The board Bob Simmons would build, had he lived.

I got out the Ouija Board, and channeled Mr. Simmons. Calm down, I’m just kidding! What I did was try to extend the process of changing ideas, that Simmons was already embracing, at the time of his untimely death. Had he lived until at least i970, he would have been at the forefront of the short board ‘‘revolution’’, having already explored short designs in the early fifties. He may have even triggered it five, or ten years earlier. We will never know, but he was beginning to change many of his design principles. The emergence of stable PU foam would have accellerated his design/experiment process. I will devote some of the workshop time to a discussion on this topic, if people are interested. Meanwhile, what are some of your ideas? The current crop of Simmons inspired designs, speak to a strong interest in developing a wider performance envelope for a surfboard. Paddleing, wave catching, speed, turning, all wrapped up in a forgiving easy to surf design. Not too tall an order, eh?

Any photos/ description of the board Simmons was surfing when he died?

Photos of Bob Simmons last board?

None that I’m aware of. I was freinds with several of the guys that were out that day. Sadly, they have passed on too. So I can’t even ask someone that was there. Perhaps John Elwell would know something about that board, and what became of it. I think Woody Ekstrom was also out that day, I’ll see if I can track him down. I see him once or twice per year, at different functions. Now you’ve got me curious about what became of that particular board.

Is it possible that board represented the culmination of his efforts?

Did Bob Simmons ever take any photos?

Speculation about what might have been is interesting but proves nothing. I’d much rather learn about the last board Simmons rode.

From the one photo I have seen of one of his boards, and from what I have read from “that book”, I think wider was part of his philosophy. Longer and narrower has a tendency to displace whereas shorter and wider tends to plane better. How short? Pretty short if that photo was anything to go by.

There were a number of 8 foot boards, some 6 foot boards, and rumors of at least one board of 4 or 4 1/2 feet long. So, he was exploring the limits of the theories in the Lindsey Lord book. By accounts I’ve read, Simmons was beginning to make some ‘‘compromises’’ with the absolutes of the theory.

1950s Simmons bellyboard

From Hydrodynamica -

Hey Bruce…Nice blog

I like the last shot of the Caspenoid as well.

I have a couple of designs in that realm, but with some different bottom goodies going on.


1950s Simmons bellyboard

From Hydrodynamica -

When you refer to “That Book”, are you referring to Hydrodynamica by Daniel Bernoulli or
Naval Architecture
of Planing Hulls
by Lindsay Lord ?
[img_assist|nid=1041354|title=Lord's Board|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=566] Is THIS the board you are referring to?

Hi Bill,

It may be worth your while trying to contact Carl Knox from Encinitas if he is still around? I had lunch with him about 30 or so years ago, and I found him to be one of the most interesting boardmakers I have met. He was also the inventor of the first winged fin system I had seen, called Surflock Fins ( fitted standard boxes). I’ll never forget Carl demonstrating the design for me in his swimming pool. As he dropped the Surflock fin into the water, his eyes lit up as he once again saw it turn 360 degrees underwater, and boomerang back into his hand. The wings had a slight rocker…

He was the lifeguard on duty the day Simmons died, and we discussed Simmons quite a bit. I asked Carl how Simmons made any money, given that he was travelling up and down the coast living in his car and surfing. He replied that Bob earned money doing homework for the other surfers…



You are right about Carl. I had forgotten about him guarding that day. I’ve known Carl since 58 or 59, and see him with about the same frequency that I see Woody. I have his phone number, and will give him a call. Simmons also made money playing the horses. He was comfortable with advanced mathematics, and had a keen understanding of probability, which enabled him to win on a regular basis.

John Cherrys Simm 21 boards really interested me from what I could see of the photos.

well ... did anyone find anything out about the last board simmons rode?? the thread just kind of stops right before the climax


well ... did anyone find anything out about the last board simmons rode??


Not yet.   

From what I’ve read, it seems Simmons was less concerned about turning and more concerned about trimming speed. His boards all had a very wide tail, and everything I’ve seen of people riding those mini Simmons boards tells me they aren’t the best boards for hard turns. Seems like everyone has to grab the rail to keep the board stable.

I like the direction Joe Quigg and Matt Kivlin took and I think they really started us on the right path. Quigg should get a lot more respect for his work on surfboard design. The pulled in tail allowed us all to turn and ride all over the wave. I think the semi-gun boards we ride in Hawaii are all based on the designs of Joe Quigg.

Greenough took us back down Simmon’s path. I think Greenough influenced hulls are where Simmons would have gone for speed in longer boards if he lived longer, and the fish is where he would have gone for short highly maneuverable boards.


 I think the semi-gun boards we ride in Hawaii are all based on the designs of Joe Quigg.


No question that Quigg's designs have been a powerful influence on the direction of surfboard design.    But, I believe that George Downing was a strong influence on Quigg, when he came over to Hawaii.    I think George influenced every mainland guy that came over in the 40's and 50's.    He was the man!

Bruce-----------Bill T. is the BEST link to any of the guys or girls who may have been around at the time of Bob Simmons death.  Maybe we can learn something about the board he rode that ill-fated day and also speculate on what he may have come up with had he lived beyond that day at "Simmons Reef".  Thank you Bill for being so inspired and for being open to looking into that last board.             PS-----   Didn't realize this was an older post.  Check out my recent post------------         " They Were Men In Those Days".

Yeah, George is the man when it comes to surfboards, and canoes for Hawaiian water. George has influenced everyone in Hawaii from the 40’s on through the 90’s. The knowledge he passed on went through so many hands that it’s possible we’ve all benefited from him. 

Keone isn’t that far behind. He’s been right next to his dad absorbing all that knowledge for over 50 years. He’s taken over the business and keeps pumping out the boards. I pass by the shop every day, and often see George or Keone closing up.

Once in a while, I’ll stop by to talk to Keone and George about their latest design concepts. One thing though, their designs are based on years and years of experience, so it’s a little hard to get them to do something against the grain. For solid “garrans ball bearings going work in Hawaiian juice” boards, the are hard to beat. They also have good prices.

My brother and I are lucky to have gone to school with Keone and Kainoa. Kainoa and Laurie (his wife) are my classmates and friends.