pods for primates : a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900

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the catalogue #40 

1978  Mark Richards Twin fin II   5 ft 10" 

MANUFACTURER: Maddog Surfboards, Industrial Estate, Byron Bay
SHAPER:  Bob Margetts
DESIGN: Mark Richards' Twin fin 2
DESIGNER: Mark Richards

CONSTRUCTION: Foam blank, 1/8" redwood stringer, spray, r/h plug
Length :
L2 : 5 ft
Width :
 19 3/4
Wide Point :
/+ x
Nose :
 14 1/4
Tail :
 14 1/2
Thickness :
 2 1/2
Pod :
 5 3/4"
Nose Lift :
Tail Lift :
Weight :
Volume :
 1 1/2
inches deep

Nose: Pin
Tail:  swallow tail, flyer
Deck:   flat
Bottom:  slight Vee in nose, deeper at fins, channel from fin base to rail
Rails: Tucked
6" x 5" base x 7'' span @ 10 1/2'' 
Brewer, inside flat/outside foiled, 
toed and tipped/cambered
Gold/white/red (3) laminate,
#40 MR twin fins

1.'Mark Richards' script and ribbon graphic, light blue/silver
2.'Shaped by  Bob Margetts' black, tail 
'Mark Richards' script and ribbon graphic, dark blue/white 
Deck: RM ,  pencil 
Gold wing, nose to flyer + red winged foil, with black pinlines 
Bottom: clear
# 40 MR ribbon '78
Alternative later decal
# 40 MR initials '78

Donated by John McInnes May 1996.
Repairs to swallow/flyer tips and leg rope damage.
Knox: Mark Richards
See below.
Legrope damage indicates possible pre rail saver use, tip damage to the tail is emdemic to this design.
Other Boards
Knox: Mark Richards    pages 61 to...
Free Ride1977 Bill Delany , Water footage by Dan Merkel.
Surfers : Shaun Tomson, Mark Richards and Rabbit Batholomew
 *The definite film of this period, note that most of Mark Richards' surfing is not on a Twin fin II .

circa 1943
The earliest documented twin fin surfboard is probably a model built by Tom Blake, possibly in Hawaii, circa 1943.
See cropped image, below.
The uncredited photograph is currently the only known evidence.
Tom Blake Twin fin, circa 1943
circa 1943,
Tom Blake Twin fins, 
4 x 12 b @ 2 inches  (Approximation)
Hollow timber board. 
Note fin camber.
The feet are Tom Blake's.

Uncredited photograph, 
Australian Surfers Journal
Vol 3 No 1 Summer 2000 page 10.

Probably unaware of Blake's examle,  Bob Simmons in California developed a multi fin design in 1948.
He only manufactured a small number of his  long based Twin fin model but, like most of his innovations, the long term impact was considerable.
The design was certainly influenced by his design research, based on Linsay Lord's Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls (1946).
It is also slightly possible that Simmons had noted Twin fins on some prone boards in this period.
Simmons' Twin Fin
Wood and fibreglass
6 x 12 b @ 2 inches (approximation)
Bob Simmons' Laminate Board, USA.

Dick Metz Collection, Dana Point, California.
Blackburn, page 73

During the 1950's prone boards appeared in a plethora of designs and constuction methods. 
See the Paipo catalogue for examples dating from the 1930's.
A large proportion were finless, those that did attach a fin used a longbased keel type fin.
Bellyboarders at some stage incorpated twin fins on their wide tailed boards, similar to the plywood example, right.
With the introduction of foam blanks these design were reproduced in the new medium.
See Barry Bennett example, below.
A short lived, but well documented, experiment by California's Dale Velsey was the Butterfly fin.
Essentially two fins joined at the base it was futuristic in template and concept.

Butterfly Fin 
Laminated Timber 
8 x 7 b @ 4 inches  (Approximation)
Velsy-Jacobs Surfboards USA

Photograph : Bob Meistrell
Longboard Magazine
Vol 12 No 1 March -April 2004  page 33.

The single fin template used by Velsey would not become common use until 1974.
Apparently the production difficulties were not offset by improved performance.
In 1978 the design was revived as a molded model for use in a standard fin box.
The design was also (slightly) reflected in the Horan/Lexan Star Fin, 1980.

Fin experimentation on surfboards1950 to 1966 was extensive.
A variety of designs, some extreme, proliferated, however singularity and a standard 0'' to 6''placement remained a design constant.
With the introduction of foam blanks, bellyboard riders had their plywood designs were reproduced in the new medium.
Generally the fins retained the long base keel profile and, consistant with surfboard fins of the era, foiling was minimal.
Placement was close to the tail with the fins vertical to the bottom and parrallel to the stringer.
1962 - 1964
In the US George Greenough built his first Velo Spoon in balsawood in 1962.
He reported that the board was originally ...

"a twin fin, but as time went on, I moved the fins closer together, and it
kept working better and better. Eventually, it turned into a single fin!"
- George Greenough,
The Australian Surfer's Journal
Volume 2 No 2 Autumn 1999 pages 84, 86 and 87.
"When Curren visited me at Surfboards Hawaii in Haleiwa during 1963,
he had a 9'4" full gun, an 8'4" semi-gun 3" thick, and a 4'6" twin-fin kneeboard.
All these boards were ahead of their time."
- Dick Brewer
Surfer Magazine Vol 30 No. 10  1989, page 105.

Twin Keel Fins
Pigmented chop strand mat
4 1/2 x 9 1/2 b @  1 inches
# 50 
Barry Bennett Surfboards Belly board 

circa 1967
Bear Mirandon of Surfboards La Jolla used Simmons' Twin fin design and matched them with a slpit tail design.
There was a precedent of this design in some early prone boards, see Blackburn.

