Source Documents
mctavish : on design, 1979. 

Bob McTavish : On Design, 1979.
Bob McTavish : A Casual Stroll Through the Equipment Spectrum.

April 1979, page 18.

An imaginative and eclectic overview of vastly different wave-riding techniques and a diverse range of surf-craft.
Some remain mere fantasy while others now appear prophetic.

Body building proposes the construction of a wetsuit incorporating a helmet, oxygen tank and swim-fins so that the surfer can ride inside the wave face like a dolphin.
Fibreglass and foam praises the  twin fin design for agile surfers, and the familiar rounded-pintail if you're not into the top 40.
The design is detailed in an advertisement for
Sky Surfboards on page 39.

Blue meanies proposes that large, unpredictable Australian surf requires a stinking big gun; a good paddler to get you out there and keep you out of strife.

True trim surfing notes the resurgence of the longer, wider Malibu board for riding small waves.
It would become widespread throughout the surfing world by the end of the 1980s.

The right wing praises the much maligned Australian surf ski, loved by the large, feared by the small.
Developed as the high performance wave-ski by California's Merv Larson in the 1960s, McTavish predicted an bright future for

Doubling the fun explores the potential of a double surf-ski in big waves and fantasises about one rider launching a mini-gun (6ft x 15") from the double-ski.
This would be developed successfully
in the 1990s with the introduction of tow-in surfboards, see below.

Motorised mini-guns accurately predicts the use jet-skis to launch tow-in boards on massive waves.

In addition, McTavish notes the recent production of moulded plastic boards by Simon Anderson (
Power Surfboards) and knee-boarder, Peter Crawford.
These were short lived, eventually replaced by lighter and stronger moulded epoxy surfboards.

in the face of predictions of global catastrophe McTavish quotes Psalm 37 verse 29, reflecting his recent conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Born-again Christianity gained popularity in the late 1970s, surfers lining up to be absolved of their numerous sins (read sex and drugs) on the road to salvation.
The J-W church had considerable impact in Byron Bay, rumours circulating that caches of new boards were being buried in the back-hills awaiting imminent the return of Jesus of Nazareth.

Advertisements include Springer, K.C., and Simon Anderson's Power Surfboards, see #381.
Also a full page ad for
Sky Surfboards where Bob McTavish says his new twinny with boxes and double concaves is the hottest board he's had since the Plastic Machine, built at Keyo Surfboards during 1967.
Page 18


by Bob McTavish

The waves are only tiny, but on this hot sticky day the water is inviting, and I jump into it in my cozzies, rentils or Bob Pikes, whatever you call those little clubbie numbers - the smallest of all surfing equipment.
After picking off a few, riding them porpoise style, underwater, the thought comes through that this is original surfing, eternal surfing, the kind that the water people of the whole planet have been doing for centuries; the simple type of surfing that will continue as long as there are waves.

Body Building

Bob McTavish at Lennox Head.
So simple body surfing needs the minimal of equipment.
Add a pair of flippers, a hand gun, handsurfer, or a piece of ply and a dog collar, and it starts to get more complicated, but you can do more on the wave.
With these minor additions there's more propulsion, easier take-offs and much more control.
But this is one branch of the equipment spectrum that doesn't go much further at present.
The body still needs better propulsion, utilising the stomach muscles, the biggest and strongest in the body, and the technology is available to do it.
In Florida, and in a few big pools in Australia, a double wave device, locked onto the ankles and utilising a porpoise swim, triples the power.
It needs a little streamlining for underwater surfing, perhaps a little raking back like natural fins.

If you want to take it a step further, why not fuse this device into a wetsuit with a helmet?
A small curved tank, with the regulator on the chest, could be blended into the neoprene to merge the lines into a streamlined fish curve.
Then it's easy to swim out, easy to pick up waves, and easy to ride them totally underwater like a dolphin with tight angles, leaps, and the quickest cutbacks. You've seen them do it, and you can too.
All it needs is some guy with the time and a lack of fear for conformity.
There are no limits to this kind of surfing, it's uncrowded, untouched.
You could ride and survive the biggest waves, even Kaena Point, because you simply swim beneath the turmoil.
It'd be unreal!
Spectacular and beautiful, will someone please do it.

