Mark Martinson, France, Summer 1968 ...

When MacGillivray/Freeman films headed to France that summer to shoot Waves Of Change -- with Bill Hamilton, Keith Paull and Mark Martinson -- the two, top tier California surfers were in the first phase of the new shortboard revolution. Which is a polite way of saying they were still riding outdated, wide-backed V Bottoms. (Above, Hamilton looking at a shot of Nat Young at Honolua Bay on a deep V, taken the previous December.)

While Keith Paull was riding a wide tailed board, it was a roundtail. (The green board on the Combi Van.) 


Hamilton and Martinson hadn't seen any roundtails up until that point, and it was a revelation. 

You can see from this frame grab of Mark walking along the beach, his Harbour V was really radical. Too radical to be a good travel board, that's for sure.

Spin outs on big, full faced waves like La Barre were the norm. 

In the smaller, tighter curls of Biarritz, it was more at home. (Top sequence.)

The Mac/Free crew ran into the Spencer/Young/Lynch contingent while in France, and the Americans were exposed to narrower roundtails that were even more advanced than Keith Paull's double-ender.

Predictably, a cross-pollination took place, and the pulled-in roundtail quickly displaced the wide square tails around the world.

Which is amazing, because in December of 1967, in the Islands, Young and McTavish essentially introduced the groundbreaking deep V to the outside world...

But by the time the World Contest in Puerto Rico came in December of 1968, the wide-backed Vs were gone.

The early V design went from leading edge to obsolete in just a year. That says a lot about the shortcomings of the design, as well as the volatility of the era.

Nat And Marisa ...

This was a print ad for a wetsuit company in Australia. The models are Nat Young and Marisa Berenson.

From our limited, hull-nerd perspective here at Displacementia, what jumps out is the board. That's some serious V!

Without seeing the end of the tail, we can't tell how far up the fin is. Bummer.

From Spence ...

Hi Paul,

Check out this SUP pic.  After seeing so many 30” wide, single concave or totally flat bottom boards, it’s nice to see someone thinking about how to get a 30” wide board over on a rail.

A little late to the party perhaps, but still interesting.


Transition Era Super Stubby ...


This is a WM label (Sydney) double ender V... that's only 7 feet long and nearly 26 inches wide !!!

For comparison, here's the 7 footer next to an 8' x 24' Gordon Woods, which was standard for the era...

The numbers:
7 feet long
25 7/8" wide
Nose 21"
Tail 20 1/2"
Over 3 1/2" thick

Greenough-ish fin:
13 1/2" deep
6 1/2" base
11 1/2" up

No one can accuse the Australians of being timid!

Transition Era Acid Pintail ...

After the thrill of the wide-backed V's faded early in 1968, pulled-in tails, sans V, came into favor. The deep hull under the nose remained, especially on boards with the wide point of the outline well above center.

The Hawaiians were the first to adopt this workable configuration, with the Australians and Americans following suit in short order.

Remember, at the time the only tail configurations were squaretails or pintails. Roundtails hadn't come into being just yet....maybe 6 months later.

This particular board is a Hohensee, which was a Queensland label.

The red pintail pocket rocket was shaped by Nick Masarm (center in the above pic.)

The numbers:
8'4"  long
21 1/4"  wide
Nose  16"
Tail   9 1/4"

Greenough inspired fin:
9 1/4" deep
Base 7 1/2"
14 1/2" up

Frye's nose-to-tail width stagger for most eggs was 1".  (The nose being 1" wider than the tail.)

Greenough maxed out at 1 3/4" on his edgeboards.

The most radical differential in Liddle's oeuvre was around 4" (as I recall.)

Drew Harrison's early hulls were also 4''.

This board's nose/tail width fade is 6 3/4" !!! 

Tanya Binning ...

Tanya Binning is an Australian surfer worthy of note in the lexicon of hull surfing history.

If you're a hull surfer over, say, 60, her name may sound vaguely familiar.

Still can't place it?

Tanya was the photographer who snapped this classic image of Greenough. It was a center spread in Surfing Magazine in 1969, and cemented George's image as an extreme sportsman. At the time, this was a really radical place to be on a wave!

Ms. Binning had a career as a model and actress in Australia, appearing in 4 films in the mid-60's.

( More on singer Normie Rowe... )

Jimmy Lucas ...

During the transition era, Jimmy Lucas stayed under the media radar, but a few images of him surfaced...not to mention raves from surfers who saw his laser beam runs across Hanalei Bay.

Here's some grainy footage of Lucas on a narrow hull at Haleiwa. It's from Fred Windisch's The Natural Art. A few nice bursts of tracking speed.

This balsa Channin/Diffenderfer island hull may be the most beautiful surfboard ever made!

More G&S Transition Era Ads ...


Larry Gordon was one of the two most sophisticated marketing minds in surfing history. (The other being Tom Morey.) Larry had respect for the demographic he was speaking to, and that attitude was reflected in the ads he generated. Projecting a "hipster image" was a distant second to conveying what G&S boards were like, and why.

This collection of ads from the late 60's is nearly 50 years old, and they still resonate.

(I love the way the size charts top out at 185 lbs !!!)

Epic Hull Ad From 1969 ...

(Great outlines!)
This 'two page spread' ad ran in Surfer Magazine in 1969. The brain trust at G&S sawed one of their first-gen shortboards into segments, then photographed the individual slices to show the transition of the rail line.

The hull scheme - high to low rails, nose to tail -- turned out to be a winning combination that's still in use by hull shapers nearly 50 years later.

G&S came to that design conclusion thanks to the work of Skip Frye. He built three identical 7'6'' boards, each with a different rail line...
  • High rails all the way around.
  • High in the nose to low in the tail.
  • Low rails all the way around.
After riding them, he concluded that the high-to-low combination worked best...for his trimming-oriented riding style.

What's more, pioneering East Coast surf filmmaker Bill Yerkes had the foresight to film one of Skip's testing sessions at good ole' PB Point. (If you've ever surfed PB Point, you can appreciate how well he's's one tired wave!)

Post Script:

A few years later, I went to work at the G&S factory as a fin grinder. One day while eating lunch, I looked up, and saw the board from that ad stashed up on a high shelf, collecting dust. To this day, I regret I didn't liberate it for historical purposes. They probably would've given it to me if I had asked!