The Neil Purchase "Virgin" ...

One morning in 1974, I was shooting pictures from the water at what's now known as the "Super Bank" in Coolangatta...

I had just run out of film, and was jonesing to get back to my flat across the street and swap my water housing for my stubby. As I was swimming towards shore, some guy on a well overhead wave dropped out of the sky on a wide, beat-up, stringerless hull of some kind. He hit the flat water at the base of the wave, and, with just the balls of his feet, threw the board over on it's side. The entire rail, nose to tail, was buried, and he accelerated off the bottom and went rocketing past me.

It looked like he was riding a first-gen V-Bottom. WTF???  This was a full 5 years after the last Deep V was seen in the water anywhere in the civilized world. And back then, 5 years was like 50 years. There was NO nostalgia happening in 1974, as far as I could tell.

A local guy I knew paddled past me, and I blurted out, "Who the hell was that???!!!"

"Neil Purchase, mate!"

I made it home, grabbed my hull, and ran back to the top of the point. I was as anxious to talk to this Neil guy as I was getting any waves. Long story short, he was gone by the time I got out in the water, and I never saw him again on that trip.

Fast forward 41 years...

I was going through the Neil Purchase Junior web page, here, and found some info on the first board Neil Senior shaped...a classic Deep V with a few cool tweaks. (Like a stepped deck and a scooped out area on the tail.) It sure looked like the board I saw him ride back in '74! Could it be?

From that web page...

"Neal Purchase senior's first board "the Virgin", 8'4 , shaped at Keyo's in '66 whilst he was still the fin maker and shit kicker. See above for Neal senior riding it. Ted Spencer and Kevin Platt also rode it, came back raving, and he was immediately promoted to the shapers job with Bob Mctavish."

Image of Ted Spencer riding that board, with a comment by David Bell, on Pinterest...

"Ted Spencer on NP Senior's 8'4 x 24 x 3 1/4 Virgin with asymmetric vee and concave deck in the tail, the first board he shaped at Keyo's factory in '67.....a part of the short board revolution, and a major improvement on his surfing, NP Senior will not ride a log to this day..."

You Like Pulled-In Nose On Your Hull, Bro?

A full ten years before the thruster emerged, McTavish broke hull tradition with a narrow-nosed Morey Pope model called the "Big Mac."
(Yes, this is a real print ad for the Big Mac that ran in Surfer Magazine. Bob assumed the role of Captain McTavish for the photo shoot.)
"Big Mac," obviously, was derived from Bob's last name juxtaposed with the newly-minted McDonalds hamburger. And to drive the point home, there was a big image of a hamburger laminated on the decks of this Morey-Pope model. It wasn't a big seller!
Ben Lexan designed a no-nose hull for Shane Horan in the 80's. While not a true hull -- it was only rolled a bit under the nose -- the concept was similar.
So what happened to these seemingly futuristic, "best of both worlds" hulls?

The key word is "redundancy." Belly under the nose allows a full outline to lay into the face of a wave without sticking. A pulled-in nose does essentially the same thing. But together, it was overkill. There was nothing for the rider to drive off of...whether it be a parallel outline/full nose, or some edge on the front of a narrow-nose board. In the end, there was no benefit to applying both design concepts to one board.

Florian's New Pig ...

I drew up a cut file for a 9'7'' Pig shape for Florian Morlat, based on the classic 50's era Velzy shape. Spencer Kellogg shaped it. Here's Florian's initial go-out report...

"Hi Paul,

I picked up my board today. It came out insane! Board definitely has some weight, but I think that's a good thing.

Tried to surf Mandos, but got totally skunked. South wind, and the beach is completely gone. Even at medium to low tide, the water goes all the way to the rocks. I have never seen it like that. I decided not to try and climb, with my new board, the 30' of wet and slippery seawall down and ding it up completely. So I headed up north. Time was running out. I had to be back in LA by a certain time, so out of pure desperation I went out in 2' south wind Rincon.

I rode it with a 9" Wilderness fin about 6" up. The board paddles like a rocket, fastest board I ever paddled. The board felt pretty good with that fin. Then I stuck a big D fin all the way back and rode a couple of waves. Like you predicted, the board went really fast, but when I tried to cut back (standing a little too far forward) the board just kept going straight, me doing a face plant...that's how stiff and tracky the D fin was.

More experimentation in better waves required! I'm looking for a small, stocky fin. That might be just the ticket.

Stoked, and thanks so much for making this happen!


You Like A Little V Behind The Fin, Bro?

The transition era generated some pretty radical boards...but who's to say what would or wouldn't work until they tried it? The V on this board isn't so different than the V on a Hot Curl.  Malibu.

12 Classic Displacement Hulls: #2, The Hot Curl

The Hot Curl was the first board of the modern era (post-1900) to have a component of "performance" designed into it. From day-one, in 1937, Hot Curls were intended to ride bigger and hollower waves than the standard Plank board (shown here drifting around in small waves at the 6:15 mark.)
And, like the Plank, Hot Curls don't have a fin, so the displacement of the bottom has to generate 100% of the directional stability. It is a pure hull design that taps into the power under the surface of the water. The flat rocker makes it go, and the round bottom holds it in.
Wally Froseith. Early Hot Curl action, good sized Waikiki. This is what they were made for...riding in the hot curl. Look at how clean the track is!

The history of the Hot Curl has been told many times...and, in general, the details from each story teller are in sync.

Left to right: Wally Froseith, John Kelly, Buzzy Trent, and George Downing.

Perhaps the most detailed retelling is from Wally Froseith on the Legendary Surfers site.  It's well worth a read.

The fact that the original Hot Curl was cut down from a Plank is a great foreshadowing of the shortboard revolution 30 years later...when many homemade shortboards were made of stripped down longboards.

This entry on Wally Froseith from the Encyclopedia Of Surfing is also very good.

Froseith, Kelly and Downing in recent years...with two of the original Hot Curls and Downing's semi-gun featuring the first fin box.

As you might expect, Surfline's little nod to the Hot Curl is off by 20 years and 3000 miles...much like their swell predictions! Better luck next time, boys...

Here's some beautiful "back-in-the-day" Hot Curl riding. Top pic is Blackie Makaena. Next four are of Buff. Then Jim Richards and Blackout.

Full-on rail control at all times...pure displacement hull surfing at it's finest.

Hot Curls made their way with George Downing to Malibu in 1947, and slid across the point for another 10 years...

Pete Peterson waxing up...
Gidget and Tubesteak, on the beach at Malibu with a bunch of Velzy Pigs and a Hot Curl leaning against the fence. Late 50's.

Some modern Hot Curl replicas, made out of solid wood. Top two pics are of a Richard Harvey built board. Bottom four are of  Dale Velzy's Hot Curl replicas.


Roger Hall is one of the handful of shapers around the world who are having a go at a modern day foam interpretation. Even though what he builds isn't what an old school purist would call a true Hot Curl, his understanding of the drag/displacement principle is spot-on...and his boards definitely work.

And here's Josh Martin's more traditional approach to a foam Hot Curl. What a bitchin' displacement hull!!!

Shaper Donald Brink on one of his foam Hot perfectly balanced trim.
When Worlds Collide: A foamie Hot Curl...with a leash plug!!! Is nothing sacred?

You Like Flat Tail Rocker On Your Hull, Bro?


Back in the day, shortboard hulls had DEAD STRAIGHT tail rocker. Transition era designers figured that since boards were so small -- which they were by longboard standards -- there was no need to generate any drag in the back half of the board for maneuverability. The result was super efficient planing hulls...but they were sticky as hell to turn! It only took a few years before a little bit of tail rocker crept into the standard shortboard.