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Click for next entry #101 surfresearch.com.au 
the catalogue #191 

1933 Lou Morath's Paddleboard #2, 14 ft 1"

SHAPER:  Lou Morath
DESIGN: Tom Blake Paddleboard ?
DESIGNER: Tom Blake.?
The image above is not  board #191
This board is also by Lou Morath but certainly made post 1939 and is a example of Tom Blake's Hollow board design.
Image contributed by Dick Morath, with many thanks.
See Source Documents: Plans and Specifications:
 Paul W. Gartner : Hawaiian Water Sled (Tom Blake Hollow Board)1933

Tom Blake hollow paddle board design  of plywood panels fixed over a timber frame.
Multi panelled plywood deck with alternative dark and light timbers.
The panels are in three sections joined in a cross cut mitre producing a "W" pattern.
Bottom has  four dark plywood sections.
The seams are corked with a black pitch and fixed with brass nails and screws
Black painted sheet metal nose and tail plates
Metal nose plug
Timber rail gunnels
Hand painted numeral and script on nose
Long based solid timber keel fin.
Length :
Width :
 21 1/2
Wide Point :
 +ve 5
inches ??
Nose :
inches ??
Tail :
 9 1/2
Thickness :
Pod :
 6 or 0
inches ??
Nose Lift :
Tail Lift :
Weight :
Volume :
Gunnels :
inches @
inches from tail

Nose: pin, with black painted sheet metal nose plate.
Tail: square, with black painted sheet metal tail plate.
Flat multi panelled plywood deck with alternative dark and light timbers.
The panels are in three sections joined in a cross cut mitre producing a "W" pattern.
Bottom: Rounded bottom with distinct rocker in four dark plywood sections.
Rails:  square, the seams are corked with a black pitch and fixed with brass nails and screws.
Rocker:  distinct

Hand painted numerlal "2" and script "Lou Morath" in gold paint on the nose.
 Multi panelled plywood deck with alternative dark and light timbers.
The panels are in three sections joined in a cross cut mitre producing a "W" pattern.
Black painted sheet metal nose plate.
Four dark plywood sections.
Black painted sheet metal  tail plate.

Long based solid timber keel fin.
3 1/2 inch x 48 inches (base) x 3/4 inches thick
The fin has the markings "L / 58" in white paint, but these are possibly a museum catalogue number ???

Dimensions: Manly Art Gallery and Museum, November 2005 (?).
Images: Manly Art Gallery and Museum, 23 November 2007.

"Surf Ski c1933 -This is a surf ski of hollow construction with three ply veneer over a timber frame and a solid timber reel/fin sealed with pitch rails on top from centre to rear.
There is an inscription painted on the top front 'Lou Morath'. MO529
Gift of Lou Morath 1984."

Shirley Neil: ManlyArt Gallery and Museum Catalogue Notes, November 2007.
Many thanks to Shirley Neil and Catherine Roberts.

This board was probably built by Lou Morath in the late 1930's and used by him in the 1939 Pacific Games in Hawaii.
The board is described as a "Backyarder" and it was probably built at the Morath family home.
However, in this period when board building was completed with hand tools only, constuction could take place anywhere.
Many boards were built literally on the beach front at the Surf Life Saving Clubs.
Image right :
Australian paddleboard constuction
Still from :
Cinesound Newsreel : " Thrill of the Surf " 1949.
reproduced in Thoms 2000, page 55.
Manly's top boardmen 1939-40

Strictly a paddle board, it is a companion to Lou Morath's wave riding board, see #105.
Both boards were probably taken to Hawaii.
Image right :
Lou Morath and his wave board circa 1939  -  second from the right.
The two centre boards are the tails of hollow paddleboards similar to #191.
Harris, 1961, page Forty-four. 
Photograph  by Ray Leighton

For full credit details see
Pods for Primates :Photograph #1

Manly's top boardmen 1939-40

Photograph by Ray Leighton:
Manly Surf Life Saving Club's top boardmen in 1939- 1940, Manly Beach, 1940.
Ray Leighton was a highly successful professional photographer who had a long association with the Manly
surfing community and often featured beach themes in his work.
This photograph is one of at least three of a shoot, probably the summer of 1939 - 1940.
The second is in Margan & Finney: Surfing History (1970) page  127 and the third is framed and displayed in the Manly Fish Shop on the Corso.

The Source
Harris, Reg. S.: The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961
Published by Manly Life Saving Club, NSW  Printed by Publicity Press Ltd. 1961.
Page Forty-four (uncredited)

The Surfers (Left to right) :
M.B."Bossy" Sutton,
Geoff. Cohen - was the first Manly S.L.S.C. member killed in World War II and his board became the club's
War Honour Roll.
See Manly SLSC: Australian Surf Museum (2006) page
Harry Wicke  - was Australian Surfboard Champion in 1939-1940.
Jim Austin,
Lou Morath - came third in the Australian Titles and represented Australia at the Pacific Games in Honolulu in
Ken Simpson - was awarded a D.F.C. for service with the R.A.A.F.and was also killed in the war.

