Page 1


California Heritage Museum // Curated by Nathan Pratt


The Santa Barbara surfers didn’t give Greenough a second thought.

They considered him to be a bit of an eccentric with his unique foam

Rincon, CA, 1968. // bernie baker

and fiberglass hulls with the different fin.

the f of

T h ey had n o i d e a that t h ey we re wi tne s s i ng

uture surfing





Presented by

Curated and written by Nathan Pratt

Exhibited at California Heritage Museum Santa Monica, California August 19, 2011 // April 22, 2012 Major Board Lenders Bird’s Board Shed Cohn Collection Hirchier Family Collection Surfing Heritage Foundation Lenders Charles Adler - Quiksilver Horizons West Archive Guy Okazaki James O’Mahoney - Santa Barbara Surfing Museum Kirk Putnam Allen Sarlo Mike Szeliga Photography Art Brewer Photography CR Stecyk III Steve Wilkings Photography David Darling Anthony Friedkin Leroy Grannis Collection, LLC Horizons West Archive Jim McGinley Z-BOY® Archive Steve Sakamoto Warren Bolster John Pennings Bernie Baker Sponsors Wells Fargo Copyland The City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs The LLWW Foundation The Fairfield County Foundation The Victorian/Calamigos Ranch Dawson Design And generous corporate, foundational and private individual donations. Book Design / Publishing The Fin Studio Jim McGinley // Creative Director Andrew Rice // Designer Justin McEdward // Project Manager Proudly printed in the United States on post-consumer waste paper in alliance with the Forest Stewardship Council. First Edition // 2011 2011 // California Heritage Museum/Nathan Pratt. All photos copyrighted to each listed photographer. SHORTBOARD REVOLUTION // ©Pratt Original Properties.



Logo // SHORTBOARD REVOLUTION // ©Dawson Design. TM

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner in any media, or transmitted by any means whatsoever either mechanical or digital without the prior written consent of the California Heritage Museum and Nathan Pratt.

opposite: Terry Fitzgerald and his quiver, 1974. // front cover: George Greenough holding the start of a revolution. // C.R. stecyk III back cover: John McClure 1984. // steve sakamoto courtesy of the Horizons West Archive

from the


The California Heritage Museum, originally built in 1894 by nationally renowned architect Sumner P. Hunt, opened its doors to the public in 1980. More than just a historic house, this registered Historic Landmark has become a California fine art, folk art, and decorative art museum. The facility offers a series of period rooms, changing exhibitions, a growing photographic archive and library, and a space for concerts and educational programs. Comprehensive and diverse exhibitions include Cowabunga – The Santa Monica Bay Surfing Experience, 1907 – 1967, Aloha Spirit – Hawaii’s Influence on the Southern California Lifestyle, Monterey Furniture, Saint & Sinners – Mexican Devotional Art, and Masks of the World among many others. Guest Curator: Nathan Pratt Installation Designer: Tobi Smith Exhibition Graphic Design: Dawson Design, Los Angeles Exhibition Associates: Cary Weiss, Mike Snow, Ken Reilly, Kevin Reilly, Loren Holland, Nora Kleiman, Sami Reilly and Pablo de la Rosa

// jim mcginley

The California Heritage Museum would like to acknowledge and thank, specific to the exhibition Shortboard RevolutionTM, the museum’s staff, lenders to the exhibition, guest curator Nathan Pratt, and corporate and foundation supporters with a special acknowledgment to Hurley ~ for its generous corporate sponsorship.

// warren bolster courtesy of Nathan Pratt.

// C.R. stecyk III courtesy of Z-BOY Archive.

from the

// jim mcginley

CURATOR SHORTBOARD REVOLUTION™ illustrates, through board and image, the evolution that created the modern surfboard and modern surfing as we know it. Bridging the period from the Gidget era “Malibu Chip” longboards of the 60s, to the superlight, high-flying surf/ skate performance boards of the 80s, this period saw surfing and surf design undergo radical change. It was a period of experimentation and innovation that allowed surfers to be limited only by their imagination in what could be done on a wave. Surfing went from fancyfootwork longboard-style, where the board was the stage, to the modern aerial surf/skate approach where the surfer, board and wave are one. Gathered here are examples from the eras of surfboard design from 1967 to 1984 for your enjoyment. You will note that most every surfboard here was made by a California company, made by a Californian or designed by a Californian. All designs, wherever they originated, had to come through the lens of California, the capital of the world’s surf industry, particularly during this period. While this is obviously a very limited offering, and I send my apologies in advance to all the great designers who aren’t represented, hopefully you will find a board or image that resonates with your personal experience. For those who have never felt the ultimate thrill of surfing, please take a few moments to experience this piece of California culture. Enjoy, // nathan pratt

limited only by their







Guns ‘69

line Possible/fish‘72

Anything Is

MiniGun Dick Brewer‘68 The







Anything Is

tear, lacerate‘76





Undertheinfluence‘75 A Better Mouse Trap‘80

The Thruster:

C.R. Stecyk III with his Dave Sweet mini-gun, 1969. // C.R. stecyk III

c h a n g i n g fast

t i m es w e r e c h a ng i n g . a n d t h e y w e r e

0pposite top left: Ed Farwell during the 1967 trip to Australia with an early Vee Bottom. 0pposite top right: A Greenough Stage III fin on a Keyo Vee Bottom 1967. photo strip: A juxtaposition of ‘67 Jacobs Lance Carson three stringer with a scoop tail Vee-Bottom. Note the two feet difference in length. Steve Wilkings said that every California surfer on the trip brought a Vee-bottom home. // steve wilkings George Greenough and his foam-and-fiberglass “Spoon” Velo, Santa Barbara, CA.

SBR67 84

// C.R. stecyk III



In 1965 Greenough started taking annual trips to Australia. Unlike California, the Australian surf community embraced Greenough’s radical carving surf approach and design concepts. “The first wave I saw Greenough ride, I had a mental picture of a guy standing on a short surfboard, doing swooping turns, pushing into the curl - all sort of slippery and unencumbered,” said Australian surfer/shaper Bob McTavish. After the 1965 world contest in Peru, 17 year-old finalist Nat Young joined the Greenough design school. A year later, at the age of 18, Young would abandon his 10’6” noserider and shape a board he named “Magic Sam”. At 9’ 4” long, 22” wide it was considered a short board for the 6’3” Young who had size 13 feet. But it was the Greenough-inspired thin profile, only 2 1/2” when most other boards were 3 1/2”, and the Greenough “Stage III” fin that really set it apart. Young took “Magic Sam” to San Diego in October 1966 for the World Championships and won in smashing fashion with the Greenough approach of “Total Involvement” surfing. The Stage III fin allowed Young to carve cutbacks and off-the-lips with ease. Times were changing. And they were changing fast.

Soon, a handful of Australian surfer/shapers, including Bob McTavish and Midget Farrelly, adopted Greenough’s design concepts and applied them to stand-up surfing. These boards, wide in the tail with deep “vee” bottoms, helped enable the beginnings of rail-to-rail surfing in the wave’s most critical sections. With the seeds firmly planted, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world caught on. In 1967, a group of California surfers, including master shaper Rennie Yater and Newport hot shot Ed Farwell, took a trip to Australia with upcoming photographer Steve Wilkings in tow. They brought their 10’ noseriders, but after trying the 8-foot Greenough-inspired boards, they were instantly converted. The young Californians brought the Greenough design concepts back to Southern California — the Mecca of the surfboard industry — and put a stake in the heart of the longboard era. It is ironic that George Greenough had to go to Australia to get his design concepts accepted by the surfboard industry, when he was right in their own backyard all along.

ss George Greenough’s personal board first


built in 1966 (it collapsed on a few occasions during its lifetime and had to be rebuilt, resulting in the current paint job that differs slightly from the original). The high aspect fin (taller than wide with a swept back tip) became the standard shape by 1968 and continues to this day. It is rumored that Velo is short for velocity. It is unclear what the “SS” means under Velo. Greenough is fond of auto terms (his surf matt is called a 4th Gear Flyer) so perhaps, it means Super Sport.



