Source Documents
john witzig : byron bay, 1963. 

John Witzig : Byron Bay, 1963.
John Witzig : Byron Bay
Midget Farrelly
John Kelly's Hydroplane Advertising
Surfing World
Volume 2 Number 1, March 1963.

This edition features a four page article by budding surf journalist and photographer, John Witzig; identified as a young university student, it is perhaps one of his earliest.
The photographs include shots of Nat Young, Rodney "Gopher" Sumpter and two water shots
, unusual for the era, at The Pass; one surfer the unknown maestro of the chest board.
While three photographs are captioned as Wattego's, in the text it is the correct Watego's.

The photograph of the author, John Witzig, is obviously taken by an other cameraman.

Witzig would later be appointed editor at Surfing World and initiate Surf International (1967-1970), Tracks (1970-present) and Seanotes (
See Surfing Magazines.

Apart from the quality of Byron Bay's surf, Witzig is troubled by
a somewhat intolerant attitude by some local officials (that is, the police), a conflict that would fester over the next decade before the town embraced surfing culture, and business, in the early 1980s.

The article on Pipeline is not transcribed, but there are four photographs, notably one of Midget Farrelly, defying convention and turning right.
In the mid-1970s this would feature prominently in photographs and film as Backdoor Pipe.
Pipeline also features as the centre-fold; a dramatic shot of
Midget Farrelly, the current Makaha or World champion,  by renowned Californian cameraman Bud Browne along with some interesting biographical notes.

Bob Evans details the latest in surfboard design, the Hydroplane by John Kelly of Hawaii.
This was probably the first design to take advantage of foam's potential, given the lack of grain, to imagine and produce an eclectic range of possible shapes.
See: King Surfboards Step Tail, 1964.
Kelly's step-tail was reprised in the 1970s in the early versions of Ben Apia's Stinger,
Along with Wally Froiseth and  Fran Heath, Kelly developed of the famed fin-less Hot Curl design in the late 1930s, s
ee Obelian : Give It  the Axe.
He also authored the excellent Surf and Sea (1965).

Advertising includes a Bob Evans' double bill, McDonagh Surfboards, the BMC Morris 850
, and Desmond Muirhead's recently published Surfing in Hawaii on page 24.
The Morris 850 was better known as the Mini, starring in The Italian Job (1969); the catchphrase Yabbadabbadoo
famously used by cartoon character Fred Flintstone.
Page 6
Byron Bay
John Witzig, a young university student and a keen surfer, writes on his pick of N.S.W. beaches Byron Bay.
DESPITE a somewhat intolerant attitude by some local officials, Byron Bay, on the upper NSW north coast , has become one of the most popular beaches on the east coast of Australia.

The unusual beach formation facing north, stretching from east to west,  admirably suits the south winds which frequently fan the surf into a series of strong, well-shaped rolling waves.
 It's an ideal board surf.

Palm Valley beach at Byron Bays features a real long ride and the small to medium waves at the Valley carry some of the best "hot dogging" waves in the country.
The take-off point at the Valley is sheltered behind a rock formation and the ride ends nearly half a mile

Page 7

away near the shallow sand banks fringing the beach.

Watego's the eastern-most beach in Australia sports a different type of wave.
Watego's normal waves are much more critical and often much shorter than its neighbouring beach.
The take-oft point at Watego's varies according to the tides but the ride invariably ends in the western-most corner, often in front of the rocks where a wipe out is disastrous.
The south wind blows directly off-shore at Watergo's and is funnelled down from the lighthouse.

Definitely an "all-time" great surfing shot
taken of Terry Purcell as he slips down a
wave at Byron Bay.
About half a mile off Watego's beach is a bombora reef-type surf which under good conditions gives a large wave which will run through to the beach.

Around the Bay and in front of the Byron Bay township there's a small but well-shaped surf.
However, these waves are completely dependent on sand bank formation and the best conditions here are with a slight swell and no wind or on off-shore westerly.

Hair flying, Rodney "The Gopher"' Sumpter shows his dexterity as he
swings into a nice wall at Wattego's.

Robert Young struggles to bring his board
inside this curl at Wattego's.
Page 8
On the south side of the Cape is Tallows Beach- suitable in theory for a nor-easter but which seems in practice seldom to develop into really good surf.

At the extreme southern side of the Tallows, Broken Head supplies a really fine surf under southerly wind conditions.
In such conditions a type of wave similar to the excellent North Narrabeen right-hander banks up and carries to the beach.

Byron Bay under such wind conditions is a board riders paradise.

However, I did find that some of the residents and officials of the sleepy township of Byron Bay aren't too eager to encourage any marked "invasion" by board riders.

