Torquay Beach, 1946. L. to R.:
Ron Hussey, Dick Garrard.
surf board rider Dick Garrard at
Waikiki Beach Hawaii, 1954.
In 1956 Graeme Patrick, Carnival Organiser for the International and Australian Surf Carnivals, introduced a monthly bulletin to keep members informed of the work taking place for this huge commitment.
It was also used to inform members of their rostered work dates etc.
From this beginning he enlarged it into what became the club's magazine titled "Surf-Sun & Sand". The magazine started out as a two page typed production, listing all club events, carnival dates and so on.
A couple of advertisements were even thrown in, mainly advertising where the new malibu boards could be purchased.
Down the years this magazine has progressed into a most sophisticated publication
The two most prestigious and successful events conducted on the Torquay beach were the International and Australian Carnivals, held during the staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne, November/December 1956.
Carnival, in which teams from New Zealand, Ceylon, South Africa, Hawaii,
England, United States of America and Australia took part, was held on
Sunday, 25 November.
A crowd estimated at 50,000 viewed this spectacle; the largest ever to witness a surf carnival anywhere in Australia to that time.
It is doubtful if that record has been broken to date of writing, 1995.
Pictures taken at the time, show the spectators extending from the clubhouse to Pt. Danger, and from the top of the sand dunes to beach level.
The total viewing the of Australian Titles the following Sunday, 2 December, dropped substantially due to the inclement weather and the delays experienced in getting home from Torquay area the previous week.
There were reports of vehicles stretching from Torquay to Geelong, bumper to bumper, and
for most of the way to Melbourne.
Some reported five hours to reach home.
However, the event attracted well over thirty thousand spectators who applauded enthusiastically the efforts of approximately 2,000 fit, young lifesavers.
The planning behind
these two carnivals was immense.
The club had previously conducted Victorian Championships at its beach and the Southern States Championships held during January 1954 was a great success, but nothing resembling the magnitude of these two events had been undertaken.
It has been said by many, that if they had envisaged the task ahead they would have never attempted it.
However, being naive and full of daring and confidence, plus a bit of showmanship on the part of a few, the club forged ahead and what's more, put on a show that won the members praise from around the Nation.
When it was announced in 1950 that Melbourne was to get the Olympic Games, plans were put in place by National Council in 1952 to have the sport of surf lifesaviving recognised as a ...
... sports demonstration"
and thus give it Worldwide recognition.
Despite intense representation from the Victorian end and at National level, a letter dated 28 July 1954 advised the club that the organising committee for the XVI Olympiad Melbourne 1956 had rejected the submission and that the demonstration sport selected, was to be Australian Rules Football.
Council, had decided to push ahead with a "World or International" Carnival
and a letter to Jack Williams, Victoria State Centre Secretary, to that
effect, was sent on 8 March 1954.
It was also pointed out in this letter, that to conduct the Australian Championships for 1956 during the period of the Games was out of the question due to the time of the year, amongst other reasons. Finally, after many letters and phone calls by Jack and direct representation by the Victorian Delegate, Ainslie (Sprint) Walker, the Annual General Meeting of National Council in November 1954, passed a resolution "that Victoria could conduct both an International and Australian Carnival Championships".
This was conveyed to State Centre by letter dated 8 January 1955.
Prior to all this,
at a committee meeting of the club on 12 September 1954, it was moved by
club captain Clinton (Shacks) Shiells, seconded Alvin Caimey, "that this
Club make application for the Olympic Carnival in 1956. Venue to be decided
by State Centre 25/10/54."
A submission was put together by Phillip Bennett, Jim Wall and Graeme Patrick and Eugene
(Titch) Cullity presented the club's case to a panel of State Centre Officials.
The club was notified on 29 October 1954 that they were successful and could conduct, what was thought of at the time, a "World Carnival".
Clubs who had submitted proposals were Lome, Portsea and Ocean Grove.
In earlier discussions,
there had been talk of holding one carnival at Torquay and one at Lome.
When it was announced that Torquay would conduct both Carnivals, Lome made a number of attempts to be allotted one and at State Centre meetings many heated discussions ensued.
Pt. Lonsdale backd the Lome submission, that a new ballot take place.
The logistics of setting up two beaches, the extra travelling involved etc., saw sanity prevail and in July 1955 it was again confirmed that both Carnivals would be at Torquay.
Despite this little piece of uncertainty, the organising committee consisting of Jim Wall Supervising Chairman -Milton Napthine (Portsea Club), Chairman Showgrounds Camp Committee, Ainslie (Sprint) Walker, Chairman Welfare and Reception Committee, and Graeme Patrick, Director of Carnivals and Competition and Public Relations, was fully operational.
As early as June
1954, National Council had given the go ahead for State Centre to book
accommodation for 1,000 participants.
Negotiations had been taking place with the Royal Agriculturaf Society of Victoria, and that organisation advised the committee in November 1954 that the Halls of Manufactures and Agricultural were available for their use, free of charge.
This was a generous gesture from the Society and as the planning took hold, the organising committee were often overwhelmed with the generosity extended to the Surf Life Saving movement by' many varied companies and individuals.
was a dedicated chairman of the Showgrounds Camp Organising Committee and
after repeated applications to a wide variety of Government bodies he organised
the loan of pillows, pillow cases and sheets from the Department of Air
plus 350 folding metal stretchers, and from the Department of Supply, 3,000
blankets, 100 wash basins, 400 beside tables, 400 mattresses and 400 mattress
The wonder of all this was that in the final audit, with the exception of 40 blankets, 15 pillows and 20 or so broken stretchers, all of this equipment was returned intact to the Departments named.
had been arranged for 1,000, the final tally billeted at the Showgrounds
The rest of the 1,700 competitors and strappers were scattered throughout Melbourne, Torquay, Anglesea, Geelong, Barwon Heads, Ocean Grove etc.
