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

Monday, 21 October 2013

Chris Evans - Wasp surfboards and Space Gypsy


Hi Alasdair,
 Will the real Rumpelstiltskin please stand up! 

Thanks for putting up the site - its great to see the old boards and logo's.
 The green Space Gypsy surfboard by Rumpelstiltskin was made by me - Chris Evans.

 It was one of the first boards I shaped whilst serving a wild apprenticeship with Danny Garland, in the summer of 1976. I was making the board for myself, so tried to make it pretty with the hand drawn decals and flames. The fin was a foam fiberglass sandwich to save weight. However I was worried about how it would go with such thin rails, so Danny kindly let me put it in with a consignment of stock boards, and I shaped myself a 'Stinger' instead. 



The art was ripped off from a Roger Dean album cover - traced off with ink onto some acid free tissue paper. I learned a lot from Danny that year and we had a crazy summer. We travelled to france together in 1977 and stayed with Gerard Dabbadie. I had met Gerard when competing in the European Surfing Championships at Hosseger, France as a junior in 1975. 
Gerard was a great surfer and he and his family were very kind to me. He had been making his Superfrog boards for a while and was happy to have Danny shape a few at his factory. I am pretty sure the Superfrog shaped by Danny on your site is one of the boards we made then. I think I finished it working with Gerard after Danny had gone back to England.
 Superfrog - shaped by Danny , finished by Chris .
I stayed on at Gerards folks place for a while and his Dad gave me a great great deal on the rent. In return for accommodation in my own little villa (with a Solex plus board racks to ride), I had to make six surfboards for his Dad to use as hire boards. I was stoked to have the practice with shaping without the pressure of a custom order, and had a great time pootling around on the Solex surfing the beachbreaks.

 The following summer I began making 'Wasp' surfboards in North Wales, where I had grown up surfing the local breaks. Tim DʼMel (the only other kid surfing in Rhosneiger back then) designed and drew up the logo for me.

He was studying graphics at the time, and nowadays lives in Sydney and produces TV commercials for high profile clients. I designed a shape called the 'Atlantic Seed', a double wing round pin, with concave 'V' in the tail, shaped slightly longer and wider than average for the time, to compensate for the sloppy waves that we usually surfed in.



Tim D'Mel with Space Gypsy stinger, left, and Chris Evans with Wasp 'Atlantic Seed' right
(This Space Gypsy stinger came up on ebay a couple of years ago. The seller was in Anglesey so it must be Tim D'Mel's old board.)


My shaping room was an old pig sty and glassing was done in a spare bedroom in my flat! When the family living upstairs started getting respiratory problems they got the local council onto me and that was the end of that.

 Sequence of Chris on the 'Atlantic Seed 'at Broadbeach, Rhosneiger  - Anglesey 1977


In 1978 I moved the business down to Cornwall and set up my workshop in an old stone farm building near Padstow.


These were my 'halcyon days', living in an old wooden gypsy caravan just behind the dunes at Constantine beach. Surfing the reef, getting around on an old honda 90 'noddy bike' and living my dream of shaping boards


  Shaping
Wasp Coca Cola 
 There were no long blanks available for Dibbsey's mal, so an extra bit of foam was glued on to the tail ,joined where the fin sits


 One of my own boards by the old gypsy caravan.


 Wasp twin keel kneeboard
Neil Llewelyn with Wasp quiver
 A Wasp for Mike Conlan (champion surfer and entrepreneur)

The years I spent surfing and partying with the local crew around St. Merryn were the best of times. Winters were spent traveling south through Europe, Morocco and the Canary Islands. Eventually Thatcher's England got too damn cold, so I headed off to Australia in 1981.


These photos are of the last board I made in St. Merryn in 1980. This was the board I brought to Oz in 1981. It started life as a single fin rounded pintail, but a few leash pulls inspired me to cut it down to a rounded square tail and a thruster fin set up. As you can see its had a hard life.
Me waxing up on arrival to the Gold Coast 1981





This is the round pin board I was riding in the last summer I spent in Cornwall. The wasp painting was done by Dave 'Sprout' with ink and acrylics directly onto the board before the gloss coat. 'Sprout' is still a productive artist living around St.Merryn.




I sold this board to James Ewart just before I left Cornwall. I had been stoked with the way the board went - it was lightweight for its day and had a shorter, wider fin than the one pictured. Although I used the same templates, the board I made to bring to Oz was built heavier and thicker, and was never as good as the board I sold to James.


26 years later I travelled back to England for the first time. James had been in touch by email and told me he still had my old 'Wasp'. It had been in storage for years and was now on display at the Trevone Head Backpackers Hostel. Unfortunately James was out of the country at the time, but said I could go and pick the board up. In one amazing day I travelled down to Cornwall, retrieved my board, and was helped out by Adrian at 'Fluid Juice' with a new fin. Adrian still had my old sanding racks outside his factory! That afternoon I looked up my old mate Ritchie Mannifield and went for a surf at 'Booby's' on the old 'Wasp'. It was like going back in time, not much had changed around Constantine in all those years, as it is a Heritage area. Later that day, we visited 'Sprout' who had painted the wasp. He was living above our old pub 'The Farmers Arms', and he was busy painting a landscape. The day ended perfectly in an old Cornish pub where we were joined by another old local, Dave Bruce, for Cuban cigars and lashings of real ale. On my way back to Australia I surfed the 'Wasp' in Sri Lanka and occasionally still take it out for a spin here.
The old Wasp in Sri Lanka


Australia has been good to me - had a career here for a while as a graphic artist, working mostly in the surf wear industry peaking with Billabong in the mid 90's These days I live on the border of QLD and NSW mostly surfing the northern NSW coast with occasional surfaris overseas. Still interested in shaping, but lean more towards sculpture and playing cronky old blues on a slide guitar. Cheers - evo



A highlight of my surfing career, going for a surf with Mark Richards at Cloudbreak, mid 90s



Recent foam sculpture for the TV series ʻIʼm a celebrity get me outta here, which is filmed near to where I live.


Thanks so much to Chris for taking the time and effort to share his stories and photos, and especially unmasking the mysterious Rumpelstiltskin !
Now we all know about Wasp surfboards it would be good to find one ; mabye a nice rounded pin or moontail kneeboard . Chris is youre ever back in the UK you're welcome to have your first surf on the Rumpelstiltskin - if you want to !

8 comments:

  1. What a sensational story.......never saw that coming!!

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  2. Waiting for chapter 2 - the Sol Y Mar years :)

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  3. My very first "proper surfboard" was a 7' Wasp single fin bought from Piran Surf in the late 70's. It had a half yellow, half green neon deck, and at the end of my trip I sold it back to them for exactly what I paid for it. I still miss that board, and hark back to those times when sharing the stoke of surfing was more important than scratching for every penny you can get. I think I may still have a photo of the board somewhere. Thank you John Heath, you are a legend.

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  6. If anybody ever comes across a 7 foot Wasp with a big Superman logo on it I would like ti back please! I sold it to a surf shop in Wadebridge in about 1981.

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  7. Just put one on ebay. Take a look

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