Fibreglass and foam
When we move back to the centre of the spectrum we find a maze of fibreglass and foam, and as we focus, we hit on a little critter with two fins, the current number one hit with the gang.
Twinnies are great, especially if you're into the gymnastic style of thing, and particularly if you're super active.
They are suited to the pro era and small waves.
Twin fins really get around, but they don't have the natural centred feeling of the single fin.
If you've been used to a single fin for 15 years it's hard to make the change.
The twinnies scoot around the junk like nothing else.
We've got to find a way to fuse the two together.
The deeper Vee is helping, but only when it is combined with the right rocker.
A bit more straightness in the tail gives a central feeling until you put it on a rail.
But what if you're not into the top 40?
Just to the left of centre, next to the twin fin, is the rounded pin.
Simple, reliable, it's the end product of the small wave single fin modification.
They're available small - 5'6" for the little guys, and growing with the man on the waves.
One thing to watch with the rounded pin is the point on the tail.
If it sticks out too much it'll run away on you when you put the pressure on.
So snub it off a bit, or increase the rocker in the tail.
The rounded pin flows us into bigger waves, and here we hit a most important part of the spectrum.

Blue meanies
Because Aussie waves are mean - the meanest.

They aren't as high or fast as Hawaii's, but the curl doesn't skip off the face at the impact zone.
No, Australian waves dig deep, right to the bottom.
They'll pick you up and rock you, whereas at Sunset you can watch the fingers of white spume three feet across reach out, but miss you half the time, because much of the juice has skipped across the surface.

Australian waves also move around unpredictably.
Our coast wasn't carved by 15' swells.
It was modelled by deep NE/SE slop, so when the biggies hit, the coast acts a little weird.
You've got to move around to avoid getting hit.
So what's the solution?
How do you manage our harder to handle big waves?
You need a stinking big gun; a good paddler to get you out there and keep you out of strife, and a screamer to get you across acres of open water.
If you loosen it up with some rocker, you can stuff it into some big holes.
Yes, the Aussie gun needs to be big, so you can get out into what I reckon is the hardest surf to handle in the world.
I mean BIG Australian waves - Hawaii's much cleaner and bigger, but it's easier too.

True trim surfing
Moving a little further to the left, we come across the big small board for the guy who hasn't surfed much since sticks went small.
It's longer, up to eight foot or so, wider, up to 22" and softer, rolled on the bottom with half-way rails to make a big board feel smaller and easier to bank.
I feel sorry for many old time guys who feel there's no equipment that could really get them stoked again.
There is, and it's the big small board like those being made by Mike Diffenderfer, Ken Adler and a few custom shapers like myself, Mike Perry and others.
The Malibu is in the same vein - a small wave trim machine.
Where are you Mickey Dora when we need you?
And you too Phil.
Big Wednesday got the people, but it missed the true trim surfing.
We need a blank 9' at least and a few Bob Coopers.
Well, at least we have one, a man who can stand with a little panache.
The Malibu will be around for a long, long time

The right wing
Now, jumping to the right of centre in the spectrum, but still in glass and resin, comes the little Aussie corker, the ski; loved by the large, feared by the small, a mushing mass of whirling arms and beer gut comes scything its way through a crowded summer break, leaving kids shrieking and boards flying everywhere.
And he's out there in a flash to pick off the next decent wave to ride.

On the other hand, the ski can be an amazing zip zap of sliding, slipping, speeding fibreglass machinery, if it's handled by one of the expanding band of experts.
Since they hit the scene 10 years ago, the skis have been a blend of expertise and idiocy, and their reception in the already crowded surf has had a similarly mixed reaction.