The camp ran from Wednesday, 21 November until 3 December, at a cost of £12.10.0 per person (approximately $26) and included bed and breakfast only.
A cut lunch was provided if required ...
... and a-la-carte
evening meals were served.
Milton and his team provided laundry facilities, bank, post office, telephones, first aid, showers, toilets, kiosk, identity and pass out cards.
Training facilities were arranged for swimmers at the Footscray City Baths, and surfboat, ski and
board competitors trained at suburban beaches or the Maribyrnong River.
The transport of personnel from the Showgrounds to Torquay and back again, was in itself a mammoth operation, but it was done with the aid of buses from various companies around Melbourne at a charge of 15/- ($1.50) per person for return fare.
Work on the beach
and surroundings at Torquay was deemed necessary and plans were drawn up
by various engineers at the Geelong Harbour Trust free of charge.
They showed the cost for a sea wall to help prevent the erosion taking place, plus the grading of the cliff face and various ancillary works.
Appeals for money for these projects to both the Federal and State Governments were rejected.
A committee was formed in February 1955 incorporating all the local authorities to ensure their co-operation and to keep them informed.
This group consisted of members from the South Barwon and Barrabool Shires, Torquay Foreshore and the Progress Traders Association.
Under the chairmanship of Jim Wall, they met on frequent occasions and the aid extended to the club by all these organisations was invaluable.
It was initially established that no monies would be coming from any Government Department to help in any way, so the club would have to go it alone and do the best they could.
Finally, a sea wall was built for approximately 22 metres in front of the club with a small grant from the Department of Works, and was finished in October 1956.
With the Carnivals fast approaching, the club formed a Carnival sub-committee, comprising, under the chairmanship of Ralph Dean, Ron Gilbert, Alvin Cairney, Alan Coulson, Brian Whiting, Eugene CuUity, Clinton Shiells and Rex (China) Gilbert.
They were to report to the committee on a monthly basis, and co-opt other members as required.
In October, work
gangs of club members levelled the top of the cliff near the clubhouse
and toilets, in the form of trenches were excavated at the base of the
The beach was ...
... laid out,
and on the following weekends, fences and gates were erected by Fred Payne
and his men in preparation for the hundreds of yards of hessian to be put
Army signallers wired the area for sound and telephones for the press were installed.
Sid Baker and Percy Mann organised gate keepers plus ticket and program sellers.
Sid also sent men from his Geelong factory to erect a large grandstand, which was shipped down from generosity of National Council, consisting of 15 rows of tiered seating in three layers, seating 936 people.
Cost per seat to the public was £2/2/- ($5).
Extra showers were installed at the rear of the clubhouse with new interior lining, wiring and painting of the clubhouse hastily carried out.
Visits were paid to Melbourne and Torquay during all of this planning by National Council Secretary, Ken Watson and National Superintendent, Vic Bessimo; their advice and help in all matters was of the utmost benefit to the various organising committees.
Ken Watson handled the invitations to the touring teams and sent numerous detailed letters, on a huge variety of matters, to Jack Williams and Graeme Patrick, that ensured the smooth overall success of the two Carnivals.
However, there were times when problems seemed insurmountable, but fortunately Torquay had at the top, men of talent, dedication, diplomacy and perseverance.
was one of these men.
Originally elected as Public Relations Officer, he later took on the task of Carnival Co-ordinator and Organiser and as such, was involved in every facet of the planning and running of the two Carnivals. At their completion, he organised the dispersal of equipment, funds and dozens of letters thanking all the companies and individuals involved.
Graeme wrote to every daily paper in Melbourne, plus publications in suburban and Provincial Cities, seeking publicity, and then arranged facilities on the beach for them and the major Tadio stations and television stations - then in its infancy, to broadcast to ...
... the Nation.
He solicited funds from leading companies to prepare suitable programs, posters, banners etc. and organised the preparation of entertainment for visiting teams, VIP's etc. etc.
There is a file of letters nearly six inches thick covering every aspect of the various stages of the planning and organising of the two Carnivals bearing witness to the magnificenrpart played by Graeme.
In retrospect, it is doubtful that he received the recognition he so richly deserved for the sacrifices he made to ensure that Victoria and Torquay put on a display equal to any that had gone before.
The knowledge that the Carnivals were an outstanding success, numerically competitively and financially and, in the opinion of many, have still not been surpassed would still give him great comfort and a sense of achievement.
The profit alone of £6,226 was staggering.
Despite the work
of so many for so long, "Mother Nature" nearly brought the whole scene
undone. The week before the International Carnival, huge the sand from
the beach, uncovering great areas of rocks.
Gale force winds blew down the large marquees, erected as dressing and hospitality facilities, and the hessian fences were torn down in many areas.
A bulldozer, loaned to the club by the Forestry Commission was brought in and Fred Payne and hjs boys toiled for hours to cover tlhe rocks with sand from along the beach.
Club captain "Shack" Shiells with Ray Carey and other members of the organising committee already mentioned, worked tirelessly to get things ship shape again.
Ralph Dean kept the teams going with his unflagging spirit and "hands on" approach.
Despite the poor surf and the inclement weather, the spectacle of the 116 clubs competing, 55 march past teams, 101 surfboat crews, 389 surf race entries, 147 surf board, 158 single ski, 68 double ski competitors etc. etc. was hailed and acclaimed throughout the Nation.
The visiting teams were great ambassadors and competitors for their countries and proved in many instances they could keep up with the Australians.
During the week between the two Carnivals, delegates from the visiting teams met to form The World Federation Surf Life Saving Association.
of the successful completion of the International and Australian Championships,
National Council presented a metal plaque to Victoria's State President,
Ainslie (Sprint) Walker, in November 1957.
This plaque is proudly displayed in the clubhouse today.
Torquay's first surf boat, swept by Ron Hussey, heads out to sea on a training run, Torquay beach, 1947.
