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history : solid wood 

solid wood : 1915 - 1934

Following Duke Kahanamoku's surfing demonstrations in Australia (and New Zealand),  many boards were made based on Duke's design within one season.
- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 55.


 The huge enthusiasm for boardriding generated by Duke Kahanamoku's demonstrations was initially dampened by the onset of World War 1, particually with the huge loss of troops in the failed attempt, beginnning in April 1915, to invade Turkey on the Gallipolli penisular.
Many young Australians lost their lives on the battlefields of Europe, including Manly Surf Club captain, journalist and Olympic swimming champion, Cecil Healy.

"North Steyne had 53 of its 71 members enlist, while 108 joined up from Bondi (ten of them to be killed overseas), 37 enlisted from Collaroy (six died) and 20 members of a large enrolment from Manly also failed to return."

- Galton: Gladiators (1984) page 26.


 At North Wollongong, "Fifty-eight  members were in the services, 6 being killed in action in the 1914-18 war."

- Middleton & Figtree: Illawarra SLSC (1963) page 8.


 With many surf lifesavers volunteering for military service, many clubs reported difficulties in maintaining patrol numbers and some, such as Narrabeen, became inactive.
 

- SBA: Annual Report (1917-1918), noted in Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) page 30.
- SSLA: Handbook (1923) page 7, noted in Young: Cronulla (200) page 30.


 Despite the difficulties of diminished membership, many clubs managed to maintain a beach presence led by the few members considered unfit or too young for military service.
Despite bitter political discord, Australia did not use conscription during the 1914-1918 War and while the age required for overseas service was 21, it was not unknown for some enthusiastic recruits to falsify their date of birth.

In Manly, patrols were supplemented by a number of juniors, largely recruited from Manly Public School and the Manly Amateur Swimming Club.
These "probationary members"  were not required to pay membership fees.
 

- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 11.


 At Cronulla, numbers fell to such an extent that the council employed "an extra professional lifesaver" and limited member's access to their clubhouse.
Remnants of the membership such as Neville Cayley, Frank Moore and the tireless Frank Stroud continued to maintain patrols and, similar to Manly, patrols were supplemented with junior lifesavers recruited from the Cronulla school.

- Young: Cronulla (200) page 30.


 At North Wollongong:
"Despite the serious depletion of membership as a result of enlistments in World War I, the Club continued to be active.
Surf awards were gained in 1914-15, none in 1915-16, then 14 Bronzes in 1917-18."
 

- Middleton & Figtree: Illawarra SLSC (1963) page 8.


 Despite the apparent shadow of the European War on Australian society, not all citizens could be said to be suffering.
Surf Life Saving's outstanding historian, Sean Brawley, notes:

"(Ken) Hall recalled that the war years were a great time for young men such as himself, who were not old enough to enlist, because with so many men away the attracted the attention of older women when patrolling the beach."

- Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) page 30 and 32.


 While Hall may have seen certain "romantic" benefits come his way at the relatively remote Collaroy, on the more popular beaches closer to the city the rewards were possibly greater.
Although sensibly cloaked in innuendo, romantic liaisons occupy a significant amount of copy in The Surf, the world's first, if not only, surfriding newspaper.
 
The first credited Australian surfing magazine was Manly Surf Club's The Surf, 1st December 1917.
It ran for twenty editions, till 27 April 1918.

Image Right: Vol 1 #1 Cover 

- Margan & Finney: Pictorial History (1970) page 85.

Following Duke Kahanamoku's surfing demonstrations in Australia (and New Zealand),  many boards were made based on Duke's design within one season.

- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 55.


 Some of the Surf Life Saving Clubs became an established as centres of boardriding , the clubhouse being a storage facility for the boards, in a similar role to the Beach Clubs in Hawaii of the period.
The use of prone craft as an introduction to basic surf skills dates to pre-history and has had many variations.

As Duke's keenest pupil, Claude West (initially at Freshwater Club, later moved to Manly) was one of the top boardriders for the next 10 years.
Starting on one of Duke's original boards (#100), he was an enthusiast who encouraged others (notably 'Snowy' McAllister of Manly and Adrian Curlewis of Palm Beach) and whose surfing skills were a great asset as a professional lifesaver at Manly Beach, where he often used a board for rescues.
 

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 237.


 Duke Kahanamoku's tandem partner, Isabel Letham, continued boardriding at Freshwater up to 1918 when she moved to the USA to work as a professional swimming instructor.
Other prominant boardriders in the Manly area were Steve Dowling, 'Busty' Walker, Geoff Wyld, Ossie Downing, Reg Vaughn (Manly), Tom Walker (Seagulls), Barton Ronald, Billy Hill and Lyal Pidcock.
 

- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 55.


 Circa 1915 Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club member, Alf 'Weary' Lee saw Duke Kahanamoku's Dee Why demonstration and built his own board according to Duke's design.
Since the board was stored in the club house, it was available for younger club members to be introduced to boardriding.

- Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) pages 33-34.
Boardriding was given little support by the Surf Life Saving Association.
Initially used a subjective method as a measure of perfomance at their carnivals - for example a headstand scored maximum points - designated as a demonstration.
With a growing emphasis on rescue techniques, paddling skill became the focus and the preference was for an objective race, a development deplored by Claude West.
Competitve records of the period are confusing.
Often board events were either not held or not recorded, and since the ASLA was in its infancy and basically a NSW organisation results were open to dispute.
The first offically recognised Australian Longboard Championship is 1946.
 
