Source Documents
pt, mr, and midget : design, 1977. 

P.T. : Fish -  M.R. : Apia Stinger - Midget : Hangliders and Surfboards, 1977.
Peter Townend : Fish. -  Mark Richards : Apia Stinger. - Midget Farrelly : Hang-gliders and Surfboards.
Surf Australia

Number 2. February 1977

Two articles on surfboard design by current ranked surfers MR and PT and an article on hang-gliders and surfboards by the legendary Midget Farrelly.

Peter Towend (PT) details his experiments with the small-wave Fish design, noting the influence of David Nuuihwa and Reno Abellira.
Unfortunately, the transcript is incomplete.

In an article by Steve Core (?), Mark Richards (MR) tells of his first Stinger from Hawaiian shaper, Ben Apia, in the winter of 1974-1975.
The board was ridden to second place in the 1975 2SM-Coke and first in the 1976 2SM-Coke, said to have earned in excess of $8000.
At the time of publication, the board was in poor condition; the  deck delaminated
and the tail broken off twice now by legropes.

MR also noted Reno's Fish at the 1976 Coke contest, the inspiration for his widely popular twin-fin design.

Midget's article is highly interesting, if slightly oblique.
While there are some similarities between hang-gliders and surfboards, the dynamics are vastly different.

Page 13
Shortboard Tripping and Fishing
Stages 1,2 &3.
By Peter Townend

I never really did get into the super shorties when they were happening way back in the late-sixties.
I think the shortest I ever went was five-ten, many people went down into the low fives.
Short stubbies and twin-finners were the go, who can forget Dappa's four-ten twin spinner.

After flashing on a shot of Mark Crowl flying off the lip on a Fish in Surfer magazine I've always said to myself "one of these days I've got to make me one of those".
The first lime I ever competed against the Fishes was at the World Conte
st in San Diego in 72.
David Nuuihwa and Jim Blears piloted their Fishes into the two top places, while I managed a third on conventional equipment.

I was not overly impressed by their Fish performances in zero to three foot conditions, but they beat me, so there must have been something in them worth considering.

The idea of specialised small wave boards
hits home as P.T. cranks back.
Photo: Core

As time has progressed now, the quiver theory (a range of surfboards for all conditions) has become all important.
l've always been stoked on small waves, even shitty ones, so I felt the need to go
beyond my regular equipment and experiment with something specifically for moving out in small waves.
The final inspiration came while surfing around California early last year and checking out Skip Frye's fleet of little Fishes at Gordon & Smith in San Diego.
Immediately I flashed on a perfect little combo with small summer conditions and Sandshoes Reef in mind.

Stage 1: I built my first Fish soon after, adding a few creative variations.
I made it 5ft 8" x 21 1/2"  and the first Purple Flyer

Page 14

was born.
I also made one for Ross Longbollom.
I  was  ready for my first session, I launched my first attack on some Pipe rights in April 75 on the south coast.
The speed surprised the shit out of me and I couldn't even cut it back.
It was a whole different trip, all that planing area was getting me up and away, like being permanently on the nose but still having the freedom to manoeuvre wherever your mind wanted to go.
It was an incredible feeling to experience for the first time.

I suddenly had a renewed interest in the approach of other short board and Fish exponents.
Leafing back  through my surf magazine collection and becoming engrossed in the moves of lung lime Fishermen like Florida's Mike Tabeling and a re-examination of David  Nuuhiwa's attack on the Rocky Point lefts during the 73 Expression Session.
Getting stoked on those full forward trim shots and being able to defy gravity by flying along the lace, fly-papered on the wall.

Last year I even pulled the Purple Flyer out of the quiver to skate over Narrabeen's littlies during the 2SM-Coke content, but it didn't impress the Judges.
A lot of people said it was the board, but it wasn't, Reno Abellira proved that this year by holding down a top spot with some hot Fish manoeuvring, last year I had only been riding the Fish a month before the contest and was sure into exploring new techniques in riding, rather than trying to surf to suit the judging system.
I kept the Purple Flyer right through until the Hawaiian winter of 75-76, when I decided it was time for a few improvements.

