|Tom Morey's Nose
Riding Contest at Ventura in mid-1965 had a significant impact on
Californian surfing technique and surfboard design until 1968, when the
American market was substantially challenged by the influence of "short-board
revolution", commonly thought to have originated in Australia in mid-1967.
Morey designed the
contest to apply objective judging criteria to performance and encourage
board designers to concentrate on one specific design feature.
Existing film confirms
much of the subsequent written accounts of the contest and also indicates
that the collation of the scores was, at best, rudimentary.
(1997), page 103.
On the day, the Hobie
Surfboards team, riding a number of boards specifically designed by Phil
Edwards, won both natural and goofy first places.
However, "by a judging error ; Mike Hynson of San Deigo actually won."
- Kampion: Stoked (1997) page 103.
first reported on the Morey Noseriding Contest in September 1965 in an
article by Patrick McNulty: "Their surfing for big contest $$$"
Surfer Magazine September 1965, Volume 6 Number 4, pages 64 to 69
Surfing's trend to professionalism was underscored over the Fourth of July weekend when the Tom Morey Invitational scattered hard cash for some of best surfers in the sport.
Thee contest was
really unique- not only for offering cash prizes.
The 24 specially invited surfers who put up a $50 entry fee to back up their reputations were judged solely on nose riding.
They were graded on exactly how long- by a stop watch- they could ride the nose across Ventura Point waves.
The contest brought out some weird, specially-built boards as well as such surfers as Corky CarroII, Donald Takayama, Robert August, Dewey Weber and Mickey Munoz.
Nose-riding off with the top prizes were Munoz and goofy-footer Corky Carroll.
There were two divisions -Regular and Goofy-Foot.
After the Morey
contest the stoked "professional" surfers raised the battle "On to Lahaina."
Another nose-riding contest is planned for this famous whaling port on the Hawaii island of Maui in the fall.
The contest is planned along the lines of the Ventura contest with entry fees and a pot of gold worth $7000.
It looks as if the old days when surfing contests were held just for fun and not for profit are long gone.
Evidence that the
projected contest on Maui ever eventuated is, currently, unclear, however
there is a report of a second noseriding contest held at Ventura in
November, 1966 (see below).
It was about another ten years before McNulty's prophesy, that surfing was about to enter a professional competitive era, was fully realised.
In the same edition
of Surfer, Hobie Surfboards offered a teaser to the up coming release
of their noseriding model on the prestigious page two, inside the front
Hobie Surfboards: What are they talking about? (Advertisement)
Surfer Magazine September 1965, Volume 6 Number 4, page 2.
Under a photograph of the team members sitting around several boards on the beach, the text read:
What do you think
they are saying? -They are saying, be serious, our picture is being taken.
But what they really have been talking about lately is the new model HOBIE SURFBOARD that will be out soon.
We wish that we could tell you more about it, but we still have some more experimenting to do.
We do feel that we have discovered something big in surfboard design using a new principle in bottom shape.
In the past we have the mistake of bringing out some things too quickly, but other innovations we have taken too long to introduce and have been copied so fast that no one knew who originated the idea.
We feel that our new board is worth protecting as it well could be the basic design for all future surfboards.
By the next issue of SURFER we should have it perfected and available.
The HOBIE SURFBOARD SHOP was the originator of the modern surfboard and first with a signature model (Phil Edwards).
We are first in competition, too.
So far this year we have compiled 58 points in overall USSA competition to our next competitor's 34 points.
Now with a new shape of surfboard, designed by Phil Edwards, we may be first in revolutionizing surfboard design.
The next edition
of Surfer was designated as an "Special Nose Riding Issue",
featuring several pertinent articles and advertisements by surfboard manufacturers.
Bill Cleary looked back at the Morey Contest in "Nose Riding - A sport within a sport."
Surfer Magazine, November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, pages 24 to 35.
The Tom Morey Invitational (held in July at Ventura, California) provides us a good example, for here was a contest devoted exclusively to noseriding.
Twenty-two of California's best surfers were invited to participate for $750 in cash prizes.
Twenty-five percent of the board's length was defined as the nose.
Those surfers who spent the most time on the nose, as measured by judges with stopwatches, were the winners.
This was the first surfing contest ever held in which a winner was determined by objective criteria.
But the real importance for development of the sport was that there were "no equipment restrictions."
Manufacturers were stimulated to create a specialized surfboard -one designed to be ridden most efficiently on the nose under the surf conditions at a specific surfing spot.
There were categories
for stock boards and special boards, left-foot leads and right-foot leads.
