Who is the father of Compsand?

Was Bob Simmons the father of Compsand?

Granted, his 1949 version of Strofoam (EPS) core, plywood deck/bottom with balsa rails was relatively crude compared to modern compsands but he knocked a LOT of weight off what was considered standard at the time. It was the start of a concept that is carried on to this day…

"Joe Quigg confirmed that it was 1949 when Matt Kivlin began talking to Simmons about the idea of making lighter, hollow plywood rescue boards. “Simmons thought that was interesting, but instead of simply making the boards hollow he began sandwiching styrofoam between plywood and glassing the whole thing over. He had gotten some samples of styrofoam after the war, and had always dreamed of making a board with styrofoam.” The drawback with styrofoam, however, was that it would dissolve once catalyzed resin was poured onto it, so the two together turned out to be impractical. By sandwiching styrofoam in between plywood, however, Simmons made it viable. “The first couple of boards of this type,” wrote Elwell, “had 50/50 rail lines, but by '49 he had them down to 60/40 and as low as 80/20. The tails were so thin as to be fragile.”

“To satisfy demand, Simmons set up a surf shop in Santa Monica. “In those first days,” said Quigg, ‘Simmons would glue the plywood, styrofoam and balsa parts together, then Matt (Kivlin) would shape the balsa rails and glass them over.’”

(From Malcolm Gault-Williams’ “Legendary Surfers”)

Hey John,

Naturally, I’ve been interested in this question for some time…

There’s Simmons, but who most proliferated the concept of gluing a board together from flat pieces of more than one type of material?


Tom Morey!

The Boogie board as Father of the Compsand???

OH NO!!!

For the Aussies:- My mate Dick van Straalen has an interesting take on the question too…he made EPS ply sandwich boards independent of any Simmons influence, in the 50’s.

Check this link:-



john, i read in “stoked” about simmons doing compsand with ply when he came back from the 2. ww. it is just mindblowing that somebody did it allmost 60 years ago and we now talk about all this “new” tech.



That would be the father of Randy French.

But really when you look at the microscopic cross sections of wood, then very first surfboard was a compsand. The answer is God I guess.

Robert Wilson Simmons 3/29/'19 - 9/26/'54 He is the one.


Got a question. Do you know much about the origin of the name “Tuflite”? There was a company in Oakland, Ca (Meritex) making sandwich windsurfers that was using the name Tuflite in their adds. This was around the time or perhaps even before when French started Seatrend. Don’t know when Surftech was born but this was quite a few years before that. I posted pics of the add sometime back.



Maybe another good question would be, “Who was the first to use a vacuum bag to adhere skins to a surfboard?” To me the vacuum bag is what makes compsand construction so much different than standard construction.

I’ve built compsands without a vac bag. Its only a tool, not part of the result.

I’d go with Simmons as well.

Yes, I know this fact. What are you lmplying or are you beta testing a compsand trivia pursuit question?

Surftech wasn’t born, it was Created on the 8th day and Randy said it was good.

sailboards with the same tech were being built in Maryland in the early 1980’s.

The smart aeronautical engineers who liked to surf and windsurf developed the tech in my opinion. They had access to the tools and composite materials at work. In 1981 I saw full carbon fiber sailboards in Maryland. A year later I saw beautiful wood deck composites in central texas. They look like the Starboards of today.

I am not sure about the sequence of every development in composite boards but I have a feeling that if you lived near water things were happening simultaneously on all coasts. The composite boards, surf or sail, of today have most of their roots in sailboard tech. No swaylocks back then to share stolen ideas as rapidly as today.


Trivia question I suppose. Always wondered what became of the Meritex guys and what if any connections there were to the Tuflite we know now.


Dave D


Trivia question I suppose. Always wondered what became of the Meritex guys and what if any connections there were to the Tuflite we know now.


Dave D

I wouldn’t be suprised if RF worked with those guys. I do remember they had their own fin box system and they made composite cedar sailboards. I have no clue how the word tuflite came into being and how or when it became protected and registered by ST

Gary Young. I’m surprised no one here has said this. Comp sand - Composite sandwich.

You could throw Tom Blake into this, building hollow wood boards with a perimeter wood rail. That was probably the first that had the general idea of what a compsand is today. But they weren’t a composite and they didn’t utilize a sandwich construction in the modern definition. These were built in the 30’s.

Simmons certainly had an idea of this and his boards were a later version of the original Blake idea. He made these foam filled. You could call these compsands but they were far short of what the modern definition would be. They did utilize some composite materials but they weren’t a modern snadwich construction. Like Blakes they were not a sandwich in terms of an interior laminate. These were built in the 50’s

Along comes Gary Young in the 70’s and these were the first true modern compsands. Much more than anything that had come before Gary Young put together a product incorperating all the modern compsand parts. Since his inception little has changed accept for materials which have continued to evolve. But the basic structure is not Blake or Simmons but Young’s.



would that do it?

everybody p-ina cup

swab the cheek

exhume the graves


padres en todos

thanks toem all

and we are decended

from some one

swaylocks is my compudaddy.

Idint know or care to know…

dont forget ajoro?

or diiddee just use the styro?

where’s some quality obscure


somebody ask bill Bragg

he might have some input

whaddabout dave sweet archives?


Too bad nobody suggested Compsand for Kawika’s daughter. Then we’d know the answer.

Agreed. I shaped some cores for a series of Wooden Boards that Gary made for the Oneill Surfshop in the late ‘70s. His use of beautifuly matched veneers along with Kevlar, epoxy resins, and vacuum bagging was truly revolutionary, and most folks’ efforts today are more advanced only due to the development or application of better resins and other materials.

Also, thanks to Gary having donated some of his clear epoxy resin, I discovered the benefits of glassing the chambered balsa boards I was making with epoxy. Much better bonding to the wood than polyester, allowing lighter glass jobs to have the skin integrity necessary when dealing with a highly water-absorbant core like balsa.

Hi Josh -

Nice interview! I appreciated the man’s answers to your questions. His low-key understated attitude might explain why we don’t hear so much about him?

Some of the Australian giants are not given the credit they deserve. DVS is one of those giants.

I had never heard of his early EPS boards but it’s interesting that he made the same aeronautical industry contacts as Simmons at roughly the same time and brought that tech to surfboards. While not the same as “modern” compsand, the question, posed for the sake of historical accuracy, was in regards to the father and not so much the offspring. If dates are correct, Simmons in '49 (perhaps earlier) might be the first?

Blake, another giant, introduced the hollow ply on frame boards. I’m not sure that qualifies as compsand?

Maybe we should take a vote, or as Ambrose suggests, a DNA/paternity test?

  • Blake
  • Simmons
  • DVS
  • Morey
  • Young
  • French
  • Burger
All great innovators to be sure.

I’ve already stated my veiw but if this is a vote then for the modern concept of true compsand it’s Young.


…because there isn’t anything new. We are only expanding on existing concepts. We would’nt be where we are today without all the ideas that have gone before us…

dont like to be a wet blanket here

but i think dick might have been having a leg pull

1953 i was 13 dick is younger than me

hard to belive there was anything being done in oz whith styrofoam

let alone a compsand

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my vote is gary young

With all due respect to RF and the sailboard guys, GY was doing compsand years before Hoyle stepped his first mast.