history : tom blake 1935
This board successfully performed to Blake's expectactions, however the extreme weight was a major difficulty. His first experiment, hollowing out a solid board, had been attempted previously -
as 1918 Claude West had experimented to make a hollow
board, chippig and
gouging out a solid redwood slab and fitting a small
sealed and screwed
The experiment was not a success; plywoods were not yet, nor plastic glues, timbers were sun dried intead of kiln dried as now, and sun-cracks quickly gaped to let in water.
'Snowy' McAllister of Manly...also experimented with chipped out boards.
He, too, was unsuccessful, though he improved on the West model, also steamling the tail in the hope of gaining more speed."
Maxwell , pages 239-240.
attempts at hollowing boards had been made by other surfers
however a combination of drilled holes and extended curing made a noticable difference in weight
was sixteen feet long and weight 120 pounds."
Blake also reported the length of this board as 14 ft 6 inches in 1935, see below.
a solid slab of redwood 16' long, 2' wide and 4" thick.
It weighed around 150 pounds - too heavy to be of service as a surfboard, even when shaped.
So to lighten it he drilled hundreds of holes in it from top to bottom, each hole removing a cylinder of wood four inches long.
Then he left the holey board season for a month.
After the wood had fully dried he covered the top and bottom surfaces with a thin layer of wood, sealing the holes. I
t finished up 15' long, 19" wide and 4" thick, looking like a cigar.
It's weight was only 100 lbs, because it was partly hollow."
Nat History page 49
The second edition of History of Surfing (1994) is dedicated to Tom Blake who died May 5, 1994, aged 92.
see below, notes a
third length for
this board of 14 ft 6 inches.
There is some confusion as to these board's actual lengths.
It is possible that the board's length was reduced between 1926 and 1930, due to modifications or repairs - it certainly reduced in weight..
The board's paddling performance was demonstrated in 1928 when, after a slow start, Tom Blake emphatically won the 880 yards paddling race at the Pacific Coast Surfing Contest, Balboa, California. Blake, page 59
part of 1929, after three years of experimenting, I
introduced at Waikiki
a new type of surfboard;...but in reality the design was
taken from the
ancient Hawaiian type of board, also from the English
Blake, page 51
of this board is unclear, in Blake's notes does "English
refer to the template, the ribbed construction or both?
It may have used...
- the drilled hole technique
- laminated with chambered strips, or
- built form a timber frame and covered with a layer of the newly developed marine grade ply- wood, in the manner of racing shells or canoes of the period.
or some combination of these methods.
Given the reported weight of only 60 pounds, one of the latter methods seems most likely.
The template of this board was radically streamlined compared to it's predecessor.
The application of a light skin over a ridgid frame for boats dates back to the Irish chonicle or the Innuit kayak.
a 'cigar board', because a newspaper reporter thought it
was shaped like
a giant cigar. This board was really graceful and
beautiful to look at,
and in performance so so ggod that officials of the Annual
Blake, pages 51 - 52.
" ... a
board sixteen feet long. The new riding board was a great
success and Duke
Kahanamoku built his great 16 - foot hollow redwood board
along about the
same time. He is an excellent craftsman and shapes the
lines and balance
of his boards with the eye; he detects its irregularities
by touch of the
Blake, page 52
current aircraft and boat building techniques into surfboard
his design of a light timber frame covered with plywood panels
in a huge weight reduction.
On 18th April, 1931 Thomas Edward Blake submitted three pages with a detailed drawing for a ' Water Sled'. and was subsequently granted US Patent No. 1,872,230 by the US Patents and Trademarks Office, Washington DC.
Initially viewed with scepticism, the paddling advantages were emphatically demonstrated as Tom Blake dominated paddle races in California and Hawaii in the 1930’s.
Aware of the
saving potential of such a craft and an enthusiastic promoter
of his sport,
Tom Blake gave his design international exposure by
blueprints and construction details, principally in various
Magazines of the period. See below, or Plans
Circa 1934 Tom
added a small water ski type fin/skeg to one of his hollow
Although an significant addition, because of the emphasis on paddling, the small size relative to the board, the increased danger and the difficulty in attachment, many riders do not consider fins as a necessity.
It rarely appears on Australian examples of long Hollows.
Nub Fin/ Keel
2 x 12 b @ 6? inches (Approximation)
I have the Hawaiian Surf Board, with a great Thompson logo on it.
Both are painted bright red and varnished.
the '34 brochure, $8.00 for the Surf Board and $12.00 for
Know-how in the Surf
Angus and Robertson 89 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
1961 Harris, Reg. S.The
of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961
Published by Manly Life Saving Club, NSW Printed by Publicity Press Ltd.
