The "Transition Era" 1967-1969: dawn of a new age

In 2010 the film “Going Vertical” based its publicity campaign stating that the focus of the film dealt with Bob McTavish and Dick Brewer claiming that, they should, individually, receive the credit for beginning the “short board revolution”.  This became a subjct of great debate in regards as to who deserved the lion’s share of credit.  Of course, there were other prominent designers and a segment in the film featuring Geroge Downing’s comments, were edited and omitted altogether.  

Growing up in Santa Barbara, it is very difficult for me to overlook the probable impact that George Greenough had by having John Eichert (“Ike”) shape his early day kneeboards that would evolve into his see through fiberglass spoons.  I also recall early day surfers like Bobby Patterson riding Windansea on sub nine foot boards along with other surfers that I am sure Bill Thrailkill and some of the other long time shapers that are Sways memebers could readily attest to.

Midget Farrelly was certainly there, and contributed as much as any of the likely suspects. I think it suffices to say, that there really wasn’t any ONE person that can be handed the “title” so to speak.

  This interview in “Surf International” Vol.1, No. 3 published in February of 1968 titled “Development of the Modern Surfboard” is an insightful look as to where we were and where we were headed.

Note: Board pictured was manufactured by Farrelly in 1969. Original designer Ted Spencer as “White Kite” @ Shane Surfboards. Shaper, unknown (possibly WarrenCornish).  Board is 6’4"x19-1/2" wide.

Looks pretty damn “modern” to me.

This topic always gets people’s blood up.  

I think that regardless of who actually did what first that it was the filmakers of the day who brought the revolution to the masses.   Their work was certainly a big factor in the more recent revival of interest in that design phase.  

**…that’s probably a pretty fair assessment… surf films and the magazines.  But they were (merely) “the messengers” not the creators. **

There were “kid’s longboards” that bigger guys rode and if we look back at the hollow cigar boxes and stuff that was pre World War II you’d probably see some of those were 7’11"s and such. 

Maybe this guy should get credit?

Wow - that’s a 1969 board? I would never have guessed that.

How about those Hawaiians of yore who used to stand-up surf on those little paipo planks? The original shortboarders!

Haha you posted that as I was typing

Aloha Deadshaper,

My first exposure to surfing and surfcraft, was at WindanSea Beach, in 1955.    I had little understanding of who the ‘‘regular crew’’ was, in those days.    In 1957, Alan Nelson  was playing with a  ‘‘shorebreak board’’ that was 5 feet long with twin halfmoon fins.     What today is called a Mini Simmons.     In 1958 and 1959, Velzy&Jacobs were retailing lots of sub 9 foot boards.  (in Oct. 1958, I bought an 8’ 10’’  ‘‘Bump’’ from Velzy&Jacobs)     In 1959  I shaped,  and rode at WindanSea, a 7’ 11’’  balsa Pig.     In the early 60’s, in Santa Cruz,  a fellow named Jim Foley was making and riding  sub 7 foot boards,  well AHEAD of the ‘‘shortboard revolution.’’     McTavish, and  ESPECIALLY BREWER, were  latecomers to the game!   What drove the move to larger boards, was the film GIDGET, ( spring of 1959) which caused a doubleing and tripleing of crowds in the lineup, the following year.     Hence the need for more paddle power, and earlier wave catching.

I remember my youngest son buying videotape copies of The Hot Generation, Evolution, MOTE, Crystal Voyager and the like 10-12 years ago.  That’s what got us going in those directions.   I could never get the Brewer “tracker” style designs to work that well on our slower local and weaker conditions so I always gravitated toward the Aussie designs.  I’ve spent hours pouring through the archives on the Surfresearch.AU website - we really don’t have an equivalent resource for the Hawaiian and mainland boards.  I mean, other than a couple veteran shapers I know IRL and the OG veterans here on Sways.  

Surf Reserach is a GREAT site for history.  