Stage 2: TheTwin-stringer (sic: stinger?) Firebreather.
I added a couple more inches to the length and pulled the planshape in a little.
I also made the tail finer, giving it more bite for working on a new cutback.
Had a few hot sessions before heading off to South Africa and it was just starting to come together.
Arriving home and spending a few days surfing sleek peaks at Garie, beginning to find the right line and temperament.
The harder I pushed it, the more it hung in there.
But it sure wouldn't go backside, though I guess the rest of the quiver covers on those occasion.
It took some lime but I really began to truly master riding the ...


Page 17
The $8000 Surfboard

As we go through the seasons and surf many different surfboards, we often become sentimentally attached to favourite boards.
Most you like, some you don't like and occasionally you find an extra hot one that suits your own style of surfing particularly well.
To a surfer, a good surfboard means a lot, so when you find one you try to keep it as long as possible.
The quest to find a good board can be endless, depending of course on your sensitivity.
For example, last winter in Hawaii Ian Cairns and Rabbit Bartholomew had a fleet of 23 surfboards between the two of them to select from.
The 'Quiver Theory' has become a must for all professional surfers.
There is no such thing as the perfect surfboard for all conditions.
You need a range of surfboards to suit all types of waves.

In the case of Rabbit and Ian with 23 surf-boards, I don't think that's taking it to the limit.
Those guys are professional surfers, they make their living from surfing, they must have surfboards that work the way they want them to.
They have got to be able to rock up to a surfing contest anywhere in the world and be able to pull out a board from their quiver that is going to be capable of high performance in the given conditions.
It's the same for someone like racing driver Alan Moffat, he's got to know his car is performing perfectly so that he can take to the track knowing he's got the machine under him to do the job.

Living proof of how important a good surfboard is to a professional's quiver is Mark Richards' little super-stinger.
A surfboard that Mark simply describes as "One of the best I've ever owned."
Placing him second in the 75 2SM-Coke and first in the 76 2SM-Coke contests, this particular board pocketed him around $8,000.
Interested in its background I asked what made him decide to get a little
Page 18

Stinger in the first place.
"Well, during the early part of 74, Ronny Romero was writing to me from Hawaii and in every letter would tell me how much Larry Bertleman was ripping on his new Stingers that Ben Apia had shaped for him.
I decided that I'd like to try one, so when I was in Hawaii for the winter of 74-75 I met Ben Apia out in the surf and told him I wanted to order a Stinger from him.
He said the best thing was to have a surf on one first, but after waiting for about three weeks to surf one I just went to his shop and ordered one.
I paid full price for it, I think it was about 200 American dollars

So you've been surfing it for two years now, what would you say it's most out-standing features were?
"It's loose and last, last year I got Ben to shape me a new one exactly the same and he put bevelled rails on it and it was too loose- and fast.
I've had this one in surf up to 12 feet, but I've found it goes best in surf around six feet."

This one is heading back for its third season in the Islands, it's getting pretty knocked around now, how much longer can it last?
"Not long, that's for sure.
The tail has been broken off twice now by legropes, both times at Merewhether.
The deck has delaminated and has gone all bubbly.
I'm taking it back so Ben can shape me two more exactly the same."

Photo: Steve Core
The funny thing about surfboards is that you or I could take out Mark's Stinger and surf it in a contest and not win a cent.
So it makes you wonder just how much is the surfboard and how much it is the surfer?
The most important thing is though we can search for good surfboards and search for good surf to ride them in, we enjoy ourselves 100% in doing that.
Good times, good waves, good surfboards, it's all part of the fun.

Page 17

Page 39
Midget Farrelly
Design and Performance
Hang gliders and Surfboards

Is there a relationship between surfboard and hang-glider design?
Surfboards have been around for hundreds of years but then so have hang-gliders.
How come both of them are only achieving popularity now in the last ten years?
Modern materials are the answer.
Foam and fibreglass have replaced heavy wood in surf-boards and aluminium and dacron have done the same for hang-gliders.

