Newquay vintage surf meet coming soon ....

Newquay vintage surf meet coming soon ....
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

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Blade surfboards of Guernsey

Blade surfboards is one of those labels I've heard a bit about, but have never seen one in the flesh and the history of them was a bit hazy from my point of view.They look pretty radical for the time and were Guernsey's most notable surf label. Luckily Phil, the son of Bob Warry who started Blade has been in touch and has sent these classic photos from the late 60s/early 70s to give a real insight into Blade and the Guernsey surf scene back then.




Phil has written about Blade on his blog http://www.funautical.blogspot.com/ and its such a good insight that I don't feel it does it justice for me to pick just a few facts from it.




Bob Warry during shooting for a Blade ad campaign , for British Surfer ,1970


Phil writes -
''Guernsey surfing in the 60/70's and the birth of Blade Surfboards


Surfing was started in Europe by Joel de Rosnay in Biarritz, France, in 1957.
Eight years later the Guernsey Surf Club was formed, making it one of the earliest surf organisations in Britain, Jersey started their club in 1959.
The club was formed primarily to protect the needs of surfers in Guernsey, to provide them with designated areas in which they could surf and other beach users and to develop the sport competitively and socially.
In the 60's the pioneers of surfing, Dave Fletcher, Roger Blanchford, Tom Woodford, George Head, Barry Hughes and Paul Burtwhistle among several others all used 10ft long boards.
But by the mid 60's boards were rapidly reducing in length to 7ft and then down as small as 6ft and under as everyone started making their own boards. In the 1960's surfers had started building their own boards, using polyurethane foam and fibre glass cloth and resign. The Islands first efforts at making boards was by Max Gaudion and George Warren Ex members of the Centre Steps Mob. They built a few boards under the label Gaudion, Warren Electra Surfboards. Pastel pink and lilac coloured Groves Foam blanks proved unreliable after long exposure to the sun and it's ultra violet light soon made them go brown.
Everyone has their own idea's about surfboards and from time to time ideas, like fashions, change and a surfer would acquire a new board. Barry Hughes was the same but could not afford a new board, so with the use of my dad's (Bob Warry) cellar at my child hood home "Douhallow" in the Villa au Roi, they stripped the glass off a Rodney Sumpter Competition Model longboard and rebuilt it. With dad's help the board turned out a really neat little board and that's how "Blade Surfboards" started some 40 years ago.













Their first customer was Pete Hart. Dad and Barry built him a spear, which was the fad at the time and soon had other guys by for them to build whatever they fancied. Initially using Groves foam and Simplex fin system, they progressed to more reliable foam and waveset fin systems. Blade Surfboards went from strength to strength and even sent boards to "Joe Morais Surf Shop" in Biarritz. In today's commercial world their major success would have been Willy Wilson's winning of the European Junior Championships in Jersey on a Blade Surfboard. Working evenings in dad's cellar to the sounds of "Led Zeppelin" and "Deep Purple" brought many surfers calling by just to check out what they were doing. Juniors would sweep up shavings and tidy up the workshop to help pay for their boards and the order of the day was shoulder length hair and coats that came down to their ankles. Levitation, meditation and the writings of Lodsang Rampa were their meat of conversation. Whilst shaping, glassing, sanding and polishing for three to four years most evenings a week helped the two surfers towards a deposit on a house. It was work but also fun.





Barry Hughes and Bob Warry ,founders of Blade, 1970





Dad's boards that were made and in regular use were generally ahead of those in use in the UK and on one trip to Bournemouth his short board was laughed at. By the following year they were all using similar boards. Guernsey was put on the surfing map by Peter Dixon of Malibu Beach California, in a book entitled "Where the Surfers are" which covered in main the top surf spots in the world. On the three pages devoted to the Channel Islands he reported that ''the surfers of Guernsey are the best organised in the world'' ''


Thanks very much to Phil. If anyone has a Blade tucked away in their attic or shed send some photos in.





In the cellar
















Bob Warry, Guernsey surf champion 1966, '68 and '71.









Strauch stretch at La Barre, a move named after Hawaiian Paul Stauch. If he was standing it'd be a cheater 5.

I have had it from my reliable source ie Tony that surfing in Europe was actually started by Californian Peter Viertel, who was a screen-play writer who came to Biarritz with Errol Flynn & co. in 1957 to film ` The Sun Also Rises` ( a Hemmingway book ). When Peter saw great waves at Biarritz he ordered a board to be shipped over , & was seen by Joel riding at Cote des Basques. Joel was from an aristocratic & wealthy family ( Arnaud de Rosnay was a Baron ) & got the surfing bug immediately, later forming the Surf Club de France. The club also had a very upper class feel to it - monied , priveleged - but Joel was very welcoming & would go straight up to foreign sufers .The de Rosnays made the family fortune in sugar plantations in Mauritius ( Fr. colony ). Arnaud was a wealthy playboy, he won the 1st French surf championships, then became a famous windsurfer, and also a famous French fashion photographer. In between all this he married John Severson`s ( ` Surfer` mag ) daughter Jenna ....... and died 4 yrs later ( in the 1980`s ) lost at sea trying a marathon windsurf trip in hideous storms.


Bob at Vazon bay, Guernsey
Brad Dawes from Guernsey with his Blade. Photo probably taken late 70s.

2 comments:

  1. Classic to see some shots of Bob from back in the day!

    I can't get over that shot of him winning the GSY championships! Surfing was so much bigger on the Island back then than what it is now in terms of competitive surfing today.

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  2. LOVE this article. Barry was my uncle and just after he died my amazing fiancee acquired me Blade as way of remembering him.
    Unfortunately its in pretty bad condition, but i'm looking to restore it. Its no longer surfable as the glassing is just too brittle, but it is restorable. If anyone has any ideas on the best way to go about this please give me a shout on annekajurkiewicz@hotmail.com.

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