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the surf : 1917 - 1918 
 The Surf.
1st December 1917 - 13th April 1918
Numbers 1 to 20

The Surf
A Journal of Sport and Pastime
Printed by Shipping Newspapers Ltd.
16 Bond Street Sydney
Published for the Proprietors by Con. Drew
"Marie" Ramsgate Avenue North Bondi, N.S.W.
Shipping Newspapers Limited were taken over in the 1950s by Marchant & Co Ltd.

Introduction - some preliminary notes.

"The world's first surfing paper, 'The Surf' (later known as 'The Surf and Suburban News'), was established in December 1917 by a group of Bondi surf bathers, and it provides fascinating insights into the social life of Bondi's lifesavers in the last year of the Great War."

- Brawley: Bondi SLSC (2007) page 89.

 Following Duke Kahanamoku's surfing demonstrations in Sydney 1914 -1915, it would be easy to imagine the growth on Australian surfriding would be severely limited by the nation's involvement in the European War of 1914-1918.
While club records and histories, for example Sean Brawley's work noted above, suggest the surf life saving movement  had difficulties in maintaining active membership during the war years, it would appear near impossible to establish a coherent narrative of an obscure, active and hedonistic cultural development such as surf-shooting (in terms of this paper, body surfriding), much less so for surfboard riding.
See the culturally specific and technical glossaries, below.

Produced in the last summer of the war, The Surf is a unique and detailed weekly account of the surf-shooting movement on the beaches of New South Wales, centred Bondi and Manly, the dominant Sydney beaches.
By restricting his analysis to the members of the Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, Brawley significantly underates the historical value of the publication.
The role of the surf life saving clubs does not take centre stage, which is firmly occupied by surf shooting, and on occasions they appear to be almost ignored.
Indeed, in the Bondi centred columns, the journalist appears to have closer relations with the North Bondi SLSC, than Bondi SLSC itself.

The journal, or newspaper, was possibly one of the first in the world to focus primarily on surfriding and beach activities and is itself part of a continously onrushing wave of enthusiasm for surf-shooting and beach life that received national exposure with the Kahanamoku tour.
Contray to expectation, the evidence is that in the last years of the war the number of surfriders and surfboards continued to dramatically increase.

The lead article, Surf Shooter and Sirens, concentrates on Bondi Beach and is probably mostly the work of the editor, Con. Drew.
Drew's format, a series of usually independent spaced items rarely exceeding one sentence, dominates and is either replicated by the other correspondents or edited by Drew to appear thus.
Within the lead article the journalist notes the contributions (with the possible inference that sections are written by) of the "lady  reporter" and the "religious reporter".
From the second edition there are additional correspondents from, in order of appearance, Coogee ("By Cork-screw"), Manly, Cronulla ("Darkie"), and Newcastle ("Shooter").
It is possible that some reports were delivered by telephone which may account for some variations in spelling.

In an similar manner to induction into a secret society, Drew (and thereafter the other journalists) adopts the phrase "... is hereby admitted to this column" for the initial recognition of a partipipant who was considered sufficiently regular, skillfull and/or attractive.
Occassionally, it is possible that inductees, as in the case of doctors or Members of Parliament, were accorded recognition in some part for their status outside the world of surf-shooting.
The critical factor in determining entrance to the inner-circle was skill at "surf-shooting", what is today commonly called body surfing.
For these surfriders there was a distinct division between the common surf-bather and the more active and skilled surf-shooter.

The majority of participants mentioned in the columns are taken to be surf-shooters and only those specifically identified as board riders are noted in the extacts below, with some exceptions.
(Note: This is most unsatisfactory, and all the surf-shooting extracts need to be collated at a future point.)

The riding of surfboards was considered the most skilfull of surfriding activities, although there is a division between small and big boards.
In some reports ("... was seen surf board riding") the size of the board is unclear, but  big boards were expected to be ridden on the green wave and in a standing position.
This is apparent in Frank Foran's Surfboard Shooting: A Few Hints to Beginners on page 6 of the third edition, 15th December 1917: "To stand on the board, catch the wave before it has broken."

Several surfboard rders are reported as building their own boards and there is the implication that Arthur Stone of Bondi was building several.
Some boards are noted for their extremes in size and weight.
Bigger boards were probably built specifically for larger riders, with extreme length possibly greater than 10 feet, and it appears that heavy weight was known to retard performance.
The only mention of board decor is that one board at Bondi was painted white in contrast to the standard simple timber grain.
This may not have been strictly decorative, the use of paint may have been an experiment if an effort to improve the sealing of the timber or to disguise extensive repairs.

In a large number of reports, noted surfboard riders are reported as surf-shooting.
This may be due to the rarity of suitable board riding waves, relative to those suitable for shooting.
Surf-shooting was certainly much safer and in large numbers could have a social context, a narrative provided by commentary or encouragement offered by those returning to the take-off point after a shoot.

Surfriding performance is critically analysed, and the Bondi columnist (and the editor, Con. Drew) floats the possibilty of a surf-shooting contest with appointed judges.
Note that surf-shooting exhibitions and contests had been held at life saving carnivals at Manly and Freshwater Beaches circa 1910 to 1914.

