home catalogue history references appendix

Return to Surfer Bio
tom morey : noseriding contest, 1965 

Tom Morey's Noserider Contest
Ventura, California.
3 - 4th July 1965
Selections from Surfer
January 1965 -January 1966.

Tom Morey's Nose Riding Contest  at Ventura in mid-1965 had a significant impact on Californian surfing technique and surfboard design until 1968, when the American market was substantially challenged by the influence of "short-board revolution", commonly thought to have originated in Australia in mid-1967.

Morey designed the contest to apply objective judging criteria to performance and encourage board designers to concentrate on one specific design feature. 
Cash prizes were awarded for categories of stock and special boards, goofy-foots and naturals, individuals and teams.
Performance was judged with a watch - timing the rider on the front 25% of the board"  (designated by a coloured deck patch or band), accumulated on a maximum 14 waves. 

Existing film confirms much of the subsequent written accounts of the contest and also indicates that the collation of the scores was, at best, rudimentary.
Many thanks to Ben Marcus for providing this important archival material.

Kampion: Stoked
(1997), page 103.
While some shapers attempted to flout the rules with the addition of  non-functional tail extensions to maximise the designated 25% nose area and others merely added ballast to the tail of a standard board, several serious attempts at design innovation were demonstrably successful.
In the case of the non-functional tail extensions (simply an exposed timber stringer sticking out of the tail of the board) the designers removed these with a hand saw before being allowed to compete, following animated and vigorous discussion with Tom Morey.
Furthermore, one board had a footstrap fixed to the nose, but the contest footage indicates the rider had considerable difficulty in fully exploiting this feature.
Footstraps became an essential addition in the 1970s for windsurfers when they began to ride their boards in serious surfing conditions and are standard features on tow-in-boards and kite boards.

On the day, the Hobie Surfboards team, riding a number of boards specifically designed by Phil Edwards, won both natural and goofy first places.
However, "by a judging error ; Mike Hynson of San Deigo actually won."
- Kampion: Stoked (1997) page 103.

Surfer Magazine first reported on the Morey Noseriding Contest in September 1965 in an article by Patrick McNulty: "Their surfing for big contest $$$"
Surfer Magazine September 1965, Volume 6 Number 4, pages 64 to 69

Page 69
Surfing's trend to professionalism was underscored over the Fourth of July weekend when the Tom Morey Invitational scattered hard cash for some of best surfers in the sport.

Thee contest was really unique- not only for offering cash prizes.
The 24 specially invited surfers who put up a $50 entry fee to back up their reputations were judged solely on nose riding.
They were graded on exactly how long- by a stop watch- they could ride the nose across Ventura Point waves.
The contest brought out some weird, specially-built boards as well as such surfers as Corky CarroII, Donald Takayama, Robert August, Dewey Weber and Mickey Munoz.
Nose-riding off with the top prizes were Munoz and goofy-footer Corky Carroll.
There were two divisions -Regular and Goofy-Foot.

After the Morey contest the stoked "professional" surfers raised the battle "On to Lahaina."
Another nose-riding contest is planned for this famous whaling port on the Hawaii island of Maui in the fall.
The contest is planned along the lines of the Ventura contest with entry fees and a pot of gold worth $7000.
It looks as if the old days when surfing contests were held just for fun and not for profit are long gone.

Evidence that the projected contest on Maui ever eventuated is, currently, unclear, however there is a report of a second noseriding contest held at Ventura in November, 1966 (see below).
It was about another ten years before McNulty's prophesy, that surfing was about to enter a professional competitive era, was fully realised.

In the same edition of Surfer, Hobie Surfboards offered a teaser to the up coming release of their noseriding model on the prestigious page two, inside the front cover.
Hobie Surfboards: What are they talking about? (Advertisement)
Surfer Magazine September 1965, Volume 6 Number 4, page 2.
Under a photograph of the team members sitting around several boards on the beach, the text read:

What do you think they are saying? -They are saying, be serious, our picture is being taken.
But what they really have been talking about lately is the new model HOBIE SURFBOARD that will be out soon.
We wish that we could tell you more about it, but we still have some more experimenting to do.
We do feel that we have discovered something big in surfboard design using a new principle in bottom shape.
In the past we have the mistake of bringing out some things too quickly, but other innovations we have taken too long to introduce and have been copied so fast that no one knew who originated the idea.
We feel that our new board is worth protecting as it well could be the basic design for all future surfboards.
By the next issue of SURFER we should have it perfected and available.
The HOBIE SURFBOARD SHOP was the originator of the modern surfboard and first with a signature model (Phil Edwards).
We are first in competition, too.
So far this year we have compiled 58 points in overall USSA competition to our next competitor's 34 points.
Now with a new shape of surfboard, designed by Phil Edwards, we may be first in revolutionizing surfboard design.

