History of Surfing on the Eastcoast
We are trying to establish history of surfing on the Peninsula and need any pictures, surfboards and stories about surfing in the 60’s and 7o’s. With our new extension at Point Leo we’ll be able to display 50 boards and hope to get the history of every manufacturer from that time.
Jon Wilson is a joint owner of Balin Surfing Accessories and is one of the early board manufactures who we spent a lot of time surfing with in the early 70’s. Peter Hill who now lives in Rye returned from an early surf trip to New Zealand with 2 wild ideas.
The 1st was making wetsuits, we told him about a couple of guys who had just started making wetsuits in a flat in Torquay, so we let it slide, and yes it was Rip Curl!
The 2nd was tying a piece of nylon cord to your fin and then around your foot, there was much discussion about dislocated knees, hips and even total tearing off legs or ankles. Jon decided to give it a go and after his first wipe out; Phil quickly poked a hole in his fin with a can opener and got the nylon cord off the roof rack. Within a week all our crew had made the connection and every time we surfed more and more people were getting the idea. When we turned up to the Conservation Contest at Bells just about every surfer from the East Coast was using one. It was 6’and when Claw saw what we were using he start jumping up and down chanting Kook Connectors while the rest of the West Coasters laughed at us, that was until they saw how good they worked and then they banned them. The ban lasted at least 5years; it was amazing using one all the time except for contests. Ted Bainbridge used a special knot which nobody else could master, most of the knots slipped cutting off the circulation and in winter with near frozen fingers a knife was the only way to escape. So out of necessarily came the hanky, panty hose and dog collar models.
Ian Brett and Pete Smith made the first commercial leggies under the Balin brand using nylon cord enclosed inside a rubber hose with an adjustable Velcro strap. Jon later joined them in the business; his board decals feature him doing a backhand reentry at Pumping Station.
Phil Newman and Terry Reid have just tracked down a 1974 Valentine twin with its original dog collar and nylon cord leggie the board is on now display at Leo.
The beach photo is Shoreham back in 1925 with the pier that was used by ships coming in to pick up wool.