From the combined reports, performance is assessed as a function of:
wave count -  "Hungry Bill was much annoyed on Sunday.
He missed six darkies in succession. - Number 13 page 2
Waves were ideally ridden, with and without surfboards, by taking off on the unbroken green face, that is "darkies" .

wave dynamics and size - "Stan Windon claims to have got the best wave last week.
He says it was like sailing down five flights of stairs."  - Number 10 page 3.

length of ride - "Tib Fletcher got on to a 'beaut.'
Must have come in 150 yards." - Number 13 page 2.

bravado -"Did you take a feast of Captain Stroud shooting the huge green combers with the surf board on Sunday afternoon?
He fairly winded beachites with his startling and hair raising exhibition." - Number 20 page 4.
"For gameness we lift our hats to Frank A'Hearne.
Just back from the front, and still on crutches, he came out to the biggest of the breakers on Saturday last."
- Number 11 page 2.
However, boardriding is not without its dangers:
"Keith Wells got a nasty bump on Sunday morning whilst shooting with the Big Board." - Number 18 page 4.

manourves - in surf-shooting, "Rumoured that Bill Manton is a corker at the corkscrew shoot." - Number 2, page 3.
In the case of surfboard riding, the following may indicate an intention to ride tandem with a canine companion, a feat recorded in early 20th century photographs of some Californian and Hawaiian surfers:
"Frank Foran intended to give a good display on his surf board last Sunday, but forgot to bring his
dog." - Number 20 page 2.

style - "Through our telescope we saw Bill Smythe out in the blue waters.
He was doing a shoot, and the wake he left behind was like the streak of a falling star. " - Number 7 page 1.

Above all, the definitive expertise demonstrated by Duke Kahanamoku on Sydney's beaches three years earlier continued as the benchmark of excellence in surfboard riding:
"Quite a number of surfers have taken to board shooting, and if we can go by some of the
performances last week we'll soon have some worthy opponents for the 'Duke'." - Number 16 page 3.

Duke Kahanamoku's impact on land was almost as significant (emphasis added):
 "(Newcastle) Treasurer Oscar Reid's Kahanamoku smile shows out nicely in the photograph 'took' by a certain damsal last week-end."  - Number 8 page 4.

In the search for a deep tan: "Visitor Penny has a great colour.
Soon be like the Duke!" - Number 9 page 4.
and: "Tommy (Walker?) still likes the cocoanut oil.
Another dozen bottles Tom, and you'll look like an Hawaiian." - Number 14 page 4.

At a further extreme: "Bluey Stewart is now a linguist, and spouts Hawaiian fluently." - Number 20 page 2.

Based on identifiable individual reports, the proportion of male to female surfboard riders at Bondi and Manly, resemble some accounts of native surfriding on Hawaii or Tahiti in the early 19th century.
The proportions do not resemble Australian observations since 1939.
The Surf-shooters and Sirens column (Bondi) over the twenty editions mentions 15 male and 8 female boardriders by name; a ratio of about 2:1.
In the column headed Manly, the numbers are nearly equitable, 10 males and 8 females, although there is some implication that the total numbers are considerably larger.
At Cronulla the numbers are 8 males and 2 females.
There are no reports of surfboard riders at Coogee or Newcastle.

The activities of the various surf life saving clubs are neither overlooked nor enhanced, and although many rescues are reported it is unclear if these will be recorded as official "saved lives" by the local club.
Club rivalries appear to be only discussed in relation to inter-club competitive events.

The paper was largely the work of the editor, reporter and journalist, Con. Drew of North Bondi, and the Bondi reports take precedence, under the heading Surf Shooters and Sirens.
Drew probably had connections with a larger Sydney publishing house from where he was able to source the substantial sections of the publication that were not directly beach related.
Shipping Newspapers Ltd., identified on the masthead, is the obvious candidate
Most editions have a least one page of Turf,  Sailing, Swimming, and Cricket results, one page of Theatre announcements and reviews and one page of a continuing dramatic serial by Drew, himself.

The Surf  initially appeared in pink newsprint at a cost of 1d. (one penny) and was reported to have sold over five thousand copies of the first edition.
The second element of the, perhaps contradictory, masthead objective ("development and protection of our beaches") probably refers to an association with the lifesaving movement, rather than an early recognition of the importance of the natural coastal enviroment.
There was a consistent advertising content by real estate agents, hotels, bookmakers, tobacconists and surfwear distrbutors, and chemists, but the paper was apparently financed by the the cover price.
For the 11th edition (6th February 1918) the publisher failed to secure supplies of pink paper and two editions later (23 February 1918) they announced an increase in price per copy from 1d. to 2d. for the next issue.
The rise in the cost of paper was given as the reason for the increase and it was noted this was in line with the increases by other newspapers.
The circulation at the time was said to be in excess of 6000.

In the early editions, cover photographs, usually of females, are prepared from blocks supplied by Union Theatres Ltd., a financial supporter and probably the provider of the theatre announcements and reviews.
Clearly the cost of printing photographs was high.
Mid-run, some images are local competitive female swimmers and later female surfriders.
These plates were probably available from other publications.
In response to several offers of photographs by readers, the editor replies he is willing to consider suitable photographs if the photographer is willing to pay the 16 pounds requred to have the plates prepared.
The first definitively independent photograph, an exceptionally rare image of Manly's Miss Isma Amor, does not appear until the eleventh edition and several beach and surfing photographs in later editions were posibly printed elsewhere.

Surf-shooting details occupy less than 20 percent of the beachside columns.
The bulk of each is spread widely over a number of topics, although the Bondi columns have most variation in subject matter.

Overall, the commentary can be said to roughly fall into the following categories:
1. Surf-shooting, with and without surfboards.
2. Publishing difficulties, invariably confined to the opening column by Con Drew.
3. Activities that appear to be elements of courtship behaviour, but as the journalist/s seem to use a form of code and/or innuendo it is difficult to ascertain the extent of any actual physical interaction.
4. Activities involving alcoholic inebriation which, similar to sexuality above, is implied - men are said to "fall off the water wagon", apparently a return to an acceptable level of alcoholic consumption.
5. Fashion and grooming assessments for both females and males, and often in relation to tanning.
The males are regularly criticized for the poor state of their beachwear, but are also occasionally complimented on being well dressed.
Generally the females receive compliments, sometimes almost suggestive, although they are not immune from criticism: "One girl looked nice in the latest crazy skirt; but her hat killed her." - Number 3, page 1.
6. Cigar and cigarette smoking by males and females.
Probably reflecting an air of sophistication and a level of prosperity, assuming the items were difficult to procure.
In the case of females, cigarette smoking may have indicated "modern" views.
7. Vehicle ownership while obviously vastly extended mobility also similarly reflected an air of sophistication and a level of prosperity.
Note that there is one report of one motor bike riding female (these reports are not included in the extracts).
8. Surf lifesaving club activities and rescues.
9. Rough or obscene language.
10. Wrestling or boxing matches, possibly impromptu.
Promotional material for gymnasiums with various training regimes, usually associated with noted pugalists such as "Snowy Baker", appeared in beachside publications of the period.

