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  appendix : about this page

about this page
1. Introduction is a free online annotated surfcraft museum, compiled as a necessary part of the evolution of surfing history.
The site is a work in progress - currently Version # 174, and counting.
Some data is unknowingly incorrect, and needs correction.
When data is to be found to be incorrect, it is changed.
Some data is known to be incorrect and requires correction, but has a low priority.
Spelling and grammatical errors are rife.
Many sections are incomplete, in some case skeletal.
All sources are credited, where possible.
Everything else is my work and is copyright Geoff Cater, 1999 - 2020.
Enquiries and contributions are encouraged, see Correspondence.
Disclaimer :
 I have never worked in the surfboard industry.
My personal manufacturing experience is limited to ...
-  a few boards built in the Great Backyard Butchery Outbreak of 1968-9 and the early 1970's Cosmic Soul Surfer Experiment.
- a long history of repairs and restorations, a large number of boards in my personal collection have been extensively worked (I simply could not afford to pay a professional to put in the hours required).
My knowledge is based on my observations of surfboards, discussion with board builders and riders, and reading any available design related literature.
It is possible that I may have this all wrong.

Online Publication

I used to worry about this (given the ongoing hosting fees) but I was extremely relieved in 2013 when the National Library of Australia (NLA) selected my work
for preservation on their PANDORA website, initially established by the NLA in 1996:

They now archive it annually, and have six editions up to June 2018.
This was all very strange, but
I was stoked, make that extremely stoked.
Firstly, it was cool to be recognised by a prestigious library at a time when, after considerable resistance, academic institutions were finally adjusting to the internet.
The net had vastly expanded the definition of "publication" (verging on meaninglessness), however inclusion on the shelves of a virtual library was al least somewhere between being and nothingness.

This dilemma was illustrated in the
NLA's selection,  I was contacted because of an extremely brief, but perceptive, mention in a book, Matt Warshaw's definitive History of Surfing (2010).
Included in his
Sources (page 479), Matt wrote:
Although is a messy, cut-rate, hard-to-use site (at least of this writing), it is by far the best single source of information for early Australian surf history.

I am deeply indebted to the libraries of Australia.
Over the years I have made extensive transcriptions from newspapers, magazines and books from Australian libraries
and after fraudulently signing hundreds of personal-use copyright slips, I felt a bit less guilty.
Initially, I visited Sydney's NSW State Library and the beautiful Mitchell Library, later, the Shoalhaven City Library in Nowra and with their expert assistance, and the NLA's online catalogue (Trove), accessed library books from all over the country.

Whereabouts are you from in Australia anyway, if I may ask? I would have a bold guess - somewhere along the NSW coastline.
I have been living in Shoalhaven Heads for a long time, about 100 miles south of Sydney, a small coastal village on Seven Mile Beach.
With seven miles of open beach, generally, the beach is rarely blessed with quality waves.
However, the area is known for strong summer onshore breezes that make the beach highly suitable for sailboards, which I started riding in 1997.
And, in my experience, the local river has flooded
twice (late 1970s and 1980s), the resulting sandbanks provided quality waves for about 3-4 years.
For the last 20 years I have focused on wave-sailing at the northern end of the beach (Gerroa), blessed by bear-away left-handers and where I have to ride switch-foot.

2. The Title
Pods for Primates takes its title from Bob McTavish's articles Pods for Primates: A Personal History of Surfboard Design, Part 1 and Part 2" , originally published by Tracks Magazine sometime in 1972. They were subsequently reprinted (circa 1972) in The Best of Tracks Vol 1 (pages 120 – 124). The article was accompanied by several excellent photographs.

The article's title refers to the introduction of the Malibu board to Australia in 1956. 'Pod' was a term for a standard square tail Malibu board circa 1963, see Kevin Platt in Pollard : The Australian Surfrider , page 23. Subsequently the term referred specifically to the tail itself.

'for Primates' hints at both the relative primitive stage of surfing in Australia in 1956 and also the evolutionary development  of surfboard design, a theme frequently featured in surf literature, of which Mickey Dora's “da Cat’s Theory of Evolution” ad for Greg Noll Surfboards is the most infamous example (Re-printed in  Noll, Greg With Gabbard, Andrea: Da Bull – Life Over The Edge  - photo section).

3. The Quotation
 "Je résolus de m'informer du pourquoi et de transformer ma volupté en connaissance..."
- Baudelaire, 1860

Translation : "I set out to discover the why of it, and to transform my pleasure into knowledge."

