the catalogue #175
|1917 O. E. Downing Surf Shooting Board, Solid Wood, 8ft 5 1/2''||
Tail: rounded square
Bottom: slightly rounded
Rails: rnigh for first 24 inches, then ounded square to tail
Rocker: slight nose lift
|FIN: none, standard for the period.||
COLOUR : natural timber grain
At centre : Fixed bronze plate :
- Manly -
Presented to the
Surf Life Saving Association of Australia
- by -
|The board was shaped from one
piece of solid timber, probably by Ossie (O. E.) Downing
of Manly in 1917.
Oswald Downing was an early board builder and a trainee architect and had drawn up plans from Duke Kahanamoku's board.
These are possibly the Plans and Specifications printed in The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook, first edition circa 1923.
See details in the 1938 Tenth edtion.
It was possiblly the board used by Ossie at the 'Australian' Championships at Manly, March 1920
A contemporary newspaper report of a surfboard race, lists Oswald Downing (Manly) in second place.
A similar report of the Bondi Championships, April 1921, records the results of a surfboard race as 1. A. McKenzie (North Bondi) 2. A. Moxan.
Other starters Oswald Downing and Claude West (Manly).
Oswald Downing added to his his competitive record with third place at the 1922 'Australian' Championships at Manly, won by Claude West (Manly) and A. McKenzie (North Bondi) second.
Galton page 29.
Harris page 49.
|Around this time, the board
was accquired a young Manly surfer, Snowy McAlister.
Charles Justin 'Snowy' McAlister saw Duke Kahanamoku in
1915, and soon after began surfing on his mother's pine
ironing board ...
I got away with it a number of times, but she eventually found out
because I would come home sunburnt.
- Quoted in Wells, page 159.
This was followed by a self-made plywood board before his first full size board, a gift from Oswald Downing, see above. Galton page 35
Snowy mcAlister and (possibly) the Downing board, Bondi, circa 1925.
Harris page 54
Note that Harris dates this photograph as 1920, but that seems unlikely.
|Snowy McAlister was a
talented surfer, confirmed with his win in the surfboard
display in the1924 'Australian' Championships at
The start of a impressive competitive record, 'Snowy' McAlister won board displays in Sydney in 1923-24 (Manly), 1924-5.(Manly), 1925-26 (North Bondi) and 1926-27(Manly, second Les Ellinson).
His record at Newcastle was even more outstanding with wins in 1923-24, 1925-26, 1927-28, 1930-31, 1931-32, 1934-35 and 1935-36.
All these victories were on solid boards.
He competed to 1938 and then made a comeback at the 1956 Olympic Carnival, Torquay.
Galton page 35.
Following the introduction of the Blake Hollow Paddleboard in 1934, Snowy McAlister turned to the surfski as his preferred wave riding craft.
Snowy McAlister and (probably) a self shaped board, Manly circa 1928.
Harris page 54
"The second board built here was of redwood , shown here with it’s present owner and
longtime rider, C.J. ‘Snow’ McAllister."
Image and caption from...
|The board was donated by
'Snowy' McAlister in 1974 to the SLSA and was held at the
NSW State Centre, The Grand Parade, Monterey
.In 2002 it was relocated to the Surf Life Saving Museum, Surf House 1 Notts Avenue Bondi Beach NSW 2026 where it is on display.
See image left and Notes on the Surf Life Saving Australia Museum
The board is mounted offset on the wall with brackets clasping the rails.
Unfortunately it is difficult to examine the deck features.
The board is heavily scarred, with a large central split in the nose.
A block of different grained timber is inserted in the bottom near the nose, possiblly as a key to stop further splitting.
The board does not appear (by touch) to have the common Australian metal nose plate.