The Vee Bottom was the translation of Greenough’s kneeboard Velo into a stand up surfboard and the beginning of the Shortboard Revolution. Vee Bottoms are so named because the bottom of the board had a distinct “V” shape unlike the rounded flat bottoms of longboards. The Vee allowed the boards to turn rail to rail very quickly. They were also two feet shorter and an inch thinner than most longboards of the time. The Vee Bottoms most closely following the Greenough design school were stringerless so that the board would flex, loading up energy going in to a turn and then unload, springing out of a turn with increased velocity.

Manufacturer: George Greenough Model: Velo SS Shaper: George Greenough Designer: George Greenough Length: 5’ 2” Width: 20.5” Nose: 18.5” Tail: 18” Circa: 1966 Original VELO Board. Courtesy of: Hischier Family Collection

Manufacturer: Gordon & Smith Model: Vee Bottom Shaper: Midget Farrelly Length: 8’ 1” Width: 23” Nose: 18” Tail: 17” Circa: 1967 Early application of George Greenough design concepts into a stand up surfboard. Wide tail, very thin, stringerless blank for flexibility, vee bottom with high aspect flex fin. Hand drawn Greenough airplane on nose. Courtesy of: Kirk Putnan

Manufacturer: Jacobs Model: Mike Purpus V Shaper: Hap Jacobs Designer: Mike Purpus Length: 8’ Width: 23” Nose: 17.5” Tail: 18.25” Circa: 1967 - 68 Top Hermosa Beach competitor Mike Purpus model. Early Vee Bottom with tail wider than nose outline, wide scooped out tail and spray on non-slip “Slip check” deck with lace pattern. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Hobie Model: Corky Carroll Super-Mini Shaper: Mickey Munoz Designer: Corky Carroll Length: 7’ 8” Width: 22.5” Nose: 17.5” Tail: 19” Circa: 1968 Vee bottom with kick tail, wide point pulled back with tail width increased compared to nose. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

Manufacturer: Pyke Model: Vee Bottom Shaper: Wayne Lynch Designer: Wayne Lynch Length: 7’0” Width: 23” Nose: 18” Tail: 18.75” Circa: 1969 Stringerless with scooped deck foot well on tail, full vee bottom nose to tail. Super wide hips for radical turning. Ridden by Wayne Lynch in the movie Evolution. Courtesy of: Charles Adler, Quiksilver

Manufacturer: Yater Model: Vee Bottom Shaper: Rennie Yater Designer: Rennie Yater Length: 7’0” Width: 21” Nose: 16” Tail: 16.5” Circa: 1968/9 Vee bottom, semi-gun. Narrower nose and tail. Belly in nose with very deep vee in tail. Built for surfing at Rincon Point in Santa Barbara, CA. Courtesy of:

SBR67 84

tails In the summer of 1968, Weber teamrider and World Champion


Nat Young came to Malibu with a new board design that incorporated the Greenough fin and hull with a new outline template: the Roundtail. It was time of great turmoil within the surfboard industry. The major manufacturers; G&S, Hobie, Weber, Bing, Noll, Jacobs et al had been stocking all their dealers on the West and East Coasts with 9’6” noseriders for the last year. Thousands and thousands of bright and shiny noseriders with intricate stringer and resin work were on the racks. The noserider mastro David Nuuhiwa had won the 1967 Surfer Poll despite his loss to Nat Young in 1966. Then, the Vee bottom had come back to California in ‘67. By the spring of 1968, the industry faced a surplus of unwanted noseriders with cries for a new sensation. As Roger Doucette of Rod’s Surfboards,said, “We were dumping boards to all of our dealers back in Texas and the East Coast before they heard what was happening.” The large manufacturers threatened to pull their ads from Surfer Magazine if it didn’t hold back on pushing the new shorter boards. But it was too late. The surf-industrial-complex came to a grinding halt. Teenage surfers were chopping down boards in their backyards with abandon. Many of the large names tried to keep up with the changes. But, while a dozen major companies controlled most of the market in 1966, thirty months later they had been overwhelmed by a massive wave of smaller board builders who were changing board designs by the week. The old model of planning manufacturing six months in advance was dead. Dewey Weber was one of the major manufacturers who attempted to keep up with the revolution. He adopted the roundtail and came out with the Weber Ski. The new tail design eliminated the corners of the square tail allowing for a more fluid arc in the board’s turning radius. The Roundtail was an immediate hit in California and over the next eighteen months was refined and narrowed into a wide point forward, nose slightly wider-than-tail outline that was popular until the 1980’s.

Malibu 1968 was a time of change. Note the classic longboard with slab fin in the whitewash with a Greenough high-aspect fin just showing out of the whitewater to the right of it, while Dewey Weber carrys his board on his head with a “Hachett” fin of his own design. L to R; Angie Reno (back to camera) creator of the Bay Watch television show, Dewey Weber and Nat Young. // leroy grannis collection, LLC

far left: Greenough/Young protégé’ and all around wonder kid, Wayne Lynch, ripping a cutback. // john pennings left: Greg Liddle took the roundtail as the ultimate point break board in 1968 and has dedicated a lifetime to shaping and refining the design. Steve Krajewski with a Liddle “Eat More Possum” model, Malibu, CA 1975. // C.R. stecyk III

tails During the summer of 1968 the


Roundtail, with its new tail design, eliminated the corners of the square tail allowing for a more fluid arc in the board’s turning radius. The Roundtail was an immediate hit in California and over the next eighteen months was refined and narrowed into a wide point forward, nose slightly-wider-than-tail outline that was popular until the 1980’s.

Manufacturer: Harbour Model: Revolver Roundtail Shaper: Rich Harbour Designer: Rich Harbour Length: 7’ 6” Width: 21” Nose: 16.5” Tail: 15” Circa: 1968-69 Early round tail; abstract, multi-colored layup. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Morey, Pope & Company Model: The True Shaper: Richard Deese, Denise Ryder, Chuck Vincent or Mike Cundith Length: 6’ 10” Width: 21” Nose: 17.25” Tail: 15” Circa: 1968/9 Egg shaped board with rounded hull bottom, stringerless for flexibility. Hand-laminate color work on fiberglass cloth. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: California Company Shaper: Unknown Length: 7’ 1” Width: 22” Nose: 16.5” Tail: 14” Circa: 1969/70 Early round tail with narrower nose and tail and old-fashioned deck patch. Slight down rail in tail to 50/50 rails. Brushed resin teardrop with black pin. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Oceanside Surfboards Model: The Instrument Shaper: Rice Length: 6’8” Width: 22” Nose: 16” Tail: 14” Circa: 1969/70 Narrower round tail, 50/50 rails, textured deck, stringerless blank for flexibility, graphic typical of the era. Courtesy of: Hischier Family Collection

Dick Mini Gun / Brewer Dick Brewer had accidentally started the process of mini gun


development in the spring of ‘67 on the North Shore when David Nuuhiwa had broken a 9’10” gun that Brewer had made for him. Brewer reshaped the nose on it and ended up with a 7’ 8” with a gun pintail and a longboard nose. That concept would later become the Bing Lotus. Over on Maui, shaper Chris Green made Mickey Dora a very streamlined 10’2”. The Mickey board had the beginning of a tucked in nose and the narrow tail. Not all the way there, the Green/Dora gun was a beginning. But, it was with Dick Brewer that the Mini- gun came into its own in competition with the Greenough “Plastic Machines”. Brewer protégé’ Gerry Lopez tells of the winter of ‘67 when Dick Brewer moved to Maui and started Lahina Surf Designs. Gerry Lopez and Reno Abellira were his prime test pilots.