In 1947, Dick
Garrard, one of Australia's most famous amateur welterweight wrestlers,
whose Honours at that time included Olympic (Berlin 1936) and Empire Games
representation, decided to holiday in Queensland and take part in the Australian
Surf Life Saving Championships that were to be held at Southport during
Dick made the journey with fellow Club Foundation Members, Joe Parkin and Roy Parker.
These were the first Australian Surf Championships ever held in Queensland and Dick was the first member of a Nationally affiliated Victorian Surf Club to compete in an event of this nature.
During his time
there, Dick had noticed an old surfboat leaning against the back wall of
the Southport Surf Club and on making enquiries he was told that yes the
boat was for sale.
He sent a telegram to Jim Wall at Johnson's Tyne Foundry seeking advice as to whether he should purchase it for the club.
The answer was yes!
Southport officials said, "make a donation of £5 ($10) to their Club's War Memorial fund and he could have it".
This was done, then Dick with mates Joe and Roy, had it loaded onto a freight train at the Southport Rail depot, (this line had been built to handle the huge variety of freight needed during the course of the war, and was tom up some years later) and railed to Melbourne.
It then went onto Geelong where it ended up at the wool store owned by club member, Howard Glover, around the end of April.
The boat was an old whaler, double ended type, about 18 ft. long, 5 ft. 6 inch beam, four thwarts (seats) with 3/8" cedar planking.
It was very heavy and its age and builder were unknown.
The Annual Report of 1946/47 shows a donation of £8.18.0 ($18) by both H. Fairweather and R. Butler to cover the cost of the rail freight charge.
Ron Hussey, who had been stroke of the Surfers Paradise surfboat pre-war for three seasons, and the only club member with any surfboat experience, inspected the boat and found the keel, gunwhale and most ribs were sound, as were the copper air tanks fore and aft.
However, a great
deal of work was necessary to caulk all the opened cedar planks, strengthen
others, and repaint the vessel.
The committee authorised the spending of £25 ($50).
Ron quickly organised teams to carry out the work and the boat was ready for the 1947-48 "season". A search of Johnson's Tyne Foundry revealed a set of old whale boat oars about 18' long.
One was kept for the sweep and the others cut down for oars, minus leather buttons.
The boat, painted white, with blue and gold strip around the top, and crewed by Ron Hussey, sweep, Howard Glover, an ex King's Cup rower, stroke, Alvin Cairney, Frank Inness and Graeme Beck, bow, looked magnificent when officially launched by Allan Kennedy in October 1947.
With only one
surfboat in Victoria for the first two years, it was used extensively for
carnival duties, bronze exams, rescues, patrol activiries, wave cracking
and training members in the art of boat handling.
Ron was elected first boat captain on 28 November 1948, with Howard Glover as vice captain.
During those initial years the crews gave exhibitions of wave riding at various surf carnivals and their skill and courage was often the feature the crowds applauded.
Surfboats were obtained by Warrnambool, Portland and Point Lonsdale by 1950, and the first Victorian Championships featuring surfboats competirion was held on Torquay beach 12 February 1950.
A visiting crew from Coogee N.S. W had towed their boat down, competed, and ...
... with their
vast experience, coupled with a lightweight boat, rowed into first place.
However, Warrnambool being the first Victorian crew home were awarded the State Title with Torquay being placed second, crewed by R. Hussey (sweep), H. Glover, R Inness, G. Packham, D. Nicholls.
In January 1952,
the first boat having given faithful service but now aged, was donated
to the newly established club, Anglesea.
In 1955, when Anglesea purchased another boat the club retrieved it back from them and Bill Clymer, the boat captain at the time, cut the bow section off and mounted it on timber supports near the entrance to the old clubhouse.
When the club burnt down in July 1970, this section was salvaged and after alterations was mounted in the new t clubhouse.
an influx of younger men from the bayside suburbs of Melbourne and a number
from Ballarat and Geelong; most were in their late teens and early 20's.
This was certainly a stimulant to the club and the surfing movement in general for the foundation and early members were all in their late 30's or 40's.
Indeed, the average age ofTorquay's first bronze squad on 29 December 1946 was thirty-eight (38). The ranks of swimmers, plus board and ski competitors, began to expand rapidly and it was natural that a number of these strong, virile types would be attracted by the lure of surfboats and competition.
Moves were therefore set in motion to purchase another surfboat.
discussed at great length the purchase of a new or second-hand boat.
For funds to purchase such an expensive, though necessary piece of life saving equipment, was a problem.
However, things took on a brighter note when in March 1950, Henry Drysdale, a member who had previously been generous to the club, offered to donate £100 ($200) towards the purchase of the boat.
This was in appreciation of the rescue of his daughter Mary from drowning.
Letters were sent to a number of clubs in Sydney seeking details of any second-hand boats were also sought from Sydney boat builders.
Offers of boats from both Freshwater and Cronulla resulted and our president, Jim Wall, on a business trip to Sydney in June 1950, inspected both boats and recommended the club purchase the one from Cronulla.
The boat, built by Towns of Newcastle, was in perfect condition having been in the water only approximately fourteen times.
It was a double ended, hard chine-clinker top boat, similar in shape to the club's existing boat, but much lighter, and came complete with all oars including sweep oar.
The cost was £175 ($350) and this was generously borne by Henry Drysdale.
Despite the many surfboats that the club has had in the ensuing years, this was the first and only time that an individual, member or otherwise, has contributed the total cost of a boat and oars.
Torquay of course have won boats in competition, and have had a number of companies donate a boat and oars, which has been most appreciated.
named "Mary Drysdale" after Henry's daughter, was officially launched during
November 1950 by the lass it was named after.
This boat, reverently remembered by early members, saw great service with the club and was swept at intervals by Ron Hussey, Don Nicholls and in particular George Packham.
