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

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Blade surfboards of Guernsey

Blade surfboards is one of those labels I've heard a bit about, but have never seen one in the flesh and the history of them was a bit hazy from my point of view.They look pretty radical for the time and were Guernsey's most notable surf label. Luckily Phil, the son of Bob Warry who started Blade has been in touch and has sent these classic photos from the late 60s/early 70s to give a real insight into Blade and the Guernsey surf scene back then.

Phil has written about Blade on his blog and its such a good insight that I don't feel it does it justice for me to pick just a few facts from it.

Bob Warry during shooting for a Blade ad campaign , for British Surfer ,1970

Phil writes -
''Guernsey surfing in the 60/70's and the birth of Blade Surfboards

Surfing was started in Europe by Joel de Rosnay in Biarritz, France, in 1957.
Eight years later the Guernsey Surf Club was formed, making it one of the earliest surf organisations in Britain, Jersey started their club in 1959.
The club was formed primarily to protect the needs of surfers in Guernsey, to provide them with designated areas in which they could surf and other beach users and to develop the sport competitively and socially.
In the 60's the pioneers of surfing, Dave Fletcher, Roger Blanchford, Tom Woodford, George Head, Barry Hughes and Paul Burtwhistle among several others all used 10ft long boards.
But by the mid 60's boards were rapidly reducing in length to 7ft and then down as small as 6ft and under as everyone started making their own boards. In the 1960's surfers had started building their own boards, using polyurethane foam and fibre glass cloth and resign. The Islands first efforts at making boards was by Max Gaudion and George Warren Ex members of the Centre Steps Mob. They built a few boards under the label Gaudion, Warren Electra Surfboards. Pastel pink and lilac coloured Groves Foam blanks proved unreliable after long exposure to the sun and it's ultra violet light soon made them go brown.
Everyone has their own idea's about surfboards and from time to time ideas, like fashions, change and a surfer would acquire a new board. Barry Hughes was the same but could not afford a new board, so with the use of my dad's (Bob Warry) cellar at my child hood home "Douhallow" in the Villa au Roi, they stripped the glass off a Rodney Sumpter Competition Model longboard and rebuilt it. With dad's help the board turned out a really neat little board and that's how "Blade Surfboards" started some 40 years ago.

Their first customer was Pete Hart. Dad and Barry built him a spear, which was the fad at the time and soon had other guys by for them to build whatever they fancied. Initially using Groves foam and Simplex fin system, they progressed to more reliable foam and waveset fin systems. Blade Surfboards went from strength to strength and even sent boards to "Joe Morais Surf Shop" in Biarritz. In today's commercial world their major success would have been Willy Wilson's winning of the European Junior Championships in Jersey on a Blade Surfboard. Working evenings in dad's cellar to the sounds of "Led Zeppelin" and "Deep Purple" brought many surfers calling by just to check out what they were doing. Juniors would sweep up shavings and tidy up the workshop to help pay for their boards and the order of the day was shoulder length hair and coats that came down to their ankles. Levitation, meditation and the writings of Lodsang Rampa were their meat of conversation. Whilst shaping, glassing, sanding and polishing for three to four years most evenings a week helped the two surfers towards a deposit on a house. It was work but also fun.

Barry Hughes and Bob Warry ,founders of Blade, 1970

Dad's boards that were made and in regular use were generally ahead of those in use in the UK and on one trip to Bournemouth his short board was laughed at. By the following year they were all using similar boards. Guernsey was put on the surfing map by Peter Dixon of Malibu Beach California, in a book entitled "Where the Surfers are" which covered in main the top surf spots in the world. On the three pages devoted to the Channel Islands he reported that ''the surfers of Guernsey are the best organised in the world'' ''

Thanks very much to Phil. If anyone has a Blade tucked away in their attic or shed send some photos in.

In the cellar

Bob Warry, Guernsey surf champion 1966, '68 and '71.

Strauch stretch at La Barre, a move named after Hawaiian Paul Stauch. If he was standing it'd be a cheater 5.

I have had it from my reliable source ie Tony that surfing in Europe was actually started by Californian Peter Viertel, who was a screen-play writer who came to Biarritz with Errol Flynn & co. in 1957 to film ` The Sun Also Rises` ( a Hemmingway book ). When Peter saw great waves at Biarritz he ordered a board to be shipped over , & was seen by Joel riding at Cote des Basques. Joel was from an aristocratic & wealthy family ( Arnaud de Rosnay was a Baron ) & got the surfing bug immediately, later forming the Surf Club de France. The club also had a very upper class feel to it - monied , priveleged - but Joel was very welcoming & would go straight up to foreign sufers .The de Rosnays made the family fortune in sugar plantations in Mauritius ( Fr. colony ). Arnaud was a wealthy playboy, he won the 1st French surf championships, then became a famous windsurfer, and also a famous French fashion photographer. In between all this he married John Severson`s ( ` Surfer` mag ) daughter Jenna ....... and died 4 yrs later ( in the 1980`s ) lost at sea trying a marathon windsurf trip in hideous storms.

