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woodward : design retrospective, 1968

Greg Woodward : Design Retrospective, 1964-1968. 

Greg Woodward  : WA (Design Retrospective)
Surf International
Volume 1 Number 7, June 1968, pages 12 to15.

A highly perceptive and informative Australian design retrospective over the past five years, as seen by an 'outsider' or average surfer.
The article demonstrates the dominance of Sydney manufacturers in Australian board design and illustrates how quickly developments transferred to the rest of the country.
Unfortunately, none of the accompanying photographs are captioned, identifying the surfer.

Also in this edition:
Bob McTavish : Rincon, pages 10 to 11.
John Wiztig and Wayne Lynch : Australian Titles, pages 20 to 25.

Page 12

Greg Woodward

Page 13

This heart rending trilogy plus one began as a chronology of Western Australian surfing.
It has developed into a very, very rough outline of the progress in Australia over the past five years as seen by an 'outsider' or average surfer.
In this light I make apologies to all those 'in the know' and those who are too concerned with surf- riding to bother writing crap like this.


Two thousand miles from the hub in the summer of '66, the sun was shining on the fair city of Perth and the small waves were lapping Scarboro Beach.

I was out there tearing the place apart on my 10' 2" barge.
All 10' 2" of which I was determined to purchase after reading a certain hard cover surf book written by a certain Scotsman as told by a leading surf personality.
God only knows how many years that board set my surfing career back.
It had beautifully rounded rails that grooved into walls like runners on curtains.
When a cutback was required you stuck your backside into the air and said over three times, "I am now going to cut back, I am now going, .," and so on and so forth and then floated off the wave.
When a nose ride happened along one experienced the same sensation as being pushed down a flight of stairs.

After having my head split open twice and carrying the bloody thing home in 100 plus heat I was seriously considering taking up sex full time.

Nat Young, fresh from the World Championships, on an entirely new track with his revolutionary equipment and ideas, held a one man show at Scarboro Beach and shook up the locals considerably.

Although the surf was a sloppy three feet, Young astounded most with his power turns and spider scratching.
However the over-riding feature of his performance was the control he exhibited in every aspect of his surfing.
Control in the turn, on the nose, in the white water.

Page 14

Always control, and here he left the locals flat footed.
Young's riding was finesse and so it should have been.
The dedication, the purpose, practice and thought that had created a World Champion were evident here.

Response to Young's visit was tremendous and very soon board shops were churning out replicas of the secret weapon he had dragged across a continent.
I was one of the first to wreck the bank account to make the big purchase.
As I recall the first few months on that new board were utter frustration.
It was so sensitive to the slightest weight displacement and so fast out of a turn that I kept falling off the back.

Flotation was the big issue.
Boards were now for surfing and not paddling.
Boards 9' 5" by 2 1/2" !! with wafer thin rails that sliced into the wave face but did not groove.
Boards that were fast, hypersensitive in their response and gave ankle control from the nose.
In fact a revelation - a whole new experience.


Revolutionary though it seemed at the time this was only the beginning.
Farrelly with his stringerless and softer chines produced a board that was different again from Young's prototype.
Different in its freedom on the water surface.
With its high flotation this board seemed to slip over the water whereas other boards would track-in and groove.

Came the 'Hot Generation' and McTavish surfing sometimes as if glued to the back of his mini-board.

Bobbing up and down the wave face with short arcs, wide arcs, and very few straight tracks.
Judging from the films and magazines and McTavish's promotion of the short board it was he who broke the straight line.

Young, very aggressive, powered through sections using the shortest point from collapsing section to clear water, while McTavish avoided the mushy sections, preferring to fall with and skirt them.
All this, culminating with the Australian victory at Long Reef, brought about almost national acceptance of the short board.

Page 15

When the short boards first arrived in the west they appeared ugly, and produced almost the opposite of what was 'good surfing.'
Surfers were using the things like water floats and after years of 'pure trim' this concept was a little difficult to swallow.
Yet the months passed and again the results began to pour in.
Such radical improvements in performance by once mediocre surfers were unbelievable.
It seemed that the path to progress was change and remarkably enough it was always positive change.


Last in this account but by no means final was the Australians returning from Hawaii with their vee-bottomed, adapted pin-tails.
Again it was unbelievable how such small modifications in the bottom contour and tail shape could give such fantastic bullet turns and subsequent acceleration; how the pin-tail could affect the flow from section to section; and how the board as a whole was still one beautiful unit capable of meeting all conditions and turning in such exciting performances.


Still the results pour in and it seems the new word is 'flex', who knows?
What is important is that all steps forward be assimilated by the surfer so that he may put more into his surfing, and thereby gain a great deal more in return.

What happens now is anybody's guess.
However, it is amazing to note the rapidity with which the good word has spread and even more amazing when one realises this has been achieved by the efforts of two or three individuals, who, through the medium of modern mass communications, have made a considerable dent in surfing history to date.
The full impact will be difficult to determine until the World Championships in 1968, and possibly later still.

Page 8

Nat Young

Surf International
Volume 1 Number 7
June 1968.

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Geoff Cater (2010-2019) : Greg Woodward : WA (Design Retrospective), 1968.