Circa 1915, seventeen year old Grace Wootton (nee Smith) was encouraged to try (prone) boarding at Point Lonsdale, Victoria. 
Using a board brought to Australia by a Mr. Jackson and a Mr. Goldie from Hawaii. 
After some basic instruction Grace Wootton became a proficient and enthusiastic surfer, and a local carpenter was commisioned to make her her own board for the following season. 
The board  was solid timber, finless and approximately 6 ft x 16 inches x +1inch thick. The cost of 12 shillings included her initials (GW) carved at one end. 
Photographs of Grace Wootton taken in 1916 show her surfing and her personally modified woolen swimsuit, purchased from Ball and Welch (Outfitters), Melbourne.
 
- Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) pages 157-158. 
Image right : 
Grace Smith Wooton and Win Harrison, Point Lonsdale, Victoria, circa 1916.
- Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) page 157.


Grace Wootton-Smith retained the board in her Melbourne garage, circa 1982.
Several questions arise from this account...
Did Mr. Jackson and Mr. Goldie bring only one board from Hawaii?
Did Mr. Jackson or Mr. Goldie, or both men (estimated age 35 years), ride the boards?
 
Similar boards to Grace Wootton's were in already use in NSW and Queensland at this date, and they would were used worldwide up to the 1960's. 
There are documented examples from Hawaii, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Bali, U.K. and South Africa. 
See Catalogue entry right...


In Queensland, two copies of Duke Kahanamoku's Alaia design were procured by Greenmount Surf Lifesaving Club.
The increase in (mainly prone) boardriding raised issues of public safety, and in 1916 Coolangatta Town Council established restricted areas, infringements punishable by board confiscation.
The arrival of the two boards prompted further replicas made and surfed by Sid 'Splinter' Chapman, Andy Gibson and a surfer known only as Winders.
Prices varied from two shillings and sixpence to seven shillings and sixpence.
 - Harvey: Queensland Surfing (1983) page 8.


Colonel Charles Guy Powles surfing at Marakeba. Photograph taken September 1917 by an unknown photographer.
Ref:
PA1-o-813-20-1
http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22409383?search[direction]=asc&search[il][collection]=Photographic+Archive&search[page]=4&search[path]=items&search[sort]=sort_date&search[text]=surf

 



The first credited Australian surfing magazine was Manly Surf Club's The Surf, 1st December 1917.
It ran for twenty editions, till 27 April 1918.

Image Right: Vol 1 #1 Cover 

- Margan & Finney: Pictorial History (1970) page 85.
See in depth article First Edition by Sandra Hall
in Longboard magazine Vol 5 Number 2 May/June 1997, pages 74 - 76.

The Deewhy Surfer, circa 1919-1920, was possibly a similar publication, .



Great Sport on the Surfing Boards.

The Finish.
 Prone surfers at Lorne, Victoria, circa 1918.
Images from a private photograph album, courtesy of Henry Marfleet, 2008.
In 1919 Louis Whyte, a Geelong businessman, and Ian McGillivray visited Hawaii and purchased traditional Alaia solid redwood boards were  from Duke Kahanamoku.
The boards were ridden at Lorne Point, Victoria.
-Thoms: Surfmovies(2000) page 23.
 One of four boards imported from Hawaii by Whyte, is held by Surfworld Surfing Museum, Torquay, Victoria. Catalogue #22

Three Boards imported from Hawaii by Lou Whyte in 1919.
Note the narrow tail of the centre board.
The board on the far right was given to Peter Troy.
Image courtesy of Leonie Vrymoet, November 2009.

Leonie noted:

"Hi Geoff... was reading some info on your site about the two Lou Whyte redwood boards...  there were three boards from 1919 my father Vic Tantau placed two of them in the Torquay Museum and the other was given to Peter Troy... thought I would send you a photo of the three taken together back in
1981.. thought it might be of interest to you... Cheers.
Regards   Leonie"


John Ralston, a Sydney solicitor and land developer, introduced surfboards at Palm Beach, Sydney in 1919.
 
- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 238.


 Palm Beach is to become a favoured board riding beach, producing several champions and a strong pro-surfboard lobby within the ASLA.

- Brawley: Palm Beach SLSC (1996)  page 57.


 A solid wood board shaped by John Rawson is held by Quicksilver Australia, currently displayed at their George Street store, Sydney.

In February 1920 Claude West used his board to rescue a swimmer at Manly.
The patient was the Australian Goveror-General, Sir Ronald Mungo Fergerson, who presented his rescuer with his silver dresswatch.

- Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) page 152.


 A newspaper report of 'Australian' Championships at Manly, March 1920 records the results of a
surfboard race as ...
1. A. McKenzie (North Bondi)
2. Oswald Downing (Manly)
3. A. Moxan (North Bondi).

- Galton: Gladiators (1984) page 29.


 A similar newspaper 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 were Oswald Downing  and Claude West (Manly).

- Galton: Gladiators (1984) page 29.
- The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 18 April 1921 page 12.


 Although Australian board construction and design were essentially static during this period, Hawaiian and U.S. mainland boardriders made considerable to improvements.
With the end of World War 1 in 1918, military technological developments such as the development of industrial glues and varnishes were able to be incorporated into surf craft construction.
First commercial application was by Pacific Systems Homes (USA) with their famous Swastika model constructed of a laminated pine, balsa and redwood blank, circa 1930.
The development of laminated plywood was essential in the development of the Hollow board.
Around 1925, Tom Blake began experimenting with hollowed boards,  and in 1931 he submitted a patent application for a ' Water Sled'.

