Source Documents
contests : world contest, puerto rico, 1968 

1968 World Contest, Puerto Rico
The Surfboards
The fourth world contest in Puerto Rico confirmed the ongoing development of smaller surfboards with a corresponding increase in surfing performance.
This was a radical change from two years earlier, where boards were invariably longer than 9ft and the US media imagined that noseriding was the ultimate demonstration of progressive wave riding.
Following Nat Young's resounding victory in California, Australian surfers continued to reduce the length of their boards and by late 1967 their new
wide-tailed v-bottomed designs, and their performance, were a revelation to visiting American surfers representing the Windansea surf club.

These new  designs were enthusiastically promoted by the Australian surf media and manufacturers, although their limitations were severely tested in Hawaii in the winter season
of 1967-1968.
in Hawaii shapers such as George Downing, Dick Brewer, Joey Cabell and Ben Apia and  recognised the advantages of the marked reduction in volume and their pin-tail Guns got progressively smaller, until they became Mini-guns.
Back home in Australia, the wide-tailed v-bottom board was suddenly obsolete and was replaced with, usually rounded, pin-tails or small square-tails, commonly known as Trackers.
In California, the local media was hesitant to promote Australian success to the detriment of established manufacturers who struggled with these rapid developments, producing both wide-tail and pin-tail models in conservative lengths,
n both sides of the Pacific there was a flowering of small custom shops; often beginning with striping and re-shaping a now obsolete board in the family garage.

By the Australian Championships in May 1968, all the top competitors rode very different designs compared to what they were surfing  less than six months ago.

Finalists Midget Farrelly and Nat Young, Ted Spencer, and champion Keith Paull  prepared to compete in Puerto Rico, the latter three travelling to France.
Although filmed in France around the same time, Paull, Mark Martinson and Billy Hamilton starred in MacGillivray-Freeman's Waves of Change, whereas Young, Spencer and Australian junior champion, Wayne Lynch, featured in Paul Witzig's Evolution.
From the opening Autumn in Victoria (March 1968?) Lynch shaped and rode five different, and progressively smaller boards, leading up to competing in Puerto Rico in November 1968.

The only competitor riding a wide-tailed v-bottom board (with a blue nose patch), seen in the ABCTV coverage, is
Janice Domorski from Virginia Beach, representing East Coast USA.
Interestingly, David Nuiihwa's brightly coloured board featured are large black-white ying and yang symbol on the deck, later renowned as the logo for the Town and Country label.

The Waves
The nomination of Puerto Rico as the world contest venue was highly unusual, undoubtedly the vast majority of competitors were completely unfamiliar with its surfing potential.
Furthermore, competitive surfing was largely untested in PR, whereas the previous contests in Australia, Peru and California had well established organisations and years of experience in conducting surfing contests.

Based on positive media reports, there was some expectation that the contest would provide large waves to test the competitors' skills, similar to Peru, but in tropical waters, and in contrast to the small wave conditions of Australia and California.
Unfortunately, the Caribbean was particularly docile leading up to the contest and through the first rounds, only coming to life on the very last day.
As the competition was held almost exclusively in right-hand breaks it was not surprising that all the men's finalists were natural-footers.

Unfortunately, the competitors frustration with the lack of swell was compounded by the theft of boards and camera equipment.

The Contest
The early rounds were held at Domes, a break adjacent to a decommissioned nuclear power plant and usually inaccessible to local surfers.
There was no junior division, so Rolf Arness (USA), Reno Abellira (Haw) and Australia's Wayne Lynch competed in the open men's, and the women were forced to compete in sub-standard conditions.
The swell jumped in size on the last day, and after completing the semi-finals at Domes, the final was moved to Rincon.

All events were judged on the best five (5) waves, scored on being in the most critical position on the wave for longest time possible, with functional manoeuvres.
To maximise performance with one man on one wave, an interference rule was enforced.
Critically, before the universal adoption of the leg-rope (or surf-leash) in the mid-1970s, it was vitally important to hang onto the board and a number of high-ranked competitors spent valuable time swimming and failed to complete the required wave count.