Mini-gun developer Dick Brewer with protégés Gerry Lopez and Reno Abellira. // david darling Mini-Guns en mass 1969. // art brewer

SBR67 84

“I think it was in late ‘67, “ Gerry Lopez recalled to Drew Kampion in Surfer’s Journal. “Brewer had just moved over to Maui from the North Shore and was shaping in Lahaina. Reno (Abellira) and I each took a blank over there to get our boards made by him. Reno got his shaped first, but before he could shape mine, Nat and Greenough and McTavish and Ted Spencer and a couple of other Aussies showed up with those wide-tailed, vee-bottom boards. They wanted to go ride ‘em at Honolua Bay, but there wasn’t any surf there. John Thurston had a surf shop (at the Cannery at Lahaina) where all the boards were glassed, and they came there, and we met them, and Brewer and McTavish kind of bullshitted for a long time. So the next day we go back to do my board - I think I wanted a 9’8”, which was considered a shorter board then - and Brewer just takes the saw and cuts a foot off the blank, and it’s 8’6” and he tells me. “That’s how big a board you’re getting...”.

Jo Jo Perrin full rail cutback. 1969. // art brewer

When the surf came up, it was the Greenough crew who dominated the session with foot-on-thetail carving. No more turn and go to the front. The Vee bottoms, which had been spinning out on the North Shore, worked perfectly on the smooth walls of Honolua Bay. This was constant motion as the Vee Bottoms were a good foot and a half shorter than the Miniguns. Surfer Magazine published an article on the sessions written by Australian John Witzig and the genie was out of the bottle. Brewer would go on to further refine the mini gun so that by the World Championships in Puerto Rico in year later, Reno Abellira would ride a superlight, 6’ 10” roundtail into the finals. The Mini-Gun would go to the extreme with the Barry Kaniapuni Red Rockets and the 15” wide Aipa ski, before settling back to the rideable Semi-Gun width range of 18”-20”. Brewer may have lost the battle at Honolua Bay, but he would win the war. The Semi-gun would go on to be the dominant surfboard design, in one form or another, for the next decade and the Brewer influence would spread worldwide through his protégé’s Reno Abellira, Owl Chapman, Terry Fitzgerald, Sam Hawk, Gerry Lopez and Mark Richards.



Mickey Dora, Malibu’s “Da Cat”, went to Maui in 1967, where he worked with Chris Green to design a futuristic pintail gun for that winter in Hawaii. The board incorporated knife rails and a high aspect fin even more raked that the Greenough fin of the day. To top it off, Mickey had it colored with a light lavender tint reverse lay-up, a very radical color choice for the time. It was a high speed, high performance machine for the powerful waves of Hawaii. This Da Cat model is considered a seminal Pintail for the Mini Gun revolution that Dick Brewer would start.

Manufacturer: Greg Noll Model: Mini Gun Shaper: Unknown Designer: Greg Noll Length: 8’ 4” Width: 22” Nose: 15.5” Tail: 10” Circa: 1968 Early mini-gun with wider nose and narrow tail. Reverse cut deck patch to provide strength on rails; multi- colored glue line. Courtesy of: Manufacturer: Chris Green Model: Da Cat Shaper: Chris Green Designer: Mickey Dora Circa: 1967 Personal rider of Mickey Dora. Built on Maui winter 67/68, this is considered the seminal board that inspired the Mini-Gun. Courtesy of: Hischier Family Collection

Manufacturer: Carl Ekstrom Model: Mini Gun Shaper: Carl Ekstrom Designer: Carl Ekstrom Length: 8’2” Width: 22” Nose: 16” Tail: 13” Circa: 1969 Last known surfboard made by San Diego’s Carl Ekstrom prior to his retirement. Wider tail for California waves. Personal board of Dickie Moon. Ekstrom has returned to limited edition re-issues recently. Courtesy of: James O’Mahoney Santa Barbara Surfing Museum

Manufacturer: Rick Surf Boards Model: Barry Kanaipuni Pintail Shaper: Barry Kanaipuni Designer: Barry Kanaipuni Length: 7’ 8” Width: 20” Nose: 14.75” Tail: 10” Circa: 1969 Mini Gun designed with a narrower nose and a narrower tail for more control at high speeds, thus suited for more radical surf techniques. Used at Sunset Beach, Hawaii. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Bing Surfboards Model: Slalom Hawaii Gun Shaper: Mike Eaton Designer: Dick Brewer Length: 8’ 3” Width: 19” Nose: 12” Tail: 13” Circa: 1969 Big wave Hawaii gun, contemporary outline, 50/50 rails, slight down rail on tail. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Weber Model: Ski Shaper: Harold Iggy Designer: Nat Young Length: 7’ 9” Width: 20” Nose: 12.5” Tail: 12” Circa: 1969 High performance gun, rolled bottom with heavy “belly” in nose, acid splash lamination. Stringerless with glue up only center line for flexibility. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Jacobs Model: Mini gun Shaper: unknown Length: 7’ 4” Width: 19” Nose: 14” Tail: 10.25” Circa: 1969 Smaller Mini-Gun with 50/50 rails going to slight down rails in tail with narrow side-slip fin. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

Manufacturer: Greg Noll Model: Aipa Ski Shaper: Ben Aipa Designer: Ben Aipa Length: 7’1” Width: 15” Nose: 10” Tail: 10” Circa: 1970 Narrowest production board known to be made. The ultimate extreme version of the Mini-Gun design. Lightweight glass job with textured deck. Courtesy of:

opposite: Jay Riddle pulling a 360’ 1969. // art brewer



Reno Abellira with a Dick Brewer hyper kick. 1969 Huntington contest. // art brewer

By 1969 the Brewer Mini Gun had evolved into Slide-Slip Guns and the surfboard industry had gone into a tail spin. Brewer left Bing in the winter of ‘67 and went underground on Maui setting up shop with Buddy Boy Keohe. There are varying stories as to the break-up of the world’s top shaper and Bing. It may have been a sign of the times and just the anti-establishment movement reaching into surfing. But in any event, it started a chain reaction of backyard shaping and brought down many of the giants of the longboard era. Company founders with names that had become household words: Noll, Bing, Hobie, Sweet, Weber, had all moved on to other ventures as the surfboard business had gone into the trashcan. Free love was one thing, but free surfboards didn’t pay the rent. Gone were the polished boards of the noseriding era. Now it was all about performance and reducing weight. As with any revolution, it has to be watered occasionally with the blood of the tyrant. It this case, many of the establishment companies were the ones to fall.

SBR67 84

As with any revolution it has to be watered occasionally with the blood of the



Side-slip boards had both narrow tails and narrow kick noses with down rails. This shape was paired with much smaller fins allowing for “side slipping”. This was the act of disengaging the fin by pressing on the tail at the top of the wave and sliding sideways to the bottom or in it’s ultimate form, sliding the board all the way around in a 360 degree rotation. This move was called a “360” and considered the most difficult maneuver of the day. Side-slipping was a way to pull off fun maneuvers on guns in the less than great surf that California most of the time. One of the most proficient surfers at this was a young Malibu surfer named Jay Riddle. When Nat Young came for his yearly visit to Malibu in 1969, it was Riddle who stole the spotlight, doing 360’s and literally surfing circles around Young. Side slipping was short-lived and soon faded away. The 360’ was saved as a contest trick and would not resurface in any major way until it came back in the surf/skate movement of the 1980’s.