The next edition of Surfer was designated as an "Special Nose Riding Issue",  featuring several pertinent articles and advertisements by surfboard manufacturers.
Bill Cleary looked back at the Morey Contest in "Nose Riding - A sport within a sport."
Surfer Magazine, November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, pages 24 to 35.

Page 29
The Tom Morey Invitational (held in July at Ventura, California) provides us a good example, for here was a contest devoted exclusively to noseriding.
Twenty-two of California's best surfers were invited to participate for $750 in cash prizes.
Twenty-five percent of the board's length was defined as the nose.
Those surfers who spent the most time on the nose, as measured by judges with stopwatches, were the winners.
This was the first surfing contest ever held in which a winner was determined by objective criteria.
But the real importance for development of the sport was that there were "no equipment restrictions."
Manufacturers were stimulated to create a specialized surfboard -one designed to be ridden most efficiently on the nose under the surf conditions at a specific surfing spot.

There were categories for stock boards and special boards, left-foot leads and right-foot leads.
The special boards ran away with it: Munoz (Hobie Surfboards), Hynson (Gordon and Smith Surfboards) and Carroll (Hobie) clocked noserides of 9.9, 9.8 and 9.6 seconds, respectively, while in the stock board class Nuuhiwa (Bing Surfboards) and Leonardo (unknown) tied for the longest nose rides at 5.8 seconds.
The vast difference in performance between the two classes cannot be explained by a greater or lesser ability on the nose.
The answer is - Equipment: and all ...

Page 32
... the prototype boards designed by the various manufacturers functioned beautifully.

Page 35
So watch the new boards.
Watch the new surfers.
A new era of nose-riding may be at hand.

Mickey Munoz, 
Tom Morey's Nose 
Riding Contest,
Ventura, July 1965.
Photograph by Bruce Brown. 

Edwards (1967) page 122.

Corky Carroll and Hobie Nose-Rider, Poche, July 1965.
Photograph by Ron Stoner
Kampion (1997) page 105.

For Corky Carroll's comments on the Morey Noseriding Contest, see:
Surf-Dog Days and Bitchn' Nights, page 48.

The fleet of boards prepared for Hobie Team members by Phil Edwards and Hobie Alter featured a deeply concaved nose design and its competive success and advantages were heavily promoted in advertisements and articles.

Phil Edwards gave a brief, but erudite, technical analysis of the design's development to Bill Cleary for
Nose Riding - A sport within a sport

Surfer, November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, page 26.

The radically new board ridden by Mickey Munoz, who won the event, was so successful that
manufacturer Hobie Alter patented it.

Designer Phil Edwards explained that it was not the ideas behind the board that were unique, but collective application of them.
He credited the board's basic ideas to an earlier inventor: "Simmons was the only one who ever took a real academic approach to the thing (design).
What he did with surfboards is still pretty much what we're riding today.
In fact, the best way I can describe our noseriding board is a Simmons board with the nose cut off - a speedboat turned backwards with planing lines in the front.

It had all been done before ... but never quite like this.
We put it all together deliberately: the big, wide nose, the concave area, the flat bottom up there - all to make the surfboard trim on the nose.
In preparation for the contest we built three other models that had more or less emphasis on one of the three elements.
And they worked.
But the really dramatic results came from putting all three elements together at one time with a single purpose in mind.
I was really proud of it."

Whereas seminal Californian board builder, Bob Simmons, had used significant concave in the tails of his renowned wide-tailed Spoons of the late 1940s- early 1950s, Edwards relocated the feature to the nose.