Surfboard La Jolla Twin-Pin, 1967
Length 8'9" - Nose 17"  Width 22"  Tail 17"
Shaped by La Jolla reef maven Bear Mirandon, the double-pin
tailed twin-fin was an update of a Bob Simmons concept.
This board led directly to the Fish kneeboard design
of Steve Lis, which is still very much in use today.
Photograph by Bjorn de Boer
Image and caption
Longboard Magazine, Volume 2 Number 2, August - September 1994 page 69
 In the USA, the situation was similar with a noted following lead by kneeboarders Steve Lis and Rex Huffman.
Lis was credited with the development of The Fish, a design with long base twin fins and a split 'Fish' tail, circa 1969..
From the La Jolla area, Steve Lis was aware of an earlier design by  Bear Mirandon precedent.
The fish tail was later supplanted by the Swallow tail.
Twin Fin I, see #71 and #106, a circa 1970 design by Mike Eaton / Rolf Arness / Corky Carroll / David Nuuihwa -all USA.
Imported to Australia by Tom Hoye (USA) at Bennett Surfboards, the design had a strong following in Sydney, particularly at Narrabeen) by McCoy Surfboards.

Image right:
Tom Hoye and Twin Fin, Bennett Surfboards, 1970
Photograph Tracks Magazine.
Nat-History, page 106. 

Although the design quickly disappeared from mainstream production in Australia, a number of surfers found the design complimented their style or local conditions.
Over the next six years a small number of Twin-fins were produced as custom boards.

From 1974, in conjunction with Billy Tolhurst and influenced by Reno Abellira's early Fish designs, Ronnie Goddard began experimenting with twin fins.
Local interest was negligible in these designs until the contest success and media recognition of Mark Richards' Twin fin, circa 1978.
- from Ronnie Goddard interview,
Scott Dillon's Legends Surf Museum, Coffs Harbor, June 29th 2005.

 The use of twin fins on prone boards, common in the 1960's, continued into the 1970's, for example the mass produced Bellybogger, 1975.

The design was adopted by standup surfers, a longer version with with a more standard fin template, was designated The Rocket Fish, circa 1974, the name at least credited to Clyde Beatty.
There is much dispute amoungst US commentators as to the originators of the design.

This was to influence Reno Abellira, (Hawaii) who rode a 5 ft 3" x 20"  model in the 1976 Coke contest, Sydney.

Familiar with the Twin Fin I and inspired by Reo, Mark Richards  built his own version and subsequently refined it at a month long shaping seminar with Dick Brewer in Hawaii 1976-1977.

Mark Richards and  6ft 4'' Twin
Off The Wall, 1977.
Photograph : Lance Trout
Surfing  Magazine February 1980.
Volume 16 Number 2, page 90.

Mark Richards and  6ft 4'' Twin
Off The Wall, 1977.
Photograph : Lance Trout
Surfing  Magazine June-July 1978.
Volume 14 Number 3, page 47

The design was tested in Hawaii the following winter and contest success in the Bells 1978 and  Stubbies 1979 contests and the 1979 World tiltle proved its high performance capabilities, particularly in small waves. Available from all Australian manufacturers, it was the dominant small wave board design 1978 1981.
Image right :
Steve Brom and Rocket Fish, circa 1977.
Photograph : Brian Gillogly
Surfer Magazine, Volume 18 Number 2, page 57. July 1977.
Note :
Fins toed and tipped.
Long base/short height profile.
Estimated length 5 ft 10''.
Twin pin nose on vertical board.
The design also had a strong following on the south shore of Ohau, notably Larry Bertlemann and 'Buttons', and
was to be extensively used in the USA.
Mark Richards models were made under licence by Gordon and Smith Surfboards.
House shapers were Hank Warner, Robin Prodanovich, Terry S. Goldsmith and E. Duck.
These  were available with Star System fin boxes, a uncommon feature in Australian boards.
Advertisement : Surfing  Magazine June 1981.Volume 17 Number 6, page 93. 
Mark Richards Twin fin, (est. 6 ft 3'')
Gordon and Smith Surfboards (USA)
Surfing  Magazine June 1981.Volume 17 Number 6, page 93. 

Star Systems Twin fin,
Mark Richards Model
Gordon and Smith Surfboards (USA)
Surfing  Magazine May 1979.
Volume 15 Number 5, page 9. 

In Australia, the design was shaped by  Mark Platter, Ken Freeland and Tony Cerff at Maddog Surfboards.
Mark Richards Surfboards (single fin designs) were first manufactured by Morning Star Surfboards, Mona Vale.
The fin to flyer channels rarely appear on later/copied examples.
The ribbon decals were early designs, gradually replaced by a MR/Lightning Bolt, a MR script and a MR/Lizard graphic.
Apparently the famous MR/Superman logo only appeared on Mark Richards' personal boards during this early period.

#43p MR's Apia/Brewer Stingers, circa 1976#40p MR Twin fins, circa 1978
Photograph by Peter Boskovic
Printed in The Australian Surfers Journal Vol 1 #  3 Winter 1998 page 44
Note : Original Apia Surfboards 'Flame' Stinger,  Twin fins  with various decals.
All boards much photographed. 
Other Twin Fins II (old Scale)
Mark Richards' first Twin fin II, based on Reno Abelira's Fish, Coke Contest 1976
Photograph: Andrew Canning
#39 Bryne Bros. Surfboards Twin Fin II 1978
Shaped by Laurie Byrne.
#119 Hawaiian 1979 Hawaiian Pro Designs, Twin fin II.  6 ft 1" Larry Bertelmann Model
#55 Pipedreams Flyer Roundtail Twin Fin II 1979 6 ft 2''

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