by the Duke and his Hui Nalu compatriots in Hawaii early in the century.
Probably there has always been someone riding a shorter-than-normal board.
A more pertinent tack would be to discover from where today's particular short board revolution evolved.
Joe Quigg began surfing in the thirties
on a five-foot semi-bellyboard.
Dale Velzy asserts: "I always said you could ride a short board if you made it right."
Velzy built his famous 7-11 model in early 1960, but couldn't sell the public on them.
"I sold about 1,800 of them," Velzy reports, "but the hot surfers weren't buying them."
Carl Ekstrom, La Jolla surfboard manufacturer,
recalls the hotdogging of Robert Patterson at Windansea in the mid-'50s.
Patterson, Ekstrom reports, rode a 7'4" board built by Joe Quigg.
A radical noserider and hotdogger in a relatively conservative era, he "looked like Corky Carroll at Cotton's."
Locals remember the advanced riding
of Jim Foley, who dominated the Santa Cruz surf scene in the late '50s
and early '60s.
On his 8' wide-tailed V prototype, Foley's riding would not be out of place with the short board style of today.
Bing Copeland mentions Dale Velzy's
7' 11'' boards and Greg Noll's Blob, but lays the credit for the new wave
of short-board interest at the feet of the Australians.
Don Hansen disagrees: "We started the whole short board thing with the 50-50," he says, "and it was the greatest thing we ever did."
Corky Carroll reports: "Hobie had the first modern short board, The Mini Model.
I started riding the Mini in the spring of 1967."
Dewey Weber gives credit where credit is due, but also added that he "introduced The Performer as a short, wide board."
He also notes that he placed second in the 1967 Huntington conteston an 8'6'', 17 pound board.
And Dave Sweet: "Nobody is really responsible: it just happened."
Whatevever the source of the short board,
the fact remains that short boards have been built all over the world for
a long while.
Why then, at this time, have they finally come to popular recognition?
Why has there been such a time lap from the conception of the idea to the popularization of the concept?
Perhpas those most responsible for the popularity of the present trends has been surfing's radical finge, led by such notables as David ...
... Nuuhiwa, Skip Frye and George Greenough
following in the illustrious footsteps of such older radicals as Bob Cooper
and MIckey Dora.
"Boards emulate the philosophy of the times," say Mickey Munoz.
The free-thinking, independent philosophy of Cooper and Dora has found acceptance with surfing's new wave.
The result is today's philosophy in surfing of independence and involvement with your "own thing."
"It's the thing to do today to be radical," Munoz says, "but boards will come off the super radical concepts again.
It's all cyclic.
Carroll's being phased out now by surfers and magazines.
Pretty soon Frye and Nuuhiwa will be phased out, and someone new will take their place with a non-radical philosophy."
Con Colburn believes, however, that all the radical experimentation helps.
It all contributes to the development of surling and surlboards.
Tom Morey disagrees: "We ought to cool
off for a while," Morey says.
"All this is great for the advertisers and manufacturers, but it's bad for the sport."
A totally ditterent tack ...
... is taken by manufacturer Hansen;
he feels the new board movements may help the sport but injure the manufacturer
because of the inability to stockpile current and salable inventories.
"Surfing has too many radical people," says Hansen.
Alone in a totally different position
is Dave Sweet, who has turned his attention more to the production of molded
blanks than of
"Surfers are getting tired of what they think is the high price of boards," says Sweet, "when actually boards should be selling for at least $250 to make them profitable enough for the manufacturers and the distributors and maintain high quality.
At today's prices a board can't be top quality.
So the manufacturer is forced into a trap: he can't make the best quality of boards and he can't make a decent profit.
That's why I'm in blanks.
Kids want to do it all themselves now."
Most manufacturers don't seem to be
alarmed at the rash of homemade boards.
In fact, in some cases, the reaction is quite the opposite, "I think it's a good thing," says Dewey Weber.
"Everyone should make their own board once if only so that they can see how good our boards are."
"Consider the variables."
The origins of the V-bottom, as with
the short board, are nebulous.
Joe Quigg recalls Rabbitt Kekai at Queens in 1947 with his toes wrapped around the nose while completely inside the tube at full speed riding a short redwood board (the "hot curl") with a V-bottom and no fin.
Dale Velzy says he built V-bottoms for Malibu and the Trestle many times between 1950 and 1955, and Tom Morey says that George Greenough built the first modern V- bottom from the idea of the Morey-Pope round bottom board in 1965, which he then took to Australia to turn on the natives.
No matter what the source, however,
the V-bottom has become a thing that all surfers have to reckon with at
one time or another.
It has become an inherent aspect of the sport along with the short board, the flexible fin and light-weight equipment.
The V -bottom has introduced "tracking" to the surfing terminology.
Tracking, according to Skip Frye, is "the ability to set a board's course on a fixed angle."
