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

Friday, 27 September 2013

Keith Paull and the Bing Foil

By Tony Cope and Chris Jones



TC : Keith Paull had been in the top flight of Aus surfing for a few years prior to their 1968 surf championships in Sydney. After a week of differing conditions, on the last day it went flat everywhere, then by some freak circumstance Long Reef Bombora suddenly produced a bumpy & dangerous 10` wave. After many wipeouts and a lot of swimming by everyone, KP finally beat Nat, Midget, Drouyn & Spencer, etc.  He then left Peter Clarke surfboards and went to CAL where he joined Bing and shaped a board they called ` The Foil` , which dominated surfing  around the world for the next 3 years.


( KP & his Foil at Cote des Basques, Sept 1968 )
Out went the v-bottomed stubbies, in came elliptical boards, pointed noses and round tails, with high rails at the nose and low ones at the tail. Bing got KP a motorhome and sent him on a long trip up and down the Californian coast to show the US where surfing was at ( longboards were still the norm ) while they launched a publicity campaign and made Foils as fast as possible. Then KP came to Europe.



CJ : I was paddling out at Great Western when I first saw him, carving the place up and sending spray everywhere ! Had no idea who he was until we talked, when he came across as a real good guy .

TC : I spent an hour or more talking to him at Porthtowan. He was quite small but a very powerful guy, with sun-bleached hair, & he was remarkably clean, neat and tidy; nothing like the usual image of a surfer at that time !



CJ : I got him a room in Newquay at my Mum`s place , until he left for France.

TC : He wasn`t lucky in our contests , probably due to the poor waves. At Porthtowan he lost to Rod ( who was still on his longboard ) in big slop;  and in Jersey the waves were tiny , so we only saw his incredible ability in free surfing .

KP in the Porthtowan slop 1968


CJ : Yeah, I was paddling out behind him in Newquay one time and as he paddled up the face of a wave he just stood up, twisted the board sideways and dropped in . I`d never seen that done before !





(Nat Young demonstrating the paddle out take-off in a small shore break.)

TC : He had the original Foil with him, with it`s green bottom, plain deck , and pinstripes running inside the cut-off line at the rails. That board was the subject of hundreds of photos by everyone ! We measured it up, then made similar ones at Westcoast.

CJ : I was a copier too and, as I was chief shaper at Bilbo, we soon had them on sale there .

TC : Bing Copeland told me last year that he called that 1st board of Keith`s the `Aussie Foil` . By 1970 they had a narrower version of it called the ` Maui Foil` , which Rolf Aurness (CAL) used to win the worlds in Oz that year.

( Richard Gregory`s Maui Foil )

CJ : I was there ! Great memories ………. we ( GB ) won the team paddleboard race, thanks mainly to Rod who was a phenomenal paddler.

TC : After a couple of months here in `68, KP left to meet Greg MacGillivray & Jim Freeman in Biarritz to film ` Waves of Change ` with Mark Martinson, Billy Hamilton and others. 

( L-R : KP and his Foil, Hamilton and his V-bottom, Martinson and his Harbour board )


( A time-warp in Guethary, Fr., Sept `68 : Hamilton looking a photo of Nat on his V - bottom taken 9 months earlier in Hawaii , while below his and Mark`s old boards sit beside KP`s green next-generation Foil . ) 

When they tried KP`s board they were amazed with it`s performance , prompting Mark to send the full spec. to his sponsor Harbour , who soon produced similar shapes, and shipped one to Europe for him .

 ( Mark`s letter to Rich Harbour and the finished foil-type board )

 Most CAL boards became Foil - types too : Weber, G&S, Morey-Pope and others all jumped on the bandwagon.

( G&S foil-type board )

( Wayne Lynch`s board )

CJ : The Aussies used boards under 6` long at the `70 worlds in Victoria, but Rolf Aurness beat them on his near -7` Foil so it was still the best board, after 3 years of evolution .

TC : Sadly, this story hasn`t got a happy ending as KP got heavily into drugs in the early 70`s and stopped surfing completely. By 1975 he had lost the plot totally, turning up at an Oz contest where his (now) bizarre behavior was noted and reported in the surf mags. By the 90`s he couldn`t even recognise his old surf friends, and later died ( 2004 ) in an Oz hostel . The Aurness family had problems too . By 1976 both Rolf`s mum and sister had fatally overdosed , and he stopped surfing and withdrew to the family home on the Hollister Ranch . A few years ago he was a part-time drug councillor, living in Santa Monica .

Both Keith and Rolf will always be associated with their brilliant and very short surfing careers, and the amazing years of the Bing Foil, an iconic board which had such a profound effect on world surfing.

Many thanks to Tony and Chris for putting this together, raking their memories and finding the relevant old adverts. Its great to get this stuff down so we can all read it.

3 comments:

  1. Al, one of the best blog posts so far, thanks to TC & CJ, absolute stars for sharing their clear as day memories, I for one really appreciate them sharing their memories of such an important period in the eveloution of board design and surfing..... amazing....

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  2. Thanks Bluey, I agree with you. Hopefully theres more to come from TC and CJ

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    1. KP`s spelling always interested me : was Keith really Kieth, should Paul have 2 x L`s , the way he did it ? We`ll never know - but 90% of the articles on him don`t use his own spelling !

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