Source Documents
holmes : tinkler tail, 1965. 

Paul Holmes : Tinkler Tail, 1979.
Paul Holmes : Functional Flex for Surfboards.
Number 109, October 1979.

The Tinklertail was the most extreme design in the decade following the so called Shortboard Revolution of 1967-1970.
It was probably also the most expensive; at the time of publication, reportedly in excess of $30,000.
Hailed as
the latest breakthrough in surfboard design applications by editor Paul Holmes, rather than a new board design, it was a flexible tail section to be added to the rider's preferred style of board.

The Tinkler brothers credit the influence of George Greenough and his flexible spoon kneeboard along with quotes from  Nat Young (1969) and Bob McTavish
(May 1970).
Nat's prediction that the boards of the future will be shorter and flexible was half right.
The opening quotation from McTavish appears in:

Surfer Tips- Number 45 : Streaks and Slugs.

The flexible tail
section had three control points to adjust the varying amounts of tail lift and pitch.
The Tinklertail Mk 1 required a spanner to adjust tail lift and pitch , the Mk 2 could be  adjusted in the water with hand operated controls.
An electronic prototype, the Mk 5, where the flex could be varied  while actually riding the wave, was said to be in development.

The design also received press coverage in the United States, but without commercial success
in any market.
While many performance reviews seemed positive, it was unlikely any detectable advantage
was worth the additional weight and expense.

This edition also reported
the win of Manly's Pam Burridge at that year's National Women's Championships, held at Newport Beach, then aged 14.
Pam entered in her first competition in 1977, won the Australian Championships in 1979,  aged 14, and was the women's world champion in 1990.

Also see;
TinklerTail Advertisement, Surfer Vol 17 # 2 June/July 1976 page 142.
Page 11


"Greenough found that he cannot achieve his ideal of total manoeuvrability by standing up ... I believe the boards of the future will be shorter and flexible like his."
- Nat Young in the movie 'Fantastic Plastic Machine' 1969.

"Someday soon someone is going to incorporate the features of each in one unit.

Maybe the board needs to be flexible to provide the right curves at the right time.
But then, that's the wing.
And then we'll all be seagulls ...cruising, arcing, soaring, wheeling...drop!
And scream into a big bottom turn that strains every muscle and the whole frame, and carve up into the flow again,
pick up the thin stream of power and play on it, all day in the sunshine."

- Bob McTavish, Surfer Tips #45.

Photo Peter Growney

Keen readers will have noticed that in recent issues TRACKS has once again been devoting some space to innovations in surfboard design.
And not without good reason.
As we've often pointed out in our design features, the stand-up foam and fibreglass board has been with us now for over twenty years and, after the short board revolution of 1968, has remained pretty much the same kind of machine for a decade.
Sure, surfboard designers and shapers have made considerable progress in that decade refining outlines, rail profiles and fin systems but as we've often been at pains to point out, it's not likely that the foam board will change radically in its design and performance until new technology is adapted to this specialised field to provide new parameters of performance.

Well, look out everyone, because something new is happening to surfboards this summer - The Tinklertail - a device added on to the finished surfboard which will allow the tail to flex.
You can fine tune your board to suit your own style of forehand or backhand surfing and to allow your board to perform better in a far wider range of surf size, type and conditions.
The device is currently being marketed to most leading surfboard manufacturers (or at least those with a little foresight) and will add around $65 to the average price of a custom built board.

The device has already been test ridden by some of our leading surfer/shapers and it elicited a very favourable response:
"I was impressed," said Wayne Lynch after trying the device in Victoria during September, "I liked the way it sense the tube."
Bob McTavish commented: "Efficient waterflow."
And Allan Byrne said: "It felt great."

Controlled flex
Mike Tinkler, one of the brothers Tinkler design team who engineered the device, explains its nature and function:

"The "Tinker Tail" has many interesting control systems.
The regulator we first exposed to the media in March 1975 was a limitor.
This control would stop the flex panel at the determined degree of tail lift.
This method was very convenient to use.
One could tune in desired flex and tail curve while in the water prior to catching waves.
More convenient but more expensive.

