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

Friday, 8 November 2013

Friendly Bear longboard by Bob Head !

 Well its happened - after quite a few years of wondering if I'd ever see a Friendly Bear malibu - here one is ! It has been in the same ownership since the 60s along with a later Bilbo longboard , and they have both been stored in a garage rafters, out of reach and covered with dust. This is their first glimpse of daylight for years.
A Friendly Bear is an iconic board - especially for Newquay surfers - because it marks the very beginning of Malibu manufacture in the town. We are back in 1963 or '64 , and the shaper is of course Bob Head , and the 'factory' a disused chicken shack at Mawgan Porth. The only other longboard maker in the town is Bill Bailey , and slightly later Fred Bickers - all legendary names from the roots of Newquay surfing.
 The board features a wide hardwood stringer for strength , coarse weave fibreglass ,which also covers the large ply d fin , and a small, basic and hardly legible logo, possibly made from letraset type letters put on tissue paper and glassed over. The easiest part of the logo to read is 'Friendly Bear Surfboards' and I think it includes Bob's name and address there too. Bob may have got the blank from Bill, who had started blowing his own in a caravan in Redruth (!) with varying degrees of success.
 Bob arrived from Australia in April 1962 to work the beaches around Newquay with fellow Aussie lifeguards from Avalon SLSC - Ian Tiley, John Campbell and Warren Mitchell. Bob and John had brought their boards with them , and were happy to see that Cornwall offered a good variety of empty waves.
But the local surfing bug was growing, and in 1963 Bob (and independently Bill Bailey) decided to make some boards to meet the growing demand . Bill's label was called Bailey Malibu boards and Bob's was Friendly Bear. Bob like Bill hadn't made boards before but sensed a good opportunity to make some cash. He relied on his years of experience surfing in Oz and his own Australian board to help him shape.
At this time Bob, and Hawaiian/American Jack Lydgate were the best surfers in Newquay, idolised by a generation of teenagers and gremmies who took up the sport .Bob was a powerful paddler, and stylish surfer with strong carving turns .
Before long , Bob would get together with Bill Bailey , Freddie Blight and Doug Wilson to start our most famous label of the 60s -  Bilbo surfboards , which started production in early 1965 - and the rest is history !
Just think - when this board was made there may only have been 20 or 30 logo'd malibus made in Britain , mabye even less !

 Bill Bailey, Doug Wilson  and Bob Head ,September 1962, Mawgan Porth

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