The special boards ran away with it: Munoz (Hobie Surfboards), Hynson (Gordon and Smith Surfboards) and Carroll (Hobie) clocked noserides of 9.9, 9.8 and 9.6 seconds, respectively, while in the stock board class Nuuhiwa (Bing Surfboards) and Leonardo (unknown) tied for the longest nose rides at 5.8 seconds.
The vast difference in performance between the two classes cannot be explained by a greater or lesser ability on the nose.
The answer is - Equipment: and all ...
... the prototype boards designed by the various manufacturers functioned beautifully.
So watch the new boards.
Watch the new surfers.
A new era of nose-riding may be at hand.
Tom Morey's Nose
Ventura, July 1965.
Photograph by Bruce Brown.
Edwards (1967) page 122.
Carroll and Hobie Nose-Rider, Poche, July 1965.
Photograph by Ron Stoner
Kampion (1997) page 105.
For Corky Carroll's
comments on the Morey Noseriding Contest, see:
The fleet of boards
prepared for Hobie Team members by Phil Edwards and Hobie Alter featured
a deeply concaved nose design and its competive success and advantages
were heavily promoted in advertisements and articles.
Phil Edwards gave
a brief, but erudite, technical analysis of the design's development to
Bill Cleary for his "Nose Riding - A sport within a sport" article.
Edwards explained that it was not the ideas behind the board that were
unique, but collective application of them.
He credited the board's basic ideas to an earlier inventor: "Simmons was the only one who ever took a real academic approach to the thing (design).
What he did with surfboards is still pretty much what we're riding today.
In fact, the best way I can describe our noseriding board is a Simmons board with the nose cut off - a speedboat turned backwards with planing lines in the front.
It had all been
done before ... but never quite like this.
We put it all together deliberately: the big, wide nose, the concave area, the flat bottom up there - all to make the surfboard trim on the nose.
In preparation for the contest we built three other models that had more or less emphasis on one of the three elements.
And they worked.
But the really dramatic results came from putting all three elements together at one time with a single purpose in mind.
I was really proud of it."
Californian board builder, Bob Simmons, had used significant concave in
the tails of his renowned wide-tailed Spoons of the late 1940s- early 1950s,
Edwards relocated the feature to the nose.
Simmons had based
his designs on his treasured copy of Lindsay Lord's Naval
Architecture of Planing Hulls (1946).
"Special Nose Riding Issue", Hobie Surfboards promoted the noserider
design (hinted in the previous issue), as usual, on page two inside the
Some of the accompanying images are reproduced below (cropped):
Hobie Noserider designer, Phil Edwards.
November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, page2.
in design between the Hobie Noserider and other boards entered in the contest
was that all other makes of boards were variations of the standard principal
of nose riding surfboards.
They had wide noses with good scoop and a fair amount of belly.
The Hobie Noserider was based around a completely opposite theory -no scoop, with a flat planing surface on the front third of the board and a concave bottom in that area.
The reason for the board's superior performance is that by having a flat planing section, it doesn't push water and lose speed.
By maintaining its speed, it maintains its lift.
The board also gains addtional lift by the concave bottom section.
The board shown above is one of the radical versions with a wider nose and is wider over-all.
This board has proven to be an exceptionally fun board, especially in fast shore breaks.
The more practical
model is our conventional noserider has the same shape as our standard
boards, with the concave, flat bottom section added to the nose area.
This makes for an all-around performance board with superior noseriding qualities.
This board is not shown because we were working on variations of it at the time the pictures were taken.
For further information on the Hobie s Noserider, contact your local Hobie dealer.
and the subsequent advertising, was a spectactular success that established
noseriding as the epitome of small wave surfing skill, at least in California.
Noseriding models (most variations of the concave-nose Hobie design) proliferated by all the mainland manufacturers:
The Eliminator by Greek Surfboards
The Ugly by Con Surfboards (see below)
The Penetrator by John Peck/Morey-Pope Surfboards
The Performer by Weber Surfboards, and
The Stretch by Gordon and Smith Surfboards.
These variously featured
a combination of flat nose rocker, narrow high kicked tails, and concave
noses and/or stepped decks.
Importantly, the Snub, a post-contest noeriding design by Tom Morey, was one of the first designs to have low rails in the front half of the board.
The radical contours of the SNUB make great maneuverability, speed and 30 second noserides possible on one board.
True, the SNUB looks strange, but so did a jet the first time you saw one.
Text and image from:
The other inventions detailed in the advertisement were #1 The Trisect and #2 Slipcheck, an aerosol wax replacement (see below).