That’s where I accessed the Midget interview if you hadn’t already guessed.  Glad your comments AREN’T just focusing on ‘who did what first’ as that wasn’t my original  intent on posting this.  Midget has some interesting insights and comments on board design as well as projections on what type of surfing might develop.  He mentions displacement and planing hulls, and the combining of the two.  Also vee plane angles and volume considerations.  One can see how influential he really was (and is) in the development of Australian surfing.  If anything, the worldwide media sort of understated Midget’s impact, choosing to focus more on Nat, Wayne, McTavish, Peter Drouyn, MP, and some of the other more obvious surfers of that era.

Midget is the greatest surfer to ever come out of Australia.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is just jealous.

Awesome post DEADSHAPER! 

I’m glad you chimed in…your take on it really brings things into perspective! 

It kind of makes you wonder why you don’t see many of these smaller surfboards around?  I’m sure some collectors have them, but it doesn’t seem like they are in abundance.

My first surfboard looked similar (below):  21" x 7’6" Surfboards Hawaii.  It was purchased the first week of November in 1968.  It sat in the shop racks for at least 2 months before I could persuade my parents to give it to me for my 16th birthday.

I remember the high school surfer establishment telling me it was too short, too narrow and I would not be able to ride it.

In 1962 LJ Richards was riding an 8’6". Six years later, an 8’6" was considered short by the marketers who were touting the “new” shortboard.

Speaking of things transitional, there is a new documentary film currently doing the limited rounds in Australian cinemas at the moment about the life of Wayne Lynch.

It’s called “Unchartered Waters” and the trailer can be seen here

I saw it a a few days ago and thought it was something pretty special. If you get the chance to see it in the cinema you should - not sure if will come to the US as a cinema release or not though.

Got given this last week 7’3x21 stringerles not sure on age but thinking late 60s.
They stopped production in 1970 according to

hello’’ bruce

i can only agree with you’’

ted had gone as short as 4’ 11’’ if my memory is right and the kite evolved from there  we also shaped a lot of rounded pins


look i believe the whole who was first thing is a load of shit’’

midget created the v bottom with out doubt  did it happen anywhere’’ else  who knows   

judging by competiters around the world turning up for contests NO

at that point he never ever claimed first shortboard

nah the real culprit for dis information was good old boys and a self interest propaganda machine?

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in this vid you will see  midget riding a stringerless way ahead of the rest as he was and still is in foam tech

one more thing micky munoz was he ever in australia   any one know?

cheers huie

cool vid Huie!

how’s that Peter Drouyn bottom turn at 1:50 !?!?

All I can say is that we had a hell of a good time shaping new designs and riding waves. Shit was moving so fast you couldn’t keep up with it. It was a mind game as a much as a design game. Back to the earth movement and healthy lifestyle. We were on to something good…

Those years gave birth to as much backyard innovation and experimentation as the demise of Clark. The major labels took a big hit because they had too much $ tied up in obsolete inventory and they became gun shy to an extent. Leaving the backyarders as the guys who went out on a limb for real, giving birth to some really forward thinking that was eventually adopted by the big boys.

**Don't want to fuel any fire(s) here but after thinking a while about Foley and bam remembered this...**

"In 1950, Quigg introduced dramatic changes in board design. At a time when most boards weighed between 35 and 100 pounds, and measured 10 to 12 feet in length, Quigg began building a series of progressively shorter and lighter boards for Malibu area surfers. The lengths of boards seemed to come down month by month. From 9 feet 6 inches to 9 feet to 8 feet and shorter. By March of 1951, Quigg had the Malibu board length all the way down to 7 feet.

Joe Quigg’s boards were the first to have what Quigg called the “complete combination” of basic features all integrated into one board. This combination of elements continues to be the basics of surfboard design to present day, with the exception that balsa has been replaced with foam and single fin design has evolved to tri-fin Thrusters. When Quigg was working out his initial designs in 1951, the specifications and construction included: all light balsa with one layer of 4 ounce glass, low rails, flat bottoms, deeper and thinner fiberglass fins, smooth flowing rail and tail rocker, and a bottom rocker template that can fit many modern boards, today. The 7 foot board weighed 19 pounds. Its elliptical, rounded pintail shape caused some surfers to call these designs “egg boards.” In 1953, young innovative surfers like Mickey Muoz and Bobby Patterson campaigned the “egg board” up and down the surfing beaches of Southern California."

**Agreed a little bit ahead of the "revolution" we loved...**