9'2'' SOS Model

This is a Son Of Sam model Spencer Kellogg and I put together for Paul Castaneda. It's loosely based on Nat Young's 1966 Magic Sam board. Scheduled for first go out this Sunday, the 30th.

9'2'' x 22 1/4" x 3 1/8"
6-4 Volan bottom
6-6 Volan deck, with a 6 Volan deck patch


Update from PC, evening of the 30th...

Hi Paul & Spencer,

I just wanted to give you guys a update on my initial paddle out on my new board.

I ended up setting the back of the fin at 6 3/4” from the tail block and it seemed to work great in this morning's conditions.  
Initially paddling was smooth and balanced.  I felt the board lift in the front when paddling into waves, which, Spence, you mentioned would happen, so I just corrected my positioning on the board to accommodate for that.  I had no problem getting up on take offs and the bottoms turns are smooth and drawn out.  No jerky transitions when elevating  up to the face of the wave and stepping up towards the nose of the board, I could definitely feel it switching gears.  It has to be one of the smoothest boards I’ve ever ridden.

Thank you,


Michael Petersen: Paradox On Earth

Maybe the real transition during "The Transition Era" was the changeover, by most surfers, from displacement hull bottoms to down rails and a flat bottom.

Most of the new low railers in 1970 were narrow, severely pointed boards. There was little confusion between stubby displacement hulls and full-on, flat bottom Island-inspired guns. The two were polar opposites...

Unlike the majority of top-tier surfers, a young Michael Petersen was surfing a self-built hybrid board...part low railer, part stubby hull.

He was steeped to the gills in a 'Nat Young transition era' riding style...

...but he was intrigued with the new era of flat bottom design thinking. Putting the ideas of single fin hull surfing and a flat bottom together was an oil and water proposition. (The only other flat bottomed, full outline designs around at the time were the Lis Fish, the Eaton Twin Fin, and the Campbell Bonzer...all multi-finned.)

As luck would have it, in Morning Of the Earth, Albert Falzon captured Petersen riding Kirra Point on what would become an iconic 'hybrid' board. It featured a full outline, single fin, and a flat bottom.

In the hands of a very strong and very determined Michael Petersen, it looked so much like a hull when he surfed it, hull aficionados claimed Petersen, and that board, as their own.

Michael Petersen's legacy resurfaced in the mainstream surf media during the early 2000s. Older ''non-hull surfers'' who were privvy to Petersen back in the day were quick to point out that his board was in no way, shape, or form a "hull."

True enough, but it did have some key elements of a short hull. It was under 6' long. The outline was full. It was a single fin. The tail rocker was relatively straight, with the apex of the nose rocker was set well forward. And it liked being surfed from the middle.

So how should we look at the board used by Petersen during that brief window of time, some 45 years ago? Did it represent some kind of rarefied ideal that hull riders should be looking at today? Or was it a Frankenstein mish-mash of conflicting ideas only a surfer with the strength and talent of MP could utilize?

The answer is totally subjective.

For me, with size 9 feet and average talent, flat bottom stubbies had to be ridden off the tail and forcefully pushed from rail to tail. The same outline, with a displacement hull, could simply be "urged' to bank over from forward trim. I preferred the latter then, and still do.

Around 2001, Michael Petersen was coaxed out of retirement to create some shapes inspired by his Morning Of The Earth board. I don't know how loyal they were to the original, but based on what we can see, it looks like Petersen put out a serious effort.

5'9'' x 20''

More Velo Data Points

About 15 years ago (?) I wrote a short piece on Velo for The Surfer's Journal. They were publishing a feature on the current state of the kneeboarding art, and were looking for an historic counter-point to the modern scene.

I know we've been through this before, but here's another bite at the Velo apple, along with some images added that weren't in the original article...



"That was the headline that topped a feature on George Greenough in the August, 1969 issue of Popular Science. 

Yup. Popular Science. The article was a thinly disguised promotional piece for The Fantastic Plastic Machine, and George’s flexible spoon kneeboard, Velo, was the “scientific” focus of attention. What made this story worth noting was the unblinking conclusion that someday all surfboards would be flexible like George’s.

Not short like George’s.

Not a kneeboard like George’s.

But flexible.

It was a magnificent twist of fate that someone of George’s imagination and intelligence would find his voice, surfing-wise, in kneeboarding. As a member of a yachting family who took frequent jaunts to destinations like the Hollister/ Bixby Ranch and the Channel Islands, George’s surfing developed in a rarefied atmosphere. He shaped small, balsawood kneeboards to ride deep inside the hollow waves he was privy to... 

...and at one point, he made a fiberglass fin that flexed like a fish’s tail. 

The flex fin improved his kneeboards performance so dramatically that he began to conceive of an entire board that could bend in a similar manner.

George’s first flexible fiberglass spoon was made in 1965. 

It was a turn key ripper. After riding it for a year or so, he took the knowledge he had amassed and built ''Velo Super Sport Mark II.'' 

