pods for primates: a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900
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Manly's top boardmen 1939-40, Click for Photo details.
pods for primates*
a catalogue of surfboards
in australia
since 1900 
a product of re-search

the catalogue

Bob McTavish & Little Red, Honolua Bay '67. John Witzig. Click for photo details.
Photo 2.
 Bob McTavish's articles
       Pods for Primates: 
A Personal History of Surfboard Design 
  Part 1 and Part 2
were published by TRACKS magazine,
early  in 1972.

Information and Inspiration

Thanks to...

Bruce White
Ken Grieves
(Sydney University Board Riders, 1970)

Geoff Fox

John McInnes

Paul Flack

"Je resous de m'informer du pourquoi, et de transformer ma volute en connaissance."
- Baudelaire, 1860

Photo 1. Ray Leighton : Manly Surf Life Saving Club's top boardmen in 1939 - 1940, Manly Beach, 1940.
Ray Leighton was a highly successful professional photographer who had a long association with the Manly surfing community and often featured beach themes in his work. This photograph is one of at least three of a shoot, probably the summer of 1939 - 1940.
The Source
Harris, Reg. S.: The History of Manly Life Saving Club 1911-1961
Published by Manly Life Saving Club, NSW  Printed by Publicity Press Ltd. 1961. Page Forty-four (uncredited)
The Surfers (Left to right) :
M.B."Bossy" Sutton,
Geoff. Cohen - was the first Manly S.L.S.C. member killed in World War II and his board became the club's War Honour Roll.
Harry Wicke  - was Australian Surfboard Champion in 1939-1940.
Jim Austin,
Lou Morath - came third in the Australian Titles and represented Australia at the Pacific Games in Honolulu in 1939.
Ken Simpson - was awarded a D.F.C. for service with the R.A.A.F.and was also killed in the war.
The Surfboards
In the centre are the tails of two timber framed/plywood covered boards based on Tom Blake's Hollow design, circa 1934.
The othes are solid wood Alaia ('Church Windows' in Australia, 'Gothics' in mainland USA) of similar design to the board used in Australia by Duke Kahanamoku in 1915. All the boards were finless.
Geoff. Cohen's board is still with the Manly Surf Life Saving Club.
Lou Morath's board (#105)  is 8 ft 8" x 23 1/2" exists in original condition and is held by the Balmoral Beach Club, Sydney. 
Photo 2. John Witzig : Honolua Bay, Maui, December 1967.

Principally known as a magazine editor (Surfing World, Surf International, Tracks, and  Sea Notes magazines) and journalist ("We're Tops Now", Surfing World magazine - an infamous critique of mainland US performance post 1966 World titles), John Witzig has a fine portfolio of Surf photography.
The Source
Possibly printed in SURF International magazine, in colour, circa 1969.
This black and white copy printed in Honi Soit, Sydney University, circa 1971.
The Surfer :  Bob McTavish
The Surfboard
Ted Spencer's 'Little Red',  8ft 9" x 22" stringerless rounded pintail. Possibly Shane Surfboards.
Nat Young and Bob McTavish's testing of the Short Board/Vee-Bottom theory in Hawaii, November-December 1967, has been extensively recorded in film (Paul Witzig : 'Hot Generation' and Eric Blum 'The Fantastic Plastic Machine'), books, magazines, web pages and mythology. Documented, deified, disputed, despised and dismissed as the 'Short Board Revolution', the boards taken to Hawaii in the winter of 1967 by Bob McTavish, Nat Young, Ted Spencer, Peter Drouyn and other Australian surfers were in fact 'Gunned' versions of the designs developed for Australian surf. Between February  and November 1967 intensive competition between Sydney manufacturers and their stable of surfer/shapers (primarily Midget Farrelly (Surfboards), Palm Beach and Bob McTavish at Keyo Surfboards, Brookvale) saw length reduce from 9 ft to 7ft. Variations of Ted Spencer's board were to be the dominant design in Australia for the next twelve months.
The board itself, however, broke in two at the Honolua Bay sessions.
For contact see Appendix/Correspondence
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