Simmons had based his designs on his  treasured copy of Lindsay Lord's  Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls (1946).
Many of the models and diagrams in the book appear similar to Simmons' boards, emphasizing the increase in lift by incorprating parallel running lines, page 71.

Right: Figure 29: M2
Illustrates one of Lord's models (M2) that features nose scoop, concave bottom and twin keels (fins), page 72

Edwards reprised the story of his design for the Morey contest in The Great Nose-Rider Caper, Chapter 11 of his autobiography, You Should Have Been Here An Hour Ago in 1967.
The chapter begins with a basic illustration of the design.
Phil Edwards' Noserider Plans,

 The Great Nose-Rider Caper
Chapter 11, page 169.

Following Simmons, other designers had used concave sections in the bottom of their boards, noteably a deep concave in the tail of big wave Gun boards usually associated with Dick Brewer at Bing Surfboards circa 1963.
In the May 1965 edition of Surfer magazine Dewey Weber surfboards advertised the "Standard and Gun models with the newly tested 'Concave Bottom'" priced at "an additional ten dollars", presumably introduced by the company's featured shaper, Harold Iggy.
An accompanying photograph is unclear as to how this feature was incorporated into the overall design.
- Surfer, May 1965, Volume 6 Number 2, page 4.
The same issue also had an advertisement from Surfboards Hawaii, Honolulu and Haleiwa, featuring Butch Van Artsdalen on a "small wave concave".
- Surfer, May 1965, Volume 6 Number 2, page 98.
In both instances, neither advertisement identified the addition of a concave bottom with enhanced noseriding performance.

In Surfer's Special Nose Riding Issue, Hobie Surfboards promoted the noserider design (hinted in the previous issue), as usual, on page two inside the front cover.
Some of the accompanying images are reproduced below (cropped):

Hobie Noserider designer, Phil Edwards.
November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, page2.

The advertising copy read:
The Hobie Surfboard Shop has come up with a new design in surfboards called the Noserider.
The Noserider, designed by Phil Edwards for Mickey Munoz and Corky Carroll to use in the Tom Morey Invitational riding contest, proved itself completely.
Mickey and Corky took top honors in both their divisions by compiling the most time on the nose and the longest individual nose ride.
The competition was among top surfers riding specially designed boards by the manufacturers they represented.

The difference in design between the Hobie Noserider and other boards entered in the contest was that all other makes of boards were variations of the standard principal of nose riding surfboards.
They had wide noses with good scoop and a fair amount of belly.
The Hobie Noserider was based around a completely opposite theory -no scoop, with a flat planing surface on the front third of the board and a concave bottom in that area.
The reason for the board's superior performance is that by having a flat planing section, it doesn't push water and lose speed.
By maintaining its speed, it maintains its lift.
The board also gains additional lift by the concave bottom section.
The board shown above is one of the radical versions with a wider nose and is wider over-all.
This board has proven to be an exceptionally fun board, especially in fast shore breaks.

The more practical model is our conventional noserider has the same shape as our standard boards, with the concave, flat bottom section added to the nose area.
This makes for an all-around performance board with superior noseriding qualities.
This board is not shown because we were working on variations of it at the time the pictures were taken.
For further information on the Hobie's Noserider, contact your local Hobie dealer.

In the same issue of Surfer, Con Surfboards of Santa Monica included in the list of current design features:
"Now available, CONcaved nose boards - a new concept in surfboard design for the ultimate in nose riding.'
- Surfer Magazine, November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, page 15.

Morey's contest, and the subsequent advertising, was a spectacular success that established noseriding as the epitome of small wave surfing skill, at least in California.
Noseriding models (most variations of the concave-nose Hobie design) proliferated by all the mainland manufacturers:
The Eliminator by Greek Surfboards
The Ugly by Con Surfboards (see below)
The Penetrator by John Peck/Morey-Pope Surfboards
The Performer by Weber Surfboards, and
The Stretch by Gordon and Smith Surfboards.

These variously featured a combination of flat nose rocker, narrow high kicked tails, and concave noses and/or stepped decks.
Importantly, the Snub, a post-contest noseriding design by Tom Morey, was one of the first designs to have low rails in the front half of the board.
Skip Frye and Stretch model,Gordon and Smith Surfboards, 1965.