Contestants represented various associations including Hawaii (H), West Coast USA (WC), East Coast USA (EC), Puerto Rico (PR), Australia (A), New Zealand (NZ) and South Africa (SA).
A team represented
Ecuador, Britain (UK) sent a four man team including Steve Harewood of Jersey, and Rodney Sumpter single-handedly represented Ireland.
Qualification and attendance was the in the hands of the regional associations, with some anomalies.
The 1968 Australian Women's champion Judy Trim failed to get suitable sponsorship and the Hawaii Surfing Association did not select the team for Puerto Rico, the ISF previously assigning the task to Wally Froiseth.
The US West Coast association sent Mike Doyle as a big wave specialist and a team of suitably equipped board paddlers.
They won the 5000 metre event and, r
emarkably, the Australian Team (Midget Farrelly, Ted Spencer, Peter Drouyn, Nat Young) placed second using their standard boards.

The Media
Surfing Magazines
The contest featured in Californian and Australian magazines, although the articles did not appear until the beginning of the new year:
Surf International, Volume 2 Number 1,  January 1969.
Paul Carey: World Contest  Puerto Rico and Paul Witzig: World Contest  Puerto Rico,
Note that this magazine often avoided using captions to identify the surfers or locations
, Volume 9 Number 6, January 1969
1968 World Contest Edition

International Surfing,
Volume 5 Number 1, February-March 1969.
1968 World Contest

Importantly, the contest was covered by America's ABC
Television's Wide World of Sports, which probably screened sometime in December 1968-January 1969.
WWS had previously covered the Duke Contest in Hawaii and produced a high quality production in rich colour with a combination of beach, helicopter and water footage.
It included the Women's final and the semi-finals and final of the Men's competition.

In the introduction, Bill Fleming noted the considerable change in board length in the past year, illustrated by a 10ft board ridden at Makaha and a current sub-8ft board.

ABC Wide World of Sports Footage (1969)
World Surf Contest 1968 Rincon Puerto Rico:
Mundiales de Surfing 1968 Rincon,Puerto Rico Part 1:

Contest footage appeared in Australian film-maker Paul Witzig's Evolution, released in 1970.
Although primarily concentrating on the film's stars Wayne Lynch, Nat Young and Ted Spencer,
the Peurto Rico sequence features some pre-contest free surfing, some of the heats and the tandem event, and the final of the World Contest.
In particular, note one brief shot of Nat Young and Midget Farrelly sharing a wave.

It also appears that "Irish" competitor and film-maker Rod Sumpter included footage from Puerto Rico in With Surfing in Mind, released in 1969.

World surfing contest 1968 rincon PR:

The Men's Semi Finals, Domes- Results and Comments
Semi Final 1
1. Fred Hemmings (H- Green) 2. Russell Hughes (A- Orange)
Also: Wayne Lynch (A-Black), David Nuuihwa (WC-White), George Thomson (SA-Yellow).
Hemmings is a clear winner, while goofy's Lynch and Nuuihwa are disadvantaged riding backhand, David losses his board and has a low wave count.

Semi Final 2
1. Nat Young (A-Black)  2. Reno Abellira (H-Green)
Also: Skip Frye (WC-White), Pete Johnson (WC-Yellow), Alan Byrne (NZ-Orange).
Young scores a very rare left and is a clear winner, while Al Byrne is disadvantaged riding backhand.
Semi Final 3
1. Midget Farrelly (A - Black)  2. Mike Doyle (WC- Yellow)
Also Corky Carroll (WC - Orange), Joey Cabell (H-Green), Mike Purpus (WC - White).
Doyle losses his board but manages to score some good waves, but Farrelly is the clear winner and comments "We're, lucky, versatile, and don't give up easily."
After breaking his fin on a rock, Cabell is seen riding Nuiihwa's board and, like the other goofys, Carroll is disadvantaged, losses his board and has a low wave count.
In 2011 Corky Carroll recalled his performance in the contest.
The comments are based on ABCWWS TV footage.