- see Tom Blake 1934

By 1921, the Surf Life Saving Association printed their first handbook circa 1921.
The book probably formed the basis for subsequent publications accredited as the Handbook of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia, see below.

Image right:
Photograph of displayed item.
Between the Flags Exhibition, ANMM, Sydney 22 April 2007.


At the North Bondi carnival:
"Surf Board Race- J. C Downing. (Manly), 1; E. Roston (North Bondi), 2."
- The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 13 February 1922, page 10.

In the 1921-22 season,  Manly SLSC procured their third surfboat, the Johnnie Walker
The boat was won by Manly topping the point-score for the seasons 1920-21 to 1922-23.

- Harris: Manly LSC (1961) page 42.
.
At the Australian Championships at Manly 1922, the board event (demonstration or race?) results were
1. Claude West (Manly), 
2. A. McKenzie (North Bondi)
3. Oswald Downing (Manly)
West, who had apparently dominated the demonstations, was soon to retire. 

Oswald Downing was an early board builder and a trainee architect and had drawn up plans. 
These are possibly the plans printed in The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook, first edition circa 1923. 

See details in the 1938 tenth edtion, image and link right. 


Ossie Downing's board was later given to 'Snowy' McAlister. 

The board was donated by 'Snowy' McAlister in 1974 to the SLSA .
 

- Galton: Gladiators (1984) page 33. 


 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.
Image right

For board details Catalogue #175, image and link right.

 

In celebration of Collaroy SLSC's victory in the Alarm Reel Race at Australian Championships at Manly 1922, swimmer Ron "Harris' family commissioned Buster Quinn (a cabinet maker with Anthony Hordens) to make a surfboard.
Quinn made the board from a single piece of Californian Redwood at the Dingbats' Camp.
Before it was completed, however, Harris' father died and the family left Collaroy.
Chic Proctor acquried the board in Harris' absence and it remains in the clubhouse to this day as the Club's Life Members Honour Board."
- Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995)  page 48.
With the consistant increase boardriders, Manly Council considers banning surfboards in the interest of the public safety of bodysurfers. A review by three Councillors in 1923 witnesses a rescue by Claude West and board of three swimmers in high surf. In a reversal of policy, the Council commends the use of surfboards as rescue craft.
- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) pages 55-56.


 At the 1924 the Australian Championships, Manly, the surfboard display was won by Charles Justin 'Snowy' McAlister of Manly Surf Club.
He saw Duke Kahanamoku in 1915, and soon after began surfing on his mother's pine ironing board:

   "I used to wag school and rush down to the beach with it. I got away with it a number of times,
                    but she eventually found out because I would come home sunburnt."
 

Quoted in Wells:  Sunny Memories(1982) page 159.


 This was followed by a self-made plywood board and his first full size board, a gift from Oswald Downing, see above.

- Galton: Gladiators (1984) page 35.
At a later date 'Snowy' made his own solid redwood board:

"I used to go into the timber yards in the city and buty a ten by three foot piece of wood about two  feet thick (sic, inches?), which I had delivered to the cargo whalf beside the Manly ferry.
I'd lug it home, then carve it, varnish it overnight and try it out the next morning.
We were getting murdrered in those days.
The boards had no fins.
We'd go straight down the face of the wave instead of riding the corners as the Duke had done. When we saw him do that we thought he was just riding crooked."
 

Quoted in  Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) page 159.


 The start of a impressive competitive record, 'Snowy' McAlister won board displays in Sydney in 1923-24 (Manly), 1924-25 (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: Gladiators (1984) page 35.

Image left :
Snowy McAlister, Manly circa 1928.
Probably a Snowy McAlister shaped board,
not the Downing board.
 
 - Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 54.
Image right :
Snowy McAlister, Bondi, circa 1925.
Possibly the Downing board.
 
 - Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 54.


 Note that Harris dates this photograph as 1920,
but that seems unlikely.


Following the introduction of the Blake Hollow board in 1934, Snowy McAlister turned to the surfski as his preferred wave riding craft.

Circa 1923 Adrian Curlewis purchased a used 70 lb board from Claude West, to surf at Palm Beach...
 "owner in hospital owing to using same"-  West was injured while transferring a patient to a surfboat.
 

 - Maxwell: Surf(1949) page 238-9.


 This board was replaced by one of similar design in 1926 by Les V. Hind of North Steyne for five pounds and fifteen shillings, including delivery.

- Brawley: Palm Beach SLSC (1996) page 55.
Reference : L. V. Hind to A.Curlewis, Curlewis Papers, SLSA Archives.


 Curlewis became a noted surf performer, illustrated by a photograph printed in Surf in Australia magazine in 1936.

- Maxwell: Surf (1949)  page 239.


 The photograph was subsequently re-printed in Maxwell's Surf (1949)  and Brawley's Palm Beach SLSC (1996) page 55.


Adrian Curlewis, Palm Beach, circa 1929.
- Maxwell: Surf (1949) , facing page 208.
Note that the other boardrider in the phototgraph is female.
Frank Adler and Solid Board, 
Maroubra, circa 1929.
Pacific Longboarder Magazine
Volume 1 Number 2, Page 62.

It should be noted that Adrian Curlewis went on to an extended career in public office.