There is some difficulty deciphering the nuances of the language, in particular were the journalist/s appear to be writing euphenistically as when dealing with courtship and alcohol consumption.
For the surfriding sections reproduced below, there is a appropriate glossary (not in alphabetical order):

surf-shooting: riding waves, generally without the assistance of any surfcraft, in modern terms body-surfing.
shooting: abbreviation of above, riding waves, generally without the assistance of any craft which if otherwise is noted, eg surfboat shooting.
surf bathing: wading and immersing the body in the surf zone.
Generally the surf-bather retains contact with the bottom, and failure to do so can be fatal.
Experienced surfriders consider the activity either an essential first step, juvenile, unskilled, unadventurous,  or a potential courting situation.
darkie: a green unbroken wave suitable for shooting.
sharkbaiter: an experienced (or foolish) shooter/surfrider who stays the furthest out from the beach.
cork-screw:  full spins while body surfriding on the wave face.
big board: approximately 8 foot x 20 inches for riding standing up.
Note that board size varies relative to the size of the surfrider.
small board: this could have been almost any size.
The most detailed reference notes the board has not been recovered after a storm which probably indicates a craft somewhat larger than the commonly reported small handboard of the period at 18 inches long by 12 inches wide.
beachites: the gallery or the audience of knowledgeable or impressionable practictioners observing from the beach, used several times.
surfites: surfriders
pirates, pirating: males of questionable, but unspecified, moral behaviour.
Possibly refers to courtship rituals and indicates an active bachelor.
bing: indecipherable.

surfriding: riding waves with and without surfcraft, in preference to the common term surfing.
SLSC: Surf Life Saving Club used generically for all similar clubs, although a number of beaches have or had variations, for example Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club.

NOTED SURFBOARD RIDERS - by beach or location and hence in order of appearance.
Frank Foran - noted as a regular and skilled surfboard rider, captain of the North Bondi Surf LIfe Saving Club.
Provides a brief surfboard riding lesson in Number 3 page 6.
Note that Foran appears to have excellent social relations with most beach-goers including members of the "rival" Bondi SLSC.

Bill Craven - surf-shooter, board rider and the captain of Bondi SLSC throughout the war years.
Craven was replaced, after seven years, as captain in 1918 in a take-over of the Bondi club by a faction of members who had returned from the war.

- Brawley: Bondi SLSC (2007) page 91.

Kathelene Musgrave - most consistently noted female surfboard rider at Bondi.

Arthur Stone- regularly noted surf-shooting exponent, surfboard rider and surfboard builder.
Said to transport timber for surfboards (billets) on the Bondi tram.

"Kewpie" Kearney

Reginald "Tibby" Fletcher, Tig Fletcher? Tigger? Tiger?
A member of the Bondi SLSC with a significant competitive record and a noted surf-shooter and boardrider.
Fletcher is noted as "painted his surf board white" - Number 15 page 2.
Fletcher was elected club captain in 1921.

- Brawley: Bondi SLSC (2007) page 93.
Jack Huie - member of the Manly Swimming Club and contestant at the heats for the 100 yards championship of NSW at the Domain carnival 2nd January 1915, won by Duke Kahanamoku in world record time.

Aggie Sly: female member of the ever present Sly family at Manly.
The Sly brothers were probably the first regular life savers in Australia and essentially wrote the book on surfboat shooting.

Isabel Latham (sic, Letham): Duke's tandem partner at Freshwater and Dee Why in 1915.
Commonly claimed to be Australia's first female surfboardrider.

Joe Palmer:

Fred Notting
" 'Young’ Fred Notting was born on 31 August 1883 and lived at Cliff Street all his life.
He was a foundation member of Manly Surf Club in 1907 and Manly Surf Life Saving Club in 1911.

  ‘Young’ Fred Notting was awarded the Royal Humane Society bronze medallion for a rescue involving two people off Manly in 1906.
He was Surf Life Saving Club captain in 1915 and 1917, and boat captain from 1911 to 1920.
In 1918, he became the second member of the Manly Club to be awarded life membership.
Fred Notting also played first grade Rugby Union for Manly in 1906."

-Metherill, Terry: The Nottings of Cliff Street, Manly

 Circa 1908 'Fred Notting painted a brace of slabs and named them Honolulu Queen and Fiji Flyer; gay they were to look at but they were not surfboards.'

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 235.

 "The fourth carnival of the Manly Surf Club was held on Saturday afternoon, 1 April 1911.
Mr. Fred Notting gave a clever exhibition of surf-shooting in 'The Big Risk' canoe."
154. Daily Telegraph 3 April 1911, Manly Surf Carnival programme 1911.

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 144.

Notting probably made several such exhibitions in "The Big Risk Canoe" at carnivals on the northern beaches and the following summer he was listed in the program for the Freshwater Carnvial on 26th January 1912

- Freshwater SLSC: Souvenir Programme (1912) page 19.

 Fred Notting designed the first boat strictly for surf rescue, commissioned by Manly Surf Life Saving Club in
After studying rough water craft from around the world, Notting based his design on the Norwegian work boat -
a 24 foot double -ender of white huon pine with exaggerated rocker.
Built by Holmes of Lavender Bay for 36 pounds (sans gear and oars) it was christened M.L.S.C., but was more
commonly known as the 'Banana' boat due to the accentuated rocker.

- Maxwell:Surf (1949)  pages 91 -92
- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) pages 44-45.