3. SNUB. 
The radical contours of the SNUB make great maneuverability, speed and 30 second noserides possible on one board. 
True, the SNUB looks strange, but so did a jet the first time you saw one.

Text and image from:
Morey-Pope Advertisement titled "Inventions". 
Surfer, January 1966, Volume 6 Number 6, page 66. 

The other inventions detailed in the advertisement were the Trisect and Slipcheck:

1. The Trisect
board that could be dismantled into three sections to facilitate transport, had been first advertised three months earlier in Surfer, September 1965, Volume 6 Number 4, page 16.
The down or low rail was further developed by Mike Hynson, Mike Haley and Skip Frye at Gordon and Smith Surfboards and was an integral feature of the Side-slipper, circa 1969, before becoming the industry standard by 1972.

A fine textured coating for the nose or tail of your board which is so firm when wet it completely eliminates slipping. 
Apply SLIPCHECK once, touch up occasionally. 
For sale in white only. 
One can, $3.50, is more than enough for initial coat plus touch ups. 
Include 40c postage and tax with your order.

Slipcheck aerosol can, circa 1968.

Morey-Pope Inventions: 3. Slipcheck
January 1966, Volume 6 Number 6, page 66.

Nose riding also encouraged experimentation in fin design, notably the Hatchet and the Turbo fins by Dewey Weber Surfboards, with further encouragement for the use of fin boxes, such as Morey's Skeg Works, which was later developed into his Waveset system.
RennieYater Fin by Tom Morey's Skeg Works 
8 x 9 1/2 b @ n/a inches  (Approximation)

Advertisement for Tom Morey Skeg Works 
235 W. Santa Clara Street, Ventura, California.
Surfer Magazine
July 1965, Volume 6 Number  3, page 69 .

Other fin designs included:
Tiger Tail fin by Greek Surfboards (Tiger Espere)
Flow-thru fin by White Owl Surfboards, and
Eliminator fin by Greek Surfboards (for their Eliminator Model).

Unaccredited, and unexplained,  fin designs at Morey's contest included the use of "additional contol skegs" and the "fin stabilizer":

"additional control skegs"
Offset Fin Boxes ? 
8 x 9 1/2 b @ n/a inches 

Bill Cleary: 
"Nose Riding - A sport within a sport."
Surfer Magazine,
November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, page 33.

Fin Stabilizer (on D fin)
8 x 9 1/2 b @ n/a inches 

Bill Cleary: 
"Nose Riding - A sport within a sport."
Surfer Magazine,
November 1965, Volume 6 Number 5, page 33.

The "fin stabilizer" was a precedent for the "Noselifter", a late 1960s fin accessory that was an ajustable horizontal foiled blade, about 3 inches wide, that attached to the fin and was said to improve noseriding by increasing tail drag or tail lift.
It was marketed by Surf Research in California (Gareth Powel, Mike Doyle and Rusty Miller) and advertised in
Surfer/Surfing magazines of the period.
Rusty Miller, noted by email February 2008:
"Neat to be reminded of our "Noselifters" as I remember we called them... They were injection molded
symmetrical (black and white) and their plane was made adjustable by one of the two screw holes
through the fin where they were attached by... Being made into a slot shape... So one could adjust the
level of drag desired."
Many thanks to Rusty.

 A nose patch, a marked section of the front 25% of the board, became a common decor feature.
Manufacturers often added these, usually with coloured resin and some times a fabric inlay, but many riders added the decor to their boards post-production.
 This was a excellent marketing tool for Morey-Pope's coloured aerosol wax alternative -Slipcheck
 and its competitor, Grip-Feet.

The extraordinary noseriding talent of David Nuuihwa (Bing Surfboards) elevated him to near God-like status in the Californian surf media and the description "genius" was not unknown.
See McGillvay and Freeman's Free and Easy, 1966.

David Nuuihwa, 1966.
Photograph : Leroy Grannis
Surfing Magazine March 1984 
Volume 20 Number 3 page 82

Phil Edwards' design and a host of variations, often with a decor nose patch or an application of Slipcheck, were introduced to Australia by 1966.
Footage of the 1967 Australian Titles, Bells Beach Victoria in Paul Witzig's Hot Generation (1968) shows the boards of Robert Connelly and Keith Paull with nose patches, possibly applied with Slipcheck.
Perversely, non-competitor Bob McTavish's Keyo had Slipcheck panels in the centre of the board.