Some surfers have had their stay in Byron Bay abruptly curtailed, long hair has evidently  become a dubious lawful reason for exclusion from the village.

This intolerant attitude does little to deter the avid surfer who must rank this normally pleasant town and its surrounding beaches as one of the most exciting board and body surfs on the entire east coast.

This unknown maestro of the chest board cuts across a thick one at Palm Valley
Page 9
The old "home" at Wattego's huddled among the Pandanus Palms keeps an eye on some of our greatest waves.

John Witzig, a dedicated surfer and author of this story, slides hard to clear the soup on a four footer.

Page 16

Haileiwa teenager Buzzy Kneubull

goes through the hollow of the Pipeline.

Midget Farrelly, defying convention,
cuts back under a moderate wave,
whipped right at the bottom and made a great ride.

Page 17

Veteran Island resident Jose Angel
shows he hasn't lost the touch for
a good right hander and slips through.

John Peck, the most successful Pipeline
surfer of the 1963 season.

Pages 18-19: Centre Fold

Form of a champion

The reining international board champion is quite a veteran in the tough surfing field despite the fact that he is 18 years old.

At a real youngster Midget did quite a bit of travelling the world with his parents and lived for some time in Canada and new Zealand before his folks decided to settle in Sydney.
Midget, christened Bernard, got his nick name almost automatically.

As an 11-year old Bernard was a mighty small kid and his appearance "out the back" at either Manly or Freshie perched on a big hollow board in the middle of a decent hump led the board riders to give him a new name, a name that is now known throughout the surfing world.
Midget was encouraged in his early surf life by his uncle, well known North Bondi board man, Ray Hookham.

His almost fanatic keenness in becoming a great board rider saw him as a Junior line up with some of the best board men of the day.
He was taken under their wing and was always ready to listen to advice and experiment and work on improving his technique.

Competition, in open company, in a variety of surfing conditions sharpened Farrelly in developing his own technique and despite the fact he filled out considerably he was still called Midget by his mates.
Midget made his first trip to Hawaii in 1961 with 20 other Australian board riders and was immediately infected with the surfing virus which took him back to the Islands last Christmas.
Midget returned to Hawaii the almost complete board rider.
He was quietly confident, and backed by the lessons he learnt on his first trip entered the contest with a style and technique that singled him out as the best board rider in the world.
His display at Makaha was terrific.
This magnificent shot of Midget, taken six weeks ago at tho Banzai Pipeline is a fine illustration of his balanced riding.
Photo by Bud Browne.

Page 25
Kelly's "Hydro"

EVERY  year international board designers come up with some very slight change in board design.

And while most of these changes certainly improve various aspects of board riding there has not been many radical change in overall design since the Malibu board hit the American market about ten years ago.

However, on my Christmas trip to Hawaii I saw in action a completely new concept of the business end of the surfboard- the planing surface.
From the experienced and fertile surfing
mind of American John Kelly (known as the Old man of Black Point) has come this radical departure from present day boards - the hydroplane board.

I brought one back with me and believe me the hydroplane has an amazing turn of speed, but it also has a very touchy turning ability that requires almost a complete change in board riding technique.
Far from being a fanciful whim, the "hydro" is a product of long and detailed experimentation and a serious scientific approach to combining the speed of the "gun" with "hot dog" types of boards.

John Kelly and his "Hydro."

John Kelly, a real champ of the old finless "hot curl" days of surfing boards, has become widely known around the islands for his knowledge of wave dynamics.
After many years of body surfing the giant swells at Castle Surf, Pahanui Makaha, Sunset and sometimes testing the incredible waves at Waimea or Laniakea, John Kelly returned to board riding in 1962.

He was struck by the total absence of a good all purpose board.

Kelly separately appreciated the qualities of the "gun board and the "hot dog" board but he reasonably argued that there must be a board that could be designed incorporate both features.
Kelly came up with the "hydro."

The new board has a long perfectly contoured flat area forward of the step bottom which gives the long planing surface are of the "gun" and a well moulded trailing edge which allows the board to be "locked-in" against the wave face for "hot dogging."

Behind the step, the board gradually curves upward.
This tapering curve actually rides clear of the water while the "gun" section is planing.
By dropping your weight back onto the step, the rider edges the drag or tail section into the wave, which influences the turning point of the hydroplane.

The hydroplane is an interesting new development in surfing and it will be interesting to see whether it has any marked influence in the Australian trend of modern surfing.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 36

Surfing World
March 1963
Volume 2 Number 1.

Cover: John Peck?


Geoff Cater (2019-2020) : John Witzig : Byron Bay, 1963.