  Following C. D. Paterson's acquisition of an Hawaiian surfboard, circa 1908-1912, Manly locals such as Fred Notting attempted to surf on replica boards built by Les Hind.

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 235.

 Jeof. (sic, Geof.) Wyld -   Following C. D. Paterson's acquisition of an Hawaiian surfboard, circa 1908-1912, Manly locals such as Geoff. Wyld attempted to surf on replica boards built by Les Hind.

- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) pages 53-54.

Wyld was also in the 1913-14 crew of Manly' second surf boat, captained by Fred Notting.
He was a member of the Manly Swimming Club and contestant at the heats for the 100 yards championship of NSW at the Domain carnival on 2nd January 1915, won in world record time by Duke Kahanamoku.

Russell Henry "Busty" Walker: One of the three surfriding Walker brothers.

Following C. D. Paterson's acquisition of an Hawaiian surfboard, circa 1908-1912, Manly locals such as the Walker Brothers attempted to surf on replica boards built by Les Hind.

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 235.

 "The Walker Brothers sent a surf-ski to Duke Kahanamoku at Honolulu and the members of the Australian Pacific Games team which visited Honolulu in 1939 say Duke was often to be seen paddling around on his 'ski from Australia'. "

- Prepared notes forwarded by Adrian Curlewis to C. Bede Maxwell circa 1948, pages 3 and 4.
Mitchell Library, Sydney, ML MSS 196.

 During the 1920's, Russell Henry 'Busty' Walker  used a canoe to act as a judge at the buoys at Manly Surf

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 237.
-Harris: Manly SLSC (1961)  page 90.

 William  H. Walker was the Hon. Secretary of the Seagulls SLSC in 1911, one of four clubs located on Manly Beach.
In 1915 he was on the board of directors  of the North Steyne SLSC.

William's son, Ainslie "Sprint" Walker introduced board riding to Torquay.

 -Benns: North Steyne SLSC (20067) page 41.

Also see Source Documents
Snow McAlister : Sprint Walker, Solid Wood Boards and Victorian Surfing.

-Tracks Magazine circa 1972, reprinted circa 1973 in The Best of Tracks, page 191.

 One "Mr. Walker" (most likely Tom) was reported as giving an exhibition of surfboardriding at the Freshwater Carnival of 1912, on the same day as Fred Notting gave an exhibition in his surf canoe..

- The Daily Telegraph 27 January 1912, page 21.
Following C. D. Paterson's acquisition of an Hawaiian surfboard, circa 1908-1912, Manly locals such as Tom Walker attempted to surf on replica boards built by Les Hind.
- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) pages 53-54.

Tommy (Walker), also perhaps Tomo, less likely Thomo? - see above.
T. Walker  was  a member of a squad inculding C.D. Bell, F.C. Williams, and R. Bowden in a display of Shooting the Breakers,  Event 13 at North Steyne SB&LS 5th Annual Carnival, Manly Beach, 30th December, 1911.

Harry Hay  -
Hay was a member of the Manly Swimming Club and contestant at the heats for the 100 yards championship of NSW at the Domain carnival 2nd January 1915, won by Duke Kahanamoku.
He was one of the local surfriders to receive instruction in surfboard riding from Duke at Freshwater on 24th December 1914.
Hay subsequently wrote Swimming and Surfing (1931), one of the earliest books to have surfboard riding instructions, including in the standing position.

Isma Armor (sic, Amor)
"Isma Amor was born in 1898 to William and Emma Amor.
W J Amor " was an  “Engraver, Die Sinker and Medallist
She died 7 August 1985 and her husband Angus MacPhillamy died in 1971.
 By 1910 W J Amor had moved to Addison Road, Manly,...until 1918,
Addison Road was home to the well-to-do of Manly, so the Amors would have been reasonably well off for that time."

Isma Amor would have been approximately 19 years old in 1917.

Following C. D. Paterson's acquisition of an Hawaiian surfboard, circa 1908-1912, Manly locals such as Miss Esma Amor attempted to surf on replica boards built by Les Hind.

- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) pages 53-54
Tom Gunning
At the North Steyne Surf Bathers and Life Saving Club inaugal carnival, on Saturday 28th March 1908, T. Gunning represented Manly Surf Club in Event No. 1, Royal Life Saving Society Rescue Methods.
- North Steyne SLSC: Carnival Program (1908) page 3.

 Note that Arthur M Lowe reports the existence of  "The two Tom Gunnings".

- Lowe: Surf-Shooting (1958) page 109.

 'Snowy' Harding and 'Snowy'
"Snowy" Harding was a board rider of high ability, it was reported:

"Snowy was out on the bank on Saturday evening giving the beachites his usual exhibition with the big board.

He says he can't quite do the stand on the head stunt, but will get the half Nelson on it yet."

- Number 16 page 3.
"Snowy" was clearly named for his (enhanced?) coiffure:
"Snowy Harding does not use peroxide, girls.
It's the surf- isn't it Snowy?"
- Number 5 page 2.
Definitely the Mr Harding detailed above and not, as might be supposed, the famous manly surfrider 'Snowy' McAlister who was born in 1902 and would have been then aged 16.
McAlister was twenty-two when he won his first national competitive surfboard event in 1924.

Saxon Crakenthorp (sic, Crakanthorp)
Dr. J. S. 'Saxon' Crakanthorp (several spellings) is commonly given the credit for the invention of the surf-ski at Manly circa 1928-1932.
In fact, he promoted and enhanced the original design developed by Harry McLaren at Port Macquarie some years earlier.

- see A History of the Surf Ski.
Ron Bowden
R. Bowden was  a member of a squad inculding C.D. Bell, F.C. Williams, and T. Walker  in a display of Shooting the Breakers,  Event 13 at North Steyne SB&LS 5th Annual Carnival, Manly Beach, 30th December, 1911.

Bowden probably was a resident of Manly before moving to Cronulla sometime before 1917 and this familiarity with the area possibly accounts for his appearance at Manly noted by a correspondent.