No, I have not read Baudelaire.
My source is Robert Hughes : The Shock of the New, Thames and Hudson Ltd. London 1980.
The quotation appears in the introduction, page 7.

Originally I failed to transcribe the translation correctly - and I couldn't find the overstrike (é) on my key board.
The correct translation was contributed by Guilhem Rainfray, Guéthary, France. June 2005.
Many thanks to Guilhem, and apologies to l'Académie Française.
( )

4. Lou Morath's 1938 Alaia
 I came across this magnificent board fortuitously at International Conservation Services, Chatswood in 1999, where it had been restored. I was able to take a few basic photographs and dimensions, gain some historical material from the detached metal dedication plate, and discuss the restoration process with the craftsman.

Enthused with the beauty of the board, that night I browsed a heavily thumbed copy of Margan and Finney's A Pictorial History of Surfing, 1971 and was amazed to find a photograph of the board and rider in 1940 (page 118). Further research  identified the branded logo as that of the Outrigger Canoe Club, Honolulu (virtually confirming its Hawaiian connection) and additional information about Lou Morath and the 1939 Pacific Games in C. Bede Maxwell's Surf : Australians Against the Sea, 1949 and Reg Harris' The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961, 1961 (additional photograph page Forty-four).

The craftsmanship and design exhibited by the board refute any possible derogatry description such as 'plank' or 'log'. Contact with the Balmoral Beach Club in August 2000 led to conversations with Dick Morath (son/grandson of Lou) who reported that the board was shaped by Lou Morath in Australia before 1939, the origin of the Outrigger Canoe Club logo a mystery.

5. The Catalogue
The Catalogue started in 1981 when, while talking with Jeff (Foxy) Fox about surfboards, we put to paper a list of the boards we owned since starting surfing.
Foxy's list  totalled 15 boards, while mine was 25, including 3 retired boards
These boards (#23, #24 and #25) became the basis for a collection of surfcraft and the list continued to expand.
By 1996 the 'list'comprised detailed specifications and photographs of approximately 60 boards with book and magazine  references to place the board designs in historical context.
In 1997 I started editing and storing the reference sections of  'the Catalogue' digitally and in 1999 a first draft went online.
Right: Hand-drawn button for first online edition, 1999.

These now comprise the History, References and Appendix sections of Pods for Primates.

The Catalogue is largely based on my own collection, supplemented by others that are on public display, from boards I see at Old Mal Contests,  auctions, other local collectors and submitted examples from contributors.

In 2000 the first entries to the Catalogue were added and  the numbering system is basically the order in which the boards were added to my original list and have no other significance.

The Catalogue, as at December 2002, is a reasonable coverage for the period 1900 to 1984, up to Simon Anderson's Thruster.
Entries in absentia include hollow plywoods (paddleboards and okinuees), Keel fin circa 1971, Ski tail circa 1975, Wilderness Hull circa 1970. A Side Slipper circa 1970, Bonzer circa 1974, and Step Bottom circa 1965 and several sailboards are in preparation.

6. A Brief History of Surfcraft in Australia Since 1900
Orignally a chronology, some entries have exceeded their brief, none so much as Duke Kahanamoku's 'introduction of surfing in 1915', which now appears as Duke 1914.
The History section is an on going project that currently is a convoluted mess, requiring a lot of work. I am progressively working my way through this in fits and starts, some sections are reasonably coherent - others merely a chopped up copy of previous work.
7. The Glossary

1.The Glossary contains only terminology specific to surboard design, it does not have entries for general surfing terms - see Cralle below.
2.Many entries are currently uncredited to their sources, an unfortunate oversight that will be corrected in the (not so near) future.
3.Although much of this work was completed before I had access to it, Trevor Cralle's The Surfinary – A Dictionary of Surfing Terms and Surfspeak 1991 has been invaluable for review and the addition of US specific terms.
A second edition was published in 2001.
4. New Zealand entries thanks to Tony Reid.
5. Also see Books, any indicated as containing a Glossary.

Entry Format : Model Name or Term / Common Alternative Term/ Uncommon Alternative Term / (common application) / (applications) : Explanation and historical notes.* Editor’s comments.

