Source Documents
copper : hot curl surfboards,  1976 

Bob Cooper : The hot curl experience,  1976.
Surfer Photography 1976 Summer
Intriguing  article by Bob Cooper, recalling his research into the Hot Curl boards of the 1940s.

Page 8
Cooper : "The Hot Curl Experience."

Surfboards have probably been the biggest influence on the sport of surfing, other than the people who have created them.
What got you so interested in hot curt boards and the others in your collection?

Well, what happened, see, is I'm a gremmie growing up and you acquire your idols, and being from inland initially, Culver City, I didn't have any background in surfing at all.
I got down to the beach and got into surfing but I had no history and no knowledge of what was going on.
So when I went to work for Velsy down in San Cemente, I used to live in the shop and sleep up in the balsa loft.
There was nothing to at night, so he'd invite me over to his house, and we'd watch television, I'd babysit, and he'd feed me, and we'd talk.
And in conversation with him (he"s such a good saleman you know), he'd tell me about the good old days, which at that time dated my four years experience against his twenty.

And he kept talking about things that he felt were landmarks.
Like his first trip to the islands, how he saw the Hawaiians surfing these boards (like, at the time, he was riding boards with no fins).

And through these conversations, he kind of imparted this sense of romance to me, and he talked about the things that these boards did, which the boards that we had at that stage didn't do; maybe their ability to hold high in the curl and not spin out and drive down a line with no speed decrease.
You know, when I came into the picture, everybody was doing the big drop and turn, and you had to have a fin for that, and that seemed really important.
Its like early this morning, I'm talking to Phil (Edwards), and he's talking old board, and I'm talking new board, and it was the same trip with me and Velzy.
I'm sitting at Velzy's knee,
and he's talking old board, and I'm not relating to him at all.
But I can see that this is part of his experience.
And so I thought, if I ever get a chance, I'm going to ride one of these old boards, but there weren't any around except the stuff they had propped up for rafters at San Onofre.

Bud Browne had footage ... not Blackout or Squirrely but one of those guys doing the beautiful traditional arch, you know, feet together.
He had long hair and a headband, and he was in this beautiful bow, and his board's laid out, and his got a tighter trim than I ever saw, and when I mentioned it to Velzy, he goes "Right," and I went and saw the pictures again, and that was a hot curl board.
The board definitely fit in, whereas the boards we had then didn't fit.
We were down on the bottom, and he was stuck at the top and just sailing.
There were none available, like no one was making hot curl boards.

So the thing was to go and find me an old master who could build me a hot curl board, because Velzy could tell me about the rails, the rails were essential, the way the curve went all the way up to the dead flat deck.
Because the holding power was all in the edge, they were dead straight, and the 'V' in the tail, and everything had to run together.
You couldn't have too much curve in it.
He said "I don't know who could shape you one.
I don't know where you'd find one."
So I just kind of let it pass.
And then from Velzy I went to work for Alan Gomes,  who was really and old time Hawaiian, and his father, Big Daddy Gomes.
I got a lot of old-time background for a kid at that stage, and they kept talking about Downing and the old Waikiki guys, and one day I was introduced to George Downing, and I just flashed.
You know I didn't even know him.
He was a friend or Hap Jacobs, and Hap introduced me and I think my next question was "I'd like you to build me a hot curl board," and he
kind of just went "What. What do you want one of those things for. Theyr'e all outdated."

I don't know, I just had to have one.
If I was going to be anything of a surfer, I had to acquire the old time experience, or something.

It was like you wanted to feel what they felt then, just to kind of add to the relevancy of what you were doing?

Yeah, I guess its like studying music.
You study the old masters because they got into the foundation of it.
But, of course, we've developed the modern music now, but any serious student of music doen't disregard what was accomplished in the past, because that's part of what we are doing right now, and I felt the same about surfing.
Ok, so poor George, he did it.

He had a plank glued up, and it was rough shaped, and we put in Velzy's old shop in the rafters, the next day he was going to finish it.
And that night, somebody broke into the shop down there and stole all kinds of boards, and they stole my hot curl board, too!
It was rough shaped, and it just blew me out.
George had to go back to the Islands, so we glued up another one, and he rough shaped it, but that was all he could do.
So I had Alan Gomes finish it for me.

How long are we talking about, like about 10 feet ...
Yeah. 10 1/2 - 11 (ft).
That silver one i think is about 11ft 6"
And they had to be balanced.
You know, it was a well-thought-out thing.
I imagine the engineering on these things was much more sophisticated than boards now, because you can essentially put a fin on anything and it will work, but they were so critical that the board George made me (because he had to try to adapt short templates to get the proper curves out of them) mhad actually too much curve in the tail.
It would hold in to a certain point, but once the wave got so critical, then ....


Page 9

9ft 9" Hot Curl (finess) redwood balsa lamination.
Rough shaped by George Downing, finished by Alan Gomes.
(Note diamond "Glassed by Gomes" sticker under Velzy/Jacobs sticker on the tail.)

Hard, high edges with radiused lower edges, V-eed tail.


11ft "Silver" Hot Curl.
Foam shaped by Joe Quigg. Glassed at Yater's in Santa Barbara.

Photography Number 6


Geoff Cater (2022) : Bob Cooper : Hot Curl Surfboards, 1976.