- Number 11, page 4.
Cronulla SLSC History
"The Duke's board (donated to the NSW Surf Bathers Association and possibly raffled) later became the property of noted club member, Ron "Prawn" Bowden, who sold it  to Fred Locke, who in turn signed it over to the inimitable Jack McTigue."
- Unaccredited: possibly Cronulla SLSC Newsletter, circa 1960.

Jack McTigue was a schoolboy when he presented himslf to the Cronulla Club to help replace elder members who had volunteered for the War in 1915 and trained under Frank Stroud (see below), gaining his Bronze Medallion in March 1918.

- Young: Cronulla SLSC (2000) page 30.
Estate agent Giddings
Captain Frank Stroud

 Frank Stroud was captain and Giddings a member of the Cronulla Surf LIfe Saving Club and were vital players on the day Duke Kahanamoku came to Cronulla Beach.

"The Duke's party, ... was met at Sutherland station by the following members of the Cronulla Life Saving Club, with their cars, J. Munro, J. Halett, D. Bouffier, L. Giddings, and F. Stroud, and whirled off to Waterfall, returning to National Park via Lady Carrington's Drive."

-The St. George Call 13 February 1915, page 5.

Stroud  was a stalwart of the Cronulla club and served as captain and a virtual one man rescue service throughout the war years.

- Young: Cronulla SLSC (2000) pages 29 to 32.
Miss Kenny:
At Bondi, a Miss Kenny is noted as:
"But the South Australian lady champion gave some fine exhibitions with the surf board."  - Number 19 page 2
" South Australian lady champion surf-board shooter Miss Kenny was in for a swim last Sunday.
We would have liked to have seen that lady on her board.".- Number 20 page 2.

This is the only known reference in the known literature to anyone from South Australia in this period being noted as a "champion surf-board shooter."

Alick Wickham  (1886–1967) - a native of the Solomon Islands who is commonly reported to had a profound influence on the development of the Crawl swimming style in association with the Cavill family in the 1900s.

See Osmond and Phillips: ‘Look at That Kid Crawling’

On 1st March 1892, Manly Council considered and awarded the tender for recently refurbished the Manly Baths to Mr. Ernest Cavill for three years.
At the only reported carnival at the Manly Baths during 1892, E., C. and S. Cavill were evident in the progarm.
Due to financial difficulties, Cavill was unable to maintain the lease payments and the Baths were resumed by the Council on 25th December 1892.

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) pages 15 to 21.

 The Cavill's moved  to the xxx Pool, in Sydney Harbour or Bronte Pool?

The "Manly Ducks", (and?) Messrs Wickham, A. Rosenthall, L. Murray, H. Baker, and C. Smith, performed an exhibition of fancy diving and swimming at a carnival held by the Manly School Swimming Club on 15th March 1905.
142. Evening News, 14 March 1905.

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 71.

 At Manly Swimming Club's 1906 Gala at Skinner's Baths the world record for 100 yards was equalled by the current holder, Cecil Healy, but a premature start in the final saw the event awarded to Alick Wickham.
154. Daily Telegraph, 4, 6, and 8 Januray 1905.

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 75.

In February, at a combined carnival by Manly and East Sydney Swimming Clubs at the same venue, Alick Wickham (representing East Sydney), failed to break his world 50 yards record of 24 3-5 seconds.
Cecil Healy was also unsuccessful in breaking Dick Cavill's  120 yard record.
163. Daily Telegraph, 26 February 1906, Evening News, 26 February 1906.

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 75.

 In a report pepared by Manly Surf Club stalwart, A.W. Relph, Alick Wickham and Cecil Healy are listed as club members of swimming renown.
157. Second Manly Surf Carnival Souvenir Programme, 1909.

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 115.

 Wickham was known to compete competively in swimming races and apart from his membership of Manly SLSC,  his connection with the surf-shooting movement is unclear, although sometime after the turn of the century he was credited with shaping the first surfboard in Australia.
Hand carved from a piece of driftwood found on Curl Curl beach, its performance capabilities were severely  limited by its failure to float.

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) page 235.

 Wickham was not the only Polynesian to have an influence on Australian swimming and surfriding, the eldest Cavill originally noting the swimming style of of a female while visiting a Pacific island.

- source required.

Earlier another South Sea Islander, Tommy Tana, a youth employed as a gardener in the Manly district, was introducing body surfing to Australia.
From the Pacific island of Tana, (New Hebrides, now Vanuatu) he amazed onlookers at Manly Beach with his
skill at using the power of a wave to ride back to the beach.
His style was studied and adapted by Manly swimmers, notably Eric Moore, Arthur Lowe and Freddie Williams,
the latter considered the first local to master the sport.

- Maxwell: Surf (1949) pages 6 -11.
- Lowe: Surf-Shooting (1958) pages 25 to 29.
- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) pages 4-5.
- Greg McDonagh in Pollard: Surfrider (1964) page 55.
- Thoms: Surfmovies (2000) page 14.

 Clearly Sydney's surf-shooters were aware of the wave riding skills of Pacific Islanders and in 1911 the surf-shooting by a resident of Norfolk Island was a highlight of North Steyne's Carnival.

"The North Steyne Club forwared for confirmation to the Surf Bathing Association a programme for the club's annual carnival.
Fifteen life saving clubs would be represented, and an exhibition of surf-shooting given by Mr. L. Bouffett, of Norfolk Island.
48. Sydney Morning Herald 1 December 1911."

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 159.

 In a twist of history, Mr Bouffett had probably inherited his surfriding skills from the, predominantly female, Tahitian natives who had initially sailed to Pitcairn Island with the Bounty mutineers in 1870 before relocating to Norfolk Island in 18??.
Surfriding was first recorded in 1769 on Tahiti by Joseph Banks during James Cook's first expedition to the Pacific to observe the Transit of Venus, followed by his circumnavigation of New Zealand and navigation of the east coast of Australia.
This report was ten years before the accounts in Hawaii by members of Cook's third and final expedition in 1789.
Furthermore, the most dramatic and detailed 18th century surfriding report is by Bounty mutineer, James Morrison, at Matavai Bay, Tahiti, in 1788.