World Champions:
Fred Hemmings
and Margo Godrey

The Finals- Results
1. Fred Hemmings - Hawaii
2. Midget Farrelly - Australia
3. Russell Hughes - Australia
4. Nat Young - Australia
5. Mike Doyle - California
6. Reno Abellira - Hawaii
1. Margo Godfrey - California
2. Sharron Weber - Hawaii
3. Phyllis O'Donnell - Australia
4. Martha Sunn - Hawaii
5. Candy Chase - Puerto Rico
6. Janice Domorski - East Coast

1. Ron Ball-Debbie Gustafon - California
2. Dr. Robert Scott-Liz Herd - California & East Coast
3. Rodney Sumpter-Annete Hughes - Ireland & England
4. Fred Hemmings-Leslie Scott - Hawaii & California
5. Mike Doyle-Margo Godfrey - California
1st: West Coast USA
Bill Mount, Kenny Linn,
Jerry Bennette, Mike Doyle.
2nd: Australia
Midget Farrelly, Ted Spencer,
Peter Drouyn, Nat Young.

Dutch Vandervoort: Puerto Rico
Discovered (cover photo)
Surfing June 1968 Volume 1 Number 2

Californian transplant, Dutch Vandervoort, Rincon.                    

Californian Greg Tucker, Jobos.

A number of international competitors arrived at the San Juan airport on 2 November 1968 where Duline McGough, a surfer-paddler from California, photographed a pile of about a dozen surfboards recently unloaded, and none in board bags.
There is considerable variation in lengths
and a range of fin designs, with the shorter boards in the foreground.
In the foreground, the black-railed pintail may have a WaveSet-type fin and box and the very short blue board possibly Reno Abellira's Le Serpent (?).
See: History of Women's Surfing

And also see
(HWS Director) Sheri Crummer: My First surf Trip, 1968.
Please click for image.

Boards at the airport, San Juan.

Puerto Rico, 2 November 1968.
Photo: Duline McGough


Volume 1 Number ?
February 1969.

Mike Doyle, Hansen Surfboards.
Doyle was the big wave reserve
 on the Californian team.

Joey Cabell,
Semi Final 3,
World Contest,

Domes, Puerto
Rico, November 1968.

page 27

Paul Witzig: Surf International, v2n2.

[Midget Farrelly]

[Unknown, bottom turn.]

[Midget Farrelly and ... Wally Froiseth and George Downing?]

[Nat Young top turn.]

Doug Fiske: The Blink of an Eye  -

Wayne Lynch, Domes, Puerto Rico 1968.

Joyce Hoffman, Domes, Puerto Rico 1968.

Margo Godfrey, Domes, Puerto Rico 1968.

Fred Hemmings, Rincon, Puerto Rico, 1968. Photo: David Singletary.

Nat Young and Ski, Puerto Rico, November 1968.

Nat (far left) in pith helmet and Ski, 1968 World Contest Final.
Other Finalists:
Mike Doyle, Russell Hughes, Fred Hemmings,
behind Eduardo) and Reno.
ABC-TV footage
Russell Hughes, Puerto Rico, November 1968.

Keith Paull, Domes, Puerto Rico 1968.
Photo: Barry Church

Midget Farrelly: World contest semi-final.
ABC-TV footage

David Singletary: Surfer: World Contest Edition, Volume 9 Number 6 January 1969
                     Beach Crowd at Domes

Mike Purpus out of an "S" turn.

David Nuuihwa faces left gas

Skip Frye, Domes/Rincon. (photo Grannis?)
Mike (ten-foot-over) Doyle. WSA's top finisher.

Mickey Gose (&?): International Surfing

1968 World Championships Edition
Volume 5 Number 1, February-March 1969.

Fred Hemmings and Midget Farrelly tied for first place,
 but the Hawaiian was declared the winner by including an extra wave.

California's David Nuuhiwa was pushed out of the running when he lost his board twice, even though he executed some good back-side turns.

Corky Carroll, the WSA Champ, rode very well but didn't quite make the semi-finals.
Ben Apia showed his excellent surfing ability with his powerful turns and drive but did not make it to the finals.

While carving and working over waves, Joey Cabell broke his fin on a rock and had to finish his heat riding Nuuhiwa's gun.
From the East Coast team, Gary Propper showed powerful and lightning fast cutbacks.

Reno Abellira from Hawaii was pushed into sixth place by California's Mike Doyle.
Larry Miniard from the East Coast showed a good smooth style but the competition was too much.

Australia's Wayne Lynch turns his board with unbelievable speed and force.

