pods for primates: a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900
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surfresearch.com.au 
  appendix : about this page 

about this page
1. Introduction
surfresearch.com.au is a free online annotated surfcraft museum, compiled as a necessary part of the evolution of surfing history.
The site is a work in progress - currently Version # 174.
Some data is unknownly incorrect, and needs correction.
When data is to be found to be incorrect, it is changed.
Some data is known to be incorrect and requires correction, but has a low priority.
Spelling and grammatical errors are rife.
Many sections are incomplete, in some case skeletal.
All sources are credited, where possible.
Everthing else is my work and is copyright Geoff Cater, 1999 - 2011.
Enquiries and contributions are encouraged, see Correspondence.
Disclaimer :
 I have never worked in the surfboard industry.
My personal manufacturing experience is limited to ...
-  a few boards built in the Great 'Backyard Butchery" Outbreak of 1968-9 and the early 1970's Soul Surfer Cosmic Experiment.
- a long history of repairs and restorations, a large number of boards in my personal collection have been extensively worked (I simply could not afford to pay a professional to put in the hours required).
My knowledge is based on my observations of surfboards, discussion with board builders and riders, and reading any available design related literature.
It is possible that I may have this all wrong.

2. The Title
Pods for Primates takes its title from Bob McTavish's articles Pods for Primates: A Personal History of Surfboard Design, Part 1 and Part 2" , originally published by Tracks Magazine sometime in 1972. They were subsequently reprinted (circa 1972) in The Best of Tracks Vol 1 (pages 120 – 124). The article was accompnied by several excellent photographs.

The article's title refers to the introduction of the Malibu board to Australia in 1956. 'Pod' was a term for a standard square tail Malibu board circa 1963, see Kevin Platt in Pollard : The Australian Surfrider , page 23. Subsequently the term referred specifically to the tail itself.

'for Primates' hints at both the relative primative stage of surfing in Australia in 1956 and also the evolutionary development  of surfboard design, a theme frequently featured in surf literature, of which Mickey Dora's “da Cat’s Theory of Evolution” ad for Greg Noll Surfboards is the most infamous example (Re-printed in  Noll, Greg With Gabbard, Andrea: Da Bull – Life Over The Edge  - photo section).


3. The Quotation
 "Je résolus de m'informer du pourquoi et de transformer ma volupté en connaissance..."
- Baudelaire, 1860

Translation : "I set out to discover the why of it, and to transform my pleasure into knowledge."

No, I have not read Baudelaire.
My source is Robert Hughes : The Shock of the New, Thames and Hudson Ltd. London 1980.
The quotation appears in the introduction, page 7.

Originally I failed to transcribe the translation correctly - and I couldn't find the overstrike (é) on my key board.
The correct translation was contributed by Guilhem Rainfray, Guéthary, France. June 2005.
Many thanks to Guilhem, and apologies to l'Académie Française.
(http://www.academie-francaise.fr/ )


4. Lou Morath's 1938 Alaia
 I came across this magnificent board fortuously at International Conservation Services, Chatswood in 1999, where it had been restored. I was able to take a few basic photographs and dimensions, gain some historical material from the detatched metal dedication plate, and dicuss the restoration process with the craftsman.

Enthused with the beauty of the board, that night I browsed a heavily thumbed copy of Margan and Finney's A Pictorial History of Surfing, 1971 and was amazed to find a photograph of the board and rider in 1940 (page 118). Further research  identified the branded logo as that of the Outrigger Canoe Club, Honolulu (virtually confirming its Hawaiian connection) and additional information about Lou Morath and the 1939 Pacific Games in C. Bede Maxwell's Surf : Australians Against the Sea, 1949 and Reg Harris' The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961, 1961 (additional photograph page Forty-four).

The craftsmanship and design exhibited by the board refute any possible derogatry description such as 'plank' or 'log'. Contact with the Balmoral Beach Club in August 2000 led to conversations with Dick Morath (son/grandson of Lou) who reported that the board was shaped by Lou Morath in Australia before 1939, the origin of the Outrigger Canoe Club logo a mystery.


5. The Catalogue
   The Catalogue started in 1981 when, while talking with Jeff (Foxy) Fox about surfboards, we put to paper a list of theboards we owned since starting surfing. Foxy's list  totalled 15 boards, while mine was 25, including 3 retired boards.These boards (#23, #24 and #25) became the basis for a collection of surfcraft and the list continued to expand.

By 1996 the 'list'comprised detailed specifications and photographs of approximately 60 boards with book and magazine  references to place the board designs in historical context. In 1997 I started editing and storing the reference sections of  'the Catalogue' digitally and in 1999 a first draft went online. These now comprise the History, References and Appendix sections of Pods for Primates.

The Catalogue is largely based on my own collection, supplemented by others that are on pulic display, from boards I see at Old Mal Contests,  auctions, other local collectors and submitted examples from contributors.

n 2000 the first entries to the Catalogue were added and  the numbering system is basically the order in which the boards were added to my original list and have no other significance.