The Surfboards
In the centre are the tails of two timber framed/plywood covered boards based on Tom Blake's Hollow
design, circa 1934.
The othes are solid wood Alaia ('Church Windows' in Australia, 'Gothics' in mainland USA) of similar design to
the board used in Australia by Duke Kahanamoku in 1915. All the boards were finless.
Geoff. Cohen's board is still with the Manly Surf Life Saving Club, see above.
Lou Morath's board (#105)  is 8 ft 8" x 23 1/2" exists in original condition and is held by the Balmoral Beach
Club, Sydney.
A second shot  of the same group
by Ray Leighton. 
Lou Morath and his board are on the right.
Margan and Finney   photograph page  127 

Image left :
The  board on the left appears very similar to #191
Riders unidentified.
"Surfers jumping from their boards before grasping them with their hands to halt them at the end of the shoot.- News and Information Bureau."
 Bloomfield, 1959, facing page 80.

Image left :
"Blue Russell (far left) and other Club members prepare for a paddling race around Narrabeen Lakes in the late 1930s. The race was used to help select the Australian team for the hawaii trip."                       
-Brawley: Palm Beach SLSC (1996) page 66.

Note the two distinct lengths of the hollow boards in this photograph.

 "...Keightly 'Blue'  Russell ... built hollow  boards at Palm Beach. Russell pioneered the kneeling position in Australia, become (sic) so general that one picks out  the board enthusiasts by the knee calluses  most of them sport. As a member of the Australian surfer's team to Honolulu, Russell won the Hawaiian championship there. 

Board-riding, like other aspects of surf activity, belongs to some beaches rarther than to all. Manly has always been a boardman's beach since the Walkers and Claude West...with nowdays men like Lou Morath, Roger Duck, Ray Leighton, and a young Fred Notting... North Bondi has sponsored a most active group since Dick Chapple , who with Russell and Morath was Australian representative at Honolulu."
Maxwell  1949, 
Chapter Seven : Surfboards and Surf Skis, pages 241-242.

Image right :
Selection trials for the Pacific Games team, March 1939.
Second photograph.
Longhurst page 78

1. The image is incomplete, the surfer on the far left has had his board cropped out, the tail portion remains below his hands.
2.Second from left - Blue Russell of Palm Beach SLSC.
3. Third left - Harry Wicke or M.B. Sutton, Manly.
4. Fourth left - Jim Austin, Manly.
5.Sixth left, Lou Morath, Manly, who now has pulled the top of his costume down in this shot.

...surfboard paddling races caught on in Australia, with two boardriders, Lou Morath of Manly and Keightly 'Blue' Russell of Palm Beach, included in the Australian Surf Life Saving team sent to compete in the Pacific Aquatic Carnival in Hawaii in 1939. The team was filmed at training for both Movietone News 10/15 (1939) and Cinesound Review 397 (1939), and again on their departure for Movietone News 10/28 (1939) and  Cinesound Review 400 (1939). However there was no footage of their arrival...or of the paddling race"

Thoms  2000, page 39

Following the 1939 Australian titles at Manly on 18th March ...
" Dickson, Harkness, Mackney (all Mona Vale), B. Fraund (Palm Beach) and Frank Davis (Manly) were selected in a demonstration boat crew to go with an Australian team to Hawaii. The other members of that team were C.H. Chapple (North Bondi), Lou Morath (Manly), R.K. Russell (Palm Beach), Hermie Doerner (Bondi), Alan Fitzgerald (North Wollongong), Bill Furey (North Steyne), Alan Imrie (Burleigh), J.L. McCay (North Cronulla), Hec Scott (Newcastle), Robin Biddup (Manly) with officials H. Spry, Harry Hay, H. Chapple, Clem Morath, Jack McMaster, Tom Meagher and F. Boorman."
Galton, 1984, page 65

Image left : 
Lou Morath in his Australian team swimming costume 
for the 1939 Pacific Games, Hawaii.
Margan and Finney, 1970, page 127

"Australian surf team arrives in Honolulu 5/7/39.
Standing left to right : J.D.L McKay, F.C. Davis (Manly), A. Fitzgerald, H. Chapple (visitor), F. Braund,
W. Mackney, Jack McMaster (visitor), H. Doerner, R. Biddup (Manly), R.A. Dickson, R. Russell.
Centre : B. Furey, H. Scott, P. Wynter (Daily Telrgraph), J. Cameron, H.M. Hay (Manly), R. Chapple,
A. Imrie, L. Morath (Manly),
Front : J. Harkness,  T. Meagher (visitor), C. Morath (visitor), H. Spry (visitor), F. Boorman (visitor)."
Harris, 1961, page Seventeen.

Note :
1. Location possibly Honolulu Harbour.
2. The red, not blue, Ensign is the team flag.
3. Officals as listed by Galton, see above, are credited as "visitor" by Harris.
4. The officals received special treatment, courteousy of the Sheriff of Honolulu.
     See Duke and Surf ski image below.

Image right 
"Lou Morath and another paddler in training for the 1939 Pacific Games ".
Margan and Finney, 1970, page 127
This board is certainly #191

Image left : 
"Duke Kahanamoku (left) welcomes the Australian team 
to the Pacific Games Honolulu, 1939."
Wilson, 1977, page 36.