"Another design we are using now is less convenient but less expensive, lighter and easier to build.
It consists of three water tight openings in the rear deck.
Above the flex panel there is a right rail control and a left rail control plus a longitudinal rocker control.
Into the three openings can be inserted coil springs of varying tension to accommodate the surfer and wave as well as the asymmetrical aspect of surfing right and left, forehand and backhand turns.
(Two very different turns.)
On your forehand turn you can set one spring tension for long turns and, on your cut back rail set a spring tension for tight, short turns or leave the board with only the centre control in use, allowing the tail to respond symmetrically

"To my brother Bob and I, as designers, the main objective is to broaden the capabilities of the all-around surfboard.
Most surfers only purchase one board at a time, hoping it will ride a board range of conditions.
With the "Tinkler Tail" you can ride all the surf your template and dimensions will allow.
Say you ride waves up to six foot, well your "Tinkler Tail" will ride every imaginable wave within the six foot range effectively and completely because you can control the length of turn.
Long point waves may require long carrying turns.
A short reef wave may only require short quick turns and you, the surfer, can shape and tune your board to suit, with many combinations incorporated into the one board."

The weight they add to achieve this versatile custom board is only about 12 ounces.
This weight is used in a number of ways.
Resin and glass weight on a board comes to 4 ounces.
The new spring unit weighs only 4 ounces.
No more than the original piece taken off for duplication into rubber.
So as you can see, the weight is very low.
Most people guess the weight of boards give or take 1 to 2 pounds anyway.

Proving predictions
The 'Tinkler Tail" design offers more freedom in designs and takes nothing away from designer, surfer, shaper.
It is a design that adapts to any hull form.
Therefore, anyone who rides a swallow, stinger, pin, roundtail, squaretail, etc. does not change from that design; it only increases the versatility of their choice in design.
The 'Tinkler Tail" has taken what was once done only in the shaping room to the ocean, the medium in which we play.
This transition enables one to change the degree of tail rocker, vee and fin angles in the water and on the beach, or adjust a different tension of spring to accommodate   varying conditions.

Tinkler feels the next breakthrough is to move on from stiff, one curve sticks, to flexible, multicurved pieces of surfing equipment:
"It's been ten years since our last major change in surfing when boards went through a length and weight change.
In 1967, Nat Young, Bob McTavish, and George Greenough were directly responsible for that breakthrough.
Well it's 1979 and we feel we have that "wing" McTavish was talking about.
Nat believed flex was where surfboards would go in the future and I guess we have proven him right."

The history of the development of the Tinklertail goes back ten yean to when Bob Tinkler and his brother Mike first started to be intrigued with the work which Greenough pioneered with his flexible kneeboard "the velo" and which inspired Bob McTavish to adapt Greenough's design theories to stand-up surfboards.

As we all know now the end result was the short board with its accompanying spiral-vee bottom - a method of providing added pitch to the rigid foam board since a flexing stand-up board was not a practical proposition.
At that time,
Bob Tinkler had been shaping in New Zealand (he's a Canadian who's now a New Zealand resident) and took a trip to Australia's east coast where he had the opportunity to meet Greenough and McTavish and discuss their revolutionary design ideas.
"I was impressed with his concepts," says Tinkler, "and the way he was utilizing flex in his surfing.
When I watched him surfing I couldn't believe the amount of manouevrability and speed he was able to attain."

At once Tinkler started working on a stand-up board which would do what Greenough's velo was capable of doing and, once back in New Zealand, experimented with scooped out tails - a method which met with little success.
"We knew quite early on that the secret of a successful flex tailed stand-up board would be in being able to control the amount of flex but at that time, of course, we didn't know what those control mechanisms would look like."
But he persevered, producing dozens of prototypes, hundreds of scale drawings and considered hundreds of ideas.
The search took him and his brother to California where they continued their work but, as Tinkler explained, "all the boards we made would flex but none ol them did what was necessary to have I totally adaptable surfboard.
But during that time we saw George again and showed him what we weie getting into and asked him if it was OK to go ahead with it.
You see, we didn't want to feel we were stepping on his toes.
Anyway, George told us that it was going to take a long time and a lot of money to develop a functional flex for a stand up surfboard but he told us to go for it if that's what we wanted to do so we went away feeling that we had his approval."