It doesn't matter how you feel about them, the skis have got a place in the spectrum.
There are many fine ski breaks that are hopeless for boards, and most of them are totally unexploited, like little bommies and reefs that pop out in the middle of nowhere, or breaks with shallow spots a ski could side slipe (sic) right over.
With a bit of imagination and sense, the ski crew could fit in, and they're a terrific new big wave spot check-out vehicle.
Try it a few times on the ski and if it feels right, slide out on your stick.
Skis are getting hotter too.
Pretty soon there'll be people around here as good as Merv Larson was 10 years ago in the States - Larsonists.

Doubling the fun
How about this (while we're in this area of the spectrum) - the two-boggan.
You've seen the two man ski, the fastest thing in the water, well the two-boggan is a progression on that.
Two doubles the fun, with a lot more laughs and a lot of thrills.
It also doubles the weight, so you have 300-400 pounds of energy to put into a wave, more power and drive.

It goes like this; jump on, kneeling up, paddling out in rhythm on a 10' plus day.
Paddle into the wave in the same style, then both sit and grag the panic handles built into the deck rails.
Scream down it...wait....wait.,..then the skipper at the back shouts "Turn
now!" and 400 pounds at 20 mph drives onto the face throwing a huge rooster tail, driving through the bowl with two laughing idiots aboard.
Out of the section the back man shouts "Cut-back" and around she comes back into the juice.
You can imagine the rest (a 10' swathe cut through the crowd).

Do you want to take it further?
Then make a two-boggan a bit longer, this time with paddles.
On the deck is clamped a six foot long 15" wide one inch thick board, a mini, mini gun -the mother ship and pod.
Paddling into a giant wave, the front man lodges his paddle into a clamp, unclips the pod, and rises to a crouch, waiting for the swell to get steep enough.
Then, at the precise moment he leaps, headed left into the bowl, rising to his feet on the microstick, and proceeds to speed the giant tube on the smallest board possible, not much bigger than a water ski.
Control would be incredible, no wind flutter, no nose weight problem, just pure plane.
Meanwhile the ski man has ridden the swell out on the shoulder, too far out to cause the curl to crack, or else he's been horribly cleaned by the wave behind.
Oh well, back to the drawing board.
It was worth a try anyway.

Motorised mini-guns
The only other way to get into big waves on a tiny stick is to be towed in, hurled in on a whip behind a speed boat.
Imagine Sunset on a mini-mini gun, flung into a 15 footer at 40mph.
What couldn't you do?
And while we're motorised, the Kawasaki terrors have potential too.
A few times a year our coast closes out and the only way to those mystic 20 foot reefs and peaks is through a river channel or bay.
On a jet ski you'd always have swell-speed in reserve, so you'd be safe it you had to run all the way to shore just ahead of the white-water.

Kawasaki need a shaper - all we need is some dollars to buy one.
That's enough of hanging out on a limb.

Let's get back closer to centre, back to glass and foam land.
Heh, what's this?
We've tripped over a little plastic vehicle shaped by Simon Anderson.
Here folks is the new way to buy your stick - out of a plastic mould.
Simon Anderson's Power-surfer and Peter Crawford's Slab are two already on the market and in a few short years, if this system continues that long, the bulk of surfboards will have to be made this way.

Even now, the majority of shapes are just attempts at the repetition of a known formula.
The plastic process allows perfect reproduction, cheaper labour charges by far, and therefore, lower prices.
Longer lasting sticks are another bonus, and there's one more.
The process will free shapers from the production line and put us back where we belong - in the shaping room, available to customise the stick for the surfer who needs it.
Without a doubt the shaper will have to charge more, but a handmade stick will have to be of a high standard.
Lemon shapers will disappear overnight.
If their sticks don't work they're out.