"Sir Adrian Curlewis was born in 1901.
He graduated from Sydney University and was called to the Bar in 1927.
He served in Malaya in World War II and was a prisoner of war from 1942 to 1945.
His commitment to public service is also exemplified by his Presidency of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia from 1933 to 1974, his position as sole Life Governor of that Association from 1974, and his Presidency of the International Council of Surf Life Saving from 1956 to 1973.
He was a New South Wales District Court Judge from 1948 to 1971, retiring at the age of 70."
 

- http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/sc%5Csc.nsf/pages/Bergin_261103
Despite, or perhaps because of, his early board riding experience he was a noted 1960's opponent of the growth of an independent surfboardring culture.

"Upon moving to the new premises the Club sought further balterations and contracted a Newport builder to begin work.
As a courtesy the club informed the Council of its plans to establish a surfboard locker under the building (to house the reputed 16 boards of members held in the club), and to build a fence.
On both counts the Council refused, leading to yet more acrimony."

- Brawley: Palm Beach SLSC (1996) page 30.
 
 

"During the 1920's, many members from Sydney and Helensburgh lodged in the club house at week ends.
At the northern end of the building in the boatshed lockers kept by individual members were located, each mainly with a nickname painted thereon, such as "Sheik, Spike, Daki, Grumpy, The Polar Bear, Soapy, Yuk, Lardy" and many others." - Thorn: Stanwell Park SLSC  (1983) page 14. 

  At Coolangatta boardriding continued to expand during the 1920's.
Basic competitions (using a standing take-off) were organised and riders included Clarrie Englert, Bill Davies, 'Bluey' Gray and later, Jack Ajax.
'Bluey' Gray wrote to Hawaiian and Californian surfers in an attempt to be aware of current developments. Problems in sourcing suitable redwood saw 'Splinter' Chapman, by now considered the coast's top rider, use local Bolly gum to build boards.
The design remained a faithfull replica.
Sid 'Splinter' Chapman could still recall the dimensions in sixty years later "because the design that the Duke used was the best."

- Quoted in Harvey: Queensland Surfing (1983) page 8.


Above : Clarrie Englet headstand , Queensland 1920's
Harvey: Queensland Surfing (1983) page 8.
This is actually a photograph of Tommy Walker at Yamba in 1912-1913. 
See: before duke 1900 - 1914

Right : Ken Mainsbridge and solid wood board, Queensland 1920's
Harvey: Queensland Surfing (1983) page 8


North of Coolangatta, the first full sized board was probably owned by John Russell of the Main Beach Club, circa 1925.
- Harvey: Queensland Surfing (1983) page 8.


 Circa 1925 Sydney rider Anslie 'Sprint' Walker surfed at Portsea, Victoria.
Transport problems were overcome by leaving the board at the beach, buried in the sand.
The board was eventually donated to the Torquay Surf Live Saving Club, but was destroyed when the club house burnt down in 1970.
Subequently 'Sprint' Walker built a replica from Canadian redwood with an adze - the original method.
 

- Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) page 153.


Donald Arlie "Mick' Warden (1904-1956) of Milton on the NSW south coast, attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College along with  fellow swimmer Andrew "Boy Charlton.

Following college he moved to Wollongong and joined the Austinmer SLSC  in 1922 and was a member of the recue and rescusitation team that won the Illawarra Branch Championship in 1924.

- Johnson: Mollymook SLSC (2010) page 5.

In 1923, Charton visited Austinmer, where stayed at Iden, the home of a Mrs. Warden, probably a relative of Mick Warden.
While there, he attended the Santwell Park SLSC carnival, photographed (fifth from the left) with members of the Austinmer team.
Returning in 1924, Charlton  performed briefly in the local rock pool.

- Wilton and Salm : Austinmer SLSC (2009) pages13-.15


- Wilton and Salm : Austinmer SLSC (2009) pages13-.15.
It is likely that Charlton's relationship with Mick Warden, formed while at college, facilitated the invitation to  to visit the Austinmer club.

In December 1925 Warden visited Honolulu for four months where he became interested in surfboard riding, possibly meeting the Kahanamoku brothers.
Mick returned to Wollongong with two Hawaiian solid timber boards, <MW> and Toots II.
He continued to compete for the Austinmer club and in 1934 moved back to Milton where he was instrumental in the formation of the Mollymook SLSC.

- Johnson: Mollymook SLSC (2010) page 5.

Toots II was pictued outside the clubhouse in a photograph of the Austimer's champion R&R and surf teams in circa 1925, and a similar photograph was taken of the club's 1928-1929 R&R champions, see below.


Left:
Austimer's champion R&R 
and surf teams with Toots II, 
circa 1925.

Wilton and Salm : Austinmer SLSC
(2009) page 13.

Right:
Frank Robson 
and Toots II, 1929. 

Detail from 
South Coast R&R Champions 1928-29.
Wilton and Salm : Austinmer SLSC 
(2009) page 17.


"Toots" was Waikiki surfer, A. E. Menville (?).
See Blackburn: Surf's Up (2001) page 43: Jan. 1 1927 - Alawai, Honolulu - Hawaiian Championships.
Board marked Toots III, second from the right.

- noted by Ivan Johnson, phone call July 2011.
Many thanks to Ivan.

<MW> , with a square nose and repairs, is currently is held in the Mollymook SLSC and Toots is photographed with Fred Mumford outside the original Mollymook surf club in 1938.

