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

Monday, 13 August 2012

Kejo singlefin by Kevin Cross & John Hall

Thanks to Pete Newman for sending in photos of this very rare Kejo made in north Devon around 1971. Pete knew virtually nothing about the board until he met Tony Cope at last month's surf meet, who was able to give him a full history of Kejo, having owned one in 1970 . Thanks to Tony and Kevin Cross we can now shed some light on Kejo .....
''Kevin Cross, John Hall, and 2 mates turned up in Woolacombe late in 1969. I think they were looking for work as beach guards, but those jobs were all taken up well before the summer started,
and anyway they probably weren`t aware that the season finishes in September. They were typical Aussies, could all surf pretty well, had a lot of banter going on all the time : one of them was known as `Slack`by the others, we said `why ?`, the answer was `have you seen his reaction when something needs doing ?`.
Kevin & John immediately found premises ( the Laundromat in South st ,Braunton) , and by 1970 were making KEvin and JOhn boards , ie., KEJO.The Westcoast surfboards reaction was ` turn that around, it`s a JOKE !`.But we got along pretty well, especially with Rog Lynden (NZ) and Terry Hansen (OZ) already in our crew .
It was obvious that they made well shaped boards, and the glassing and finish were superb too.
Westcoast moved on. Fitz, the owner and my buddy and former housemate, got married and he and
Phyllis his Aussie wife moved to Capetown SA to work with Clive Barber Surfboards. Clive used to come over from SA each summer & shape boards with us for a few weeks. Rog Lynden took over Westcoast, & stayed on until 1975, changing the name to Celtic Surfboards a few years later. He had discovered his roots ( Lynden`s an Irish name ) during our Sept `69 trip to the Irish Surf Championships.It dwelt on his mind for a few years; then he put CELTIC on the boards, but upside down, to show his `down under` roots.
Kevin and John split up pretty soon - there weren`t a lot of KEJO`s made. Kevin went on living in the UK (north Devon) , got married and had kids here. He had 3 more companies, where he was the sole owner : Creamed Honey, Silverwings and Kevin Cross surfboards.( He went home late '76) .John Hall was TIKI head shaper for a while, but like Kev., he`s back in Oz now. John became a well known windsurfer shaper in the 80`s, he was one of the first to shape them as surfboards, getting away from the `boat` shapes of earlier ones.'' Tony Cope.
So as Tony says here, Kejo consisted of Kevin and John ,two of the main influences in Devon surfboards in the 1970s, shaping hundreds of boards for Creamed Honey and Tiki , sought after today.
Tony got in touch with Kevin Cross to see what he remembered about this board and Kejo in general. As we can see he had some good memories of those days, but this board has him a bit stumped as it uses some different logos, apparently borrowed from Westcoast surfboards Woolacombe..
''I had to track down John Hall for his recollection of the history of the board as well. Also talked to Carl O’Lachlan as we made him a board around that time. Anyway, both John and my recollection of that board was it was made as a stock board for someone with ties to the Westcoast.
I remember we did go and check out the small sheds ( the stables in Woolacombe ) where the Westcoast boards were made.
All the logos on that board were supplied to us  including the KEJO Powerboard and fancy Aussie map !
It was a one off.
John and I had already decided to start using “Powerboards” in our logo, however I don’t think we ended up having the logos printed.   I don’t know who purchased this board after it was collected from us, so not sure if I’ve been much help there??
 Anyway, to answer some of your other questions: Plan shapes we were using, we brought with us from SA. I had been glassing for Clive Barber ( where Fitz of Westcoast also spent the winters of '68 and '69 working ) in Cape Town and developing my own ideas, as you do. These were influenced by everything that had been happening in Aust and SA. The Sideslipper boards we had with us when we arrived, really started to evolve while in SA. There was a young hot surfer I was introduced to at Elands Bay  on the east coast of SA. In a 2m wave he was doing big bottom turns, up to the top, and then would drop his fin out and slide across the face of the wave. He was using a smaller fin than was the norm at the time, so with trial and error, I ended up with very small fins to make it easier to sideslip. Bottom rocker shape at the time was dictated by the blanks that were available. I used to increase the nose rocker by placing weights on the top of the board ( a lot of people did  ) after the top had been glassed, and pushing the nose up with a wood stay to hold it in place until the glass had gone off!! A bit primitive!! ( this sort of nose rocker was only really possible on stringerless blanks, as the stringer wood wouldnt bend enough). 
Not sure where the drop rails come from. John shaped all the early boards at that time, and he may have picked the idea from something he found in a magazine or just something he decided to try.
Almost every board he shaped for himself was different, so I can’t answer that question really.
No links between Roger ( LYNDON ) and KEJO. I did know him well from my short stint as a lifeguard, and of course many good times at the Red Barn!!! (-;'' Kevin Cross.
S deck with extreme nose rocker and down rails. Elements of board building which are almost never used today.
Diamond tail with stringerless blank, and trippy distorted lettering, very popular at the time.In case you're wondering why stringers were dropped in the late 60s/ early 70s ....
''The last of the Malibu Boards (ie. about `67 ) had stringerless blanks to save weight, as it became obvious they then turned far quicker . Similarly, 2 layers of 12oz cloth and an extra layer on the deck, changed to 2 layers of 6 - 8 oz cloth. The weight of a 9`board then dropped to about 20lbs instead of 30lbs +, but pressure dents started to appear due to the weaker construction. This was ignored , as progress was more important. So when Bob McTavish made the first shortboard, an 8` vee-bottomed stubby in Oz in July 1967, it was logical for it to be stringerless too. We made the first GB version of this in N Devon in March 1968 after Fitz had spent the winter in SA, where visiting Aussies introduced them .Trevor Espey and mates arrived in Newquay from SA in summer `68 with 4 of these on their hire-car roof, so Bilbo & others were soon making them too.
Within a year, most boards were stringerless, but people who wanted a board to last still had them.
After a lot of snapped boards stringers later made a big come-back, but they were much thinner than before. A compromise between weight & strength...... plus it`s easier to shape a blank with a stringer, you can get the two sides similar a lot faster when you`ve got a marker down the centre .'' Tony

Paper jam fin. The idea was to jam the fin in with a bit of newspaper, which swelled up when wet and held the fin in. Didnt always work though so was a bit of a liability !

Isle of Wight surfers on a trip to Barricane beach, Woolacombe 1971. Pat Ventor is holding an orange very similar board to Pete's , with seahorse and the same Westcoast lettering, same nose rocker and hard rails. Seems like Westcoast and Kejo may have been swapping ideas as well as logos; this board may have been made by Roger Lynden at Westcoast.
Phew that was a long post, plenty of surf history there, thanks to Pete, Tony and Kevin.

1 comment:

  1. Down by the leash plug ( a later addition surely ) there`s a blue patch - a Groves Foam logo - showing the blank was made in Bournemouth !