1. Same uniforms and flag as arrival photograph above.
2. Different location, possibly steps of the HonoluluTown Hall.
3. There was a strong connection between Duke Kahanamoku and the Australian surfers, dating back to the Stockholm Olympic Games, 1912.

See Duke and Surf ski image below, and
History : Duke Kahanamoku

Image right
"The R. & R. squad which represented Australia in Hawaii in 1939. From left to right : Les McCay, Alan Fitzgerald, famous water polo player Hermie Doerner, Hec Scott, 'Wild Bill' Furrey and Alan Imrie."
Galton, 1984, page 65
This photograph probably taken in the grounds of the Outrigger Canoe Club, Honolulu. 
See Yost.,1971.

Image left
"After the Pacific Games at Honolulu, 
Tom Meagher, Lou Morath and Jack Cameron,
with "Wild Bill" Furey 
just managing to get into the picture."

Maxwell, 1949, facing page 256.

Image right :
"Duke was not materialistic or wasteful. He took good care of all his possessions. In this photograph in 1963,he uses an electric sander on his Australian surf ski, a gift to him in 1939 when a team of Australian surf lifesvers and swimmers came to compete in an aquatics meet. Knowing that Aussies enjoy a good laugh, then-Sherriff Duke staged a mock arrest and lock-up of the visiting officals."
Hall and Ambrose 1995, page 83

"When the team returned, a number of boardmen met and formulated a precise method of handling a patient during a surfboard rescue. It included proceedure for for getting a patient on to the board, holding him there and bringing him back to the beach. This drill was incorpoatedin the S.L.S.A. handbook."
Harris, 1961, page Fifty-six

The board is currently on display at
Manly Art Gallery and Museum.
Item Description :
" Surf ski (sic) board is of hollow construction made of three ply veneer over a timber frame with solid reel (sic, keel) fin sealed with pitch rails on top from centre to rear.
c. 1933
4320 x 550 x 170 mm
Collection of Manly Art Gallery
Gift of Lou Morath"

See History : Tom Blake 1926 - 1935
The Hollow Paddle Board, a timber frame with plywood skin, was developed by Tom Blake in Hawaii. Around 1926, Tom Blake attempted to recreate some of the larger Olo design's that he had restored for the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. The first model was a sixteen foot solid board with a multitude of holes drilled through the blank, these were then covered on the deck and bottom with plywood panels.

He rapidly incorporated current aircraft and boat building techniques into surfboard design and his design of a light timber frame covered with plywood panels resulted in a huge weight reduction.
On 18th April, 1931  Thomas Edward Blake submitted three pages with a detailed drawing for a ' Water Sled'. and was subsequently granted US Patent No. 1,872,230 by the US Patents and Trademarks Office, Washington DC.Initially viewed with scepticism, the paddling advantages were emphatically demonstrated as Tom Blake dominated paddle races in California and Hawaii in the 1930ís.

Aware of the life saving potential of such a craft and an enthusiastic promoter of his sport, Tom Blake gave his design international exposure by publishing  the blueprints and construction details, principally in various Popular Mechanics Magazines of the period. See below or Plans and Specifications. Publication saw the design rapidly adopted around the world, notably  Australia, New Zealand, Peru and South Africa. In these countries it had an extended life due to the lag before these countries caught up with the developments in fibreglass and foam. In Australia the design first appearred as the Racing 16 and was later modified to a finned Malibu (1956-1958) while in New Zealand the lag was even longer and hollow Malibu boards were manufactured up to 1961. (Maxwell page 240-241).

Circa 1934 Tom Blake added a small water ski type fin/skeg to one of his hollow boards. Although an significant addition, because of the emphasis on paddling, the small size relative to the board, the increased danger and the difficulty in attachment, many riders do not consider fins as a necessity. It rarely appears on Australian examples of long Hollows.

From: Tom Blake : Riding the Breakers on this Hollow Hawaiian Surfboard -
Popular Mechanics Magazine
July 1937 Volume 68 Number 1
pages 114 - 117

1. Board probably dates from late 1930,s. The Museum's dating of 1933 seems much too early.
2. The board demonstrates high standard of craftmanship and design
3. The mitred deck panelling and the rolled bottom are significant features.

Dick Morath (many thanks)
1. Maxwell, C. Bede   Surf : Australians Against the Sea
Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1949. pages 241-242.
2. Harris, Reg. S. The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961
Published by Manly Life Saving Club, NSW Printed by Publicity Press Ltd. 1961
pages 54 - 56, and elsewhere.
3. Margan, Frank and Finney, Ben R.(Margan and Finney) :  A Pictorial History of Surfing
Paul Hamlyn Pty Ltd, 176 South Creek Road,  Dee Why West, NSW 2099.1970.
photographs page 118 and 127
4. Galton, Barry  Gladiators of the Surf
AH & AW Read Pty Ltd, 2 Aquatic Drive Frenchs Forest NSW 2086 1984  page 64 -65
5. Thoms, Albie: Surfmovies The Blue Group  PO Box 321 Noosa Heads Queensland 4567.  2000
 Page 39


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