- Johnson: Mollymook SLSC (2010) pages 23 and 24.
Also see:
Mollymook Beach, Milton
http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/15561413?q=subject%3A%22SURFBOARDS%22&c=picture

 Also see  Snow McAlister : Sprint Walker, Solid Wood Boards and Victorian Surfing

- Tracks Magazine circa 1972.
Reprinted circa 1973 in The Best of Tracks, page 191.


 'Sawfish', Manly Surf Life Saving Club’s 4th surfboat, was financed by public showing of a 18 foot sawfish caught by club members on October 10, 1926.
Launched in December 1926, the boat was    designed by Fred Notting.
A double-ended clinker-built but with four thwarts (Oars Nos. 2 and 3 now offset), it was been the standard ever since.
The sawfish was accquired by the Australian Museum for exhibit.

- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) pages 42-43.


 'Snowy' McAlister was the national (?) surfboard champion 1924 to 1928.
He visited England and South Africa ? on the way to the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928, accompanying another Manly Surf Club member and Olympic swimmer, Andrew 'Boy' Carlton.
 

- Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) pages 159-160.


 During the 1920's Russell Henry 'Busty' Walker  used a canoe to act as a judge at the buoys at Manly Surf Carnivals and others had used canoes in the surf at Bronte and Bondi.

- Maxwell: Surf (1949)  page 237.
- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 90.


"Canoe Race: 'She'll Do' (Wright and Olsen), 1.
Most of the other competitors were swamped by getting brondside-on to the breakers."

- Bondi Surf Carnival.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 7 January 1924, page 6.

The use of these craft was a possible early influence on G.A. Crakanthorpe's development of the surf ski, circa 1930.



Duke Kahanamoku and Isabel Letham, Waikiki - California, 1920s.

Duke's swimming suit bears the Outrigger canoe club logo.
Image courtesy of Loch Ledford, Currumbin.

Loch notes:
"
I'm from Hawaii, growing up there in the early 50's and being a member of the old Outrigger Canoe Club when it was on Waikiki beach where the hotel is now.
Duke was still actively surfing then and I as young surfer spent many times with him in the water or on many celebration activities where he was always the main attraction.
I along with many thousands attended his "Beachboy" funeral at Waikiki."

Many thanks to Loch.

The North Steyne Surf Life Saving Club promoted their 4th annual carnival, scheduled for Saturday 19th December 1925 at 2.45pm, with a flyer printed by the Manly Daily Press.

The noted "Surf and Beach Attractions" included:
"1200 Competitors, 18 Leading Surf Life Saving Club's Participating
Surf Boat Races, Thrills and Spills, Board Exhibitions, All State Surf Swimming Champions Competing".

Image right:
Photograph of displayed item.
Between the Flags Exhibition, ANMM, Sydney 22 April 2007.


The Australian Surf Life Saving Association promoted their annual surf championships, scheduled for Saturday 27th February 1926 at 2.30 pm, with a flyer printed by the Mortons Ltd. Sydney.

It noted :
"Surf Boats, Surf Shooting and Surf Board Displays by Real Champions."

Image right:
Photograph of displayed item.
Between the Flags Exhibition, ANMM, Sydney 22 April 2007.



"Surfboard Race: K. Rostron (North Bondi), 1; N. Loughlin (Bondi), 2."
- North Bondi Surf Carnival.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 4 January 1926, page 15.

In the late 1920's, Collaroy SLSC member Bert Chequer  (image below) manufactured surfboards commerically - 15 shillings cheaper than North Steyne builder, Les Hind...

"In the early 1920s, Chequer had been captivated by the likes of board riders such as Weary Lee, Chic Proctor and Ron Harris and made his first surfboard at 17 using a design similar to Buster Quinn's.
As the years progressed, however, he refined Quinn's design, to produce a board which was the envy of many other board riders in the Club. 
Dick Swift requested he build him a board (the board is still in the Club house) and with delivery of the board a flood of similar requests were forthcoming. 
With little work in his father's building business, Chequer decided to try his hand at commercial surfboard building -one of the earliest such enterprises in the country.

The cost of a Chequer board was £5 which included delivery.

Chequer bought his timber from Hudson's timber merchants where it was kiln dried before delivery.
Whilst he preferred cedar, its expense meant that he was forced to use Californian Redwood.
The board would be crafted from a single piece of wood, meaning that Chequer's small workshop was usually a sea of wood shavings.

A board took just on two days to build and was totally shaped by hand.
Once shaped the board was coated with Linseed oil, before two coats of Velspar yacht varnish was applied.
In his initial experimentation with the varnish on his own board, the yellow finish it gave off prompted the board to be known as the 'Yellow Peril'.
Boards were usually intricately marked either with a name, the initials of the owner, or with the Club emblem.

Chequer was soon supplyIng individuals and clubs up and down the New South Wales coast and as far away as Phillip Island in Victoria.
While the business was relatively successful, there was a downside for Chequer.
Because he was a surfboard manufacturer, making money out of what was now regarded as a piece of life saving equipment the Association claimed he was no longer an amateur by their definition.
He was therefore prohibited from surf life saving competition between 1932 and 1936."
 

- Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) pages 95 - 96.
Bert Portrait, cropped from Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) page 82.


During 1920-1921, George Cunha returned to Australia for a series of swimming competitions along with , American swimmers Ludy Langer and Pua Kealoha.
The Kealoha family had a stong connection with surfboard and canoe surfriding at Waikiki in the early years of the 20th century.
Events were held in Victoria at St. Kilda on 19th February and Melbourne City Baths on the 23rd and 26th February.
They may have also appeared at Newcastle, NSW.

