home catalogue history references appendix 
the catalogue #352 

1974      Gordon and Smith Surfboards     Bonza          6 ft 8 1/2" 

MANUFACTURER:  Gordon and Smith Surfboards Captain Cook Drive Caringbah NSW
SHAPER: Peter Townend
DESIGN: Bonza - Tubeshooter by Peter Townend
DESIGNERS: Duncan and Malcom and Campbell (USA)

Fibreglassed foam blank, 1/8" cedar stringer, spray.
Post production right hand leg rope plug.
Length :
8 1/2
inches L2d 6ft 7''
Width :
 19 1/2
Wide Point :
Nose :
Tail :
 12 1/2
Thickness :
 3 1/2
Pod :
6 1/2
Nose Lift :
Tail Lift :
Weight :
Volume :
Swallow :
-1 1/2

Nose:  pin
Tail:  swallow tail.
Deck:   flat
Bottom:   single concave at sweet spot , splitting to deep double concaves in front of the fins to the tail.
Rails:  down, soft blocky
Rocker: medium
Centre fin : 6 inch x 6'' base x 8'' (span) @ 6''. 

Bonzer / Keel fins :  2" x 10'' base x 11'' (span) @ 10''
Toed in and tipped out at 45 degrees
Thin, not foiled.

                McCoy/Brewer fin

Deck: Large Gordon and Smith enhanced script, multi coloured in shield with bird borders at centre.
Bonza x 2 - towards nose and tail, image below.
Bottom: Large Gordon and Smith enhanced script, multi coloured in shield with bird borders at centre.
Hand shaped Tubeshooters by Peter Townend and Dolphin, towards the nose, image below.
Deck: None 
# 25 McCoy

Yellow spray on left rail, Orange spray on right rail, Volan 3/4 deck patch.
Yellow spray on left rail, Orange spray on right rail.

Dimensions and images thanks to Mick Mock, Surf Auction, November 2011, #52.


Peter Townend started his surfing career on the Gold Coast of Queensland with peers Michael Peterson and Rabbit Batholomew.
In he mid 1970's he moved to the Cronulla area and produced a range of boards for long term manufacturer, Gordon and Smith Surfboards.
While at Gordon and Smith Surfboards he used/promoted Bonzer designs and asymmetricals and was the sponsored Australian surfer for Hollow Wave boards from the USA..
He was to go on to form the Bronze Aussies with West Australian Ian Cairns, and others (Mark Warren, Cheyne Horan - see # 84 - and Cronulla's Jim Banks).
He won the first professional surfing title in 1976, based on points accumulated over a year.
He played a main surfing role in the Hollywood production Big Wednesday, 1980?
Despite many contest victories and reputable performances in large Hawaiian surf, he was often noted as a constant runner-up or The Shorebreak Kid.

See Gordon and Smith Surfboards
Rabbit Batholomew, pages
Other Gordon and Smith Boards:
# 109   1965 Gordon and Smith, Noserider 9 ft 7"
# 26     1967 Gordon and Smith,  Vee Bottom 7 ft 7"
# 72     1976 Gordon and Smith,  Peter Townend Design 7 ft
# 73     1981 Gordon and Smith, Lazor Zap 6 ft


Original design first shaped in December 1970 by Duncan and Malcom Campbell  (USA) characterised by forward concave leading to double concave each side of the centre fin with two keel- type fins set on the rails
(radically toed-in and cambered).

The bottom design has  similarities with the shape of Rogallo hang gliders, first designed in the late 1940's as a method of recovering returning space capsules by NASA.
F. M. Rogallo predicted in 1949 that "Portable delta wings will give birth to a popular sport"
 - quoted in Desfayes (1974) page 41.
By the early 1970's, hang-gliding was a sport in rapid transition with a large amount of media exposure.

As a sign of the powerful influence of Australia in world surfing at this time, the name Bonzer (also Bonzar, Bonza) is an Australian expression for “excellent”.

In late 1973, the Campbell Brothers licensed the design to Bing Surfboards for commercial development.
The design then became associated with Bing's head shaper, Mike Eaton, who had played a significant role
in the development of the Twin fin 1 in 1970. See image and notes, below.
The Bing models were noted for the wedged Bonzer decal that was laminated on the side fins.