Manufacturer: Yater Model: Down Rail Gun Shaper: Rennie Yater Designer: Rennie Yater Length: 7’6” Width: 18” Nose: 12” Tail: 11” Circa: 1969 Classic side slip, down rail, Rincon gun with textured deck. Bright color work very rare for Yater. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Inter Island Model: Hyper kick nose Shaper: Unknown Designer: Reno Abellana Length: 7’ 1” Width: 19” Nose: 14” Tail: 13” Circa: 1969 Down rails in tail going to up rails in nose. Experimental hyper kick nose never caught on with the mass market. Courtesy of: Bird’s Surf Shed

Manufacturer: Hansen Model: Gerry Lopez Shaper: Gerry Lopez Length: 7’ 4” Width: 20.5” Nose: 13.5” Tail: 13.5” Circa: 1969 High-performance hotdog board. Soft down rail in the tail to 50/50 nose. Normally ridden with small fins for slide-slipping, This design was used at the 1969 U.S. Championship competition, Huntington Beach California by Gerry Lopez. Courtesy of: Bird’s Surf Shed

Manufacturer: Chanin /Diffenderfer Model: Down Rail Gun Shaper: Mike Diffenderfer Designer: Mike Diffenderfer Length: 7’ 4” Width: 18.5” Nose: 11” Tail: 11” Circa: 1970 Extreme down railer with detailed pin work. 3/4 length deck patch. Courtesy of: Bird’s Surf Shed

Manufacturer: Jacobs Model: Side-slip gun Shaper: unknown Length: 7’ 4” Width: 18” Nose: 11.25” Tail: 11” Circa: 1969-70 Down rails 3/4 of the way to soft rails in the nose, small fins, hand-taped pin lines, transparent tint top and bottom. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

SBR67 84

Bunker Spreckles on a super short knee/stand board. // art brewer

Shorts The Greenough school of design continued to flourish in


Australia with surfers riding smaller and smaller wide boards called “pigs” or “slabs” until they were in the 5’6” range. A series of movies; Hot Generation, Fantastic Plastic Machine, Evolution and Innermost Limits of Pure Fun rocked the surf establishment and caused a frenzy to go super short. At the 1970 World Championships in Australia, 16-year old Californian Rolf Aurness used a 6’10” Bing Foil semi gun to defeat Nat Young in large pounding surf. The 6’3” Young struggled with his super short stubby board. To get more holding power, Young globbed resin on his rails to get an edge. But, the “mini boards” that Nat Young and Australian wonder kid Wayne Lynch rode were just too small. What worked great in head high surf could not be applied to double or triple overhead surf. As Nat Young said “Rolf was going twice as fast as we were. And covering twice the ground.”. Interestingly enough, Rolf Aurness himself would go super short upon his return with his Bing twin fins and then abruptly disappear from the limelight. He would be spotted leaving the water at Zuma Beach at dawn on occasion after that and then he totally withdrew to places North. On the opposite end of the super short discussion was the 1970 U.S. Championships at Huntington Beach. In 4’-5’ waves, David Nuuhiwa rode a very short downrailer to defeat Corky Carrol in the Men’s division and Donald Takayama ripped like a junior to take the Masters division. But it was in the Junior’s division itself that the future of surfing was being written. There were three juniors in the finals that were worth noting. Larry Bertlemann and Michael Ho from Hawaii and Barry Amos from Los Angeles. The action was hot with Michael Ho blasting backside off the lips, Larry Bertlemann ripping left right and center. But it was Barry Amos surfing with a combination of Wayne Lynch radical and David Nuuhiwa catlike grace on his self made “Australian Design” pig who took the day, defeating the young Hawaiians. A backyard surfer/shaper winning the most important contest in California was a nightmare to what was left of the surf establishment. Bertlemann and Ho would go on to become all time greats. Amos was not allowed to enter the contest the following year because he “did not qualify”, an unheard of position at a time when prior winners were regularly placed directly into the quarter-finals. Like industry titans Greg Noll, Hobie Alter, Dave Sweet, Dewey Weber and Hap Jacobs, Amos would disappear from the limelight.

shorts The Greenough-inspired Super shorts took


the stand up board to its shortest extreme. The Newport Paipo Shoe, at 5’2” was the shortest production stand/knee board of the era. The popularity of the Super Shorts was two-fold. One, it was a testament to the impact of the surfing of Nat Young and Wayne Lynch and second, the boards worked really good in the typical small surf that the majority of surfers ride on a daily basis. Like any trend, it went to the extreme before settling back. But, Super Shorts would resurface again and again in different forms over the years. They were made in single, twin and tri fin configurations.

Manufacturer: Hansen Model: Stratoglas Shaper: Unknown Length: 5’ 2” Width: 20.5” Nose: 16” Tail: 17” Circa: 1970 Early twin-fin board for small wave surfing on the East and West coasts; made in California; hollow board with foam sandwich construction. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

Manufacturer: Hobie Model: Positive Force Twin Fin Shaper: Mickey Munoz Designer: Corky Caroll Length: 6’2” Width: 20.5” Nose: 13.5” Tail: 16.5” Circa: 1970

Manufacturer: Mike Thorton Model: Fish Shaper: Mike Thorton Designer: Steve Lis Length: 5’ 8” Width: 20” Nose: 18.25” Tail: 14.5” Circa: 1969

Early twin-fin, note fins pushed all the way back on to the tail; pinched down rails, diamond tail, vee bottom starting in nose and getting deeper in tail.

Oldest known example of a “Fish”. Stand/knee board with hyper-sharp edge rails. Courtesy of: Birds Surf Shed

Courtesy of: Hischier Family Collection

Manufacturer: Newport Paipo Model: The Shoe Shaper: Unknown Length: 5’ 2” Width: 21” Nose: 18.75” Tail: 18” Circa: 1969 Hybrid knee and stand up board. Hard down rails; thick nose and tail with dished out deck in center. Courtesy of: Birds Surf Shed

Manufacturer: Rick Surfboards Model: Super short Shaper: Phil Becker Length: 5’8” Width: 20.5” Nose: 14” Tail: 16” Circa: 1969-1970 Small wave hotdog board with down rails, flat bottom with vee in the tail. The tail is significantly wider than the nose. Greenough-style fin. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Surfboards Australia Model: Kanga-Roo Shaper: Unknown Designer: Unknown Length: 5’8” Width: 21” Nose: 17” Tail: 17” Circa: 1970 Early tri-fin with small removable side fins to decrease turning radius. This template is almost identical to original Greenough Velo board. Courtesy of: Kirk Putnam

SBR67 84

Mike Hynson Rainbow boards with David Nuuhiwa and John Gail. 1971 Laguna Canyon. //

railers In the movie The Coming of the Dawn, George


Greenough introduced in-the-tube photography. Riding with a 16mm camera strapped to his back, the wave would pitch over him and he would be in the womb looking out, an oval of rushing water with just an open eye to look out. “My basic rig was a Kodak K-100 with the widest lens I could get that would still fill the entire screen,” Greenough said in The Surfer’s Journal. “I wasn’t interested in losing the corners for the sake of a little wider coverage in the image. I was surfing with 28 pounds of gear on my back, so it really effected what it felt like to surf.”

Bunker Spreckles with the self-designed Edge board with full down rails. 1969. // art brewer

George Greenough’s tube visions were picked up by the psychedelic era at the end of the ‘60’s as Pink Floyd showed the movie at their concerts. Spinning views from the vortex, the Greenough perspective was one that surfers craved and would drive surfboard design in the ‘70’s. The innovation that would allow stand-up surfers to get as deep in the tube as Greenough was the downrail. Popularized by Mike Hyson as a variation on the Bunker Speckles “Edge” boards, the down rail took surfing to the next level. As Herbie Fletcher recalls, “Hynson moved in right next door to us and he had a shaping room so he was making lots of boards and experimenting a lot. He was sort of the same size I am and same style and he had money and he would make all kinds of surfboards and experiment with them and I was right there getting all the advantages of it and I felt really privileged to be… Hynson was the guru. The Maharishi as he was called.”

railers Downrails allowed for very fast, flat


bottoms and much higher speed surfing. The sharp rail would bite and hold in extremely hollow waves, allowing surfers to make the most vertical take-offs and pull into the steepest tubes. Gerry Lopez used the downrail on the Brewer gun design to become the King of Pipeline with a cool bullfighter’s demeanor in the pit. The downrail in some form has been the standard ever since.