The Catalogue, as at December 2002, is a reasonable coverage for the period 1900 to 1984 (Simon Anderson's Thruster).
Entries in absentia include hollow plywoods (paddleboards and okinuees), Keel fin circa 1971, Ski tail circa 1975, Wilderness Hull circa 1970. A Side Slipper circa 1970, Bonzer circa 1974, and Step Bottom circa 1965 and several sailboards are in preparation.


6. A Brief History of Surfcraft in Australia Since 1900
Orignally a chronology, some entries have exceeded their brief, none so much as Duke Kahanamoku's 'introduction of surfing in 1915', which now appears as Duke 1914.
The History section is an on going project that currently is a convoluted mess, requiring a lot of work. I am progressively working my way through this in fits and starts, some sections are reasonably coherent - others merely a chopped up copy of previous work.
7. The Glossary

1.The Glossary contains only terminology specific to surboard design, it does not have entries for general surfing terms - see Cralle below.
2.Many entries are currently uncredited to their sources, an unfortunate oversight that will be corrected in the (not so near) future.
3.Although much of this work was completed before I had access to it, Trevor Cralle's The Surfinary – A Dictionary of Surfing Terms and Surfspeak 1991 has been invaluable for review and the addition of US specific terms.
A second edition was published in 2001.
4. New Zealand entries thanks to Tony Reid.
5. Also see Books, any indicated as containing a Glossary.

Entry Format : Model Name or Term / Common Alternative Term/ Uncommon Alternative Term / (common application) / (applications) : Explanation and historical notes.* Editor’s comments.


8. Information and Inspiration
Since beginninig work on the page, many people have offered invaluable contributions of boards, books, information and inspiration. Some are listed below..
Frank Cater
Carmel Niland
J.S. O'Sullivan
Bruce White (Sydney University Board Riders, 1970)
Ken Grieves (Sydney University Board Riders, 1970)
Geoff Fox
John McInnes
Paul Flack
Dave Mattison and Jim Parkinson (Jackson Surfboards)
Scott Dillon (Scott Dillon Surfboards),
Steven Thompson (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service)
Paul Hundley (Australian National Maritime Museum)
Jack Finlay (Surfworld, 1998)
Russell Graham (Moonlight Laminating)
Peter Turner (Kirra Surf Shop)
Jack Eden
Greg Bennett (Bennett Surfboards)
Greg Millet (Dion Chemicals)
Al Wilson (Al Wilson Surfboards)
Ray Moran (Manly Surf life Saving Club)
Mick Mock
Tony Reid (The Longboard Shop, NZ)
Malcom-Gault Williams (The Legendary Surfers Homepage)
John Elwell
Dick Morath (Balmoral Beach Club)
Paul D Gross
Ric Gliddon.
9. Dating
Although not often required, I endorse the approach of David Abulafia, who noted:

Another contentious issue is whether to use the Christian labels for dates, BC and AD, or the modern substitutes, BCE and CE, or indeed (as Joseph Needham used to recommend) a simple '-' and '+'.
Since these variants produce exactly the same dates as BC and AD I am not sure what advantage they bring; and those who are uncomfortable with Before Christ and Anno Domini are free to decide that BC and AD stand for some other combination of words, such as 'Backward chronology' and 'Accepted date'.
- Abulafia, David: The Great Sea- A Human History of the Mediterranean
Allen Lane, London, 2011, page xvi.

Alternatively, bp  (that is, before the present), is used for dates established by carbon dating.
The present is defined as
before 1st January 1950, after which carbon-dating is unreliable due to the interference from atmospheric nuclear testing.

10. Images/Copyright
Originally the Catalogue was an text based attempt to define and describe surfcraft, with minimal reliance on images.
This was to reduce my own costs (mainly photograph processing and the purchase of books and magazines), avoid time consuming image scanning and manipulation, reduce domain size, allow the pages to load faster, and to minimumise any possible copyright difficulties.
This is clearly unsatisfactory; images do provide information beyond the capabilities of text, they are integral to historical analysis, and translate wonderfully to the medium.
Please note..
1. All images fully credited were possible.
Images deemed unsuitable by the registered copyright holder will be removed immediately on notification.
2. Images are only used where they add substantially to the text.
3. In many cases the image has been cropped and/or enhanced to focus on relevant features - this is usually noted.
4. The images are scanned to the smallest size that allows reasonable identification and fast loading.
This is invariably smaller than their original printed versions.
5. A majority of the images, such as portraits, are reproduced in black and white, even if originally colour.
6. All images are compressed before uploading, again to promote fast page loading.

Everthing else is my work and is Copyright Geoff Cater, 1999.
 Please contact me at geoff@surfresearch.com.au for further correspondence.
This web page has been produced as a necessary part of the evolution of Surfing.
( - with apologies to 1960's record bootleggers).


Frank and
        Geoff Cater, Bondi Beach, 1953. Photo by Betty Cater.
Frank Cater and Geoff Cater
Bondi Beach Sydney NSW. Summer 1953 
Dedicated to Frank Harry Cater

(11.7.1936 - 22.12.2004)
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