Russell Hughes Excellor ...


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This is a 9'6'' x 22" Shane Russell Hughes Excellor, shaped by none other than Dick Van Straalen, C. 1966.

While clearly a "longboard," it features a George Greenough style fin and a seriously rolled bottom...not unlike Nat Young's "Magic Sam."

 

Russell Hughes was one of the first Australian surfers to embrace the refinements inspired by Greenough...and yet, he continued riding longer boards when "everyone else" had dropped down well below 9 feet.

Hughes was still on a longboard in The Hot Generation.


Greenough's epic tube riding center spread in Surfer Magazine -- which kick started the new era in terms of the media -- featured Hughes on a longer board at Noosa.



By winter of 1968, Russell acquiesced to the times, and began riding shorter boards...
 

 He went on to a very respectable 3rd place in the December, 1968 Puerto Rico World Contest -- ahead of Nat Young, Mike Doyle and Reno Abellira -- on a shortboard. Young later said he should have won the event. (Note the double stringer on the shortboards above and below...like his Excellor model.)

 
 

More on the life and times of Russell Hughes here...

Edwards Followup ...

 
Hi Paul,

Just saw your recent post concerning Phil Edwards shapes.  Dig it!!

Attached photos are of a 1968 8'10" Phil Edwards Surfboards Honolulu (serial number in the mid 300s if I recall) that I picked up from a guy in Oregon a couple of years ago. It's a stunner and your description nails it: lots of belly, bladey rails, low rocker and an 11+" fin placed way up from the tail.

If you are ever in San Diego and want to take a look at it, let me know. I'd be stoked to meet up so you can take a closer look.  Keep up the great work, sir.

Larry Cecil

Phil Edwards Transition Shapes ...

We usually don't associate Phil Edwards with the shortboard movement. (And by "we," I mean every surfer on the face of the earth!)

But, Phil built a lot of smaller boards in his early days, so he had a backlog of experience to draw from. His favorite board of all time, the solid balsa "Baby," was only 9 feet long...


He was shaping in Honolulu when the transition era was in full swing, and generated some interesting boards...

 
This is a 9'5'' x 22'' board, shaped by Phil in 1968. It was a longboard in length only. It's basically a long shortboard. The most telling evidence is the fin placement...nothing like his older long board setup.

Here's something smaller he shaped. Don't know any dimensions, or dates. Again, the fin placement is well up...





This is a big wave gun he shaped around 1971.  Everything we can see about it in this photo -- hull, rocker and fin -- are dead-solid perfect! Sorry, no outline photo.



And finally, here's a 9 foot long Phil minigun from 1968...very clean!

 



Stringerless Sunday #3 ...

When stringerless boards ruled the earth...

Fresh Words From Nat Young ...

 Wisdom: Nat Young

69, 1966 World Champion, NSW, Australia
Competition can take some of the fun out of surfing. The early ’60s were all about having fun. There was no sort of competition involved and surfing was a really social thing. We were competing with ourselves because we wanted to get better, but no one was saying “I’m better than you” or “I’m going to win this contest.”

True genius is rare in surfing. George Greenough is a genius. George was the first guy I saw ride a wave how I wanted to ride a wave. I’d never seen anyone able…to place themselves inside the curl. Prior to that, it was all about passing by the curl and just waving at it.

People who can give genuinely and unconditionally are really special. That’s what Greenough was to me. One day, he took the fin off my Magic Sam and put a new one on it with more energy and bounce, sanded it and got it ready for me. The board was spot-on and that’s the board I won the ’66 World Championships on.

People say “Everyone wants to see a winner,” but in retrospect, I don’t think that’s right. I actually believed that for a long time, but I don’t think surfing ever qualified as a very good competitive sport.

Surfing is completely subjective. Competition is best suited for sports where you have some line that’s being crossed with a ball, or a net the ball is getting put into—anything with a defined winning or losing situation. That’s competition.

In order to go forward, you’ve got to look at your past. I’ve never met anyone from the WSL, but I find it terrible [that] they don’t listen to what surfing’s elders are saying before they start trying to develop a style of competition that doesn’t represent surfing as it truly is. I object to that. Surfing has a really strong, proud heritage. They’ve put surfers into boxes, telling them which maneuvers they have to do to win, and we’re ending up with surfers who are doing everything by the book with little style and no understanding of the heritage of our sport.

The best surfer is the one who is good on many different boards. World Tour surfers should have to surf all kinds of boards: longboards, shortboards, retro boards. Something like that would be fantastic.

Good style is doing something with form, not trying to just do a maneuver for maneuver’s sake. It’s a surfer’s individual way of just being. Ryan Burch is a classic stylist who hasn’t been affected by competition. Joel Tudor and my son Bryce are exactly the same way. They’re all unbelievable surfers that are into riding different styles of boards in different types of conditions.

It pays to experiment with different boards. The great thing about surfing is, we are riding nature and nature changes. Sometimes you can’t fit a longboard in a certain curve and it looks ridiculous trying to make it fit. Other times a longboard works better than a shortboard.

Good longboarding is more than just noseriding across the flats. I don’t think noseriding should be done unless it’s back in the curl. It should be done as a slowing-down maneuver, not a speeding-up maneuver. If you want to slow things down, go to the nose.

It’s a shame that longboarding has been made into this B-grade sideshow. Devon Howard and all those other beautiful, incredible longboarders should be given a better platform and more respect.

Kids have the right to imitate their heroes. Some people shit on other people for that, but I think that’s the way nature intended it to be. You have heroes and you try to copy them until you become good enough to get off those train tracks behind them and do something for yourself.

Give respect to gain respect. Whether it’s towards a wave, a woman, or someone of a different race, you have to be respectful. This is even more important now, as there are more people surfing and more people on the planet.

When it comes to the environment, we should all tread lightly. It’s frightening that money can rule over what’s being done to the environment. It’s important that we all have jobs, but where is that going to lead us if we trash the planet? Everything in nature is connected, so we need to be careful.

Make it a beautiful life. You’ve only got one f–king chance. You’ve only got one go.

Two Early California V Bottoms ...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Here are two V bottoms built in California sometime after the Windansea Surf Club got back from their trip to Australia in 1967...a trip which was famously documented in the film The Fantastic Plastic Machine.

The top board is a G&S shaped by Skip Frye. It reveals a high level of understanding and sophistication. Not overly radical, all the design elements fit together, hand-in-glove...a signature of Frye's work going back to the mid-60's. Obviously, the board's been refurbished with a contemporary fin box.

Below is the deep V by Jacobs. Mike Purpus probably verbalized what he had seen in Australia, and a production shaper manifested it in foam. 

While some of it rings true, it's not nearly as refined as the Frye. This isn't a knock on Purpus...he wasn't a shaper.  The board is a product of a creative process that was as embryonic as the board. (Interjecting a concave nose with a deep V is, to say the least, a flight of fancy!)

That said, the clear layup and minimalist logo are a nice touch...