Manufacturer: Chuck Dent Model: Billy Hamilton Ace Shaper: Billy Hamilton Designer: Billy Hamilton Length: 6’ 6” Width: 21” Nose: 14.5” Tail: 14” Circa: 1970 California hotdog board. Logo design reflects the spirit of the moment. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Con Model: Butterfly Shaper: unknown Pin Line Work: Laura Powers Length: 6’ 6” Width: 22” Nose: 16.5” Tail: 14” Circa: 1969-1970 Typical California Beachbreak Board. “S” deck, down rails in tail to up rails and nose. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Hynson Model: Rainbow Shaper: Mike Hynson Airbrush: Unknown Length: 6’ 9” Width: 20” Nose: 13” Tail: 13” Circa: 1971 Early down-railer board with low rails from nose to tail; San Diego board with Eastern inspired airbrush design . Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: M.T.B. Shaper: Donald Takayama Designer: Donald Takayama Length: 6’ 1” Width: 21” Nose: 16” Tail: 14” Circa: 1970 New Typical California roundtail with very detailed hand-taped pin work and resin tinting. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Steve Walden Model: Round pin Shaper: Steve Walden Length: 6’ 1” Width: 20” Nose: 14.75” Tail: 13.5” Circa: 1970-71 Airbrush copied from the Rick Griffin design for the movie poster Pacific Vibrations. Invented in 1970, the Fins Unlimited box became industry standard allowing for moving fin position. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Jeff Ho/Zephyr Model: Skipper Boy Shaper: Jeff Ho Airbrush: Craig Stecyk Length: 7’8” Width: 20” Nose: 13” Tail: 12” Circa: 1971 Detailed cloud airbrushing by Craig Stecyk; with Hollywood movie stars in tail area, the all knowing eye pyramid, and Navajo icon by the nose. Chime rails with dome deck, flat bottom, slight vee tail. Courtesy of: Skip Engblom

“ ev o l u t i o n i s a n a t u r a l c h a n g e . a n

Gerry Lopez putting the downrail to good use. Pipeline 1971. //

tagline for the movie evolution, 1969 // a film by paul witzig



The early ‘70s were a time of rebirth as the best surfers and shapers in the world gathered in San Diego for the 1972 World Championships. The crash of the late ‘60s had taken the major companies down as backyard shapers and small shops took over as the majority. Every time a major manufacturer faded, it would spawn numerous new smaller companies as the shapers and designers went solo. The shapers were now in charge and the variety of design that came from this time was considerable. The design that came to the fore at the World Contest was the Fish, a short, stubby, flat bottom downrailer with a wide split tail and twin keel fins designed by Steve Lis. This was the shortboard version of the “dual fin” that originated with Bob Simmons back in the 1940s and ‘50s and was brought back by Barry “Bear” Mirandon at La Jolla Surfboards in 1967 who developed and marketed the split-tailed, two-finned Twin-Pin Model. Mirandon’s board sold poorly, but led almost directly to the development of the Steve Lis-designed ‘Fish’. The World Contest was fraught with controversy when David Nuuhiwa, considered the man to beat, had his favorite board hung off the Oceanside Pier, broken in two, with the words “Good Luck Dave” painted on it. Nuuhiwa, from Huntington Beach, had adopted La Jolla’s Steve Lis’ fish design and the locals were none too happy about it. But the phenomenal speed and flow of the Fish in small surf was self evident as Nuuhiwa came runner-up to Jimmy Blears of Hawaii, both riding the Fish design.

The fish was originally a kneeboard design and was later adapted to standup boards. Rex Huffman, Big Rock-La Jolla. //

Possible /Bertlemann The most important development of the 1972 World


Contest in San Diego was what Ben Aipa had brought to California from Hawaii. And it wasn’t a surfboard. Aipa had shaped the board ridden by 1968 World Champ Fred Hemmings in Puerto Rico and was considered second only to Dick Brewer in Hawaii. He came to the 1972 World Contest with a new version of the split tail that he called the Swallowtail. It was a wide tail that had a sharp “V” cut into it resulting in twin points like the tail of a Swallow. The interior edges of the tail held firm while the twin points sunk deep into radical turns. Aipa paired that tail with a narrow nose, pulled back hips and series of small straight-backed fins so that the whole rear of the board looked like a jet fighter with straight edges in all directions. After the contest Aipa came up to Los Angeles and started making Swallowtails with Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom at Zephyr Surfboards in Santa Monica. Underneath the Zephyr logo was a small “Ben Aipa Design”. But, there was another label that was also silkscreened up. On this one under the Zephyr name it said “Larry Bertlemann Model”. Larry Bertlemann was a 16-year old with no front teeth in the Summer of 1972. He had not placed well in the World Contest. But he rode Aipa’s new swallowtail design with a radical low- slung style that was so fast he made the other surfers look like they were standing still. His cutback in particular was so phenomenal that Bud Browne, the Godfather of surf films, set up a surf-off with the California king of the cutback, Mike Purpus.

above: Larry Bertlemann with the Aipa Swallowtail 1973. opposite: Larry Bertleman carving a classic “Bert” cutback. 1975

SBR67 84

// steve wilkings

Brown filmed Bertlemann and Purpus at the outer California Street break Stables, in Ventura, about an hour North of Los Angeles. The waves were small, only shoulder high or so, but Bertlemann put on a performance that was breathtaking. “He was going so fast and so radical and his cutbacks were unbelievable,” said 4A surfer Craig Koslowski, who had gone up with Purpus that day. Bud Browne would show that footage in his spring 1973 movie Goin’ Surfing and the whole surf world would go Bertlemann crazy with his “Anything is Possible” motto for the next three years.

possible The early ‘70s was a time when numerous designs

Anything is

were being put to use similtaneously. Roundtail Eggs were still surfed in San Diego. The Fish was the most popular twin fin. W.A.V.E. Hollow tried to introduce molded honey comb sandwich construction and Semi-guns were everywhere in one form or another. One interesting design in the mix was the Bonzer by the Campbell brothers in Oxnard. It incorporated a deep double-barrel concave with long low triangular keel fins on the sides and a traditional fin in the center. The concaves created amazing speed and the side keel fins gave excellent holding power. This tri-fin set up was brought into the mass market in 1973 by Bing Surfboards as a way to co-op the backyard shapers that were threatening the majors. Ian Cairns rode to victory on a Bonzer at the 1973 Smirnoff in Hawaii and Peter Townend likewise defeated top Australian Michael Peterson on a Bonzer to win the 1974 Newcastle Open. But Bing sold out to G&S Surfboards in 1974 and the Campbell brothers took their design back to the underground.

Manufacturer: Dick Brewer Model: Semi-Gun Shaper: Dick Brewer Designer: Dick Brewer Length: 7’ 5” Width: 19” Nose: 13” Tail: 11” Circa: 1973 Flat deck, boxy rails, narrow nose and tail. These Dick Brewer design features were the universal standards of the era. Courtesy of: Bird’s Surf Shed

Manufacturer: Surfboards Hawaii Model: Swallowtail Shaper: Ben Aipa Designer: Ben Aipa Length: 6’10” Width: 19.5” Nose: 14” Tail: 13” Circa: 1972 Early example of a modern swallowtail brought to California for the 1972 world contest. The double pin tail allowed for radical high speed directional changes. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: The Family Model: Pipeline Pintail Shaper: Guy Okazaki Fiberglass and Pinline: Doug Marshall Circa: 1975 Inspired by Dick Brewer pintails; ridden by Guy Okazaki at Pipeline 1975. Courtesy of: Guy Okazaki

Manufacturer: Liddle Model: Malibu Chip Shaper: Greg Liddle Designer: Greg Liddle Length: 7’ 3” Width: 22.25” Nose: 19” Tail: 15” Circa: 1971 Inspired by Nat Young’s 1968 Keyo round tail, ridden in Malibu that summer. Rounded hull bottom with pinched rails used almost exclusively at point breaks. Courtesy of: Kirk Putnam

Manufacturer: W.A.V.E. Hollow Model: Round Pin Semi-gun Designer: Bill “Blinky” Hubina Length: 6’ 5” Width: 20.5” Nose: 14” Tail: 14” Circa: 1972 Karl Pope attempt at changing surfboard construction technology using honeycomb sandwich skins with hollow core. W.A.V.E. Hollow went out of business within 36 months. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