This is different than trimming, which is maintaining the board at maximum speed on the face of a wave.
You can only trim in one area of a wave.
You can track all over a wave.
"The V-bottom allows you to make tighter
turns and get better positioning in the wave," says Steve Bigler, who brought
one of the first Vs into the country in the fall of last year.
Don Hansen, however, says that the V-bottom is not proven yet.
"I steer away from fads," says Hansen.
"Even if the trend is wrong, even if the direction will eventually go the other way, you still have to go along with it," states Mickey Munoz, "or else you'll be left so far behind that you'll never be able to make the transition to whatever the final thing will be."
"A surfer is as good as the strength of his belief in his board," according to Tom Morey.
"A surfer comes out of the water and tells you how stoked he is about his new V-bottom ...
I'm tired of the non-scientific judgement of boards today.
You have to consider the variables.
What the surfer means is that he's stoked on his new board that has a V-bottom, is fifteen pounds lighter than hIs old board and two feet shorter, has sharper rails and a different rocker, a flexible fin that is removable and a totally different balance point."
Dewey Weber is almost word for word
in agreement with Morey: "You have to consider the variables."
Weber notes, "and also thIngs like buoyancy distrlbution, things that manufactures have never had to think of are important to the short boardd."
Thus the contoversy of the short boards and the V-bottoms is extended to such things as pointed tail vs. square tail, low rails vs. high rails, rocker vs. no rocker, and how light should a board be.
"The Australians are responsible lor the short board movement ."
Whatever the movement now, or whatever
its direction will be, it is sure that the Australians will be advancing
with, if not ahead
of, the American surfers.
"We're all working together now, helping
each other," spouts an enthusiastic Skip Frye.
"The change of attitude is the whole thing.
It's a new scene with everyone working together."
Indications that there is now a more unified direction for surfers all over the world is becoming increasingly evident.
"I first heard of the V in New Zealand," Bigler reports.
"We went to Australia, Skip and Mickey and mysellf, and we saw McTavish's V.
We helped him refine it: lowered the kick, flattened the board and modified the V and the rails."
Corky says: "When Nat Young came to
CalIfornia to the World Contest, he had a 9' 4'' board, and it was lighter
and California was nose-riding and he was working the waves over.
That opened everyone's eyes and got people interested in turning and speed."
Bing Copeland agrees: "The AustralIans
are responsible for the short board movement.
They gave us a prod."
And Dewey Weber: "Five years ago, we were ahead of the Australians.
Then surfing was held back by Phil Edwards who led everyone to believe his was the style.
It might have been for hIm, but not for everyone.
Then Nuuhiwa brought nose-nding and held surfing back some more because everyone tried to duplicate the stye that was Nuuhiwa's.
A Year ago October in the World Contest the Australians were never held back by the Edwards and nose-riding things.
The Australians had had four years to catch up and to pass us.
Then the general surfers became aware of the need for performance and told the manufacturers so that they became aware."
"Everything's going too fast . . ."
Although America was a trifle slow in
responding to the call of the V and the short board, we are now thoroughly
entrenched in the movements into the outer fringes of experimentation and
Don Hansen's average order now calls for a 9' 2" board.
Steve Bigler rides an 8' board; Mickey Dora is riding a 9' mini-gun shape.
Skip Frye is at 8', Corky Carroll at 8' 4" and David Nuuhiwa is fluctuating just under 7'.
John Price of Surfboards Hawaii is putting out an average of an 8' board here and a 7'6'' board in Cocoa Beach.
Dewey weber is making boards mostly in the 6'-8'range now.
Even so it is difficult to say what
boards will look like next year.
It is hard to say which elements that have come into prominence this year will be valid on boards next year.
"Everything's going too fast to be able
to use good business judgment," says Bing Copeland.
"There's not enough time for design and decals and other things."
"We want to inventory a lot of boards for next summer," complains Don Hansen, "but we don't know what to make.
You can't tell what will sell next month."
Surfers and manufacturers are mixed
in their feelings about board direction.
Says manufacturer and rider Dewey Weber: "There's not an awful lot more that will happen.
There's no reason for boqrds to go back to the way they were, because they're better now and surfers want them."
"The new style of surfing could be done
better on an old Phil Edwards model with two feet cut cut out of the middle,"
advises Joe Quigg, a man wIth thIrty years board buIlding experience.
"An old Phil model," continues Quigg, "is a board with drawn tail or hips and a narrow square tail.
ThIs is where it should go next because it's a more versatile shape."
Says John Price: "There's nothing new happening, just a reaction against the old style."
Jack O'Neill's shaper, Tom Hoye, predicts
a trend to the square tail shape with a basically flat bottom, a model
designed to produce both speed and stability.
Tom Morey: "Boards go where the manufacturer leads them."
Don Hansen: "Screwy ideas hurt the industry."
Skip Frye: "Work this out, the two-step board, and see what happens."