Gordon and Smith Surfboards (Australia) Noserider decor, circa 1965.
The enthusiasm for noserididing was severely tempered with Nat Young's victory at the1966 World Championships at San Deigo, California - a emphatic practical demonstration of Bob McTavish's Involvement Theory:
The direction is involvement.
Getting into tight spots - under, in, over, around the curl, quite often in contact with it
And getting back out of them.
The more involved you are...the hotter you are.
Bob McTavish: bob mctavish is in this wave. he probably had a plan to get out of it
Surfing World magazine January 1967 page 15.

Morey's Second Noseriding Contest, November 12th, 1966.
The following account may contain some inaccuracies.
Note that variations of the "10 pound bar-bell taped to a tail, and a 'Wing' attached to a fin" had already appeared at the first contest, the former (a house brick) a noted failure.

It's the crack of dawn on Saturday, the 12th of November, 1966.
Most of the audience, about two thousand people, gladly pays an entrance fee of $1 to see the performances of fifty top professional surfers from around the world, who gather for the Morey-Pope 2nd United States Professional Invitational Surfing Championships at the Ventura Fairgrounds surf spot, locally known as "Stables."

Each of the fifty competitors and their surfboard manufacturer/sponsor(s) have the intent to push nose-riding-for-time to the extreme.
Every surfboard manufacturer has dug deep to come up with the ultimate nose-riding design.
The rules are simple but madness abounds.
Some strange designs appear; beside a 10 pound bar-bell taped to a tail, and a "Wing" attached to a fin, there are other oddities.

The objective timing system provides fair judging, which satisfies the contestants and gives the captured crowd a simple to understand test of skill.
The winner is anticipated to generate more publicity than they have ever known, great money and prizes.

Perched like casual Gods on the nose, striking ethereal poses in effortless motion, the competitors clock incredible distances, drawing an ever building thunderous cheer.

Con Colburn, of Con Surf House, is the manufacturer of a top-secret design.
With Bob Purvey, a top competitor, at the helm, they have collaborated to devise what seems to them the logical curves necessary to accomplish their goal: TO WIN!

On the last ride of the day Purvey catches a five foot wave "..turned high and went to the nose, the section came up, he backed off, dropped, repositioned himself with two steps and came out on the nose.
Then the wave broke ahead and he straightened off then turned into the wave and clocked two more seconds while in the soup.
He made no mistakes whatsoever." (from Competition Surf Magazine, Spring 1967).
Crowds ring Purvey, not to shake his hand but to check out his stick.

It's March, 1967.
In a full page ad in Surfer magazine Con introduces the board and summarizes the contest and the Ugly design: "It's called 'the Ugly'.
Bob Purvey out rode the top professionals in the 1966 U.S. Championship Invitational Nose-riding contest at Ventura, with the highest nose-riding time of 41.5 seconds for 6 waves.
An average of 7 seconds per wave. Purvey won the admiration of every rider and surfboard maker for his superior wave knowledge and ability. Bob gives the credit to his UGLY.
Con Surfboards Advertising Copy:
No matter how you look at it, the only thing beautiful about the UGLY is the way it handles in the water.
There is certainly nothing handsome about the twenty inch nose one foot from the tip, able to support full weight on take-off or cut-backs.
Beauty prizes will never be given for the parallel rails that holds smooth trim as the board glides down the wall of any wave, or give precision control in turning from the nose.
And the really Ugliest part is the silly looking, scooped-out popped up six inch square tail that sets into the water and causes downward pressure exerted on the tail for opposite reaction to the nose.
What we are trying to say is that nobody cares how it looks, because it was designed for function as an all around board as well as a nose-rider!
See the ugliest board ever built at your local Con Surfboard Dealer.
Nose riding models were reintroduced in the 1980's with the increased popularity of the modern Malibu.

  Jackson  Surfboards (Australia) Noserider,  2004.

Return to Surfer Bio menu
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2005-2019) : Tom Morey's Noserider Contest, 1965.