See Polynesian Surfriding : Tahiti 1767-1900
Joseph Banks, 1769 and following.
The Bounty at Matavai Bay, 1788 and following.

Five weeks after North Steyne's carnival, on Saturday 6th January 1912,  in a fouteen event program presented by Manly Surf Life Saving Club, "Surf-shooting by Hawaiian troupe" was listed as event number five
This was not the only surf-shooting event in the program, event number eleven was a "Surf-shooting competition", featuring twenty four competitors from Manly Beach (including T.S. Walker and H.M. Hay, see above) and another ten shooters from Bondi and Newcastle.

- Manly LSC: Carnival Programme. (1912) pages ?.

 The next summer, Pacific Islanders were again a highlight of North Steyne's carnival:

"A successful surf carnival was held at North Steyne, Manly on Saturday afternoon, 28 December 1912.
The display was witnessed by 15,000 spectators.
One of the prinipal attractions was the presence of a team of native swimmers from the Ellice Islands.
They entertained the crowd with their quaint songs and war dances, combined with clever exhibitions of surf and boat displays in the breakers.
139. Sydney Morning Herald 30 December 1912, Daily Telegraph 30 December 1912."

- S&G Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 177.
In the summer of 1914-1915, the impact on Australian surfriding of another Polynesian surfrider, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku,  would be profound.

Manly SLS Club  House and Members, 
circa 1917.

Members indentified include Fred Notting, 
Geoff. Wyld, Tom Gunning and 
M.C. Crakanthorp.

The portable sign next to 
the tower window reads
"Surf Shooters Only".

- Harris: Manly SLSC (1961) page 17.

The Surf
Cover - Page1.



About Ourselves
This paper is a paper wIth an object.
Its object Is to get sold.
Its price Is one penny per copy; but as we are anxious to secure a large clrculation, anyone can have twelve copies for one shilling.

Setiously, the object of "The Surf" is to champIon the interests of the beaches and to work steadily for their protection and development.

The pages of "The Surf" will be open to the members of the public and surfing clubs to ventilate their grievances and defend their rights.

"The Surf" does not forget that the surfer is a gay-hearted, care-free chIld of Nature, who enjoys the good things the gods have given him, and It will, therefore, strive to reflect in its pages some of tbe gladness that dwells In theIr hearts.

Surf Shooters and Sirens (BONDI)

The sight of a surf board to Frank Foran is as sweet as the smell of grease paint to an actor.

Bill Craven's surf board shot him so high the other day that he's only just come down.
Oh girls! Supposing he hadn't.


It's a treat to see Kathelene Musgrave on her surfboard.

Girls! We had our first go on a surf board yesterday. (- the Editor?)



Last Friday we printed 5000 copies, and by Saturday night we'd sold clean out.

Swimming champions seen on the beach recently - Alick Wickham, Frank Carberry, Lack Lovelace and a cove from Melbourne, whose name we can't call to mind for the moment.


Rumoured that Bill Manton is a corker at the corkscrew shoot.


Kathelene Musgrave was out on her surf-board last Saturday; but shoots were scarce.


For the guidance of the public we publish a portion of the Surf bathing Ordinances, taken from the new South Wales Surf Bathing Association's Handbook :-
Dressing - in public view
Separation of the Sexes
Sun - basking
Bathing in dangerous places
Surf - shooting
 Where any inspector considers that the practice of surf-shooting (i.e., riding on the crest of the
breaking wave), whether with or without a surf-board, is likely to endanger or inconvenience other
bathers, such inspector may order bathers to refrain from such practice or to remove to a place
where such practice will not cause danger or inconvenience.
Bathers shall comply with such orders.
Any inspector may take possession of any surf-board used in contravention of his or another
inspector's orders and retain it until the bather from whom it was taken resumes his ordinary dress,
or until such inspector considers that surf-boards may again be used without endangering or
inconveniencing the public.



Our beach reporter visited Manly last weekend.
Another bloke who trains secretly- Jack Huie.
Aggie Sly is a champion shooter.
She is hereby admitted to this column.
Isabel Latham (sic, Letham) is hereby admitted to this column.
Sharkbait Joe Palmer is hereby admitted to this column.

Now, who is that lady who persists in getting in amoungst the crowd on her surfboard?
Where's Fred Notting these days?


A Few Hints to Beginners.
By Frank Foran (?)
In swimming out with your board, push it  through the seas from the back end.

If it breaks away from you, get seawards of it.
Don't attempt to recover it from the shore side.

If you do, it may bump on top of you.

When ready to begin, lie on the board, with knees just over back of the board.

Don't get too far forward.

Paddle with incoming sea as if you going to make an ordinary shoot.

Catch the sea before it breaks, or after.
Don't catch it while it is breaking.

If you find the board is losing the wave, put more weight forward.

Should the board shoot downwards, go with it.
Slide over the top, and the board will shoot backwards and out of danger.

To stand on the board, catch the wave before it has broken.
Hop on to the back of the board, so to give it a chance to get way on, spread your legs wide apart, and face across the board.

Then adjust your balance.



Miss Ritchie is getting an expert on the board.


Goodness gracious girls!
Jeof. (sic, Geof.) Wyld has got his surf bronze at last.

Fred. Notting could do with a new costume, Couldn't you Fred?
Their building a huge hangar to shelter Busty Walker's surfboard.

It's as well they are building it big.
Gather round girls.
Joe Monegan has taken to the surfboard.

Following a report about an unfriendly dog,
Harry Hay might be able to swim.
But who said he could run?


Life-saver Ron Bowden has been getting some good shoots lately with his board.


Arthur Stone is improving out of sight on the surf board.

Keep at it, Arthur.