Manufacturer: Bing Surfboards Model: Bonzer Shaper: Mike Eaton Designer: Campbell Brothers Length: 6’ 10” Width: 19” Nose: 13” Tail: 13” Circa: 1978 Side keel fins with double barrel concaves created “venturi effect” forcing water to exit the tail faster than it entered creating thrust. Developed for the powerful waves of Oxnard, CA. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

Manufacturer: Bruce Jones Model: California Gun Shaper: Bruce Jones Designer: Bruce Jones Circa: 1974 Hollow chamber balsa wood construction. Personal board of Bruce Jones, hand drawn decal designed by Jones’ girlfriend, championship surfer Jerrico Poppler. Wide-base Brewer Fin. Courtesy of:

SBR67 84



About a year before the surf world saw the future on the big screen, Ben Aipa and Larry Bertlemann paid a visit to the Zephyr Surf Shop in Santa Monica. They asked for the brightest trunks in the store and showed the local kids images of a new type of surfing going down on the South Shore of Oahu. This was total involvement taken to its logical conclusion and Bertlemann’s full-rail, E-brake cutbacks defied the imagination. The only way kids like Nathan Pratt, Jay Adams, Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva could even begin to emulate Bert’s radical approach was on concrete. Which, of course, started a revolution of its own when the skate team known as the “Z Boys” took their talents to center stage.

opposite: Paul Constantineau 1976 above left: Nathan Pratt 1974 below left: Jay Adams 1976 below right: Shogo Kubo 1977 // all photos C.R. stecyk III courtesy of Z-BOY Archive.

The Z-Boys, 1975. standing l to r: Shogo Kubo, Bob Biniak, Nathan Pratt, Stacy Peralta, Jim Muir, Allen Sarlo, Chris Cahill, Tony Alva. seated l to r: Wentzle Ruml, Peggy Oki, Jay Adams, Paul Constantineau

Stingers &suchthings The next big change to surfboard design


was the introduction of “wings” that were popularized by Dick Brewer and protégé Terry Fitzgerald in 1974. Originally Wings were an add-on to the main shape of the board and were located on the rail up from the bottom of the board. Wings evolved into a template change in the tail that added pivot points to the boards usually in the rear 12” - 18” of the board. Wings also allowed for reduction in tail area. The board could be wider while the tail stayed narrower. Ben Aipa introduced the Stinger, a design with large wings located approximately 24” up from the tail that was a super maneuverable hotdog board. Wings ended up getting softened over the years and became a common component of the modern surfboard. Modern Channel bottoms were another design that came back into popularity in the last ‘70’s due to the surfing and shaping of Col Smith. Channels had been around in various forms for many years. Mickey Dora had his famous “speed slots” on the Da Cat model. The sharp edged channels added lift and thrust and were popular with such surfers as World Champions Tom Carroll and Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew at the time. Channels faded away in popularity over the years.

Manufacturer: Windansea Shaper: Steve Lis Airbrush and Fiberglass: Joe Roper Length: 5’10” Width: 21” Nose: 16” Tail: 16” Circa: 1975 Steve Lis created the “Fish” in 1969 in La Jolla, CA. High speed, small wave board with double foil fins. Courtesy of: Bird’s Surf Shed

Manufacturer: Horizons West Model: California Gun Shaper: Nathan Pratt Artist: James Mathers Length: 6’ 11” Width: 19” Nose: 12” Tail: 12” Circa: 1983 Art board with hand-painted “Gecko” by James Mathers Courtesy of: Mike Szeligá

Manufacturer: Con Model: Wave Killer Shaper: Unknown Designer: Allen Sarlo Length: 6’ 0” Width: 21.5” Nose: 13” Tail: 16” Circa: 1978

Manufacturer: AIPA/Surfing’s New Image Model: Stinger Shaper: Hamon Designer: Ben Aipa Length: 6’7” Width: 20” Nose: 14” Tail: 12” Circa: 1975

Represents the showy bravado of the era and depicts the ego-driven attitude of young surfers. Images of a dollar sign, a perfect wave, and a half-naked girl on the bottom of the board symbolize the three most important things in a surfer’s life.

This design was ridden by Larry Bertlemann, the leading surfer in the world in 1972-74. This super maneuverable board has the pivot point moved forward due to large “stinger” wings and a swallowtail design. Courtesy of:

Courtesy of: Allen Sarlo

Manufacturer: Infinity Model: Winger Pin Shaper: Steve Bohme Airbrush: Timothy Length: 6’ 11” Width: 19.5” Nose: 12.5” Tail: 12.5” Circa: 1979 California gun with photorealistic airbrush design made for riding larger surf. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Horizons West Model: Round pin winger Shaper: Nathan Pratt Airbrush: Nathan Pratt Length: 6’ 9” Width: 20” Nose: 13” Tail: 11” Circa: 1978 California semi-gun with beak nose, flat bottom at nose to slight concave center to vee in tail. Airbrush typical of Santa Monica. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Caster Model: Col Smith Channel Bottom Shaper: Bill Caster Designer: Col Smith Length: 6’ 2” Width: 20.5” Nose: 13” Tail: 14.5” Circa: 1979 Col Smith invented the modern channel bottom. The channels give the board bite when turning and lift in the flats. Difficult to shape, the deep channels fell out of favor. Courtesy of: Bird’s Surf Shed

Manufacturer: Channel Islands Model: Merrick Tri-Plane Hull Shaper: Al Merrick Airbrush: Jack Meyers Length: 5’ 7” Width: 19” Nose: 13” Tail: 14.5” Circa: 1979 Double Winger board with softer channels. Bubble motif with New Wave colors. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Unknown Model: Ocean Pacific “Wallhanger” Airbrush: Jack Meyers Length: 6’ 2” Width: 19” Nose: 14.5” Tail: 12” Circa: 1977-78 Originally used for department store display to promote the brand OP (Ocean Pacific). Jack Meyers was noted for his dolphin designs and was one of the few artists who were allowed to sign his work, rather than remain anonymous as most airbrushers did. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection


tear,lacerate The winter of ‘75-’76 was another moment of change. Larry Bertlemann had been dominating the conversation for the previous two years culminating with a victory at the Duke contest in Hawaii in 1974. His “Anything is Possible” attitude had filtered down to the next generation of surfers and they were coming of age. They knew no boundaries and accepted no limits. At the annual gathering of the world’s best surfers on the North Shore that year, this next generation, lead by Shaun and Michael Tomson, Wayne Bartholomew, Mark Warren, Peter Townend, Ian Cairns and Mark Richards, was blessed with perfect Pipeline for two weeks at Christmas. The entire crew was riding classic Lightning Bolt Semi-gun shapes, mostly by Brewer cohort Tom Parrish.

above: 1976 World Champ and former U.S. National Surf Team Coach Peter Townend. right: Four-time World Champion, Mark Richard’s with his modern Twin fin.

SBR67 84


Every day was flawless surf and the whole crew was mounting a backside attack significantly more radical than ever seen before, greatly surpassing the Sam Hawk and Owl Chapman lines of the previous years. Michael Tomson had the most important single wave of the winter. Tomson pulled in backside to the tube, disappeared from view across the beach and cleanly exited at the channel. It was the kind of super deep tube ride that had only been done by the frontsiders. It opened everyone’s eyes as to what kind of tube riding could be done backside. But overall it was Shaun Tomson who shook the establishment with a “banana” rockered gun. The extra rocker allowed Tomson to turn vertical up onto the wall and then snap back down again under the lip and into the tube. Never had such a large crew gone with wild abandon against the power of the North Shore. Bertlemann was an army of one, this was a rampaging Mongol Horde.

