Vintage Surf meet 2019 coming soon !

Vintage Surf meet 2019 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

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Welsh rarebits

 Here's a couple of early 70s Welsh nuggets, both made by well known figures in the Welsh surf scene , but at the same time rare boards that don't crop up often. Although they were made in the same years the designs couldn't be more different , the long and graceful versus the short and stumpy. This was the state of the surf industry at the time, and the long and graceful won through as a design and was surfed right through the 70s in the UK until short and stumpy returned in the shape of the MR twin fin in the late 70s and thruster in the 80s.
 The singlefin is by Dave Friar, made for his surf shop in the Mumbles south of Swansea. Dave came to Wales from Newquay via Bilbo, and set up on his own when Bilbo folded. He has become a Welsh legend since then, supplying boards and kit to the fast growing South Wales surf scene since the late 60s.
This singlefin has a diamond tail, which was pretty popular in the early 70s before the swallow tail kicked in. Its a quality board, light and fast, well suited to Gower reefs. And if the reefs weren't exciting enough its got a suicide leash, one of those elastic bungee jobs which brings the board back at light speed.

 The twin fin is a Chateau '41 made in Canton, Cardiff by Alan Williams in 1971/2 . Any UK first generation twin fin is really rare and these especially, and its only the third '41 I've seen, all twin fins.
It was Tony's board from new. He was at Aberystrwyth uni and a friend from Cardiff came back with one. Tony tried it at Aber and then had this one made. Overall around 6 ft x 22 ins at middle and 14 1/2 inches wide at the slab tail. Tony decided on a cheeky artwork of Mutley with a Chateau 41 twin fin of his own. He surfed if for four years and since then its hardly seen the water, so he decided to sell it on after owning it for 41 years.
This board is much more refined than my other earlier Chateau 41 made for Tim Jones, which is very thick at the tail. This one is wafer thin in comparison, with down rails and mellow s deck, nice and light and actually feels pretty surfable. The fins are quite small but seem adequate enough since the rails are hard. I guess Alan Williams was copying foreign import twin fins like the early 70s Bings and Webers which were available over here in small numbers - and expensive. It should go fast in a straight line, turning may be less easy. Alan became well known for his Williams longboards in the 80s and 90s. Why he chose the name Chateau '41 I have no idea. Mabye his board factory was very grand, or maybe it was a dump and he had a bit of Welsh sarcasm ?!

Tony has sent some more history on the Chateau '41 -
'' The boards most notable achievement probably with not much help from me was to enter the first ever British Universities Surf Championship in March 1972. It was held at Whitesands Bay Pembrokeshire . The heats were on Saturday but it was so blown out at Whitesands so we moved north to a little beach called Newquay which was a little sheltered. I was fortunate enough to get through and on Sunday the semi and final were held at Whitesands but still very windy. I plodded around in the soup a bit and made it through to the final. The good surfers tried to get outside to catch some half decent waves but the incoming was relentless and most hardly got any rides.

The waves were reforming further in and I managed to get some rides. The only guy to really get outside was a Welsh surfer I believe called Peter Jones. He walked round a rocky point to get past the surf and turned his board upside down and launched in. He came first, I came second and a young promising surfer called Roger Mansfield came third I believe. I think he was then British champion.

I was given a 2 inch high cup which sadly I no longer have.

( Quite by chance I saw this report of Tony's performance in Surf Insight no 1 from 1972 . So the winner was Tigger, not PJ , and Roger was 4th . I have sent this photo on to Tony )

Another memory for me was going to Lahinch in Ireland a year after the Europen championships I believe in 1973/4. See  for a cine film of the 1972 Euro Surf in Ireland .
We also surfed down on the Dingle peninsula where I saw what appeared to be a very early windsurf board. I looked at it and thought that will never catch on.Still you can't be right all the time.
I moved to north Wales from south London in 1974 and apart fom a few outings on trips back to Aberystwyth I didn't surf a lot more but got quite seriously involved in club and county squash which took a lot of time.The board moved with me several times with the hope that I might use it but sadly did not.
I learnt to surf at Aberystwyth where there are some surprisingly good waves and lived at Borth virtually on the beach for 2 and a half years.I could wake up in the morning check the swell from my bedroom window and work out where best to go. Then I would check out which lectures to skip.
There was quite an active surf club there although coming from London i had no idea what it was.
Suffice it to say when a pretty girl asked me if I was going to the surf club social during freshers weekend I duly went along. She ended up with a blonde surfer guy ( third year) and I ended up going surfing to Borth the next day on a 12 foot resue board that I could not carry but it got me hooked. I kept surfing throughout the term and made a wetsuit from a company called Aquaequipment. they sent you a sheet of neoprene and a pattern and tin of glue.

Let me know how the board works. I wasn't great but enjoyed it .''

 The Chateau '41 fins are actually purple fibreglass, so need sanded and reset to get them back to former glory.

For some previously unseen film footage of Welsh surfing ( Welsh nationals  ?) in the 70s check out -  

Its shot by Ron 'Milk 'Williams in and out of the water and is at a surf comp in Llangennith in the late 70s . You may know more faces than me but Pete Jones is one obvious one.

 British surfers on a trip to Ireland in 1971 with a full quiver of that years' twin fins. Eric Peters, Tom Watson-Bell, John Parkin and Gary Russell. photo Pete Bounds.
Chateau '41 rider Tim Jones


  1. Seem to remember Chateaux 41's were sold through the Seaweed Surf Shop on the
    Cowbridge Road, Canton , Cardiff?

    Thought I'd add my two pence worth re the '72 Universities Contest. At that time
    there were still only a handful of us surfing in Pembrokeshire so news of this
    contest coming here and the chance to watch Tigger Newling was massive. I
    persuaded my mum, who must have been bored stupid, to drive me (in our Austin
    Westminster, I was too young to drive) both days to watch.

    In fact on the Saturday the contest was moved from Whitesands to Newport,
    between Fishguard and Cardigan (not Newquay as Tony remembers). This faces the
    same way as Whitesands but gets less swell and it was held in grey, on-shore
    waves. I believe that the Paul Anderson (known as 'PA') that came 3rd is the
    father of Tom Anderson, the excellent author of "Riding the Magic Carpet" etc...

    The Universities was held again in Whitesands in '73 and then moved to
    Freshwater West in '74. I entered in '74 even though I was still in school
    (riding a 6' Tiki single fin, swallow tail), and the organisers happily took my
    entry fee. When I reached the semis I was told that I had to be surfing for a
    University or College (could this be that students didn't want to be beaten by a
    school kid?), so as I was in the process of applying for college (I didn't go
    until '79) for some reason I was quickly re-entered as representing Southampton

    If memory serves me right I came second in the final to (I think) Paul Heinz
    (?), ironically if I had 'represented' a Welsh college I would have won the
    highest placed Welsh surfer trophy too! Are the results in a magazine somewhere?

    I eventually did win the Universities in both '80 and '82 (surfing for Bristol
    Poly, the same as Tigger!), riding a Roger Cooper twin fin, (I still blame my
    then girl friend, who is now my wife, for insisting on a pub lunch in
    Perranporth for my dipping out in my semi in '81, a couple of pints and a
    ploughman's is never a good combination before a surf - Kelly take note!).
    Thanks to Tim Harvatt for his memories