Bing Copeland: "Surfing will not become moderate, but will remain radical."
Corky Carroll: "The demand will be for something new - something better."
Probably the most important aspect of
the new boards is the new style that they've allowed to evolve.
Surfers can do things they never dreamed of doing before.
Trends have become so advanced in the past year that it is hard to imagine where they will progress by next summer or the summer after. "Greenough had to inspire the short board with his bellyboarding," asserts Steve Bigler.
Surfers have long looked with envy at the things Greenough could accomplish on his short bellyboards.
He was the Hillary of the tunnel.
Photographically he took us where the camera had never been: into the tube.
... perimentally he took himself into
the tube and explored the bowels of the ocean's most fantastic secret:
inside the wave.
Up-side down spirals inside the tube became reality with Greenough's skillful riding.
The pocket of the wave became more accessable, and all the surfers wanted to share his access to these unexplored regions.
"We just want everyone to break their fins free . . ."
So surfing met Greenough and his bellyboard
half way: they would try to do what he did, only standing.
McTavish and Young and Wayne Lynch went after the positions and found that on their short Vs they could get them.
Wayne Lynch found it was possible to execute a 360 (degree) cutback.
In California, Corky Carroll is near to perfecting the upside-down spiral.
Skip Frye reports a new game designed to encourage surfers to break their fins free.
When they see a fin slip out of the water, they shout "Fin!"
If it comes way out and the surfer is working his rail alone, they shoui "Rail!"
"We just want to get everyone to break their fins free, break everything free."
Bob McTavish and Nat Young are both adamant in their conviction that the shorter the board, the closer to the curl it can fit.
"That short length (seven feet and up), says McTavish, "can be spun into a cutback without ever digging and sniking.
Especially the offsets." (#1)
"It's maneuverability," says Bigler, "and the ability to carve off the top and down and then back in under the curl."
The biggest thing is the ability of
the riders," says Quigg.
"The new style isn't a stunt or a pose.
It's simply a higher level of everything that has to do with ability to get more out of a wave more speed, faster turns, more flow and yet more snap, cleaner trim, zooming high performance.
Just better surfing.
It isn't a pose."
How long will it take to put all these
variables, alI these elements together and come up with a perfect board?
The confusion over the short boards, the Vs, and all the other innovations is merely indicative that this is a time of flux, of change, in surfing.
Probably this change will never be totally resolved.
Probably much of the whole controversy will be left behind as we move on to newer an even more fantastic developments.
Maybe next year will be so radical that this year will seem like a time of stagnation.
Maybe, as Skip Frye says, "We're still in the stone age."
Take What We Have &
You'll Have What It Takes
The Midget V Pintail, our new variation of the popular Midget V. along with the Frye V, the Fry Baby Gun and t.he Hot Curl represent the Iatest designs.
Each design is different.
Something for everyone.
Uncomplicated lines for versatility.
Fast lines for mInimum drag and speed.
The basic formula used for all of our
boards includes lightness and shortness.
The short, light board is the prImary influence into days surfing.
Our boards weigh 14-18 Ibs.
Anything over 20 Ibs. is consldered too heavy.
We have geared all of our models to be ridden at the following sizes or shorter depending upon personal taste:
OUR DESIGNERS KNOW WHAT'S
Skip Frye, a top competitor in the United States is also tops in surfboard design.
He is in the water six days a week from 4 to 6 hours a day testing, trying and modifying.
He has put a lot of knowledge into his models.
Skip's work on fin design over the last two years is unparalleled ... the results have opened up new experiences for everyone.
The high performance fin and the new 6" free foil fin are Skip's contributions.
Midget Farrelly runs his own surfboard
factory in Australia.
He is on top of everything happening down under.
Midget is one of Australia's top competitors and leading surfboard designer - his ideas come to us from 9000 miles away by mail, phone and an occasional visit.
Midget foresaw the short light board over two years ago when we started with his stringerless model.
He predicted surfboards weighing ten pounds at a time when everyone had 28 lb. boards.
In May 1967, Midget wrote to us about a completely new thing that he was working with.
It was the V Bottom.
This was our first introduction to this radical design.
We delayed work on it because at first it sounded impractical, and we questioned its acceptance.
Finally in the fall of '67 we were convinced that Midget's new Model for '68 would be a V Bottom.
We are now offering this same model with a pintail.
The pintail is not necessarlly better.
It merely lends variety to a popular thing.
Some will like it better, but many will prefer the square tail.
It's your choice.
PIease try them ... and remember, take what we have and you'll have what it takes.
G &S Surfboards
5465 Gaines, San Diego, Calif. 92110
We use Clark Foam & W.A.V.E. Set Fin System
The Super Short, Uptight, V-Bottom, Tube Carving Plastic Machines.
Surfer, Volume 9 Number 4, September 1968. pages 40 to 48.