Australian exponents of the design included ...
Peter Townend (Gordon and Smith Surfboards). See image below.
Ian Cairns (Gordon and Smith Surfboards),  rode  a Bonzer to first place, 1973 Smirnoff Contest, Laniäkea ,
Hawaii and Terry Richardson (Skipp Surfboards). See image below.

It was a (admittedly complex) combination of previous design experiments - multiple fins were first used by Tom Blake circa 1940, tail concave by Bob Simmons in 1950, tri-fins by Brewer in 1970, keel fins go back to Blake and were re-introduced on short boards in 1972.

While some commentators have seen the Bonzer as a direct precedent for Simon's Thruster, its influence was probably substantially less significant than Brewer's Tri-fin experiments (that critically noted that placing the rail fins behind the centre fin made it "track", when positioned in front the board was "looser"), MR's Twin fin, McCoy's wide tailed No-Nose design, and of course the direct influence of Frank William's Twin-fin with a small centre trailing fin.

See: Cambell Bros. Surfboards: History (July 2011)

A personal perspective:
I briefly rode a borrowed Bonzer in the mid-1970s, and like my contemporaries, found the board very stiff and with a tendency to hang high in the wave face.
A number of my peers actually sanded the keel fins off and thought the board went significantly better.
A local manufacturer picked up on this and produced a number of boards with the deep double concaves, but without the side fins, that were well received.
In my search for vintage boards, I have come across one example of a Bonzer with the side fins removed, so I assume this was not just a local phenomenon.

Further adaptation in 1988, the Phazer - a Stinger/Thruster adaptation ( 3 similar fins with 2 small Bonzer
D-Fins) initially credited to Rusty Priessendorfer for Rusty Surfboards (USA).
Later identified as another original design by the Campbell Brothers.

See John Wythe White :Surf Wars :The Bonzar,  June 16, 1999

"Mike Eaton of California; responsible for reviving the twin fin. 
Seen here with his 70's brain child 'the bonzer'."

Photograph : Drew Kampion
Nat : History (1983), page 108.

Following legal representation by the Campbell Brothers,
this caption was changed in the second edition (1994) to read...

"Mike Eaton of California; responsible for reviving the twin fin. 
Seen here with The  Bonzer. 
Designed by Malcolm and Duncan 
Campbell of Oxnard, California."

#180 South Coast Surfboards
#198 Weber Bonzer
1. Jim Neece : The Bonzer
Surfer magazine Vol  14 # 3 September 1973 page 64
See image below.
2. Steve Core: The Bonza
Surfing World Volume18 Number 2. November 1973
3. Mick Mock : Richo's Choice
Deep magazine , No 18 Spring 2000, pages 22 to33
4. John Wythe White: Surf Wars :The Bonzar,  June 16, 1999

5. Steve Barilotti : Belief System : The Bonzer Saga
The Surfers Journal 2004? Volume 13 No. 2 pages?

Gordon and Smith Surfboards: PT Bonza.

Tracks, December 1973.

#25 McCoy/Brewer
#25 McCoy/Brewer

Warshaw, (2005) Bonzer : page 73.

Conscripted surfresearch assistant and G&S Bonza.
Harbord Diggers Club, November 2011.
Many thanks.

Peter Townend and G&S Bonza, December 1973.
Nat : Fundamentals (1985) page 102. 

Terry Richardson and Skipp Surfboards Bonzer, circa 1975
Photograph: Steven Cooney
Tracks, January 1976, page 25.

Image left:
Jim Neece :"The Bonzer"
Surfer Magazine 
Vol  14 # 3 
September 1973 
page 64

Plans for F. M. Rogallo's Delta Wing Kite, 
circa 1969.
April 21, 1970  Patent Number 3,507,464 
Filed March 18, 1969.

Desfayes, Jean-Bernard :
Delta - The Hang Gliding Book
Hassener Publishing, Inc.
Drawer B, Newfoundland, N.J. 07435 circa 1974.
Page 30.

Bing Surfboards :Only One Bonzer, 1973.
Featuring the Campbell Brothers, Wildman (Jim Neece), Steve Wilkings, Jeff Kahman, Tiger Makin and Dru Harison.

Bonzer Cutback.
Surfing Comedy Album 1974.
page 25.
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2011-2021) : Gordon and Smith Surfboards Bonza, 1974.