Kewpie Kearney is getting to be a some surf-board shooter.

Snowy Harding does not use peroxide, girls.
It's the surf- isn't it Snowy?

SATURDAY 5 January 1918.

But Just to change the subject- What's wrong with a shooting competition between Arthur Stone, Tib. Fletcher, Sid Brown, Frank Meany, Young Copplestone, Bob Stewart and other top notchers we can't recall at the moment?

We don't mind springing a guinea prize, providing Dinny and Mac. do the judging.

Verco and  and Russell might enter also.

And there's another chap named Terry, an ex-Manly surfer.
What's wrong with him having a bang at it too?
We saw him doing the corkscrew shoot the other day.


Miss Gladys Corbett was out on a surf board holiday time.

Will only allows good swimmers to use his board.


And why shouldn't Joe Monegan be snapped when he's on that surf board.

We have not seen Isabel Latham (sic) lately.

Thomo looks well on a board, but a ton better in his new togs.


Jack Simons is thinking of starting a surf shooting class.
Ladies given preference, eh, Jack?

(By Darkie)

Estate agent Giddings was booked to given an exhibition with the big board on Sunday.
But the club boys were greatly disappointed with the performance.

Big wave hunters- Wilbur Wright, Keith Gates and Mac.

Keith Wells, he of the curly locks, is sure some board shooter.

Life-saver Bowden is one of the best exponents of board shooting on the Coast.

SATURDAY 12 January 1918.


Through our telescope we saw Bill Smythe out in the blue waters.

He was doing a shoot, and the wake he left behind was like the streak of a falling star.

Wall Connelly was there, too.

And so was Isma Armor (sic, Amor), the Manly surf-board girl.
About that shooting competition of ours- Jim Crieghton, E. Sinclair, Cess McCook, Jack Dealand, and Jim Lee might be added to the bunch we mentioned last week.


They say that Mabel Walgett is some surfer now.

And that Fatty Seabrook has taken on surf-board riding.

Fat will need some board.


(By Darkie)

Miss Kent is improving with her board shooting.


 We've got another gladiator- Harry Hay.

He's got a chest as big as a new chum's swag, and can expand 7 1/2 inches.

Still, that has nothing to do with the black and white zebra cap that Isabel Latham will only wear at week-ends.
That good shooter Miss Armor (sic, Amor) was noticed at Bondi last week.

SATURDAY 19 January 1918.

Pagte 1

Re that shooting competition,- Jack Dreelen and Perce Russell might enter.

Page 2

Arthur Stone is making a new surf board.
We saw him in the tram with a number of boards.
But did the conductor see him?

Page 3


Even though it was wet on Saturday, Fred. Notting refused to come out of the surf.

Tom Gunning and Fred. are trying to dodge Snowy Baker since the "save" they had last week.

Page 4

May Bowert is a good surf-board shooter.
She is admitted to this column.

(By Darkie)

Miss Allport is becoming an expert board shooter.

Ron Bowden broke a record paddling for shore the other day.

The brown man doesn't seem to like 7 ft woobygongs.

(By Shooter)

Treasurer Oscar Reid's Kahanamoku smile shows out nicely in the photograph "took" by a certain damsal last week-end.

SATURDAY 26 January 1918.

Page 2

The two north end pirates, Tiger and Kewpie, were sighted in the canoe "Saucy Jane" last Sunday.

Kewpie was on the paddle, while 'tother gent was the passanger.

Afterwards they indulged in a little surf board exercise.

Page 3


Bert Upton's surfboard fiends ought to take a tumble to themselves.

And steer their hooker higher up the beach- where they will not be a danger to the surfers.

But really girls!
We wish you would not interrupt Gummy (Claude?) West when he's surfing.



Young McLachlan is learning to shoot on the big board, and is a good trier.

Visitor Penny has a great colour.

Soon be like the Duke!

On the crest of a wave we sighted Jack English, shooting with a hand board, on Saturday afternoon.

Volume 1 NUMBER 10.
SATURDAY 2 February 1918.


H. M. Law has only missed the surf twenty-one days in seven years.

Thre's a record for you.

The Misses Webb were riding on the surf board last week-end.

Len Bishop was teaching them how to shoot.

Clarrie Stone and Harry Carter were riding surf boards, too.

And just another word about that shooting competition.

Jimmy Gamble, Doctor J. Mullens, and Sid and Theo Astely, might enter.

What's Dinny Brown doing that he doesn't attend to it, anyway?


(By "Cork-screw"))

Stan Windon claims to have got the best wave last week.

He says it was like sailing down five flights of stairs.

Page 4


An old member of this column, Miss Isabel Latham (si, Letham), is teaching board shooting.
She ought to have many pupils.

Did yer git Tomo on that coffin lid on Sunday?

Volume 1 NUMBER 11.
SATURDAY 9 February 1918.

Centred Photograph:
Expert Board Shooter.

Now, what is Dinny Brown going to do with those shillings he is trying to collect as entrance fee for the shooting competition?

That's what this paper wants to know- seeing that there is no entrance fee.


Young Sara (2 years old) is the youngest surf board shooter on the beach.



But Otto Phillips has been a beach inspector, and ought to know better than to get amoungst the crowd on a surf board.

(By Cork-screw)

For gameness we lift our hats to Frank A'Hearne.

Just back from the front, and still on crutches, he came out to the biggest of the breakers on Saturday last.

Clyde Anderson was seen just itching to go right out, but they were a wee bit too big, weren't they, Clyde?

(By "Darkie")

Lanky Mac is getting some shooter on the big waves.

But just you wait until he gets the big board.

Volume 1 NUMBER 12.
SATURDAY 16 February 1918.

Page 4


Young Foley is a candidate for the O.O.M.C

And Mrs. Dibley has taken on board shooting.

Now, why is Cronulla Bowden always in Manly?
Isn't Cronulla big enough for him?

Billy Sly and George Freeman had a great catch on Friday.
They caught a 10ft. shark.


