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the catalogue #190 
1964       King Step Tail    9 ft 6" 
MANUFACTURER: King Surfboards/ Graham King Surfboards Princes Highway, Kirrawee, NSW 
SHAPER:  Unknown 
DESIGN: Step Tail - Hydro Board - Hydroplane Board - Scorpion Tail
DESIGNER: John Kelly 
Foam blank, 3/8 stringer on bottom, wedge stringer on deck - 1" at nose, 2" at tail.
The two outer laminates must be inlays.
ft  6 inches

Wide Point:
Nose : 
15 3/4
14 3/4
2 3/4
Nose Lift: 
Tail Lift:
Tail to Step:

Nose: Round 
Tail: Square 
Deck: Flat 
Bottom: Flat, with step in bottom
Rails: Round  fat 50/50  to tapered 50/50 in tail .
Rocker: Flat - step
Original fin missing , replaced by 1970's Bahne Box.
(Multifins?) and Plastic fin.
Replacement fin :
Reverse D. 
10 1/2" base  9" high. 
Laminated 10oz cloth. 
Set at the tail step.
Deck: King Surfboards with address and phone number,.Black and yellow in rectangle with crown grahic at tail.
Bottom: King Surfboards with address and phone number,.Black and yellow in rectangle with crown grahic. Forward of fin.
Damaged by the added fin box and covered in restoration.
Deck: None
Pre-restoration : non original white paint
Post-restoration : Mid blue with dark blue rails and black pinlines
Pre-restoration : non original white paint
Post-restoration : Mid blue with dark blue rails and black pinlines
Collected by Daniel Bond from local NSW Central Coast markets,in 2002, cost $200.
 The board was in poor condition and covered with non-original white paint.. 
 Possible tail section missing. 
 Original fin missing , replaced by 1970's Bahne-type fin-box (Multifins?) and plastic fin.
 See pre- and post- restoration photographs below. 
 Restoration Details
The condition of this board prior to restoration, on a scale of 1-10 would have been 2-21/2. 
The board was white all over.
Probably not original because it covered the manufactures logo and the foam was quiet brown.
It had major dings on the tail and nose, stress marks on the bottom, and fractures and dings all around the rails. 
The board was in such a poor condition there was no choice but to do a full pigment job.
All the pigment / gelcoat was sanded off revealing the "King " logo and the wedge stringer on the deck.
The fin box had to be removed and the step area rebuilt.
The rails had to be faired and glassed, stress marks and dings repaired, and a new fin glassed in.
Pigment coats applied, pin lined, wet & dry sanded and polished.
A total of 40 hours work over a six month period - David Platt

Photographs by David Platt.
See bottom of page for post-restoration photographs.

The Step tail design is credited to John Kelly of Hawaii, circa 1962, and detailed in his excellent book, Surf and Sea, pages 139 to144. Some diagrams, images and text are reproduced below. 
Apart from any performance benefits of the design, it is noteable for the early use of dropped rails and a breakaway edge in the tail. 
The high aspect fin, and it's forward positioning, is also an advanced design for 1962.
He applied for and was granted US patents for the design - # 3111695 and # 3160897.
John Kelly was credited, along with Fran Heath and Wally Froiseth, with the first narrow tail template in 1934. This finless design became known as a Hot Curl, and developed to include a deep round or vee bottom in the tail. 
It was the first major variation in template and/or bottom design since the revival of surfing in the 1900's.
John Kelly's account of the Hot Curl is in Surf and Sea, pages 108 to113.
The stepped tail feature was reprised by Ben Apia in his Stinger design, 1974, and was also used on some kneeboards in the late 1970's..
The hydroplane surfboard (above): 
The deck contour harmonizes requirements of speed and sharp sliding angle.
Spoon- shaped bow parts chops and eliminates slapping in windy conditions; 
semi-dropped rails amidship and fully dropped rails aft combine speed with high-riding capability on steep walls.
High speed planing surface (below) terminates in a sharp breakaway edge; 
a critical degree of transverse bottom curvature provides balance between turning ease and stability; 
the high-drag scorpion tail enables stalling and sharp turns when in contact with the water; 
the axis of the skeg is angled to correspond to the pivotal axis during twistoffs.

Images and accompanying text :

Kelly : Surf and Sea, between pages 192 to193

The hydroplane tail: 
a) leanback depresses tail for high drag, slow speed and turning;
b) lean forward, tail is airborne producing minimum drag for high speed.
Diagram and text :
Kelly : Surf and Sea, page 143

John Kelly and his Hydro design, circa 1964.
Margan and Finney, page 227.

The photograph of John Kelly, above, accompanied an advertisement for Gordon Woods Surfboards, in a Surfing World - Surfabout, circa 1964. 
Labelled the "Dual Purpose", the copy noted...
- Attested by R. Grigg and Wally Froiseth.
- Tested Wednesday 6th Feruary (??) in 15 ft Long Reef by Nipper Williams.
- Trials by arrangement.
- also available at Ray Richards, Newcastle...
USA  example of Step-tail design circa 1964,
imported into Australia by Gordon Woods.
Based on John Kelly's design,
the board appears remarkably similar to # 190.
The white circle on the bottom is probably a surfcraft
registration sticker.
Photograph from Surfabout magazine 
Vol1 No1, page 17, and
Vol 1 No 4, page 3.
Photograph and credit details
contributed by David Platt.

Gordon Woods Surfboards 
Advertisement, 1963. 

Volume 1 Number 3 page 17.

A rare example of this design.
A case of an Australian manufacturer building an overseas design, possibly based on a photograph and probably without a credit to John Kelly.
Restoration, photographs, notes and dimensions contributed by David Platt.
Many thanks for the contribution and congratulations on the restoration to David.
Kelly, John : Surf and Sea, pages 139 to144.
CONDITION: Pre-restoration : 2   Post-restoration : 10

home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2004-2020) : King Step Tail, 1964.