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

Saturday 31 December 2011

As our boards get a year older...........

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! go hard and enjoy thyself

Nigel Semmens duckdiving lesson 1981

in case you ever need to duckdive in a swimming pool

Friday 30 December 2011

60s Bilbo tunnel fin

Does anyone out there still have this board ? The photo is of Tony Cope with a Bilbo from around 1966 with a rare tunnel fin - of only a handfull made in the UK. The tunnel fin was one of those short lived design experiments which looked cool and turned a longboard into a space stick - but actually didn't surf very easily. As Tony remembers -
'Mine worked only in as far as it kept the board running forward by creating drag at the tail end.
It was too shallow, so popped out of the water on a sharp turn, sending you sliding out of control sideways.Rather ironic that a few years later I was riding a `sideslipper`with tiny fin deliberately to makethat happen. The difference then was that you then expected sideslipping & could therefore control it.
If you think about the tunnel fin, there is a lot more drag because you are forcing the water thro`a tube, whereas with a fin the water is only parted by a sharp edge. I never saw another board with one, but I remember from trips to pick up blanks from Bilbo that one sat in their shop window at Station Approach for a year or more, unsold & unloved, with people probablythinking ` what the hell is that ?`
It wasn`t a custom order, my board was bought second hand from Bilbo sander & team rider Porky Morcom - I was round at the factory one day & saw it, was fascinated like you are now, & ended up giving Porks a handful of notes for it.
Chris Jones told me a few weeks ago that appears in the old surf film` You should have been here yesterday `. I wondered afterwards what Bill Bailey said to PM when he found he had sold his ( free ) team board !
Perhaps that`s why PM left Bilbo shortly afterwards & went to TIKI, then had Acorn Surfboards with Adrian Husbands in Swansea, then left the surfing business altogether - he`s now back in Newquay & owns a garage !'

This photo is from Surf Research Australia. The tunnel fin was originally designed by Richard Deese in 1964, made of laminated fibreglass and was used by some Oz and US surfers until the next big thing came along. From Surfing World (Australia) June 1964

Surfing World Oct 1964. Thanks to Henry for sending in these articles.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

1981 Gul Alder pro-am

Britain's first professional contest, the Gul Alder pro-am organised by John Conway and Pete Moony McAllum. A big deal for British surfing !
Britain's best could for the first time compete against pros like Shaun Tomson, Cheyne Horan, Rabbit Bartholomew and Derek Hynd on the home turf of Fistral beach. Classic footage from Taking Off by Three S films.
Narrated by Ted Deerhurst >

Tris fish and diamond tail

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and got involved with that classic swell on boxing day and yesterday.
We're back with more nice early 70s Tris boards. This was sent in by Paul who recently saw it lurking in a barn and bought it. Great condition and another of those rare twin keels. Short and wide its an original survivor with a template similar to todays 'retro' twin keel fishes. Dimensions are 5'10 x 20 x 2 3/8 and dates from 1973/4. The fins are red fibreglass, although look quite like plastic at first glance. Can't belive the condition of this board - it looks so fresh for a 40 year old, bet its light too and would surf pretty nice. Very original too with no leash attachment, just a drill hole in the fin.

This is another early Tris which I picked up a few months ago. This had also been in a barn for years near St Agnes, put up in the roof so the underside had loads of old dust and grime welded on. This is the earliest Tris I've seen with the classic Keith Flack logo - and the logos are very small on this board compared to the large size they got to a year later. I think it was made in 1972 when diamond tails were a popular shape to ride before the influx of swallow tails a year later. It has a nice dark red tint - quite hard to photograph - with a nice cloth overlay on the deck. The board is pretty flat rocker - wise with rounded dropped rails , not the hard rails of a year or two earlier. Like the fish its made from good quality Bennett foam from Oz. I like the home made grafted on leash fitting - not seen that before ! In all a classic board with lots of early 70s charm. 7'3 x 20 1/2 x 2 3/4.


Saturday 24 December 2011

Yeo's Bellyboard factory

YEO`S BELLYBOARD FACTORY. by Tony Cope, Nov. 2011.

After WW2 , 2-week seaside holidays became incredibly popular, with huge numbers of people arriving by train every summer weekend in Woolacombe.
Bert Yeo at his hut, Woolacombe late 40s/early 50s

and again in the 60s with a mixture of coach trips and bellyboards on offer. one bellyboard has '25/- best quality marine plywood' chalked on.

Bert Yeo had many business interests including owning the local garages, and he also had a coach business, which took the visitors out of the village on day trips all round the South West. When the drivers weren`t on the road Bert kept them busy making belly boards in a large garage building at his coach parking yard in Mortehoe. In winter this was their main employment, making up to 50 boards a day, so it was a huge local industry.
In the 1960`s Bert`s young nephew Malcolm Yeo started working there in his school holidays : ` One of my jobs was to order the 8`x 4` sheets of 3/8” marine ply. We took delivery of 500 sheets 2 or 3 times a year , when helping to unload them by hand then carrying and stacking them was tough for a schoolboy ! With 8 boards coming out of each sheet, about 10,000 a year were produced.