When Ron stepped down as boat captain at the end of the 1950-51 season, having laid the ground work for the fine tradition that the club's future boat crews would establish throughout Australia, George Packham took over.
Brian Beck, first home Victorian Championships, Torquay Beach, 1953;
Victorian Surf Ski Champion, 1950, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55;
Southern States Champion, 1954; Club Surf Ski Champion 1950, 51, 52, 53, 55.
One of "Daffy's" secret weapons came unstuck, Clifton Beach, Tasmania, Australian Championships venue, 1969.
Chapter 10: Surfboards - "The Long and the Short"
Vic Tantau holding solid redwood board owned by Phillip Bennett, 1937.
From 1915 onwards
many of the boards fashioned after the Duke's appeared on beaches throughout
The late "Snowy" McAlister, also from the Manly club, won Australian Board champion exhibitions in the 20s and 30s on a similar board.
It has never been clearly documented the year the longer, lighter, hollow boards came into vogue, but they began appearing on Sydney beachs from the early 30s.
Various boat builders in the 20s had manufactured hollow boards to the shape of the Duke's using assorted plys, but they never seemed to handle as well as the solid types.
They were also damaged much more easily on rocks and often split their seams when struck by heavy surf.
However by 1938, boards in use were predominantly of the 12'-16' hollow type made from strong marine ply, lhl! cedar sides, rails along the edges, hook at the back and a bung in the front to enable water to be drained out.
Records are not available to show precisely when the riding of waves on boards took place in Victoria, either in the bayside or on coastal beaches.
Many bayside lifesaving clubs had boards, both solid and hollow in the 20s and 30s, that were mainly looked upon as so much flotsam and rarely used due to their unsuitability in the "washing machine" type of waves experienced in the bay.
Long boards at attention on Torquay Beach, 1947.
Riders from left are:
Unknown, John Allan, Barry Patten, Ken Harris, BiU Bennett, Peter Bennett, Reg Gray, Dick Garrard, Keith Putt, Frank Inness, unknown, unknown, "China" Gilbert and Eric Knight.
... Lorne would have been most suitable.
Vic, in 1980, was lucky enough to find two of these boards at the home of Lou Whyte's sister in Geelong.
After negotiations with the Executors of the late Lou Whyte's will, he was given these boards plus a few photos from the family album showing the boards in use at Lome.
Vic subsequently gave the boards to be used for posterity to the Torquay Surfing Museum, where they are to be held in trust, for viewing by the general public and for the benefit of future generations.
One of Victoria's
first acknowledged ocean board rider was club foundation member, Ainslie
(Sprint) Walker, who was transferred to Melbourne from Sydhey in the late
20s by his firm of stock and station agents and wool brokers, Grascos Ltd.
Sprint, a former champion body surfer and surf swimmer from the Manly club, made trips to Portsea and Point Leo beaches, where he rode a solid redwood board.
He and his fellow mates from the Melbourne Swimming Club decided the surf at these beaches was unsuitable for board riding, and on subsequent trips to Torquay they found the surf far more consistent, safer and rideable.
They decided to concentrate, all their energies at this "idyllic surfing location".
|Page 103 A
Bigger and better surf skis are adding to the attractions at Torquay, where members of the newly-formed surf club are shown here in a beach line-up. Some of the skis are in the sixteen-footer class. From left; A. Shields, M. Roberts, E Watton, ~ Haroey,
R. Galbraith, D. Garrard, L. Scott, E Drenikow, J. AUan (aU
of Melbourne), Un Bock, (Torquay) and W Joyce (Melbourne) .
Argus Newspaper, 1946.
Originally one image, these two images have been cropped and realigned to isolate board and ski ridersm (below).
Bigger and better surf skis are adding to the attractions at Torquay, where members of the newly-formed surf club are shown here in a beach line-up. Some of the skis are in the sixteen-footer class. From left; A. Shields, M. Roberts, E Watton, ~ Haroey,
R. Galbraith, D. Garrard, L. Scott, E Drenikow, J. AUan (aU
of Melbourne), Un Bock, (Torquay) and W Joyce (Melbourne) .
Argus Newspaper, 1946.
Originally one image, these two images have been cropped and realigned to isolate the board (above) and ski riders.
... a square stern
and, in order to prevent damage on the rocks, was covered in galvanised
steel over the ply.
Again the weight was a huge problem, but both Vic and Spud used it for some years until the board which leaked like a sieve, finally sank off Rocky Point.
Dick Garrard, another V.R.I. man also had solid boards which he rode until graduating to the hollow 16' type about 1939.
Tony Johannsen, Phil Bennett, Ron Rayner, Les Haley, Fred Drenikow, Jim Wall and many others all tried out board riding, to a lesser or greater degree, but it appears that Vic Harvey, Spud O'Hara and Dick Garrard were the top board riders, showing the most skill on the perfect Torquay waves.
However, it wasn't until the end of the Second World War and the formation of the surf club in 1945 that surf board riding became more popular.
By now only long, mainly 14/16' hollow boards were in use.
With the formation
of Victorian State Centre in 1947, surf carnivals were introduced onto
the coastal scene and surf board paddling races became a well contested
Members purchased boards from Sydney builders, Bill Wallace, Gordon Bennett (sic, Gordon Woods, Barry Bennett), Bill Barnett and local builders, Col Downey, Bernie Main, George Evans, Laurie Nelsson and Bill Clymer.
The boards fast became "works of art" as construction methods improved with the use of stronger, lighter ply, copper nails, waterproof strong gripping glues, better shaping of frames etc.
Shaped sides and bottoms with increased "banana" in the overall length helped eliminate nose diving or "going down the mine", as it was known.
Many of these improvements were brought about in an endeavour to make them more suitable for paddling races, which were becoming most important in Surf Clubs throughout Australia.
It must be kept in mind that up to the end of 1960, these same racing boards, mostly 16' long, 18" wide, weighing approximately 351bs, were also used for riding waves.