Into the future

What followed was several years of work for Bob and Mike Tinkler, and at least $30,000 in hard cash and exploration into areas of technology which had no previous applications, for example in finding a rubber material which would bond with fibreglass.
The quest even made Tinkler give up shaping regular boards for a while, not an easy move for a dedicated shaper, but one he felt was necessary at a time when the regular rigid board was already outmoded in his eye and when the new technology to overcome that impasse had yet to be discovered.

What the Tinklers did first was to analyse in detail exactly what George's flexible velo knee machine was doing in the water to give it that awesome manoeuvrability and speed. This they did by watching film of George riding the board.
And then watching again and again.
When they knew what the board was going through in the water, they were on the road to discovering what controls would be needed to adapt flex for a stand-up board. (There are of course considerable differences in the dynamics of the kneeboard and the stand-up variety.)

"We built all kinds of heavy and complicated devices at first, using nuts and bolts but at last we did start getting them to work.
When we knew we were on the right track we were able to perfect the control system.
Basically our project developed from simple, not working (the scooped out glass tail) to complicated, working and, finally to the simple working stage we're at today with the Tinllertail Mk 2."

"There are four aspects of fine tuning a surfboard," continued Bob Tinkler.
The-first stage is in the shaping room and sanding room.
The second is on the beach: a stage we achieved with the Tinklertail Mk 1 where a spanner is needed to adjust the varying amounts of tail lift and pitch on the three control points.
The third stage is the ability to adjust tail lift and pitch actually in the water with hand operated controls.
That's where we're at with the Mk 2.
And the Mk 5 - being able to control these things electronically while actually riding the wave, is already at the prototype stage."

Although the Mk 5 may seem a little way out in 1979 as Bob points out, the problems they had finding new materials to use in the controlled Ilex tail led them right into the future.
Often, in their search lot ni.itenals which could be utilized to construct the Tinklertail, they had to get into areas in which there were no previous applications of existing knowledge.
The electronically controlled device still needs a lot of development (and will require still more amounts of cash to develop) but, as anyone who knows a little about advancements being made in the microprocessing industry must be aware, a tiny, hand held tranmitter/receiver is not beyond the bounds of the imagination in the very near future.

And we at TRACKS say, hats off to the Tinklers for this, the latest breakthrough in surfboard design applications.
Paul Holmes.

Page 13
Pam pulls it off

After her win in the recent women's national champion­ships at Newport, Pam Burridge is looking like the great white hope for women's surfing in Australia.

At the age of 14, Pam who has already made her presence felt in a few local Sydney contests, was the youngest competitor in the event.
She finished ahead of Sharon Holland, a 16 year old from Wollongong with Judy Henderson a Queenslander who placed second in the Australian titles in third place.
Eight Queenslanders entered the event, although current ASA national champion Leith Temple didn't show.

Pam Burridge takes her surfing seriously.
She's lucky enough to have a sympathetic family: her mother is happy to take her down to Mid-Steyne for a wave after school and if there isn't any surf, Pam often trains at a local pool with her sister Donella, one of Australia's best ever synchronised swimmers who has won the last six Australian solo titles in a row.

Pam has also been helped along by Bill McCausland the Warringah Shire surf clinic co-ordinator who encouraged her interest in surfing and who continues to coach her.

The NSW girls showed strength through their ranks in the Newport contest and dominated the final results.
Kay Jarman from Newport received the most promising surfer award.

1    Pam Burridge NSW
2    Sharon Holland NSW
3    Judy Henderson Qld
4    Robyn Burgess NSW
5    Kay Jarman NSW
6    Vicki Bourke NSW

Pam Burridge, photo by Bill McCausland.

Page 26
Advertisement for (Sex) Surf Aids Legropes, Byron Bay?
Page 46
Advertisement for Winterstick: An early snowboard.

Number 109
October 1979.


Geoff Cater (2019) : Paul Holmes : Tinklertail, 1979.