As we leave the spectrum museum, there's only one question left to be answered...will it all happen?
The way the world's looking some would say "We'll be blown up first".
Well, the never wrong word of Jehova says in Psalm 37 verse 29:
"The righteous themselves will possess the earth and they will reside forever upon it", so there will soon be a clean living society here, no doubt enjoying the waves and utilising the brain's true potential.
The concepts we visualise today are just smudgy outlines of the true potential for future surf equipment.
So whichever way you do it: body surfing, boards, or skis, do it with graciousness, keep it enjoyable, for yourself and all your brothers.
I mean, it's there for our enjoyment isn't it?

Page 15

Springer Surfboards
63 Ocean Road, Anglesea, Victoria.
(052) 632261
Keith Robinson- Shaper
Bill Rowley- Glasser and Shaper
Mick Reed- Preparation
Evan Anderson- Polisher.

Page 25
K.C. Surfboards
on the corner of Burrawong and Careel Head Roads, North Avalon, 2107.
(P.O. Box 305, Newport Beach 2106)
Ph: (02) 918.7044

New and Used Boards, Legropes, Wax, Board Shorts,
Wetsuits, and all accessories.
Repair kits and all the materials you need to Grow
your own surfboards.

Page 31                                            Power Surfboards
Created, designed and shaped by SIMON ANDERSON.

Has these advantages over boards currently available.
1.    Much tougher
2.    Unlikely to ding
3.    More durable
4.    Inexpensive
5.    Designed for the younger surfer
6.    6'3" Rounded Pin Tail shape
7.    This new process allows perfect shape every time

"POWER" SURFBOARDS are ideal for the young board riders aspiring to reach championship ranks.
They will ride the same as a custom built board without the need for constant expensive repairs.
Ask about "POWER" Surfboards and buy at the Special Introductory Price.
Enquiries please phone David, Sydney (02) 919 5508.

Page 39
Sky Surfboards Byron Bay

SKY have been making Twin Fins for 4 1/2 years.
During this period the development of the Twin Fin has come a long way -
The shapers at Sky, the Sky team riders - and our regular Twin Fin customers are always in search of a Sky Twin Fin better than the last model so they are able to keep up the place and race in today's world of ripping the waves apart.

Twin Fin Shapes By

Michael Cundith:   Leader in the Sky Twin Fin Design for 4 1/2 years.
Chris Brock:          Twin Fins with Tri Plan Hulls Design with Double Concaves and Chines.
Robert McTavish:  The name with a history of surfing and shaping throughout the world.
Bob says "His new twinny with boxes and double concaves is the Hottest Board he's had since the plastic machine.
Twin Fins with Fin Boxes
At this stage of development Chris Brock and Bob McTavish have been putting them to the test.
Chris has hot young Bondi Surfer DION GATTY and Local Surfer "SPUT" KEEVERS using twin fins with boxes with great results.
The fins can be set (asymmetric) or moved and down the boxes depending on wave size and wave conditions.

Sky are pleased to have Sydney "Cleanline" Shaper surfer GREG MELHUISH join the team of Sky Shapers.

One of the hottest contemporary young surfers to join the PRO CIRCUIT, has now joined the SKY Team.
His boards are now available.

George Greenough Twin Fin design kneeboard with semi hulls, double concaves and chines -
These boards are fitted with fin boxes or standard fins -
The board has been tried and tested in many different wave conditions with excellent results.
George says - after putting his personal twin fin to the test -
"It's like a Cadillac - that is - she has all the built-in extras."
George Greenough

SKY Boards are now made in three different weights: SUPER-LITE WEIGHT, LITE-WEIGHT, REGULAR.

Presumably set up for a natural-footer,
the backhand fin is at the front of the fin-box.

Greg Melhuish


April 1979

Bob McTavish :
A Casual Stroll Through the Equipment Spectrum

Springer Surfboards
Simon Anderson's Power Surfboards
Sky Surfboards.


Geoff Cater (2019) : Bob McTavish : Design, 1979.