Even though the long boards, particularly now designed for paddling races, were difficult to handle, members from the club put on spectacular displays, catching waves more than 500 yards out to sea and cornering from one side of the beach to the other until finally the break caught them or they hit the shore.
There is no doubt that the two men who set he standard for surf board competition here in Victoria were club members Rex (China) Gilbert and Vic Tantau.
"China" won the
first four (4) Victorian 16ft. board titles, 1948 to 1951 and Vic the next
five (5) 1952 to 1956.
Both competed at Australian championships during this period against the great board men of the era - Keith (Spas) Hurst (North Bondi), Roger Callan (Coogee), George Bishop, Ron Hazelton and George Edwards (Maroubra), Trumper Bevan and Wilson (Coogee), Serge Denman (Bronte), "Stretch" Nicholls and "Bullets" Henderson from Freshwater, to name a few.
Both reached the finals in various years, with Vic coming the closest to winning an Australian medal when he vas placed fifth at Scarborough, WA. in 1951.
Their training throughout the summer months with long paddles in the bay, on Albert Park Lake, and in Vic's case, on various lakes around the Geelong district, kept them in superb condition.
On weekends at Torquay they thrilled the crowds with their skilled riding of these huge boards, on any size wave in any conditions.
Best known surfing "character" in Australia, "China" Gilbert, in a relaxed pose in full control of his 16ft Surfboard, Torquay Xmas, 1947.
'Pioneer' board rider; Victorian Long Board Champion, 1948- 49-50-51;
Club 16ft Long
Board Champion, 1948-1950.
Four redwood solid surf boards brought from Hawaii in 1919 by Lou Whyte and used by him and others mainly at Lome early 20's.
Two of these boards now in Torquay Surf Museum.
... State and
Club board championships and repeated that performance again in 1954.
Vic, "China" and "Emmo" were magnificent exponents of the sixteen foot surfboard.
It was a privilege indeed to have witnessed their wave riding ability and the I high standard they set in competition against each other in board paddling events.
Aub Cherry joined
the club during 1950 and quickly became a most proficient board paddler
He was placed second in the 1951 State and Club board titles and was selected in the State Team to tour Tasmania that year.
Aub was elected the club's first Board and Ski Captain in 1951 and held that position until the end of the '55 season.
For three of these years Kevin (Mumbles) Walker was his deputy.
He was placed third in the State Title of '53 and then at the Southern States Championships in January 1954, won the inaugural novice board race.
George (Ming) Smith an "excitable" character put up some good performances on the board during the early 50's.
He won the club marathon board paddle - Torquay to Breamlea - in 1953, was third in the State Title in '54 and second in '55.
"Ming" has been credited with winning the first ever prize money at a board rally, when in 1961 at "Bells", he was awarded £1 ($2.00) for riding "the wave of the day".
Jimmy Bell was
another good board man in that same era, '50-'55, competing in many surf
carnivals and club events during that period.
He won the 1954 State novice board event and was second in the State Open Title in big dumping seas at Anglesea 1956.
With "China" now concentrating on surf boat competition, "Emmo" transferring to Lome, Vic facing retirement due to serious knee problems, Aub off to Canada, Jimmy Bell retiring and "Ming" seeking out other ...
"ventures" a new
group of paddlers was emerging.
During 1952 two youngsters, Peter Troy and Jon Myers, who both lived in Torquay, joined with an influx of cadets.
Both became fine junior competitors in swimming, R & R and board events, and by 1955 they began to excel in board competition.
Peter had been
riding waves on boards at Torquay from an early age.
His father Col ran the local news agency and after Peter had delivered the morning papers to the campers, he would head off for the beach.
By the age of twelve he was a most skilful wave rider, amazing the many spectators with his daring manoeuvres on his fourteen (14) foot, white painted board.
Jon competed in all club board and swimming races from 1954 to 1957 gaining places in a variety of handicap events.
During 1955-56 he and Peter shared many of the board race victories between them, with Peter winning the State novice board title and Jon gaining third place in the open title during that "Season".
In fact, during January 1956 Peter became the first person to beat Vic Tantau in a board race in four (4) years.
In 1956/57 Jon
aged twenty was elected club vice captain and when "China" Gilbert, club
captain at the time, was injured in a motor vehicle accident, he carried
out the duties as acting club captain; the youngest person to fulfil this
most responsible position in the club's history.
He resigned at the end of 1958 to pursue his business activities in the oil fields of New Guinea and in later years, Saudi Arabia.
Peter went on to win the State board title in 1961 and 1962 after having been placed second in 1958-59 and '60.
During his career he was selected in the State Team in 1960-1961-1962 and made the final of the Australian surfboard championhip in '56-60 and 61.
He won a number of club swim and belt titles including the long board title in 1958-1961 (equal 1st) and 1962.
From the middle 60s onwards Peter travelled the world competing in Malibu board riding competitions in France, South America, U.S.A. and Hawaii.
His name is synonymous with surfboard riding throughout Australia as a result of his surf movies and his involvement as Historian of the National Board Riders Association.
He was a driving factor behind the establishment of the surfing museum in the town of Torquay.
A wonderful ambassador indeed for his great love of the sport of surfing.
One of Torquay's finest exponents of both 16ft long boards and Malibu boards, Peter Troy.
State Long Board Champion, 1961,1962.
Club Long Board Champion,1958,1961, 1962.
Pioneered the introduction of Malibu board. Riding at Bells Beach, 1957.
... with a perfectly
flat sea between one and two metre green, rolling waves.
Aged 25 and in the peak of condition after a season of strenuous training, he took off like a rocket at the sound of the gun straight through a breaking wave which swamped most of the other hesitant competitors.
Paddling strongly in the flat sea he reached the first buoy more than fifty yards in turning the third buoy he increased his rating and cracked a beautiful green wave almost to the shore.
