Over the years as surfboard makers we have taken on some bizarre projects. One in the mid 70’s was a Fletcher Jones sign for one of their stores in Adelaide. It came about through a request from a junior team rider Peter Prouten whose dad had a senior position with FJ’s. The letters had to be at least 4ft tall by 6 inches thick then glassed so they were bird proof. The block foam was very difficult to hand shape as it was both flexible and hard to position on a shaping stand ,but in the end we and FJ’s were both very happy with the result. Today this task would be way simpler on Fordy’s CAD machine.
Ted Bainbridge of course, was the instigator of many unusual requests. There was the fitting of a marine speedometer, many wacky fin concepts and a 6ft 6in Mini Mal that was probably the forerunner of the stubby, but some twenty years earlier. Probably his greatest contribution was the creation of the very first fibreglass sailboard made in Victoria.
Alan Adams a good friend of Teds had commissioned a craft from Tasmania and within weeks the adventure man Ted had us on the job. I followed his instructions but questioned whether it had to be so boat like, a big square tail, really full boxy rails and a daggerboard kind of set up in the centre. Of course there were plastic sailboards about but to be at the forefront of a new sport is something that Phil, Ted and I are extremely proud of, mind you initially surfboard manufacturers like us were heavily frowned upon by the general surfing community and other board makers. We pushed on regardless with a virtual monopoly seeing the production of 8 sailboards a week over the summer months, luckily we had other shapers and Jon Jolly glassing so that our shortboard market didn’t miss a beat. The sport of wavejumping flourished with the likes of Rip Curl sponsoring events at Pt Danger Torquay which drew high profile overseas competitors like Robby Naish, Peter Cabrina, local star Midget Farrelly and stacks of others. By the late 70’s even Michael Peterson was into making wavejumpers when based at Merrimbula.
Our history in this new sport was obviously why we were chosen to take on the most radical board we have ever put together. A company comprising two partners called H2O walked through the door at Chelsea with a set of plans and a 1 metre scaled down model (it was actually exactly half sized). It had been water tank tested and they were wanting to produce a full scale model at 10 ft 6in to set a new world speed sailing record. It was like nothing we had ever seen before, the model looking more like a Stealth bomber, its wings imaging a stingray when gliding back to the ocean floor.The bottom shape was a myriad of concaves at different angles and it took a few days to even come up with a series of measurements to go by. To add to the mystery Stuart was with me when we had to sign a confidentiality agreement and even when looking back he swears I told and showed off this new shape to every single visitor that entered the store. Phil of course was no better when the shape arrived at Leo for glassing, but in fairness I had forgotten to tell him of the agreement I had signed. The ‘Blabber Bros’ were in full swing. H20 developed a new fixed wing sail to go with the sailboard and Matt Trigger having signed another confidentiality agreement tested this futuristic rig on his sailboard on three occasions off Frankston each time having to swim back in. This design with a little further development went on to break the world speed sailing record when applied to the Catamaran hulls a few years later. If the board was still alive it would certainly be one hell of a museum piece.