Bob at Vazon bay, Guernsey
Brad Dawes from Guernsey with his Blade. Photo probably taken late 70s.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

the whole caboodle

To celebrate passing 100,000 hits - which is pretty amazing for a small blog about old surfboards - I'm going to endeavour to get my whole collection on the blog in a kind of timeline sequence starting in the 60s. I've been meaning to get the whole lot in one photo but never get round to it. So here's the first half from the mid 60s - mid 70s. Thanks to all the 50 or more contributors over the last three years for making the blog a whole lot better.

1966- 69. Bilbo, Bilbo, Stuart, Westcoast, Tiki, Tiki.

1969-71. Conway, Atlantic, Tig, Drouyn, Chateau '41, Weber.

1971- 74, Hayden, Phil Jay, Freedom, Graham Nile, Tris, Creamed Honey.

mid 70s ,Haven, Silverwings, Circle One, Haven, Kevin Cross, Bruce Palmer.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Silva Yates longboard

This Silva Yates longboard is a real meeting of nations - its owned by a Dutchman who found it recently in France, and it was made by an Australian in the mid 60s in Jersey !
Hans found the two boards a few weeks ago on a trip to Biarritz. The 10 ft longboard has a Silva Yates logo and is signed Wheels Williams on the stringer ; the other cut down longboard has no visible logos /signatures unfortunately, but is probably from the UK too.
Silva Yates boards are rare - he was a fibreglass boat builder in Jersey who saw an opportunity to start a business making boards for the island's growing surfing population. He only made around 100 longboards, and quite a lot of paipos (4'11 twin fins etc ), and had one or two guest shapers to help him, most notably Wheels Williams. Silva's first board was a hollow ply but a couple of years later he became aware of foam blanks and strted producing conventional boards in around '65 until '68 when Freedom started production. In some ways Silva Yates peaked too early , and finished making boards just as the boom was starting. I think his boats are still made today; he says for him making boards was a hobby type diversion.
Hans' board is probably from 1966 - Wheels hung round Europe from '65 till '67. It has a few extra stripes added on the rails and possibly by the stringer to give it that US competition look. The cut down board was probably modified in '68 when the top surfers were riding 8 ft v-bottoms.
Tony Cope remembers meeting Wheels in France -

''Wheels Williams was a renowned travelling Aussie surfer, not a champion, but too good for all the Europeans except Sumpter.
He was in Biarritz in Sept. 1966 when we were there. We kept meeting seeing him, as all the French were in the Surf Club de France & travelled around together as a group, surfing the same waves, eating at the same cafe, getting drunk together etc., and any visiting surfers were immediately enrolled into that group - it was an extraordinary experience.''

Thanks to Hans for the photos. If anyone wants to buy the board Hans is Taking offers. One problem though - its in Holland.

Joel de Rosnay, Wheels Williams and Rod Sumpter , France september 1965. The board is a Silva Yates probably shaped by Wheels.

Friday, 23 September 2011

1965 Bob Davies longboard for sale

Mark in Newquay is looking for offers on this vintage longboard. It was made around 1965 by Bob Davies of Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand , and is numbered 726. Its a rare and fun looking rider ;looks like a replacement fin - the original would have been a big old skeg.
To make an offer give Mark a call on 07400 222628. Every quiver should have one.

A housefull

Devon collector Roger Robinson invited me to come round to his house and check his boards out. As you can see by the photos I was well impressed with a collection which spanned the cream of UK boards from the 60s and the 80s , with a few from the 70s.The boards were either very polished or waxed up and still salty wet - its a working collection which is often changing, and often surfed- as it should be. I've never seen so many Bickers or Bilbo longboards before so that was quite an experience - they had a real presence about them - a sort of 'we are the survivors of the 60s, we are surfing history' -the sort of gathering which couldn't be equalled for love nor money.
Here's a glimpse into the collection, I'll show some in more detail over the next few weeks.

Bilbo 5'4

Bickers straight edge fin with nice tailblock

early Bilbo with tailblock

Very early Bilbo with D fin

A pair of Bickers. The far one is a lovely five stringer gun. Quality mid 60s boards.

This Bickers fin has spots surfed written on, from '65 to '68

Bickers cigar

Bilbo by Chris Jones - I like the artwork.

Three Bilbo longboards - all by Chris Jones

1973 Freedom fish

Carwyn Williams personal 2 1/2 fin, early 80s

Vitamin Sea by Chris Jones with mad channels.

Fulmar quad by Graeme Bunt

'La La' jet fin quad