- Cliff: Sporting Nation (1999) page 81.
- Bill Longworth in The Referee January 1924, quoted in Fenton: Boy Charlton (2006) page 62.
"1921: American swimmers Ludy Langer and Pua Kealoha gave the 'greatest exhibition of swimming seen in Newcastle' at an event staged by the NDASA."
NSW Ocean Baths: Newcastle Ocean Baths
http://www.nswoceanbaths.info/pools/b008.htm"Formation of Queenscliff Surf life Saving Club
"On Tuesday, 15 January, 1924. W.O: Simmonds called a public meeting at Warton's ..", I'-uums on the corner of Pine Street and North Steyne.
Thirty people attended, subscribed £80 and the Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club was born.
The first President was Warringah Councillor, S.E. Ellsworth, Simmonds was Secretary and p.J. Maher became Treasurer. There was a six-man committee whose members were A. Childers, O. Lingham, J. Broadfoot, A.C. Dawson, B. Barnett and D. Guildford.
The club was active from the first. On 13 February, formal rules were adopted and on the 25th, red and royal blue were chosen as club colours.
...
In that first year, the club became affiliated with the Surf Life-saving Association and began patrols on Sundays from 9am-5pm.
It started training new members on Sunday, 17 February, using a surf reel borrowed from neighbourly North Steyne.
Seven members obtained their Bronze Medallions that season.

The First Club House
In its first year, the fledgling club negotiated some land from Warringah Shire Council at the foot of the headland.
Syd Lupton designed a club house.
Warringah Council donated £150 and Manly Council was persuaded to contribute £200.
Club members spent all their spare time for the next eight weeks preparing the foundations with tools borrowed from Manly Council.
The wooden building cost £481 (the average wage for a man in NSW was £4/13/6).
When it was completed, members worked again to fit out the interior and paint and oil the timbers. Finances were so tight that they could not afford the £15 deposit for electricity to be connected. Eventually, it was donated by W. Shirley.

The official opening was held at the beginning of the next season.
It was clear that members had'heen hard at work during the winter organising sponsorships from local businesses, which featured in the programme."

- Gilmore: Queenscliff SLSC (1999), pages
Under Way
Member, Phil Smith, was commended in the annual report for rescuing a woman one week day when there was no patrol. He was praised particularly in view of the fact that he had "only the assistance of a woman to handle the line".
The club was represented at all carnivals during that season, beginning on 13
North Bondi SLSC members in their surf canoes, 
Bondi Beach circa 1926.

The Stickey Beak is  in the foreground. 

Elder: North Bondi SLSC (2006) page 45.


In 1920 Dick Matheson had been persuaded to coach North Steyne's surfboat crews.
He taught Evans, his star pupil, to control a boat by using the heavy 'sweep' oar in the stern. Appointed boat captain when Matheson returned to Freshwater, Evans won seven S.L.S.A.A. senior boat titles between 1921 and 1930 which remains a club record.
His sea skills and uncompromising training regimes made him 'king of sweeps'; his crews were known as 'Rastus's Slaves'.
With master boatbuilder W. M. Ford, in 1927 Evans designed a carvel surfboat, made from cedar, which cost £130 to build.
He cajoled club members to contribute sixpence a week to pay for the boat; thinking that they were being 'stung', the secretary suggested christening her Bluebottle.
Next year Evans took a crew to the Queenscliff bombora and manoeuvred Bluebottle onto a twenty-four-foot wave that drove her under water.
Club members eventually hauled the partly submerged boat ashore.


Australian Dictionary of Biography
Douglas Booth: Evans, Harold Cecil (1902–1954)
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/evans-harold-cecil-10129


On 17th April 1926, North Bondi SLSC launched the Referee, financed by H.D. McIntosh M.L.C., designed by Mr. G. Hammer and built by Hayes Bros.
It was, from photographic evidence, fitted with an false floor covering buoyancy tanks for the full length of the boat and claimed that:
"She cannot be sunk.
If you fill her up, she empties herself.
If you turn her over, she rights herself immediately."
- Elder: North Bondi SLSC (2006) page 50.
The design appears not to have had any identifiable impact on the subsequent surfboat design, although the concept has been adapted to modern 21st century fibreglass surfboats.
North Bondi SLSC members buoyancy test their surfboat "Referee",
Bondi Beach circa 1926.

Note the accompanying surf canoes, right.

Elder: North Bondi SLSC (2006) page 50.


In the late 1920's T.A. Brown and A. Williams used a corkwood board from Honolulu at Byron Bay NSW. 
Eric Mallen purchased a cedar slab that was once the counter of the Commerical Bank, and had it shaped into a fouteen foot board by Jack Wilson.
Proving to be too unwieldy, the board was later cut down, decorated and named 'Leaping Lena'. 
On large days Eric Mallen would 'leap' off the end of the large jetty that ran out from Main Street to save paddling. 
 
- Harvey: Queensland Surfing (1983) page 8.
Image Right
Eric Mallen, friend, baby and 'Leaping Lena', 
Byron Bay NSW, 
circa 1929
- Harvey: Queensland Surfing (1983) page 8




Andrew 'Boy' Charlton was one of Australia's most succesful swimmers and a regular surf shooter at Manly.
On his visit to Europe in 1928 to compete in the Amsterdam Olympic Games, he was accompanied by his trainer, fellow Manly surfer, Harry Hay.
Hay was one of several local surfers instucted in surfboard riding by Duke Kahanamoku during his Austalian tour in 1914-1915, subsequently became a jounalist and wrote one of the earliest surfing books, Swimming and Surfing in 1931.

