BEZ’S BOARD GAME.
Born in Lancashire in 1927, the late Bez Newton was already a seasoned world traveller when his lifetime obsession with surfing began in Queensland in 1949. Over the years, in addition to his surf-inspired enterprises in running clubs, shooting films, publishing magazines and novels, Bez created a board game called Wipeout.
When I met him in the early 1970’s, Bez had refined Wipeout into a complex game based on a surf contest, with the aim of getting through heats to a final, surfing against the clock. Using custom made cards, players assumed the roles and abilities of contemporary legends such as Wayne Lynch and Billy Hamilton. From paddling out (using pre-duckdive “Eskimo rolls” !) players surfed round the board scoring points for manoeuvres and losing them from hazards such as broken leashes, loose “skegs”, or hitting bathers!
The prototype Wipeout I bought off Bez is a 2ft square hand-made labour of love. Assembled with help from anyone hanging out between waves near his Watergate caravan, it came with tiny surfers, cards and complete instructions. Bez also offered a French version!
Wipeout never achieved its aim of being taken up by a manufacturer as surfing’s answer to Snakes and Ladders, so I wonder what Bez thought when another surfing game hit the market? In the mid-eighties, Surf Champ also featured a mini-surfboard – but this one clipped onto a ZX Spectrum keyboard, and Wayne Lynch didn’t get a mention.
I’m told early computer games are now collectable, and my son’s Surf Champ is probably still in the loft – but as surf memorabilia goes, how rare is my Wipeout?
Thanks to Neil for sharing this slice of history. It looks like Bez put a lot of time into this game, must have been during a long flat spell