We buy interesting old boards 60s/70s/early 80s in good condition. Email alasdairlindsay75@gmail.com . Also wanted - Surfing UK , British Surfer and Surf Insight magazines .
Above photo - copyright Rennie Ellis photographer archive

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Surfboards Inc and Westcoast Surfboards

Above - Tony Cope, may '69 at Woolacombe .

I have been talking to Tony Cope over the last few weeks about a couple of North Devon surf labels I didn't know much about - namely Surfboards Inc. and Westcoast surfboards, made by 'Fitz' (Clinton Fitzgerald ) and associates in Woolacombe in the late 60s. I acquired a 7'6 Westcoast last year, which is incredibly light, and it turns out it was an identical board to what Tony, a team rider, was surfing for Westcoast.


Tony knows more than most about the Westcoast business -
'Fitz took over Bob Powers` board business in 1967 & made ` SURFBOARDS INC. ` boards in 1967 - 68, changed the name to ` WESTCOAST SURFBOARDS ` in 1969, emigrated to S Africa early 1970, and sadly died in an accident in Capetown in `72.
I worked & shared a house with him during this period, and am currently making a repro 1968 S.I. `v` bottom stubby for the Museum of British Surfing.
The only Known S.I. board is fixed at an angle ( this was the only known one until another surfaced on ebay a few weeks ago ! ) to the ceiling inside the Red Barn cafe, in the centre of Woolacombe. It`s owned by Angus Ashford, of the Ashford family ( aka. Kelford Cafes ) who own the Barn.' (below)






Tony on his 7'6 team model Westcoast, the year it was made 1969. 'Practising on the LH reef at Easky, Ireland, a couple of days before their Open Champs, Sept `69 - a comp. won by Rod Sumpter. The Westcoast crew were 2nd, 3rd, & 4th, all riding these boards - me, Terry Hansen ( Aus ), & Roger Lyndon ( NZ ). '


This Surfboards Inc turned up on ebay, made around 1968 with nose concave and paisley patch - the strange arm of material probably hides holes in an imperfect Groves blank. Tony thinks the fin and red design are later. As the seller didn't give a make for the board it went for a song (your lucky day Henry).





This British Surfer no 2 cover features Tony (bottom) and Tigger Newling above. Tony wrote the Devon section in early British Surfers.





'The Westcoast logo is from a photo of Dru Harrison at Huntington Pier in California, which Fitz scammed off me . It`s a silhouette of a tight RH turn on a 4 ft wave. Westcoast is written horizontally with surfboards vertically down the LHS of the logo.
If it`s an eliptical board with round tail & pointed nose, your board was made between March & Sept `69, & shaped by Fitz or Clive Barber ( SA ). Clive`s shapes are worth more, he was a world class shaper with his own factory in Capetown.
They surf beautifully, the Westcoast Team used them with success, Barrie Charlesworth was 4th at Porthtowan, Steve Brown won the Welsh Open, I got 2 x 2nds & a 5th behind Sumpter or Nile ( Irish Open, N. Cornish, Welsh Open ).'



This was another Westcoast on ebay which went for top dollar, as most rare local boards tend to do. I really must restore mine !







'It`s a long story, but basically Westcoast split up early 70`s, due to probs in the surfing world.
The new boards got too short too quickly, the average guy couldn`t ride them - in fact often couldn`t paddle them out the back, or even catch a wave.
I stupidly did some magazine adverts to sell these 6 ft. things..... didn`t see it coming.
Also drugs got a hold, a lot of 20-yr olds lost the will to do anything. Contests largely faded out as some of the hardcore surfers went ` soul-surfing`, ie. lay around smoking a joint .



Tony promoting a 6'6 model , British Surfer 1970. He later regretted the move away from the longer shapes.


Fitz closed Westcoast, got married & emigrated to SA, Hansen went back to OZ, Lyndon tried to make a few boards but went back to NZ later. Steve Brown migrated to W Australia, Barry Charlesworth got a restaurant in Barnstaple & only surfed occassionally. I got married too, & as I was a Surveyor, went to Bristol to work for a big construction company, as N Devon pay was poor .'


Tony Cope and Bob Groves with the first Surfboards Inc. v bottomed stubby, late 60s.

GB champs, Widemouth bay '67. Rod Sumpter is middle surfer with his black Bilbo in foreground. photo by Tony.

Rare poster for film shot by Clinton Fitzgerald in South Africa in 1969, sent to Tony, who edited it, added a soundtrack and organised showings at local venues.


I'd like to say a big thank you to Tony for generously sharing his time, stories and photos.


3 comments:

  1. A good read about two labels I knew virtually nothing about. keep it up !

    ReplyDelete
  2. very interesting info and photos about a important time in surfboard development, so many thank Tony for spending the time documenting what was going on with Surboards Inc & Westcoast, and also Al for posting it on his blog.

    ReplyDelete
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