A most convincing win, reminiscent of many of Vic Tantau's victories.
He won the club board championship in 1960 after having been placed on a number of occasions.
the "Whip" for always straining to get the most out of his training sessions,
his catch call being "whip your body", was one of the four Knight boys
who joined the club in the '50s - Dick, Tony, Eddie and David.
Eddie was a most competent R & R man, following in his brother Tony's footsteps, who was an excellent all round surfer.
Tony competed in surf race, belt and board events as well as his many R & R feats, outlined in other pages.
He gained places in a number of board events, including club championships and was third in the State Title in 1958.
Torquay had many members during the 50s who rode the waves and were prepared to race these long boards, when their other major events permitted them, as well as a number of specialists who were always in there trying.
These included Alan Reid, Neal Inglis, Joe Sweeney, Bernie Main, Jack Barry, Des Couch, Ross Jenkins, Ray Pettigrove, John Hughes, Bill Waddell, Trevor Lobb, John Fay, John Ross, Eddie Hogan and Bruce Granger.
Ken Pollard seen here taking a
breaking wave to victory in the 1958 State Championships at Lome.
Victorian 16ft Long Board Champion, 1957-1958.
Club 16ft Long Board Champion, 1960.
The "Whip", however,
was a board specialist who excelled in the choppy conditions experienced
year after year at all venues.
He was short compared with many tall, long stroking paddlers of his era; but his pace off the beach and his strong short revving strokes won him innumerable board races, often on borrowed boards. The "Whip" was a "real character", who like his brother Tony seemed to be always attending some university course.
At one time he purchased a "one man boat" built by Bill Clymer and could be often seen cracking, or at least attempting to crack, the dumpers in the middle of the beach.
The boat had to be sold when "Whip" became strapped for cash (which seemed most of the time) to pay his university dues to finally finish his architectural course.
He later tried his hand at surf-boat sweeping at the Portsea Club, when he failed to break into the Torquay crews.
He won the State
Board Title in 1959 and 1960, both in wild choppy seas and was second in
1957 and 1961.
It was a period when Torquay members Pollard, Troy and "Whip" were placed first, second and third race after race.
He trained extremely hard on the Bay at Elwood during the summer, which resulted in him making the State Team to Mooloolaba Queensland in 1959.
He made the final of the Australian Board Championship that year and at Moana in 1961.
The State Centre introduced Malibu board races in 1961, in an endeavour to give the growing ranks of this popular board some competition.
Dick won the first State Title, though it was originally classified as a non-championship, in 1961 and then again in 1962.
His club championship wins included 1959, equal 1st 1961 and equal 1st in the Malibu 1961.
In 1956 an American
lifesaving team on their way to compete at Torquay beach for the Olympic
and International Carnival, stopped off at Sydney.
They had with them a number of boards which, though completely foreign to the locals, were similar in shape and size to the Duke's old board.
The Americans referred to these boards as "Malibus".
They were about 9ft. long, 22 inches wide, 3 inches thick and made from balsa wood covered with fibreglass.
Unlike the earlier solid boards, these Malibus had a large fin on the bottom near the back, which helped to keep the board stable, eliminating skidding on a wave and aiding their manoeuvrability once the wave was caught.
The Americans demonstrated their ability with these boards in exhibitions they gave at the Sydney beaches of Manly, Avalon and Bondi.
The dexterity and skill they showed in riding them amazed the Sydney club members and others, who had come to scoff at these "Yanks" "who wouldn't be able to teach us anything about board riding".
The locals were quick to copy these boards, which were destined to revolutionise surf board riding throughout Australia.
A new group of
young board men began emerging from about 1960 onwards, who became experts
in riding these Malibus whilst competing for the club on the 16ft board.01
Amoungst them were Terry Wall, Jeff Watt and Eddie Beacham.
Terry was skilled in all facets of surfing, winning the inaugural "Jim Wall Memorial Surfathon", named in memory of his father, in 1964 and again in 1965.
He won the State Malibu title in 1963 and the club long board title the same year.
Board relay teams were introduced in 1965, and the team of Terry, Jeff and Eddie won both long and short board State Titles in 1965 and the Malibu team of Doug Warbrick, Maurice Rayner and Bryan Hayden, won the title in 1966.
Jeff Watt was second to Terry in the State Malibu title in 1963.
Terry won the State Malibu Title again in 1964, with Jeff winning it in 1965.
Terry went on to win the Club long board title in 1964 and 1965 and the Malibu title in 1962 (equal with Ed Beacham), equal 1st with Jeff Watt in 1964, then first again in 1965 and 1966.
However, the dominance that Torquay paddlers had in the long board event from 1948 to 1962 was over.
Boards being displayed by American team during their visit in 1956 for international carnival at Torquay.
These three board
paddlers were the most successful trio in the club's history, winning the
State long board relay title in '74 and '75.
Stephen, Chris and Paul White in '73 and Peter, Stephen and Paul in '70 and '72.
The trio of Stephen, Peter and Chris won the State Malibu title in '71, '72, '73, '74 and '75 and bathed themselves in further glory when they won the Australian long board and Malibu teams championship in 1974 and 1975.
Peter stamped himself as Torquay's finest board paddler ever by winning the Australian Long Board Title in 1974 and 1975 and the senior Malibu Australian Title in 1974.
Ken Goulding was
a consistent competitor in the late 80s and into the 90s, winning the senior
Malibu State Title in 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994.
The fine all round competitor Brett Tyack won the same event in 1989 and 1992.
After the introduction of the "Malibu" in 1956; it took only a few years before the use of 16ft boards were strictly for competitive paddling.
From the late 60s the manufacture of the long board had changed dramatically.
No longer built with timber and ply, they were pressed from foam moulds then coated with fibreglass sheeting.