8. Information and Inspiration
Since beginninig work on the page, many people have offered invaluable contributions of boards, books, information and inspiration. Some are listed below..
Frank Cater
Carmel Niland
J.S. O'Sullivan
Bruce White (Sydney University Board Riders, 1970)
Ken Grieves (Sydney University Board Riders, 1970)
Geoff Fox
John McInnes
Paul Flack
Dave Mattison and Jim Parkinson (Jackson Surfboards)
Scott Dillon (Scott Dillon Surfboards),
Steven Thompson (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service)
Paul Hundley (Australian National Maritime Museum)
Jack Finlay (Surfworld, 1998)
Russell Graham (Moonlight Laminating)
Peter Turner (Kirra Surf Shop)
Jack Eden
Greg Bennett (Bennett Surfboards)
Greg Millet (Dion Chemicals)
Al Wilson (Al Wilson Surfboards)
Ray Moran (Manly Surf life Saving Club)
Mick Mock
Tony Reid (The Longboard Shop, NZ)
Malcom-Gault Williams (The Legendary Surfers Homepage)
John Elwell
Dick Morath (Balmoral Beach Club)
Paul D Gross
Ric Gliddon.
9. Dating
Although not often required, I endorse the approach of David Abulafia, who noted:

Another contentious issue is whether to use the Christian labels for dates, BC and AD, or the modern substitutes, BCE and CE, or indeed (as Joseph Needham used to recommend) a simple '-' and '+'.
Since these variants produce exactly the same dates as BC and AD I am not sure what advantage they bring; and those who are uncomfortable with Before Christ and Anno Domini are free to decide that BC and AD stand for some other combination of words, such as 'Backward chronology' and 'Accepted date'.
- Abulafia, David: The Great Sea- A Human History of the Mediterranean
Allen Lane, London, 2011, page xvi.

Alternatively, bp  (that is, before the present), is used for dates established by carbon dating.
The present is defined as
before 1st January 1950, after which carbon-dating is unreliable due to the interference from atmospheric nuclear testing.

10. Images/Copyright
Originally the Catalogue was an text based attempt to define and describe surfcraft, with minimal reliance on images.
This was to reduce my own costs (mainly photograph processing and the purchase of books and magazines), avoid time consuming image scanning and manipulation, reduce domain size, allow the pages to load faster, and to minimise any possible copyright difficulties.
This is clearly unsatisfactory; images do provide information beyond the capabilities of text, they are integral to historical analysis, and translate wonderfully to the medium.
Please note..
1. All images fully credited were possible.
Images deemed unsuitable by the registered copyright holder will be removed immediately on notification.
2. Images are only used where they add substantially to the text.
3. In many cases the image has been cropped and/or enhanced to focus on relevant features - this is usually noted.
4. The images are scanned to the smallest size that allows reasonable identification and fast loading.
This is invariably smaller than their original printed versions.
5. A majority of the images, such as portraits, are reproduced in black and white, even if originally colour.
6. All images are compressed before uploading, again to promote fast page loading.

Everything else is my work and is Copyright Geoff Cater, 1999.
 Please contact me at for further correspondence.
This web page has been produced as a necessary part of the evolution of Surfing.
( - with apologies to 1960's record bootleggers).

Bytes of History: Uploading history to the Net (Internet? Web?)- a personal view.

Geoff was gifted his first surfboard in 1966, graduated University of Sydney in 1972, became a mattress-maker in 1975,and began composing and uploading his web-site on the history of surfboard design in 1999.
example of antiquarian history, was archived by the National Library of Australia in 2013 and currently comprises 10,500 files at 400 mega-bytes.
The work was initially based on a significant collection of surf-craft and surfing publications, but its scope has expanded, principally influenced by James Hornell's seminal Water Transport- Origins and Early Evolution (1946), and further developed at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum in 2015-2016.

Following some comments on the philosophy of history, the illustrated presentation examines the basics of formatting of web page, print versus digital media, content versus desig, copyright in the 21st century, the democratisation of knowledge; and a brief overview of the history of surfboards.
The work of J.S. O'Sullivan, Kenneth Clarke, and Jacob Bronowski is noted, and references include the works of Leonardo da Vinci, James Cook, Charles Gold, Katsushika Hokusai, R. M. Ballatyne, Duke Kahanamoku, Frank Gurrey, Willard Bascom, Lindsay Lord, Ben Finney, George Greenough, and Homer Simpson.

Good afternoon,
I'm Geoff, this is my web-site, these are two of my surfboards, and these are some of my books.
And like Prospero's books, some of them could be said to contain magic.

J.S. O'Sullivan's A Most Unique Ruffian (1968) recounts the trial of Frederick Deeming, a serial killer who murdered one wife in England, but was hung for a second in Melbourne in 1892.
Suspected at the time as being Jack the Ripper, forensic investigation
in 2011 of what was thought to be Ned Kelly’s skull, revealed it was more likely Deeming.
Mr. O'Sullivan
was my Modern History teacher for the HSC 1968-1969, and he would regularly bring his reference books and copious hand-written notes to class to work on the book.