“ They knew no boundaries and accepted no

above: 1978 World Champion Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew was an avid rider of channel bottoms. middle: 1977 World Champion Shaun Tomson, now residing in Santa Barbara, redefined tube riding starting in 1976. bottom: Ian Cairns, former U.S. National Surf Team coach doing his trademark “snapback” circa 1975. // steve wilkings



The following spring, Dick Brewer protégé’ Reno Abellira, was in Australia at the ‘76 Stubbies contest riding a Lis-style fish when the speed of his surfing caught the attention of top competitor Mark Richards. At 6’3”, Richards had been looking for a board design that would help him against the lighter competitors in smaller surf. That next winter in Hawaii, Richards worked with master shaper Dick Brewer to make him a new kind of streamlined twin-fin. It featured a very flat bottom with hard rails and a relatively deep vee in the tail. The outline shape was a widened Semi-Gun with a winger swallowtail. The resultant board shook the surfing world with its speed and maneuverability. While Tomson was weaving his way through tubes with Greenough like precision, Richards lead the group of competitors that built upon the radical Larry Bertlemann approach. Richards ripped his way to four world titles and brought the twin-fin to prominence.

Manufacturer: Gordon and Smith Model: Mark Richards Shaper: R. Prodanovich Designer: Mark Richards Length: 6’4” Width: 21” Nose: 14” Tail: 15” Circa: 1979 Copy of an original Dick Brewer/ Mark Richards board that started the contemporary twin-fin movement. Mark Richards rode this design to four world championships, 1979-1982. Courtesy of: Hischier Family Collection

Manufacturer: Wave Tools Model: Hollow Shaper: Lance Collins Designer: Lance Collins Length: 5’ 9” Width: 21” Nose: 14” Tail: 16” Circa: 1983 New Wave board with mixed graphics; wide tail with kick. Designed for Newport Beach breaks. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Pro Surf Designs Shaper: Donald Takayama Designer: Larry Bertlemann Length: 5’10” Width: 19” Nose: 13” Tail: 15” Circa: 1978

Manufacturer: Horizons West Shaper: Nathan Pratt Length: 5’ 11” Width: 19” Nose: 12” Tail: 15” Circa: 1983

Soft swallow tail twin with trademark “Pepsi” stripe coloring.

Explosive and pig & crossbones graphics by Craig Stecyk. Double winger swallow, a design used in the beginning of aerial surfing. This type of board was used by John McClure and Jay Adams in Santa Monica.

Courtesy of:

Courtesy of: Horizons West Archive

SBR67 84

A Better Mouse Trap

The Thruster:

At the end of the 1970s, Pro surfer/shaper Simon Anderson was suffering at the hands of Mark Richards and the twin fin. Like the majority of surfers at the time, he could not successfully ride the slippery twin fin. But, single fins were so much slower than the twins in smaller surf that Richards was winning world titles, year after year. Attempts were made to combine wide tails with narrow noses (Greenough tail with Brewer nose) in a single fin, but the boards did not have enough drive. Some tried adding small center fins to Twins in order to get a board that was manageable and not too squirrely. A large center with small side fins had been tried in the past to keep a wide tail under control, but without any particular success. It was Anderson who put together three medium sized Greenough style fins with the wide rounded square Greenough tail, the narrow Brewer nose and the Hyson down rails to create what he called the “Thruster” in 1980. This design was the best of all worlds as the boards were fast, accelerated out of turns with its trademark “Thrust” and held firm in even the most radical manuever. He took his new design out in early 1981 and got a total of three orders at the Surf Expo in Florida. No one saw the need or potential for this new design. Undeterred, Anderson went into the Australian leg of the Pro Tour in early 1981 and won two of the three events. After a slow start in the first event, he devastated the competition in fifteen-foot Bells Beach. He backed that up with another win three weeks later at the Surfabout contest in solid five-foot surf. Anderson spent the rest of year shaping boards, then went back to Hawaii that winter and won the Pipeline Masters on his Thruster design. Within thirty months the Tri-fin accounted for over 90% of the surfboards being made in the world.

Tom Curren rode Al Merrick tri-fins to three World Championships, 1984. //

opposite: Simon Anderson with his three fin Thruster design. Trestles, CA 1980. //

Fins After the stunning success of Simon Anderson on his three fin


Thruster at Bells and the Pipe Masters the year prior, the whole surf industry started making Tri-fins in 1982. Tri-fins were very user friendly, in that they made almost any shape of board ride better. At first, tri fins had fairly wide tails, but over the next twenty-four months Al Merrick in Santa Barbara would refine the Tri-fin in conjunction with surfer Tom Curren to create what has become the proto typical Tri-fin board. Currren rode this design to World Championships in 1985,1986 and 1990. Al Merrick tri-fins are the single most popular surfboard in the world today.

Manufacturer: Channel Islands Model: Curren/Merrick Shaper: Al Merrick Designer: Tom Curren Length: 6’ 3” Width: 19” Nose: 12” Tail: 14” Circa: 1983

Manufacturer: Nectar Surfboards Model: Thruster Shaper: Simon Anderson Designer: Simon Anderson Length: 8’5” Width: 21” Nose: 12” Tail: 15” Circa: 1982 Simon Anderson’s personal Hawaii gun. The Thruster melded the wider Greenough tail with the Brewer gun nose and three even sized fins resulting in the current standard board. Courtesy of: Hischier Family Collection

Personal board of three time world champion Tom Curren of Santa Barbara. This design by Al Merrick became the industry standard beginning in 1983. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

Manufacturer: Horizons West Model: Winger Swallow Tri-fin Shaper: Nathan Pratt Artist: James Mathers Length: 6’ 2” Width: 19” Nose: 10.5” Tail: 15.5” Circa: 1983 Art board with hand-painted “Ant” by James Mathers Courtesy of: Mike Szeligá

Manufacturer: Caster Model: Caster Tri Fin Shaper: Gary Goodman Designer: Bill Caster Length: 5’ 7” Width: 20.5” Nose: 14” Tail: 15” Circa: Early 1982 The tri-fin sticker was used during the transition period from the single-fin to the tri-fin. The stickers vanished by 1984 because the tri-fin had become the dominant design. Wider shape made for San Diego waves. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Rusty Shaper: Rusty Preisendorfer Designer: Rusty Preisendorfer Length: 5’ 6” Width: 19” Nose: 12” Tail: 14.5” Circa: 1983 Punk/Rasta/New Wave inspired graphics. Flat deck, slight beak nose, vee tail. Design ridden by 1999 world champion Mark Occhilupo. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Stüssy Shaper: Shaun Stüssy Designer: Shaun Stüssy Length: 5’ 10” Width: 19” Nose: 11.5” Tail: 15” Circa: 1983 Tri-fin manufactured by Stüssy, Newport Beach. Hand-painted paisley and marker design by Shaun Stüssy. Flat deck, boxy rails, slight vee bottom, flattened beak nose. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection



Larry Bertlemann’s “Anything is Possible” approach inspired a whole generation of young surfers including a group from South Santa Monica know as the Z-Boys. They adopted Bertlemann’s surf style to skateboarding and the Legendary Z-Boys of Dogtown, the creators of modern skateboarding, came to be. At first the Z-Boys rode banks and imitated Bertlemann, inventing the “Bert” a sliding cutback maneuver. Then, in 1976 they started doing off the lips in empty pools, frontside and backside, surfer style. In the fall of 1977, Z-Boy Tony Alva, launched a frontside off-the-lip out of a pool into the air and made it back in. Aerials were invented. Over the next years the young surfer/skaters of the area were launching out of the waves and pools. Chris Stark is known to have made a flying 360 in 1980. But it was a handful of innovators on both coastlines including Matt Kechele in Florida, Kevin Reed in Santa Cruz and L.A. surfer John McClure, who first took the aerial from the pool to the lineup, and inspired a small but growing crew of believers to aim above the lip.

SBR67 84

John McClure executing the same maneuver in the water. // steve sakamoto courtesy of the Horizons West Archive.

Tony Alva, the inventor of the skateboard aerial. // C.R. stecyk III courtesy of Z-BOY Archive.

John McClure takes the skateboard aerial to the water in 1984, beginning the modern surf revolution. // steve sakamoto courtesy of the Horizons West Archive.