Yeo board cutting plan, eight boards to a sheet.

The original parallel-sided boards later gave way to tapered models ( see cutting plan ), which still made 8 boards per sheet.
After cutting them out with a saw, the board`s noses were wedged into the tops of drums of boiling water for an hour : `Getting the nose kick was pretty crude, really. Bert had some long pole ladders where we would jam the hot and wet nose down under one rung, and pull down and tie the rest of the board against the ladder with rope. Just one long ladder could take a dozen or so boards tied down in a row. A day or two later they were bent for good, and dry, and could be untied and finished off.`
They didn`t use a jig or mould to get the nose kick, as these would stop air getting to the wood and drying it out. However the `ladder` method produced many different radius curves, and in different places along the boards - it all depended how much nose was jammed under the rung, and where and how tight the ropes were tied. Due to this variety people now assume many companies were making boards. No, there were only a few.
The Yeo name appears nowhere on the boards - only various logos, often including the names of companies who bought them.
Malcolm : `We made one unusual model - it was hollow. The two plywood skins were spaced apart by steamed and bent wood battens, with shaped softwood nose and tail blocks .`

Surfrider 'Unicorn' hollow bellyboard made by Yeo's (painted over) . This was a big bellyboard at 4ft5 x 1ft 1/4 ins x 5/8 in thick . The centre hollow layer is 1/4 in thick.

Rubbing of the original logo under the later paint layers.
(Took me back to my primary school days -Al)

Before painting or varnishing, rasps and sandpaper were used to round off the corners, then Tim Smith, an art teacher at the Comprehensive School, did the logos using the old silk-screen method. Pictures of surfers, fish, seahorses, all sorts of animals…. or if a client wanted to hire the boards out, just the stencilled name of a hotel or business, like the huge Parkin Estates who managed the Woolacombe beaches .

Yeo Parkins estates board.

Graham Yeo : ` Uncle Bert sold masses of boards to Vince`s, the wholesalers in Ilfracombe, who sold them on to clients all over the country. For direct sales in the southwest, transport was no problem with Bert`s coaches going all over the place. Any sandy beach was a potential site for selling or renting out boards, because they could be wedged upright in the sand and used as cricket stumps or wind-breaks when the sea was flat. `
Malcolm : `Uncle Bert had a booking office for the coaches in Woolacombe, where he also sold some boards direct. I remember a couple of the names he used on these - Skimmer, and Unicorn. If you wanted to hire one it was 10 bob deposit, plus a shilling a day ( 50p, and 5p). If one didn`t get returned, the deposit pretty well covered the full manufacturing cost !`
By the 1980`s most visitors had their own car, so the railway had long gone and the coaches weren`t needed. Bert sold the old coach premises and a block of flats was built there ( opposite Mortehoe post office ) . Malcolm moved down the hill to Woolacombe, onto the site which is now Gulf Stream Surfboards, where he made 7 thousand wind-breaks over the next few years and had a shop selling beach goods, including bellyboards of course.
The Yeo factory probably made 300,000 plywood boards during it`s lifetime - probably the biggest and longest running bellyboard enterprise ever.
The factory`s eventual demise in the mid 80`s was brought on by the arrival of cheap imported polystyrene belly boards and plastic foam boogie boards, which started as a trickle around 1970 but quickly turned into a torrent .
Many thanks to the Yeo family - Malcolm, Avice, Jean and Graham – for all this information, and especially to Elizabeth for the great photos of her Dad, and not forgetting surfboard collectors Al, Alex and Henry for the board photos.

And thanks to Tony for piecing all this together with the help of the Yeo family. Without his effort some of this history could have disappeared into the sands of time - like quite a lot of surfing history already has.

Friday 23 December 2011

Tris surfboards

Really nice looking singlefin sent in by Henry. Old Tris boards continue to be very popular/sought after. This one looks very surfable, not too narrow and from around the mid 70s. Nice attention to detail in the pinlining and full tints typical of the quality of finish of Tris boards. This one spent its early years surfing north Wales.

1972 Surf Insight. Graphic design quality a bit lacking but this is probably one of the first Tris adverts.

Got my 1973/4 Tris fish back after restoration with Jase at Leven surfboards. Its a hell of a lot better looking, lighter and more surfable then when I dropped it off. A bit of a christmas pressie to myself, and another mistreated board brought back to its former glory. Can't wait to get it in the water , should motor along, its 6'4 x 21 so quite big for a fish and plenty volume, thick at the nose and tapering down to a slim and dainty tail (thickness wise). If I was to do anything different in the resto it'd be to use better quality wood in the fins - the one we used had moisture in even after being dried for a good time. Bog standard quality B&Q plywood = my schoolboy error.