The down or low rail had further development by Mike Hynson, Mike Haley and Skipp Frye at Gordon and Smith Surfboards and was an integral feature of the Side-slipper, circa 1969, before becoming the industry standard by 1972.
A fine textured coating for the nose or tail of your board which is so firm when wet it completely eliminates slipping.
Apply SLIPCHECK once, touch up occasionally.
For sale in white only.
One can, $3.50, is more than enough for initial coat plus touch ups.
Morey-Pope Slipcheck Advertisement titled "Inventions".
Surfer Magazine January 1966, Volume 6 Number 6, page 66.
Fin by Tom Morey's Skeg Works
8 x 9 1/2 b @ n/a inches (Approximation)
Tom Morey Skeg Works
Unaccredited, and unexplained, fin designs at Morey's contest included the use of "additional contol skegs" and the "fin stabilizer":
Offset Fin Boxes ?
8 x 9 1/2 b @ n/a inches
Stabilizer (on D fin)
8 x 9 1/2 b @ n/a inches
A nose patch,
a marked section of the front 25% of the board, became a common decor feature.
Manufacturers often added these, usually with coloured resin and some times a fabric inlay, but many riders added the decor to their boards post-production.
This was a excellent marketing tool for Morey-Pope's coloured aerosol wax alternative -Slipcheck
and its competitor, Grip-Feet.
Photograph : Leroy Grannis
Surfing Magazine March 1984
Volume 20 Number 3 page 82
Noseriding Contest, November 12th, 1966.
The following account may contain some inaccuracies.
Note that variations of the "10 pound bar-bell taped to a tail, and a 'Wing' attached to a fin" had already appeared at the first contest, the former (a house brick) a noted failure.
It's the crack
of dawn on Saturday, the 12th of November, 1966.
Most of the audience, about two thousand people, gladly pays an entrance fee of $1 to see the performances of fifty top professional surfers from around the world, who gather for the Morey-Pope 2nd United States Professional Invitational Surfing Championships at the Ventura Fairgrounds surf spot, locally known as "Stables."
Each of the fifty
competitors and their surfboard manufacturer/sponsor(s) have the intent
to push nose-riding-for-time to the extreme.
Every surfboard manufacturer has dug deep to come up with the ultimate nose-riding design.
The rules are simple but madness abounds.
Some strange designs appear; beside a 10 pound bar-bell taped to a tail, and a "Wing" attached to a fin, there are other oddities.
timing system provides fair judging, which satisfies the contestants and
gives the captured crowd a simple to understand test of skill.
The winner is anticipated to generate more publicity than they have ever known, great money and prizes.
Perched like casual Gods on the nose, striking ethereal poses in effortless motion, the competitors clock incredible distances, drawing an ever building thunderous cheer.
Con Colburn, of
Con Surf House, is the manufacturer of a top-secret design.
With Bob Purvey, a top competitor, at the helm, they have collaborated to devise what seems to them the logical curves necessary to accomplish their goal: TO WIN!
On the last ride
of the day Purvey catches a five foot wave "..turned high and went to the
nose, the section came up, he backed off, dropped, repositioned himself
with two steps and came out on the nose.
Then the wave broke ahead and he straightened off then turned into the wave and clocked two more seconds while in the soup.
He made no mistakes whatsoever." (from Competition Surf Magazine, Spring 1967).
Crowds ring Purvey, not to shake his hand but to check out his stick.
It's March, 1967.
In a full page ad in Surfer magazine Con introduces the board and summarizes the contest and the Ugly design: "It's called 'the Ugly'.
Bob Purvey out rode the top professionals in the 1966 U.S. Championship Invitational Nose-riding contest at Ventura, with the highest nose-riding time of 41.5 seconds for 6 waves.
An average of 7 seconds per wave. Purvey won the admiration of every rider and surfboard maker for his superior wave knowledge and ability. Bob gives the credit to his UGLY.
EVERYBODY WANTS IT ANYWAY!
No matter how you look at it, the only thing beautiful about the UGLY is the way it handles in the water.
There is certainly nothing handsome about the twenty inch nose one foot from the tip, able to support full weight on take-off or cut-backs.
Beauty prizes will never be given for the parallel rails that holds smooth trim as the board glides down the wall of any wave, or give precision control in turning from the nose.
And the really Ugliest part is the silly looking, scooped-out popped up six inch square tail that sets into the water and causes downward pressure exerted on the tail for opposite reaction to the nose.
What we are trying to say is that nobody cares how it looks, because it was designed for function as an all around board as well as a nose-rider!
See the ugliest board ever built at your local Con Surfboard Dealer."
Nose riding models were reproduced in the 1990's with the increased popularity of the modern Malibu.