The coming of the Surf/Skate movement necessitated super short, super high performance boards. The length of the average boards ranged from 5’4” to 5’10”. The twin fin was the weapon of choice for the high-flying surf/skaters. Lip slides, tail slides and airs could be performed with abandon. A variation with four smaller fins, a twin-fin version of the Tri, became popular in 1984 and offered more thrust than a traditional twin. The “Mind-Machines” dreamed of in earlier years had been achieved. Manufacturer: Horizons West Model: Jason Hertz Shaper: Nathan Pratt Designer: Nathan Pratt Length: 5’ 5” Width: 19” Nose: 12” Tail: 16” Circa: 1984 Twin-fin, graffiti “water ratz” graphics by Craig Stecyk. Post New Wave strobe stripe paint job. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Hurley Shaper: Bob Hurley Designer: Bob Hurley Length: 6’ 3” Width: 20” Nose: 12” Tail: 16.5” Circa: 1984 Four fin double-winger swallow tail. Escher-esque airbrush graphics. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Schroff Model: Crossword Puzzle Shaper: Peter Schroff Designer: Peter Schroff Length: 5’ 9” Width: 19” Nose: 12.5” Tail: 16” Circa: 1984 (Re-issue) Twin-fin with New Wave crossword puzzle graphics. Angular wings with soft “butt” swallow tail Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection

Manufacturer: Wave Tools Shaper: Richie Collins Designer: Richie Collins Length: 5’ 6” Width: 18” Nose: 12” Tail: 15.5” Circa: 1984 Four fin board with flat deck, box rails, typical Newport “Echo Beach” stickers and graphics of the era. Richie is the son of shaper Lance Collins. Courtesy of: The Cohn Collection



Manufacturer: Steve Lis Model: Belly Board Shaper: Steve Lis Designer: Steve LIs Length: 4’ 2” Width: 17” Nose: 15” Tail: 15” Circa: 1971

Forms of wave riding alternative to stand up surfing were quite popular in the late 1960’s and through the 1980’s. Body surfing, bellyboarding, kneeboarding and rafting were fairly common wave riding activities. The Wedge in Newport Beach was a hotbed of body surfing, bellyboarding and kneeboarding, while Big Rock in La Jolla was the prime kneeboarding spot with it’s ledging tubes. Interestingly enough, with the advent of the surf/skate movement in the early ‘80’s, these alternative forms faded from popularity.

Custom made Fish shaped by Steve Lis for his girlfriend. Courtesy of:

Manufacturer: Terry Hendricks Model: Isurus Shaper: Lis, Hobbit & Hendricks Designer: Hendricks Length: 5’ 2” Width: 19” Nose: 17” Tail: 13.5” Circa: 1973

Manufacturer: El Paipo Model: Knee Machine (Blue) Shaper: Unknown Designer: Unkn0wn Length: 4’ 6” Width: 19” Nose: 19” Tail: 14.5” Circa: 1969

One-of-a-kind highly customized board with flex tail, double knee-well deck and spoon nose. Courtesy of: Bird’s Surf Shed

Typical single-fin designed for Newport Beach. Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation

Manufacturer: Wilderness Model: George Greenough Shaper: Cundith/Duncan Designer: George Greenough Length: 4’ 11” Width: 19” Nose: 16” Tail: 15” Circa: 1969

Manufacturer: El Paipo Model: Rick Newcombe Design Shaper: Unknown Designer: Newcombe Length: 3’ 8” Width: 20” Nose: 18” Tail: 20” Circa: 1968-69

Santa Barbara style-board with very advanced design for that period; solid foam board with fully concaved deck and textured fiberglass surface.

Belly board for the Wedge in Newport Beach.

Courtesy of:

Courtesy of: Surfing Heritage Foundation



Clark Foam blanks. // anthony friedkin

from curator, writer and shaper nathan pratt

During the Shortboard Revolution becoming a surfboard builder was a right of passage. My experience was typical of the process. I begged Skip Engblom into letting me be a clean up boy, sweeping up endless drifts of foam dust. I then learned how to rub out boards, wet sanding out “tits” and buffing the boards to a mirror finish. Next, I got to assist Jeff Ho in the glossing room, learning how to wipe down boards and “shoot” (brush on resin) gloss coats. About a year into the apprenticeship, and having a decent idea of how to work with resin, I got to “hot coat”, the sanding coat that goes over the fiberglass, and put in fin boxes with a router. At 15 you don’t think much about the dangers of having a 3-inch router bit rotating at thousands of RPM’s six inches from your t-shirt. Next was sanding. First hand sanding, then getting my hands on a Milwalkee 5000 grinder. It is hard to adequately explain the first time you hand-sand a board and spend the whole night unable to sleep because of the full body fiberglass itch. It is an experience that you should only wish upon your enemies. Having mastered the resin work with the glossing and hot coating, the rubber squeegee of a laminator, a tool that you can use to make or break a board, was entrusted to my 16 year old hands. After about six months of learning the ins and outs of stretching the cloth and making sure that you don’t get any “pin-air” (small air pockets between the strands of fiberglass) or bubbles at the nose and tail, you should be able to consider yourself a passable laminator. When I was 17, Craig Stecyk retired from airbrushing, so I took over his templates and he gave me some tips on how to work the spray cans. Yes, no fancy compressors here. Just copy the look and patterns already well established with candy apple lacquer and with fumes so toxic that your fingers would go numb after an hour. Finally, at 18, I made it to the shaping room with a Skil 100 in my hand instead of a broom. I got to cut my teeth being the “ghost” shaper for Jeff Ho on large Japanese orders. Back then you learned how to forge the signature of your mentor and gladly shaped your first hundred boards for free - just to get in the door. And you kept your mouth shut. Never whispering a peep, lest you be given the boot for loose lips.

Mickey Dora in a rare appearance at the Wilken factory 1968. // C.R. stecyk III

Overall, it was a grueling three-year apprenticeship. But learning how to build a surfboard, start to finish, is a process that steals you for life. Should you ever get the opportunity, take it. And if you ever get to meet the people who build your boards, thank them.

Robbie Dick 1981. // anthony friedkin

Nathan Pratt shaping board for Z-Boy Shogo Kubo 1977. // C.R. stecyk III

Skip Engblom 1974 // C.R. stecyk III

Many thanks to all who crafted the boards in SHORTBOARD REVOLUTIONTM... Al Merrick Allen Sarlo Barry Kanaipuni Ben Aipa Bill “Blinky” Hubina Bill Caster Billy Hamilton Bing Surfboards Bruce Jones California Company Campbell Brothers Carl Ekstrom Caster Chanin /Diffenderfer Channel Islands Chris Green Chuck Dent Col Smith Con Corky Carroll Craig Stecyk Cundith/Duncan Denise Ryder Dick Brewer Donald Takayama Doug Marshall El Paipo Gary Goodman George Greenough Gerry Lopez Gordon & Smith Greg Liddle Greg Noll Guy Okazaki Hamon Hansen Hap Jacobs Harbour Harold Iggy Hendricks Hobbit Hobie Horizons West Hurley Hynson Infinity Inter Island Jack Meyers Jacobs Jeff Ho/Zephyr Joe Roper Lance Collins Larry Bertlemann

Liddle Lis M.T.B. Mark Richards Mickey Dora Mickey Munoz Midget Farrelly Mike Cundith Mike Diffenderfer Mike Eaton Mike Hynson Mike Purpus Mike Thorton Morey, Pope & Company Nat Young Nathan Pratt Nectar Surfboards Newcombe Oceanside Surfboards Peter Schroff Phil Becker Pro Surf Designs Pyke R. Prodanovich Rennie Yater Reno Abellana Rice Rich Harbour Richard Deese Richie Collins Rick Surf Boards Rusty Rusty Preisendorfer Schroff Shaun Stüssy Simon Anderson Steve Bohme Steve Lis Steve Walden Stüssy Surfboards Hawaii Surfing’s New Image Terry Hendricks The Family Timothy Tom Curren W.A.V.E. Hollow Wave Tools Wayne Lynch Weber Wilderness Windansea

Tom stone at Pipeline. // art brewer

Why do you think the old stories tell of men who set out on great journeys to impress the gods...


time and effort

Because trying to impress people just isn’t worth the

// henry rollins

Hurley Shortboard Revolution  

rad ass book

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you