Rev. Isaac Taylor : Surf Swimmers, (Sandwich Islands),1830.
The earliest known image of Hawaiian surf riding.
R.M. Ballantyne: The Cannibal Islands - Captain Cook in the South Seas, 1880.
A. R.Gurrey:The Surf Riders of Hawaii,1913.
First surfing book, Centenary Edition, 2013.

H. Phillips: Surfing Beaches of Sydney NSW, 1930.


J.S. O'Sullivan: A Most Unique Ruffian- The Trial of F.B. Deeming, 1968.

Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark, BBC TV series and book, 1969.
Jacob Bronowski: The Ascent of Man, published 1973 and
BBC TV series 1974.
The Berg: Heikegani
Phillipa McGuinness: Copyfight, 2015.
Katsushika Hokusai: Under the wave off Kanagawa, 1825.
Hunter S.Thompson and Ralph Steadman: The Curse of Lono, 2005.
James Hornell: Water Transport- Origins and Early Evolution,1946.
Lindsay Lord: Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls,1946.
Neil MacGregor: A History of the World in 100 Objects, 2010.

Charles Gold: Catamaran surfer, Madras, India, 1800.

Tom Blake: Hawaiian Surfboard, 1935.
Reprinted in 1983 as Hawaiian Surfriders 1935.
Jack Pollard: The Australian Surfrider,1963.
Signed copy by Duke, others include 1st World Champion Midget Farrelly.
Willard Bascom: Waves and Beaches,1964.
Ben Finney: The Sport of Hawaiian Kings, 1966.
Based on his master’s thesis in anthropology with articles in The Journal of Polynesian Society in 1959 and 1960.
Duke Kahanamoku’s World of Surfing,1968.
Jeff Carter: Surf Beaches of Australia’s East Coast, 1968.

Nat Young: Book of Surfing (1979), History of Surfing (1983-2008),Surfing Australia’s East Coast (1980-3), Fundamentals (1983-93), Surfing and Sailboard Guide (1986), Autobiography (1998), Surf Rage (2000).

Modern World Magazine, June 1971.
Simon Anderson and Shane Surfboards, signed.
Surf International,1969.
Cover: Bob McTavish and Little Red, Maui,1967.
Design and
photograph: John Witzig, signed by Bob.
Tim Dela Vega: 200 Years of Surfing Literature, 2004.
Australian contributors include Geoff Cater, South Coast, NSW.
William Finnegan: Barbarian Days- A Surfing Life, 2015.
Prize for Biography/Autobiography, 2016.

Frederick Deeming was a serial killer; murdering one wife in England, he was hung for a second in Melbourne in 1892.
Suspected at the time as being Jack the Ripper, forensic investigation
in 2011 of what was thought to be Ned Kelly’s skull, revealed it was more likely Deeming.
The author
was Geoff Cater's Modern History teacher for the HSC in 1969.

A landmark in television documentaries, Civilisation outlines the history of Western art, architecture and philosophy since the Dark Ages.
The subtitle, A Personal View by Kenneth Clark, reinforced the subjectivity of his work.

Jacob Bronowski was a Polish-Jewish-British, sometimes American, mathematician, biologist, historian of science, theatre author, poet, inventor, humanitarian, parent, lover; and a philosopher.
The book was published in 1973 and televised in 1974; his
prodigious aim was to create a philosophy for the twentieth century- an alternative to all established religions and philosophies.
In itself, the book/telecast illustrates his central thesis: that man does both art and science.
was , some could say outrageous-
This online edition of the Ascent of Man (2016) has been produced in respect of Jacob Bronowski's observation that cultural advancement has been conditional on the democratisation of knowledge (page ?).

Rev. Isaac Taylor : Surf Swimmers, (Sandwich Islands),1830.
Illustration by the author, the earliest known image of Hawaiian surfboard riding.
The Ship, John Harris, London, 1830.

Photographer, filmmaker and author, Jeff Carter settled
locally at Foxground in 1962, later turning his property into a wildlife sanctuary.

     Are libraries obsolete? : volume an argument for relevance in the digital age / Mark Y. Herring.

Frank and Betty Cater and plywood canoe,
Patonga NSW, 1950.

Frank and Geoff Cater

Bondi Beach Sydney NSW.
Summer 1953.

Dedicated to Frank and Betty Cater

(11.7.1926 - 22.12.2004)  -    (28.12.1928 - 7.6.2018)
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2000-2018) : Appendix : About This Page.