Photo: Simmons

These new materials are also very easy to work with so that any design changes ran be readily implemented.
So, is there a design connection between the two finished products?
Well, both are moving on or through lift, therefore both must be designed to improve lift in the most efficient way.

The shaped blank is the body or hull of the surfboard and the fin is basically only a stabiliser.
The hull does all the lifting and produces much directional viability but without the fin is very much out of control.
So it is with a hang glider.
The wing picks up lift and moves through it in such a way that it can rise freely and gain all kinds of height.
To maintain control over direction and to have stability, particularly in turbulence, the hang glider needs a fin.

The point of entry on a surfboard whether rail or bottom surface is generally short.
The release surfaces are generally hard so that water flow breaks cleanly from the edge.
If these two are reversed then the entry is savage and rough picking up all the bumps and becoming airborne on irregular chop.
The release will become airborne on irregular chop.
The release will become drag, causing the top speed of the surfboard to be greatly reduced.
The positive feel will be lost in the turn.
The effect will become more noticeable at speed and the surfer will lose that confident feel.

A hang glider must function the same way.
The entry must be soft and gentle for all air speeds so that the wing has a soft feel as it bites the air.
The leading edge of the sail must release the air cleanly so that no drag is induced and efficiency is maintained.
Reverse the two and you have a death machine inclined to be thrown violently in turbulence and to dive down into a irrecoverable dive.
Yes that is one of the reasons for so many of the deaths you have heard about.

The width of a surfboard has a lot to do with just how easily it will turn.
Too narrow and its tippy, too wide and it's over stable and won't allow the turn to be initiated.

The wing span of the glider influences the turn exactly the same way.
Too Iittle span and the wing is twitchy, too much and the controls are heavy on lift.
Once again these points become very prominent in strong rough air, for the surfboard the same applies in big fast waves.

The length of a surfboard basically determines its longitudinal stability.
Too short and it is over sensitive to the turn or when the surfer uses back loot pressure.
Small wave performance makes use of this aspect.
If the board is too long it tends to resist direction changes and run on in a widening arc.
Use is made of this running characteristic in big waves or long waves.

Too short a keel on a hang glider makes it over sensitive to climb and drop causing the wind to appear to porpoise through the air.
Make the keel too long and the wing will track in a straight line resisting all turning pressure.

Take the fin off a surfboard and forward direction control is lost.
Take the fin off a hang glider and the same thing happens, the wing yaws through the sky, going where the wind carries it.
The fin on a hang glider may appear differently form glider to glider.
It may be only a deepened sail at the keel or an extension of the keel with dacron enclosing it.
Whatever it is will be a tracking device identical in function to a surfboard fin.
Yes there have even been gliders with twin fins,

I have up to this time omitted the most important part about the two craft, other than their basic mandatory features.
What happens to the water and air as they travel over the two faces?

Both craft make use of the Iift created by a basic air foil shape.
The exact lines that should be used to achieve this foil shape or section are wide open to choice since conditions vary so greatly depending on wave height and speed, soaring altitude and air speed.
Generally, flat foils are fast and drag very little water or air with them.
Deep foils are
slow and are preferred for beginners both in surfboards and hang gliders.

I have been building surfboards for more than eighteen years now and hang gliders for the last two.
I have found that basic principles apply to both, though they must be used with variation.

Surfboards are subject to continual refinement, greater efficiency and freedom for performance are the ultimate goals.
Hang gliders have passed through a rapid, design revolution, and are now settling into the same pattern.
Experience will teach the designer to utilise the best from any known principle and work it into existing design formulae.
Good boards in the hands of the pro really stand out in the water with a wide range of performance.
Hang-gliders do the same when they can be flown slow and fast, at high and low altitude with plenty of flexibility in performance  manoeuvres.
The precision required to build a safe functional hang-glider has taught me much about how a surfboard can be improved.

Page 40
Midget in full flight, hang-gliding and surfing. Photos: Core.

Surf Australia

February 1977
Number 2.

Cover: Peter Townend


Geoff Cater (2019) : Midget, P.T. and M.R. : Hang-gliders, Fish and Apia Stingers, 1977.