Shaped fins had been fitted on the timber hollow boards some vears before to make them more stable but these moulded boards had knee wells, foot controlled rudders and weighed about 25lbs. With the decline in their use, the long board was dropped from competition at the end of 1986. However, Malibu board racing still attracts many competitors.
Another very fine
long and Malibu board paddler, Wayne Bacon, won his first club championship
junior long board in 1976, the first of his many club board titles which
include club senior long board champion 1979 to 1983 (five), club senior
Malibu champion '79, '80, '81, '82, '83, '88, '89, '92, '93, '94 (ten).
Wayne has competed in board events for the past eighteen ...
... years, for
longer than any Torquay member and has been placed many times in State
long board Malibu races, plus board relay teams,
Torquay members have been most successful in long and'Malibu board teams events at Victorian and Australian Championships since their introduction during the 1964/65 Season as the following list indicates:-
Placings in Longboard
and Malibu Competitions.
The history of
the Torquay S.L.S.C. would be incomplete without a brief reference to the
involvement of club members in establishing the now world famous Bells
This beach, located approximately 6 kilometres due west of the clubhouse, gives one the feeling, when looking down from the surrounding cliff tops, that you are viewing a large amphitheatre.
The same feeling is also sustained when looking up at the encircling cliff face from the waters edge. The natural beauty of this beach, at any time of the day, has a wonderful magic secluded feel of its own.
The views from the cliff tops when the "Bells Boomers" are rolling majestically in from the Southern Ocean, is one of awesome power and beauty.
The glory of Bells.
Photo courtesy of Jack Finlay, Torquay Surf Museum.
... declaration in Australia, perhaps the world!! - and so the myths and conjectures add their allure to this "Mecca" of surfing.
It is not the writers intention to answer or add to these queries, other than to put the club members early involvement with Bells Beach to the reader, prior to its surge in popularity in the early '60's.
From 1905 up until
the 1939-45 Second World War, there is no record of any early Torquay surfer
going anywhere in the district to "bodyshoot" or board ride, other than
the front beach where the first lifesaving club was established or the
surf beach (where the present surf club is located).
The odd visit was made by the surf beach "daredevils or fools' depending on many a locals impression of the 1939's surfers to the back beach now known as Jan Juc.
At Jan Juc it was sometimes possible to catch a wave when conditions at the surf beach were dormant.
What's new - they could easily be looked upon as the original wave chasers!!
Peter Troy and Terry Wall prior to 'cracking a few' at Bells Beach, 1961.
The beaches right
along this area are quite spectacular with the waves at the various Points
located here, often rolling even and green.
Access to the great majority of these Points was impossible because of the sheerness of the cliffs. Even at low tide the rocks at the base of the cliffs and in the water made surfing there look fraught with danger.
These circumstances can still be viewed today.
Bells Beach, though for the initial years nobody really referred to it as ...
... such, just
as it is a fact that many of the Points and beaches in the area had gazetted
names which few knew about or cared, at least was approachable.
A rough track ran right down to the creek area near the beach itself.
It was then only a scramble down the dip, over the rocky tea tree strewn area and down onto the sandy beach.
This is the spot where the stairs are now built.
Having reached the beach many of the bike riders would furtively enter the water and crack the odd body wave near the shore, never out to sea, then look for crayfish around the rocks at the cliff face during low tide.
There was no mention or desire to drag a sixteen foot board or ski around here to ride for the surf at Torquay beach completely satisfied all of the "plank" men's needs; the riding and racing of the bikes, to them, were the day's thrills.
There was another
access to Bells other than using the old Cobb & Co dirt road, which
the bikies rejuvenated along the cliff top.
This Cobb & Co track turned inland from the cliff top before the dip into the creek bed around where the concrete wave is now located and meandered its way into the small Bellbrae township, then onto Anglesea.
There was a reasonably graded dirt track, (later gravelled) running off Anglesea Road right down to Point Addis.
During the war, this road had been prepared and maintained to enable the sighring of gun emplacements around the Headland at Addis in the event of an invasion by the Japanese.
Years before that, a track had run from the Anglesea Road through to a large red ochre mine located in the Iron Bark Gully.
This road then
extended down to where Southside Beach is located where it stopped for
some unknown reason.
It may have been built to gain access to the creek water for mining purposes.
It took quite a scramble to get from this road onto Bells Beach proper and was therefore infrequently used by the early (1957 onwards) surfboard riders.
The final approach to Bells was by obtaining permission from the farm qwners near the Anglesea Road, where tracks ran to their properties and then on down to the cliff tops.
Ian Seeley cracking a ripper at Bells Beach (circa 1970).
'Kit' Carson and Bryan Hayden surfing Bells, 1970.
Between 1952 and
1956 many young men from the bayside suburbs of Melbourne joined the club.
Quite a few had sporty M.G. cars, but there was no way that they were going
to take these low slung vehicles off the bitumen roaring around rough dirt
tracks in search of surf.
Most were "paying off" these expensive items and they were often short of the "readies" - thus any added outlay for repairs, or even extra petrol was an enormous strain on their resources.
Another deterrent to trying out ...
... the waves
at Bells, apart frqm the effort to get the monstrous long boards there,
was the fact that club members owned one board only.
They competed, trained and rode the Torquay surf on it, often for a minimum of three years per board and if they damaged this board in any way, they were left riderless until often elaborate repairs were effected.
of the short Malibu board to Sydney, then Torquay during the visit of the
Americans to compete at the International and Australian Championship Carnivals
at the Torquay beach, during November/December, 1956, revolutionised board
riding and board design from what was known previously.
This was not the first time that this type of board was seen on beaches in Sydney.
Hollywood actor, Peter Lawford, used one during 1954 whilst on location there during film making but for some unexplained reason, maybe the timing was too soon, no one seemed to care. Apparently from reports recorded at the time, he rode the board with equal flair and skill to that shown by the "Yanks" during 1956.