Australia's 1967 World Champion Nat Young executing an "S" turn while getting ready for preliminary heats at Rincon.
                                             Midget Farrelly tracking a perfect right slide.                                                             Midget drops down in a closeout section.

A close up of Midgets's cutback.                                  Fifteen year-old Margo Godfrey ripping across Domes' glassy walls during the Women's finals.

  Fred Hemmings, Men's World Surfing Champion, 1968. (centre-spread)

Little Reno Abellira on a wave almost twice his height.                                                           Fred Hemmings paddles out against the traffic.
The Domes, sight (sic) of all the World Contest semi-finals.                                    California's Mike Doyle driving through a hot section for fifth place.
          Mike Doyle turning into a hot section.

Margo Godfrey, Puerto Rico
Surfer Poll: July 1969)

World Contest Surfboard Dimensions
Most of these dimensions are roughly estimated from photographs and film; the longest board appears to be Fred Hemmings' 8ft 6''.
Midget Farrelly:  8 ft? pintail, Midget Farrelly Surfboards, red bottom with blue foil, yellow deck and red rails.
Russell Hughes: 8 ft?  square-tail, shaped by Bob McTavish, yellow.
Keith Paull: 7ft 10"?, The Foil by Bing Surfboards, red bottom and white deck.
Shaped at Michael Barrland Surfboards, France:
Nat Young:  +7 ft round tail, clear with three glue-lines and hand painted decal: The Young Weber
Ted Spencer: +7ft round tail, clear with glue-line stringers.
Wayne Lynch:
+7ft round tail, clear with glue-line stringers.
Fred Hemmings: 8ft 6", Greg Noll Surfboards shaped by Ben Apia, red with yellow deck, fin box and moulded fin.
Ben Apia : +8ft, Greg Noll Surfboards, red bottom and rails, yellow deck
Joey Cabell: 8 ft?  pintail, clear with down rails.
Reno Abellira: Le Serpent mini-gun by Dick Brewer?, blue with light blue deck, down rails.
6ft 7" x 18.75" x 2.6" single glassed round-pin, weighing 8 lbs, including the fin.
Mike Doyle : +8ft pintail, Hansen Surfboards, blue rails and white deck, fin box and moulded fin
Skip Frye: +7ft? square-tail, Gordon and Smith Surfboards, yellow with a green nose patch. 
David Nuuihwa: 7 ft 8"? pintail, red with white-blue deck and  ying-yang  logo, down rails?
Unknown -  riding standing on what looks like a blue 5 ft knee-board (???)

Corky Carroll: Semi Final 3
In 2011 Corky recalled his participation in the contest :
Through the preliminaries and quarter finals I had no problems getting through at all.
(The semi-final ...) was a 30-minute heat.
 I started out with three very good scores and was confident that I was winning the heat.
My forth wave came at about the 16-minute mark.
It was a very long wall and I had a solid score going (but in going for) a big "fly away" kickout  (the following wave)   took my board before I could get to it.
By the time I reached the beach to retrieve it the heat was over and I only had four waves.
I still had the highest four scores but my total left me within a point of advancing to the finals.
Midget and Doyle advanced and I took third.
Soooo close, yet no gold.

- Corky Carroll’s Surf’s Up column: 1968 World Surfing Championship one for the ages
Orange County Register, Sept. 25, 2011,
viewed January 2012.

Corky Carroll, Cottons Point.

An East Coast View
Rod Rogers identified himself in
Beach Crowd at Domes and in a page devoted to the 1968 World Contest recalled his days in Puerto Rico:
I spent most of the semi-finals and finals surfing 2nd Rock at Maria's Point with the surf in the 8-12' range.
Mostly rode my Paipo-60, but also spent some time on a friend's McTavish V-Bottom.
We grommets didn't care too much for the California group, nor for Fred Hemmings.
They all seemed so constipated on their long boards and went about town with an inflated sense of self-importance.
David Nuuwiha and Reno Abellira rocked on down-the-line speed and the Aussies were lot's of fun with their progressive approach to wave riding and friendly dispostion
--they also would loan us groms their boards!
Drew Kampion captured these feelings correctly in his coffee table book, Stoked!

Rod Rodgers: 1968 World Contest Rincon, Puerto Rico, November 5-14, 1968


Geoff Cater (2018) : Puerto Rico World Contest, 1968.