It was wider than the original, and he increased the depth of the displacement hull under the nose. The severe belly allowed George to bury the entire rail in a turn, and the parallel outline gave him something to drive off on as the fin and tail flexed out of the way. In trim, the drag of the hull allowed the nose to be drawn into the juiciest part of the wave, while the large fin counterbalanced that effect, driving the board down the line like a sail. 

In many ways, Velo surfed itself. There was rarely a conflict between where George wanted to go and where Velo was already headed. While the shape appears to be simple at first glance, it’s very complex. The close proximity of Velo’s deep displacement hull under the nose to its dead flat planing area just ahead of the fin is one of the unique aspects of the design. There is a remarkable degree of transition compressed into just five feet of board length.

During the mid-60’s, George’s performance on Velo ignited the surfing world’s imagination. His riding manifested a passion that had laid dormant in the hearts of surfers for untold generations. He was able to confidently rip into waves in the six to twelve foot range. A nasty pocket that sucked out in front of him wasn’t something to be survived, it was an opportunity. George could dive into the pit, pull Velo up onto its rail, break the fin out, and explode through the section. 
He began to think of speed not in terms of making the wave, but in terms of what gear he was running in. First gear was just enough speed to make it. Second gear was enough speed to maneuver up and down while making it. Third gear allowed him to attack a single section three times – once as he rocketed over the top of it as it formed, a second time as he cut back across it as it crested, and a third time as he tucked into the tube as it pitched out. On big days at Rincon, he would link together third gear charges from the Indicator to the sea wall. Often bottom turning around sections that had already been broken down from the track of his previous bottom turn!

The speed and power he had on tap were directly related to Velo’s ability to bend in a turn. Flex allowed Velo’s dead straight tail rocker to “give way” when it banked over into a turn, facilitating any degree of directional change. Then it would snap back straight as the turn leveled out, allowing the board to accelerate down the line without the drag caused by tail lift. Rocker-wise, Velo could morph from a gun to a hotdog board and back again, and George could use each variation to its best advantage.

Flexibility was a profound leap forward in design knowledge, but one which conventional builders have never been able to utilize to any significant degree. The materials don’t yet exist that would allow a buoyant, stand up board to bend in the spring steel like manner of a solid fiberglass kneeboard.

As great a Velo may be, it success is qualified. It’s an extreme design that’s limited to perfect, uncrowded waves....

 ...but flexibility has a universal application that will be appreciated once the right material become available. And when they do, all hell is going to break loose.

Velo was George’s favorite board of all time, and he rode it for 4 years – 1966 through 1970. While he built a number of displacement hull spoons during that period, none had the performance – or the soul -- of Velo SS MK II.

Unfortunately, it was never photographed operating at its peak. Surf movies that documented George on Velo (The Fantastic Plastic Machine, Children Of The Sun, The Innermost Limits Of Pure Fun, The History of Australian Surfing, and at least one of Bob Evans’ offerings) were either fleeting glimpses, or filmed in surf that couldn’t adequately drive the board.

Hands down, Velo was the most sophisticated piece of surf equipment ever built. It was so advanced that even today, some 40 years after it was conceived, it serves as a beacon of our destiny. Everything we’ve accomplished in conventional design is merely preparation for the day when materials will allow us to build a conventional surfboard that can flex in a proper manner...and Popular Science’s prediction that 'George Greenough’s Far-Out, Flexible Surfboard Is The Wave Of The Future' will finally come to pass."



From the workbench of Mr. Putnam. Dude has both taste and talent.

George Greenough: 1962 Balsa Spoon

1962 was a pivotal year for the Greenough design arc. For starters, he developed the first solid glass flex fin...after the 'D' fin on his S-Decked kneeboard led to a serious injury. The the board stuck in a track on big wave and swatted him when he wiped out.


That year, George procured a nice selection of balsa in order to build his "baby surfboard." That board was 7'8'' x 22" in an era where when petite women rode 9 footers...


There was enough leftover balsa for a new kneeboard...so he shaped a 4'11'' x 21'' board with a scooped out deck. The first spoon!


Named "Velo," the temple was based on the outline of an arc tailed power boat...

It was remarkably sophisticated from every perspective...

He rode it at Sandspit in the footage that appeared in the opening of The Endless Summer.

In 1965, George used that same board as a male mold to build the first flexible spoon kneeboard...a quantum leap in design that today, over 50 years later, is still ahead of even the most advanced stand up boards... 


Epilogue: The first flexy Velo model was nearly lost when a scallywag from Santa Cruz tried to make off with it during a museum showing. (A card-carrying socialist, the culprit was overheard screaming, "Power to the people!" as he ran out the door...to the howls of laughter from the museum goers.) Fortunately, a surveillance cam caught the bugger in the act. He was identified and summarily placed in jail...resplendent in his 99 cent flip-flops, redneck trucker hat, and Magnum mustache. Not fake news. Sad! #notfakenewssad