Tris with an early twin fin design 1971

Monday 19 December 2011

Sydney surfers & skaters home movie 1970s

Sydney late 60s night scene, Rennie Ellis photographic archive. Photo c. Wesley Stacey .
Check out those Evolution era shapes

Taken from super 8 70s footage, a cool little movie about Long reef beach boys enjoying summer

Sunday 18 December 2011

Jolly Good minigun by Tigger

John has sent in photos of his extensive collection which included this Jolly Good minigun made by Tigger Newling and inscribed to his brother in foreign script. I thought the board was interesting enough to bring tigger in on it and see what he remembered about the board - which is usually a good idea as he's always keen to see his old shapes. The board is 7 ft x 18 3/4 and most likely to be a travel board judging by the inscription - 'pour mon frere pour les cylindricos da kine juice minigun' which is a right old mixture of Tigger speak. I think this is only the second Jolly Good we've had on the blog, they're pretty scarce as were only made for a year, between Tigger's return from Hawaii in 1975 where he worked at Lightning Bolt , and his emigration to Australia in 1977 where he's remained since.

Heres what Tigger said on seeing the photos-

'That is a really nice looking board. In good condition by the look of it with the exception of a bit of damage around the fin. I vaguely remember making it but not whether it was for Mike Newling, but could just possibly be for an unrelated 'brother'. Actually that would be one of the last boards I made in the UK. I wrapped up the board business about the end of 1976 I think and headed for Australia in January 1977. Mike actually left earlier - late 1976 - but obviously did not take this board with him.
The rather dumb french/spanish/hawaiian inscription means:
For my brother a minigun for tubes/ juicy waves.
Technical Advice: Owl means I am acknowledging some Design inspiration from an Owl Chapman/Dick Brewer Hawaiian minigun I liked.

I was interested to see the Jolly Good and Tig decals on the same board. I thought I must have started re-using the Tig decal during the jolly good period (which are much later boards) and this board proves it by having both on the same board. I may have scratched out the shaper and glasser details on the jolly good sticker because it was not glassed at Tris Surfboards but finished completely by me, not just shaped. The Jolly Good concept was that I shaped and John Manetta and the guys at Tris Surfboards laminated and finished. That arrangement may have finished by September 1976, or this was a one-off special for my brother, keeping costs down, by finishing it myself. Great that it has survived, represents the best work I did. '

So although Tigger is stoked to see the board again, its not definite that it was made for his younger brother Mike, who also ripped and became a top club surfer on moving to Oz.

Then Jon came back with some new info on where he'd got the board - it came from an old mate of Tigger's, Mark Rees who apparently was given it by Mike Newling and he surfed it alot in France and Spain. Mark had kept it until two years ago, and the board has spent its life within a few miles of where it was made, St Merryn in Cornwall.
On hearing the name Mark Rees it helped Tigger place the board a bit more accurately-
'I certainly remember Mark Rees very well, the Rees family were neighbours at Treyarnon Bay and close surfing buddies and friends of Mike and I.
It certainly sounds like I made the board for Mike for a trip to France and Spain. We used to go down to compete in the European Championships at Hossegor, and surfed Mundaca etc. That's a perfect board for Mundaca!'

And even better than that, by luck Tigger pulled the photo below out of his old photos box. It shows a beautiful array of Jolly Goods and in the middle is the Mike Newling minigun !

'The shot is of the Reese family cottage at Treyarnon Farm and shows all their boards laid out in the front garden. It certainly confirms that Mark Rees owned the board at this time.
All the boards were made by me and many have those beautiful Nancy Dinmore spray designs. - the three Reese Brothers were some of my best customers!
The shot is a bit of a time capsule: Love the Ford Anglia, dead steamer and battered logger on the rubbish bin. Really captures Cornwall 1976. '

Thanks to Jon and Tigger for helping put all this together

Owl Chapman minigun, mid 70s courtesy of

Tigger 1976 Watergate bay open

Mike Newling mid 70s. Photos Alex Williams

Saturday 17 December 2011

Cymande was made up of nine African and Caribbean musicians who migrated over to London through the 60s and got together to form the band in around 1970. Their three main albums were all really good so if you like this check them out. Classic stuff

Friday 16 December 2011

Board for sale

NOW SOLD For sale - mid 70s stunner by Jeff Townsley for Circle One with rare original space planets spray. Ready to surf or a beautiful wall hanger. As you can see its in really good condition, has had a few small dings repaired but is a clean survivor. 7'4 x 19 1/2 x 3 . Original wooden fin, redwood stringer and fluted flyers. £300 or nearest offer buys it , email .