Quite a sensation on the beach on Sunday afternoon when Life Saver Bowden caught a Baby Penguin in the surf.

He had a long and tricky swim for it, but eventually captured it like a hero.

What is the delay with the proposed surf boat?

Has the contract fallen through?


We sighted some of the Club boys out to the big waves on Sunday.

And what price the shoots they got.

It was well worth the long swim out, and they certainly deserved 'em.

(By "Shooter")

A song of the surf: "My little Maori Princess" by Gordon.

Volume 1 NUMBER 13.
SATURDAY 23 February 1918.


Announcement of the doubling in the price per issue from 1d. to 2d. for the next issue, Volume 1 Number 14.
This is due to rise in the cost of paper and is in line with the increases by other newspapers.
Circulation is in excess of 6000.

Captain Frank Foran informs us that the North Bondi Surf Club will hold its Hundred Yards Championship at the Royal Life Saving Carnival on Monday, March 4th.

One of the first couples to take to the surf after the recent bad weather was Mr. and Mrs McMurtrie.

Tib Fletcher got on to a "beaut."
Must have come in 150 yards.

The official launching of the Margaret Ann took place during the week.

Hungry Bill was much annoyed on Sunday.
He missed six darkies in succession.

Page 4


Aggie Sly is still doing some good shooting.

Have you heard the latest?
Iasabelle Lettham (Sic Isabel Letham) is an expert at aquaplaning.
She was taken last week for the movies.

Volume 1 NUMBER 14.

Page 1

While Arthur Stone and Jack Carter whizzed shorewards on a two-ton surf board.



Busty wasn't 'arf enjoying himself at the carnival.

But did you notice his pockets bulging out with confetti?

Tommy still likes the cocoanut oil.

Another dozen bottles Tom, and you'll look like an Hawaiian.



Four integrated photographs: Snapshots of sutrfing scenes on Manly, Coogee and Bondi beaches.


Reginald Fletcher, without mention of whom no column is complete, has painted his surf board white.

In the distance it looks like a Japanese coffin lid.



There is some talk afloat now that Inspector Joe is giving free lessons in surf-shooting.

Teddy Blyth is some dope with the surf board.



We saw Miss Dalton going in for a dip.

A real good surfer, and we hear she is going to take on board shooting.


Two photographs of surf shooting at Manly.
Three photographs of beach girls at Bondi.


Bessie Lovelace has taken on surf-board riding now.

And so has Mirrie Owens.

Davy Price is a regular surfer also.



Who was that shapely brown lady in the one-piece costume trying to master the art of board shooting on Saturday?

Judging by the way she carried the board to the sheds, she has plenty of musccle.

Snowy was out on the bank on Saturday evening giving the beachites his usual exhibition with the big board.

He says he can't quite do the stand on the head stunt, but will get the half Nelson on it yet.

Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Snowsill and family from Ba, Fiji, are spending a month's holiday at Manly.

As the boys are regular surfites we hereby admit 'em to our columns.

Quite a number of surfers have taken to board shooting, and if we can go by some of the performances last week we'll soon have some worthy opponents for the "Duke".


Ethel Thompson must have lost that small board in the surf t'other day 'cause we haven't seen it since.


We saw Mrs. Smith from Manly in the surf during the week, and got quite a shock to see her, as we thought she had forgotten all about Cronulla.

A champion surfer and a good trier with the board.




Eric Barr's lady-like tactics in the water with the small board is a feature in itself.

Who was the knut trying to out class the Freshy Duke on the board on Saturday afternoon at North Steyne?

Surf board Bustie (Walker?) gave a display last Sunday afternoon, and thrilled his numerous onlookers.


Curly Bob Whitfield is fast becoming an expert shooter with the big board.

But cripes!
You should see the size of the board; it's like a blomin' monitor (ironclad warship with low freeboard, circa 1865?).



Captain Pearse is mastering the knack of board shooting, and will soon be a tip-top performer.

(BY "Darkie")

Don't fail to see the exhibition to be given by the knuts in the s.s. Keystone during the holidays.

As the old craft has just under-gone a general overhauling and painting she looks like a real surf-boat now.

Did you see Cecil Dodds shooting the big green combers on the surf board last week?

Cecil is a board exponent alright, but what price the Chinese ghereska he threw when he got dumped.

Jack English has taken on board shooting, and judging by what we saw on Sunday, is the making of a champion.

Keith Wells got a nasty bump on Sunday morning whilst shooting with the Big Board.



Our own Kathleen Musgrave has been doing some great surf board shooting of late, and is getting quite an expert at the game.

Lullie Hudson is anxious for some lessons on the surf board, and, believe us, she is some girl.


We didn't see Journalist Jean Williamson on the beach last Sunday.

But the South Australian lady champion gave some fine exhibitions with the surf board.



Cave man Reg. Fletcher has discovered a new leg hold, which he'd like to put on one of our sirens.

He's a great inventor, is Fletch.

And the Goverment has taken over his surf board in order to combat with the submarine menace.


Frank Foran intended to give a good display on his surf board last Sunday, but forgot to bring his dog.

Bluey Stewart is now a linguist, and spouts Hawaiian fluently.

South Australian lady champion surf-board shooter Miss Kenny was in for a swim last Sunday.

We would have liked to have seen that lady on her board.



Tis rumoured that one of our leading lady surfers is about to leave us at an early date for America in search of honours in the picture world.


We sighted young Saxon Crakenthorp shooting the breakers with the big surf board t'other day.


Did you take a feast off Captain Stroud shooting the huge green combers with the surf board on Sunday afternoon?
He fairly winded beachites with his startling and hair raising exhibition.

This copy of The Surf contributed by:
Paul Scott
Deputy Head of the School of Design, Communication and Technology
Faculty of Science and Information Technology
The University of Newcastle, Australia.
Many thanks.

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home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2008) : The Surf : Summer 1917-1918.