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

Monday, 14 January 2013

Hayden spoon kneeboard

 I'm going to start off this year with one of my best finds from last year. It came about when a lady called Tiki emailed me with photos of this board. She had been clearing out her late father's garage in Sussex and had found this spoon at the back covered in a layer of dust. She wasnt sure where he'd got it, but guessed he'd bought it at a car boot sale or off one of his fishing buddies ,and was for him to play around on at the beach.
A quick type in of 'hayden kneeboard' to google and Tiki suddenly saw that this was an important board. Although she initially wanted me to sell it for her I finally was able to cut a deal with her for it, promising it would go to a loving household ! It still cost good money, but like - when is another of these going to come out of a garage in England ?!
After a few months of 'research' ,I am still stumped to the true history of this board, mainly because it isnt like any other Hayden spoon I've seen. Its a semi spoon, with foam all the way through to the tail , which Hayden made a few of - rarer, though possibly less desireable/ iconic than the  fully flexible Greenough spoons they made.
But what makes this board different, and earlier than those - are the diamond tail, v bottom and earlier greenough fin ( which has been cut or ground down at some point, either just after creation or in the 70s). This fin was based on the dorsal fin of a dolphin which George had designed in the mid 60s , whereas the usual fins on the Hayden made spoons are the very thin, tuna fin inspired Greenough designs of '68 onwards.
It has a deep displacement hull at the nose going into the v bottom which starts forward of the mid point, and has the two flat slabs which go right through past the fin to the tail. With the tail of this board not being flexible, the v bottom may have helped with the turning ability of the board, but would lose some of the straight line speed that the flat bottom spoons had. Apparently George Greenough tried a v bottom at one point but dropped it in favour of his flexi spoons. This Hayden copies the red pigment design of George's favourite Velo from 1965 .You don't see this design very often on the Hayden spoons, and it could be a link to how involved George was in the Hayden factory when it was made, which must be around 1967 ? Dimensions are 5'3 x 21'' , with the base of the fin 81/2 inches long.
Basically ,two big names come to mind when looking at this board. Obviously George Greenough iconic designer and the most progressive wave rider in the world in the 60s , and fellow revolutionary Bob Mctavish, the originator of the v-bottom ,and shaper of the shortboard revolution. And amazingly enough they were both working around the same factory in late 1966 - Hayden !
 So what is this board ? An experiment ? A design for less than perfect waves when pure spoons wouldn't work ? A custom for a heavier rider ? The answer must be out there somewhere. I have sent these photos to two of the major Aussie experts in spoons and Greenough and both of them have never seen a v bottom spoon before ,and say its something special, but cant pin any definite history on it. The guy I really need to ask is Terry McLardy, who made the spoons at Hayden (from around 1966 ) under designs and advice from Greenough himself.
''McLardy (who was taught to glass by Bob Cooper, sort of as an apprentice) made all the spoons, and says he figures there were about 200-300 produced. Hayden says 60-80. Since McLardy reckons he sometimes made a few a week, I'd go with his higher figure. McLardy worked for Hayden for nine years from late '65. Quite a few were sent straight to Hawaii, where Hayden had a deal to sell boards post-66.The design changed slightly, with the foam in the rails extending right to the tail in some, or ending quite a way up the board in others (I've no idea which shape came first). McLardy says he made them bigger or smaller depending on the size of the rider, just like a normal board. Most were about 5ft 6in, some 5ft 4in, some 5ft 8in. Also, some weren't totally scooped out. He has no recollection of ever making the twin-fin one which was auctioned in Hawaii, but is an easy-going chap who says he supposes he must have made it. What he does remember is making just one finless example, with a concave tail to compensate, and he says it actually worked. It was stolen from the beach one lunchtime. Now that would be the one to find.''
From Stuart Scott, author of 'Noosa - Surfing the 60s'
Stuart asked a friend about the board and came back with this -
''Well, my friend who in theory knows everything about Hayden spoons agrees that you've got something rare. He's never seen a V-bottom before. He agrees with my guess that it's presumably 1967, due to the V, or maybe 1968. And it's also long -- my spoon is 4ft 9 1/2, and I'm told the actual "Velo Mk 11" was 4'10'. He says: ``This has been coloured to resemble it. It would certainly be an early one ... Nice to see such an unusual board turn up after all these years.
It presumably was made by Terry McLardy . He once told me that he made the spoons different lengths depending on size/weight of the rider, just like shaping a regular board. And if he left all that extra foam in, maybe it was made for someone who really needed lots of flotation? Or maybe it was just an experiment? When you think of it, actual surfboards became shorter than that just a couple of years later.''
'And a spoon story which will break your heart: I remember the time when a very, very early one made by Greenough himself sat in Hayden's shop with a ``for sale'' sign on it for month after month, getting dustier. Would have been '65-66, and no-one wanted this silly-looking thing which was the same price as a new board then. It was an ugly drab green colour, like the boards Hayden made briefly. Its price kept being reduced, and after many months, one day it just wasn't there. Don't know if someone bought it or they threw it out. Hayden doesn't remember it at all.' Stuart Scott


George with one of his solid balsa kneeboards, which he used as a mould for laying the glass over to produce the flexible Velo .
George's favourite mid 60s Velo is top, with one of his recent graphite edged boards.
Laying it on the rail, Australia 1967
v - bottom test pilot McTavish, 1967
There is basically a load more information about the background behind this board , George Greenough and Bob McTavish that I think I'll do another blog post about it to keep this one from being massive. So that will come soon...
Thanks to Henry, Stuart and various Surfers Journals for helping me gather stuff for this post and the next.
If you know anything about this spoon please let me know, or if you own a British spoon send in some photos ! We already know a few were made by Tigger Newling, Tris, Tiki, and possibly Freedom and Bilbo.
The Hayden with Pete's and Henry's Farrelly spoons at last septembers surf meet. Henry's spoon - the purple one - was found in the UK.


  1. this is an amazing story!
    thank you so much for sharing it....

  2. just imagine if it had a brother or sister and what a weird thing it would be if he/she also turned up in Cornwall!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Aussie collector I know where you're going with that. Hopefully they can be reunited some time soon ! I still have photos of yours on file and might put a few on the next blog post ?

  4. I own a 69 surf systems flex spoon and would love to know its value . Thanks in advance for any help

  5. Aloha, I am born and raised in Hawaii, surfed Hayden's and would like to ad to your comments on the twin fin Hayden you mentioned. There were two twin fin Hayden's sent to Hawaii! I have the other original in very good condition that no one seems to know about, It has a green deck and yellow bottom with the original fins and smaller Hayden emblem placed horizontally between the two fins. Aloha, Peter from Kona

  6. if you google bob mctavish spoon reunion you will see a red spoon with a white pin stripe that is my board mint condition which he made in 1976 (i had been surfing hayden spoons for a few years and i saw him out at the point at lennox i paddled up to him and asked him if he made those spoons the rest is history he made six and i was there watching him shape and glass and sand out all that foam out of the deck very complex labour intensive job)in the old mr factory (now maddog) kind regards