the catalogue #328
|1948 Prot Surf Ski, 11 ft 6"
Wide Point :
Nose Lift :
Tail Lift :
Metal plate: Specialist in small craft construction.
Wallace F. Prott (Prop)
65 Parramatta Road, Five Dock, UA 2393.
Multi panelled plywood deck
Timber long base keel.
living in San Diego, and recently acquired an old
paddleboard/ski or whatever
it is….made in Australia.
The cool thing is it has a plate on it identifying the manufacturer. I’m trying to find out as much as I can about it. Any info or leads would be greatly appreciated.
I’m told it dates from the early 1940s and is made of a type of wood no longer available.
It is 11'6" by 28” wide, hollow plywood/screw construction with fiberglass coat.
It has a brass plate on the bow that says “Specialist in small craft design,
"Prot-Craft" Wallace F. Prott, 65 Parramatta Road, Five Dock, UA 2393”
The front part of the deck is convex, and the back is concave.
There is a metal bung at the rear.
Thanks for your help,
Researching Murray's enquiry, Mr. Wally Prott was contacted by phone at the family home in Hunter's Hill NSW in October and November 2007.
The following notes are based on the brief phone conversations:
W. F. "Wally"
started his marine centre, with the assistance of his father,
in 1946 after
returning home from World War Two.
The business was located in rental premises at 65 Parramatta Road, Five Dock before the puchase a building at 8 Parramatta Road, Croydon.
The company built a range of small recreational craft in timber and plywood including sailboats, dinghies, runabouts, surf skis, surfboards and waterskis and retailed water sports accessories, for example waterski ropes.
the enclosed deck, similiar to the surf ski design, VJ
VS (Vaucluse Senior) and the square nosed Moth, which was
Melbourne design that first appeared in Sydney in 1948.
With intensive competition, these craft were continuously modified to reduce weight (at the cost of structual strength), eventually down to 90 lbs (kilos?) - able to be lifted by one man.
Other sailboats included the 14 ft Northbrige Senior and the multi-purpose Heron.
Plans for the European designs such as the Sabot and the OK Dinghy were metric and built with a close tolerance, requiring Wally to source metric rulers and tape-measures.
The OK Dingy was the entry level boat for the Olympic Finn class.
to the customer as a complete package.
Prot-Craft built the masts and spars, the sails were ordered to specification from established sailmakers and the rigging from a ship's chandlery supplier.
Larger craft required a suitable boat trailer, usually requiring modification of size and support bracing to a basic design, also out-sourced.
Smaller craft (VJs, Moths and surf skis) could be transported with roof racks.
were built from 8 to 15 feet and, with a range of paddles,
by the chain stores Nock'n Kirbys (George Street) and Anthony
from a wide 11 foot 6 inch (a recreational model, that
is #328) to a narrow
18'' x 18 feet racing competition design used by the
surf life saving movement.
They were usually fitted with leather or canvas foot straps fixed with screws onto the deck.
Apart from the domestic market, Prot-craft surf skis were exported to Lord Howe Island, Honolulu, Saigon, Madagascar, South Africa and Florida.
On occassion, rescue skis were ordered by South Sydney Junior Leagues Club for donation to Eastern surburbs surf life saving clubs.
surfboards were also manufactured and circa 1957 the
company was supplied
plans for the "new" Hawaiian surfboard, a shorter 9
to 10 feet design with
a fin known in Australia as the Okinuee.
surfboards were also manufactured and circa 1957 the company
plans for the "new" Hawaiian surfboard, a shorter 9 to 10 feet
a fin known in Australia as the Okinuee.
Around 1960, the company updated the surfboard design in balsa wood and fibreglass.
were identified by the screw-on metal plate, shown above.
Wally Prott recalls the plate was originally coloured with enamel, a blue background and red flash (the raised face?) which appears to worn of the present example.
These were followed by a short-lived die-cast script version, that were pressed into the timber with sharpe flanges mounted on the back.
They proved unsatisfactory, often detaching from the craft after a short period of use.
By the 1960s, smaller items such as canoes and paddles used a cheaper lightweight molded plastic screw on identification plate.
Advertising material was generally in the marine section of Wednesday and Saturday editions of the Sydney Morning Herald, in preference to advertising in the current boating magazines of the day which was less productive.
Customers of note included Jack "Gelignite" Murray who often stopped at Prott's marine centre to purchase watersking accessories on his way to Sackville on the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury River and "The Feather King", who arrived in a Bentley to purchase surf skis for use in Saigon.
trading circa 1969-1970 as the recreational water craft market
by fibreglass and alumimum designs.
The premises were sold and then demolished to be converted to a car sales yard.
Wally noted that several years ago, a James Strangelard (Strangeland ?) of Huntington Beach, California made enquiries of a surf ski similar to #328.
Thanks to Wal Prott for his contribution.
history of the
development of the surf-ski, a unique Australian
surfcraft design that
has world wide impact, is poorly documented and
largely overlooked by both
surfriding and surf life saving historians.
Critically, it is possible that early models used hollow timber construction prior to the widely promoted designs by American, Tom Blake, who patented his work in 1931 and published detailed plans and construction notes in Modern Mechanix magazine in 1933.
Nose ring, rope and manufacturer's plate.
Splash guard and foot brace.