Charlton came second in the 1500 metres and second in the 400 metres.
Other swimmers at the games included the American team members Johnny Weismuller and Buster Crabbe, both who later played the role of Tarzan in Hollywood films.

On the day of 400 metre semi-finals:
"Among the crowd that day was a group of Charlton supporters who had come from the Manly Surf Club, including two late arrivals, Sandy (sic) McAlister and Tommy Farrell.
They had saved every penny to travel tourist class on the liner Jervis Bay with just one purpose: to see their close friend win the 1500 metres.
When a stowaway caused the Jervis Bay to be delayed they transferred to another vessel, but further problems occurred in London and they missed the race.
Having gone forty-eight hours without sleep they arrived at the pool while Charlton's 400 metres heat was being swum.
McAlister, a champion board rider, talked his way on to the starting boards and saw the rest of the races from a prime position."

- Fenton: They Called him Boy (2006) page 189.

Following the Olymic competition, McAlister travelled to England, apparently with a surfboard, and was interviewed by the Daily Mail on his intention to surf on the beaches of Cornwall.
See Source Documents:
1928 The Daily Mail : Snowy McAlister -Surf-board Riding, Cornwall.


"The next craft were two wooden canoes, named the "GUMBOI L" and "FROTHBLOWER", and each contained floating tanks to prevent sinking.
These canoes were capable of carrying two persons and were constructed by the late George Logan, an architect, and the late Jack Mawson, a foreman boat builder, both employed at the Naval Dockyard, Garden Island, Sydney.
These canoes operated from about 1930 to 1935."
Thorn: Stanwell Park SLSC  (1983) page 53.
Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC members and the launching of the surf canoe, "Frothblower", circa 1930.

Thorn: Stanwell Park SLSC
(1983) page 53.
Note the marked nose lift.



North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club
Annual  Surf Carnival Souvenir Programme, Saturday 24th January 1931.
North Bondi SLSC members Freddy Boorman 
and Jack Cunnigham riding tandem, Bondi 1930.

Elder: North Bondi SLSC (2006) page 58.

 Note the prominant use of a photograph 
of a surfboard rider on the cover.

Elder: North Bondi SLSC (2006) page 51.


On Sunday 26th April 1931, a belt and reel rescue attempt at Collaroy in extreme weed and swell conditions resulted in the death of Collaroy SLSC member, George 'Jordie' Greenwell.
While the use of the reel was a questionable in these conditions, the inability of Greenwell to release himself from the belt was a significant contributing factor.
Despite demands on the SLSA's Gear Committee, the 'Ross safety belt' did not become complusory for member clubs until the 1950's.
Greenwell was posthumously awarded the Meritious Award in Silver, the SLSA's highest honour.
 
- Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) pages 91 to 95.


 "While Greenwell's drowning resurrected the debate on surf belts, there were two more immediate and positive developments from the drowning.
The first was an intensification of Association trials using waxed line to see if it would 'overcome the difficulty of seaweed'.
The other was the Association's endorsement of the use of surfboard as life saving equipment. In the Greenwell drowning itself, the surfboard had proved its usefulness in a heavily seaweeded surf.

In the 1920s surfboards had been used by a number of clubs as rescue apparatus.
While the line and reel remained the predominant rescue technique, the surfboard rivalled the surf boat for the number of rescues accorded to it each season.
Such use, however, had been against the wishes of the Association and, as noted, lifesavers such as Manly's Claude West were reprimanded for their use.
From the 1929/30 season the Collaroy Annual Report began to record rescues performed by board noting that two such rescues had been performed during the season.
The following season four such rescues were recorded.
The figure was probably in fact much greater, the surfboard often being used to assist a swimmer who may have been getting into difficulties.
While confined almost exclusively to surf club use, surfboards were usually only used by members who were not on patrol duty.

These declarations in club annual reports concerning the use of surfboards in rescues demonstrated to the Association that most clubs saw them as useful rescue craft.
Within the Association individuals such as Greg Dellit, Adrian Curlewis and Bert Chequer (who had joined the Board of Examiners) began to champion the surfboard.
It was soon agreed that they should be trialled so their usefulness could be gauged.
These trials were held in the swimming pool of the Tattersals Club in Sydney and proved very successful.
The usefulness of the board as a flotation device in a multiple rescue and for a lone lifesaver were quickly apparent.
The fact they mostly went over rather than through sea weed was also noted.
With the trials a success it was left to Greg Dellit, during a visit to the Cronulla clubs, to publicly announce that the surfboard would now be considered a piece of rescue apparatus by the Association. (#22 : SMH, 21 September 1931)

Interestingly the dimensions of the Association approved surfboard matched exacly the dimensions of a surfboard Bert Chequer had been manufacturing for a few years."
 

- Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995)  page 95.

Three Solidwood Board Rriders, Collaroy circa 1932.
- Brawley: Collaroy SLSC (1995) 
pages 95 - 96
Note : 
   1. The low bouancy of the boards.
   2. Unusual behind-the-break 
       photograph, taken from the pool.


A canoe race was listed in the program of the 1930 Australian Championships at Manly, an event noted for the large surf.
No results were recorded  but canoe races were popular at carnivals between 1931 and 1935.
 
- Galton: Gladiators (1984)  page 43
- Myers: Freshwater SLSC (1983) page 85.