1964 Severson, John:
Around the World
Doubleday and Company, Inc, Garden City New York.
1965 Farrelly, Midget. As
McGregor, Craig : This Surfing Life
Rigby Limited, James Place, Adelaide
1966 Finney, Ben and
D. : Surfing – A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport
Pomegranate Books P.O. Box 6099 Rohnert Park, CA 94927 Reprint 1996
1968 Kahanamoku, Duke With
Joe: Duke Kahanamoku’s World of Surfing
Angus and Robertson Publishers Sydney , Australia 1972 2nd Edition A&R Paperbacks, Sydney , Australia
Jack (ed.) : Ampol’s Sporting Records
Jack Pollard Pty. Ltd., 42 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060
Reprinted 1969, 1971, 1973
1970 Margan, Frank and
R. : A Pictorial History of Surfing
Paul Hamlyn Pty Ltd, 176 South Creek Road, Dee Why West, NSW 2099.
1964 Pollard, Jack
The Australian Surfrider
K.G.Murray Publishing Co.P/L,142 Clarence Street , Sydney Australia
1972 The Best of
(Vol. I) Editors : Falzon, Albert; Stewart, John; Grissim,
Tracks Publishing Co Pty Ltd. P.O. Box 178 Avalon, NSW.
'Bob McTavish’s Personal History of Surfboard Design – Pods for Primates Parts 1' (pages 120 – 122).
1992 Stell, Marion K.
Collins Angus & Robertson Publishers (Australia) Pty. Limited
A division of Harper Collins Publishers (Australia) Pty. Limited
25 Ryde Road, Pymble NSW 2073, Australia
1979 Pearson, Kent : Surfing
of Australia and New Zealand
University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Queensland
1997 Warshaw, Matt : Surfriders
In Search of the Perfect Wave
Tehabi Books, Inc. Collins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
1978 Warwick, Wayne
A Guide to
Surfriding in New Zealand Second Edition
Viking Sevenseas Ltd Wellington, New Zealand
1979 Young, Nat ;
McCausland, Bill: Nat Young’s Book of Surfing
A.H. & A.W. Reed Pty. Ltd. 53 Myroora Rd, Terry Hills, Sydney.
1983 Young, Nat with
: The History 0f Surfing
Palm Beach Press,40 Palm Beach Road, Palm Beach NSW 2108
1997 Kampion, Drew:
A History of Surf Culture
General Publishing Group Los Angles
1998 Second edition by Benedikt Tashen Verlag GmbH, Hohenzollernring 53, D-50672 Koin.
1991 Carroll, Nick (editor):
Next Wave : A Survey of World Surfing
Collins Angus & Robertson Publishers Pty Ltd 4 Eden Park, 31 Waterloo Road, North Ryde NSW 2113
I've been meaning to get back to you on some info (interesting but not earth shattering) I discovered on Frances E. Cunningham Blake. She was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on July 8, 1907 and was 1/8 American Indian. Frances must have been very young when she married Tom. She and Tom were passengers on the Calawai which departed from Honolulu, Hawaii and arrived in San Pedro, California on Dec. 12, 1925. Frances was 18 and Tom was 23 at the time.
Frances' parents, Alfred and Laura Cunningham were each 1/16 American Indian. Her older brother, Edward was 14 years her senior. I don't know what happened to her dad, but Frances and her mom were living with the Lombard family in Los Angeles in 1920 and Edward was still on the ranch in Oklahoma. Robert Lombard was her mom's brother. Frances was 12 years old when the 1920 census was taken.
I cannot find Frances (Cunningham or Blake) on the 1930 U.S. census. Either her name was misspelled, she was not counted, or she had died or remarried when the 1930 census was taken.
I have records of a few other return trips Tom had made from Hawaii but Frances was never on the passenger list.
Tom was on the list of the Calawai when it arrived in Wilmington, Ca. on Nov. 1, 1930.
He was aboard the ship, City of Los Angeles on Oct. 2, 1931 on it's arrival in Wilmington.
On June 18, 1932, he traveled on the Calawai from Honolulu to Los Angeles.
Tom arrived in Los Angeles aboard the Lurline on March 6, 1937.
The next record I have of his arrival from Hawaii was on July 16, 1941 on the ship, Matsonia. He just missed the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The final passenger list I found with Tom's name was from the Lurline on April 17, 1950.
Right after my last email in November, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She died on Dec. 18. My dad is still having a difficult time coping with the loss. They would have been married 65 years next month.