During their visit
to Torquay, the small surf and the limited time at their disposal did not
permit the Americans to display their board riding skills to any advantage.
However, their display on the Sydney beaches, like that of Duke Kahanamoku in 1915, set the locals on fire.
They sold the boards to surf club members on their departure and within a few weeks, copies were on sale in Sydney.
Once again the writer has no intention of getting into the debate of the manufacture, cost, materials used, or who rode the first Malibu regularly at Torquay beach or where the boards came from.
Suffice to say, Malibu boards began to appear at Torquay in small numbers during the 1957/58 season.
As in the past, it was only surf club members who used the boards - this of course was soon to change.
The Malibus were
definitely harder to paddle than the sixteen footers and it took a lot
more skilled effort to catch the slower, greener waves off the Point.
Many found it difficult to "crack" and hold the waves, coupled with the added hazard of skis and longboards flashing all around and often forcing them off the few waves they caught.
There was a definite feeling amongst the established "plank" men of the time that these new boards had their limitations, hardly worth the effort to learn to ride, and the "craze" would soon wear off anyway.
A number of the
Malibu owners and borrowers decided to seek a beach where the waves were
steeper giving a rider a greater certainty of catching them.
They also wanted less arduous paddles to the take off point, plus the added bonus of no interference from skis or longboards.
Bells Beach was remembered by Peter Troy, who had lived in Torquay most of his life and had gone there on a few occasions over the years, so he and his mates began to use the tracks and ways of getting to Bells, already outlined, at frequent intervals throughout 1958 and 1959.
The majority settled on the direct route from the club around the top of cliffs, with a reasonable walk at the end, where the road became difficult to negotiate through "the dip".
They found that
the Bells Beach waves were perfect in every respect for the short boards
and an added attraction was that the waves at Bells were often two or three
feet steeper than the Torquay Point.
By 1959, Bells Beach had grown steadily in popularity, to a far wider group of surfers other than strictly surf club members, as the allure of the surf to be regularly gained there began to spread.
In 1960, Joe Sweeney,
a champion surf swimmer, excellent long and short board rider and one of
the original riders at Bells, obtained permission from the Shire Engineer
of Barrabool Shire at the time, Ron Spence, to upgrade the old Cobb &
Co road and extend it further into the Bells area.
He hired Lance Altman, a local contractor, who used his grader to widen and consolidate the track through the dip over the other side where the concrete wave now stands and right down to where the car park is now.
The grader uprooted stones, grass tussocks and small trees fairly easily, and spread the rough red ...
... gravely soil
into an even track.
The work cost Joe £32 ($64) and with his mates Neal Inglis and Peter Troy he endeavoured to raise the money at a £1 a time from the first users of the new track.
It is still not sure if Joe raised the money, for surfers, particularly then, were always short of money and most had "death adders" in their pockets, or so it seemed.
The track certainly opened up Bells Beaeh rapidly to a wider range of board rider and their friends. Over the ensuing years with the elements creating steady erosion and increasing traffic, particularly during the winter months, causing large furrows, the track became quite an adventure to negotiate.
There is no doubt
that the 60s put Bells Beach firmly on the map as one of the finest surfing
beaches in the world.
During this time Torquay club members established a Board Riders Association, pioneered the use of wet suits, and set in place board riding competitions, whilst still maintaining their surf club commitments.
Terry Wall, Brian
Singer and Doug Warbrick set up the first surf shop in Torquay around 1968
and other surf shops began springing up at other beach locations.
Vic Tantau, previously an agent for Clymer boards from Sydney, began to manufacture boards, from his home at Moorabbin and "Doc" Hughes' old kiosk at Torquay and then from a factory in Chesterville Road, Moorabbin about 1959.
Vic and Peter Troy organised the first board rally held at Bells in 1961, and in 1963 the now world famous Bells Beach Easter Rally was held.
Torquay club members were successful in board riding competition against the many Interstate riders who were coming down from N.S.W. and Queensland to test out what they had heard about the "Bells Boomers".
Jeff Watt, Terry Wall, Colin, Jett Watt, Terry Wall, Colin McDonald, John Gudgeon, Doug Warbrick, Brian Singer, Pat Morgan and Rod Brooks in parricular, all featured at intervals in the early Victorian Board Riding Championships and Easter rallies.
In the veterans class Brian Lowden, Joe Sweeney and Alan Reid put on some fine performances. Peter Troy was the first club member to establish himself internationally, competing in England, France and South America, whilst on his world travels in the early 60s.
surf clubs began to drop away as the young bucks preferred chasing waves
around the coast, to patrolling beaches and club captains "Doc" Jones,
then Neal Inglis, had the irksome task of castigating and often suspending
members who took off for Bells when they should have been patrolling the
The Victorian State Centre were quicker than their interstate counterparts and introduced Malibu board paddling competition as early as 1961, in an endeavour to retain these board enthusiasts as club members.
By 1966, the initial craze had subsided a little and the animosity ...
... between surf club members and board riders began to ease, as they endeavoured to work more closely together.
For many years
now the Torquay township has been the hub of the surf board, wet suit,
sail board and clothing manufacturing industry in Australia.
Brian Singer, Doug Warbrick, Rod Brooks and Fred Pyke all went on to be a majorpart of this industry which has given employment to dozens of locals and brought millions of dollars into the Victorian economy.
The Bells Beach Easter Rally is a vital cog in the world professional board riding circuit and thousands of spectators throng to Bells to witness what has become the longest running board contest in the world.
Who could have visualised that from the desire of a few club members to seek out a beach to indulge their passion for uninterrupted board riding sessions, that all this would eventuate..
Early ad for "Singos" and "Claws" (Rip Curl) gear in club magazine, Nov., 1968.
History of Torquay Surf Life Saving Club :
the first fifty years, 1945-1995.
Torquay Surf Life Saving Club, Torquay, Victoria, 1996.