 The invention of the surf ski is normally credited to Dr. G.A.'Saxon' Crackanthrope, a stalwat of the Manly Club, circa 1930.
Dissatifiaction with his ability to ride a surfboard and the possible influence of surf canoes (see above) led to Crakanthorpe's development of the surf ski.
The original design was 8 foot x 28 inches x 6 inches thick with a 12 inches spring in the tail (tail lift), solid cedar planks and a double bladed paddle and footstraps(?).

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 245.
- Bloomfield: Surf Know How (1959) page 69.
- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961)  page 56.


 Other claims to the invention of the surf ski include ...
-  Bill Langford at Maroubra pre World War ll;

- a 1934 design recalled by Denis Green of oil impregnated canvas stretched over a timber frame, again at Maroubra

- Galton: Gladiators (1984)  page 43.


 - a type of ski used by two brothers at Port Macquarie NSW on their oyster leases, and occassionally in the surf circa 1930

- Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) page 160.


 - a "first appearance on Newcastle beaches during the 'twenties, and came to Deewhy about 1932"
 

- Thomas: Deewhy SLSCp(1962) page 31.


 In 1933 Jack Toyer of Cronulla and Dr. J.S. Crackanthrope registered a patent for the surf ski.
 

- Wells: Sunny Memories(1982) page 155.


 The Surf-o-plane was invented by a Sydney doctor circa 1932, Dr Ernest Smithers of Bronte NSW, who worked for eight years to develop it.
-Noted, with thanks by Alison Lee (daughter of Dr. Smithers) by email, September 2001.
A prone craft made of an inflated molded rubber, it was a immediate success.
Apart from the ease of paddling and wave catching due to the buoyancy, danger to the rider and other bathers was mimimal.
For this reason they were accepted in general bodysurfing areas, whereas wooden prone boards were limited to designated boardriding zones.

A patent application (#9929 Class 3) for a "Surf plane" by E. E Smithers and C. D. Richardson was lodged on the 7th October 1932.

- Official Journal of Trade Marks and Designs
Volume 3, Number 13, 1933, page 432.


 "Canoe Race - Indiana (North Bondi), 1; Bronte Hawl (Clovelly), 2; Flying Scud (South Curl Curl), 3.
Junior Surf Boat Race - Bondi (J. Simmons, E. O'Rourke, J. Watson, C Sara, D. Wightman), 1; Maroubra, 2.
A splendid race wonn by less than a yard.
Senior Surf Boat Race - Cronulla A (J. Monro, J. Toyer, R. K. McCaffrey, W. Ellis, J. Turner), 1; Cronulla B, 2; Bondi, 3.
Surf Iifesaving Board Rescue Event- J. Cunningham and K. Weekes (North Bondi), 1; J. Stroud and F. Boorman (North Bondi), 2.
Senior Belt Race - L. Sharp (Queenscliff), 1; J. Miller (Cronulla), 2; A. Laidlaw (North Bondi), 3.
Surfoplane Race - F. Adler (Maroubra), 1."

- North Bondi Surf Carnival.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 20 February 1933, page 5.

On 14th December 1933 the Patent Office accepted a Trade Mark design for the "Surfo-plane":

"CLASS 49
(Games of all kinds and sporting articles not included in other classes.)
61,515 Rubber surf board.
ERNEST ERIC SMITHERS, and CARL WORDSWORTH RICHARDSON,
of 193 Macquarie-street, Sydney, NSW, Australia, manufacturers,
- 11th March, 1933."

- Official Journal of Trade Marks and Designs
Volume 3, Number 13, 1933, page 1421.


Surfo-Plane Trade Mark, 1933.
Official Journal of Trade Marks and Designs
Volume 3, Number 13, 1933, page 1421.
Surfoplane Advertisement, circa 1935.
Thoms: Surfmovies(2000) page 40.



"Palm Beach surfers with solid wood boards, circa 1932."
Brawley: Palm Beach SLSC (1996) page 56.
The female boardrider may be Alrema Samuels.


"Head Immersed in Foam : A Surfboard Artist."
Sydney Mail, 22 March 1933 page 20.
The photograph was included with several illustrating a carnival, possibly the State championships.


surfresearch.com.au
home catalogue history references appendix

Source Documents
books
The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia :
1938 The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook 
Tenth Edition (Revised 1938)
JNO, Evans and Son Printing Coy.,
486-488 Kent Street Sydney, New South Wales
Soft cover, 287 pages, black and white photographs, black and white illustrations, Index.
* Highlights : 
Specifications and 'Instructions for use of' solid wood Alaia surfboard pages 182 - 183
'Specifications for Surf Life Saving Boats' pages 161 - 167.
Also note photographs...
'Propelling a sufboard' page 83, 
Five riders and boards at shoreline (uncaptioned) page 102, 
Surfskis (uncaptioned) page 180, 
'Showing surfboard "shooters" taking a wave' page 181, 
'The Rubber Surf Float' page 267


magazines
The first credited Australian surfing magazine was Manly Surf Club's The Surf, 1st December 1917.
It ran for five editions, till 27 April 1918.

Image Right: 
Vol 1 #1 Cover Margan and Finney, page 85.
 The Deewhy Surfer was a similar publication, 1919-1920.


Making Money at the Beach
in Popular Mechanics July 1934 Vol 62 No. 1 pages 115 - 117
Plans and specifications for a solid wood Bellyboard

web sites
Malcom Gault-Williams:LEGENDARY SURFERS



surfresearch.com.au
home catalogue history references appendix


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