Vintage Surf meet 2018 coming soon !

Vintage Surf meet 2018 coming soon !
Free to take part
We buy interesting old boards 60s/70s/early 80s in good condition. Email . Also wanted - Surfing UK , British Surfer and Surf Insight magazines .
Above photo - copyright Rennie Ellis photographer archive

Friday, 30 December 2011

60s Bilbo tunnel fin

Does anyone out there still have this board ? The photo is of Tony Cope with a Bilbo from around 1966 with a rare tunnel fin - of only a handfull made in the UK. The tunnel fin was one of those short lived design experiments which looked cool and turned a longboard into a space stick - but actually didn't surf very easily. As Tony remembers -
'Mine worked only in as far as it kept the board running forward by creating drag at the tail end.
It was too shallow, so popped out of the water on a sharp turn, sending you sliding out of control sideways.Rather ironic that a few years later I was riding a `sideslipper`with tiny fin deliberately to makethat happen. The difference then was that you then expected sideslipping & could therefore control it.
If you think about the tunnel fin, there is a lot more drag because you are forcing the water thro`a tube, whereas with a fin the water is only parted by a sharp edge. I never saw another board with one, but I remember from trips to pick up blanks from Bilbo that one sat in their shop window at Station Approach for a year or more, unsold & unloved, with people probablythinking ` what the hell is that ?`
It wasn`t a custom order, my board was bought second hand from Bilbo sander & team rider Porky Morcom - I was round at the factory one day & saw it, was fascinated like you are now, & ended up giving Porks a handful of notes for it.
Chris Jones told me a few weeks ago that appears in the old surf film` You should have been here yesterday `. I wondered afterwards what Bill Bailey said to PM when he found he had sold his ( free ) team board !
Perhaps that`s why PM left Bilbo shortly afterwards & went to TIKI, then had Acorn Surfboards with Adrian Husbands in Swansea, then left the surfing business altogether - he`s now back in Newquay & owns a garage !'

This photo is from Surf Research Australia. The tunnel fin was originally designed by Richard Deese in 1964, made of laminated fibreglass and was used by some Oz and US surfers until the next big thing came along. From Surfing World (Australia) June 1964

Surfing World Oct 1964. Thanks to Henry for sending in these articles.


  1. interesting:-))) thanks!!!!! and happy end of year :-))))

  2. happy new year to you too

  3. I remember when Bob Head at Bilbo made a few of these Tunnel fins. They weren't that successful but in those days everything new was worth a try!