(It's hard to imagine these two not hitting it off...)
This is from Corky Carroll's newspaper column:
"I still remember my first encounter
with him (Dora). I was on the beach when he got
out of the water one day and walked up to say hello. I did my typical gremmie, “Man Mickey you
were really ripping it out there.”
He looked over at me, nodded
and asked if he could use my towel. I
naturally said yes and handed it to him.
He blew his nose into it, looked it over and handed it back saying
thanks. To that he walked off leaving me
staring down at the snot filled terrycloth.
I was wondering if I should toss it, or frame it and hang it on my
The late Tom Cimino's boards....consisting of 2 Lance Carsons, a Hobie, a Yater, a
Liddle, a TC self shaped 10 footer, and a couple of Paul Gross Designs. Somehow
I made it home on the freeway from Downey to Agoura without losing any!
Back in early 1968, Bob McTavish came to the U.S. with Greenough. This was after their stint in Hawaii with the stringerless deep V's...
Bob built a board around 8 feet long at the Morey Pope Factory (inspired by the early Hawaiian mini-guns) and rode it at Rincon during the legendary 2 month run of non-stop waves at Rincon that year...sans wetsuit, and of course no leash!
You can see the insanely flat rocker on the board, and the lack of deep hull.
Bob claimed it was the best board he ever had (within the context of the times), and he's now retooled the design. While the McTavish Rincon is by no means what "we" would consider a hull, it does embrace a lot of the spirit of hull surfing...single fin, parallel outline, low rocker, and fast down-the-line speed.
Lots more info and pics here and here at Liquid Salt...
While waiting for his new 8 footer to be glassed at the MP factory back in early 1968, Bob dropped a Waveset fin box into George's 7'8'' balsa "Baby Surfboard," screwed in a plastic Stage 3 fin, and rode it in some pretty fair waves...
Before the shortboard era really got going in Australia, there was an embryonic period when surfers embraced Greenough's design progress by cutting down their longboard fins. The result was an immediate uptick in performance and surf stoke...
When more potent shortboards hit a few months later, harder breaking spots like Lennox became a daily check for the locals...
A VW bus parked in front of the "Wildnerness" house on the north coast of NSW, home to luminaries like McTavish, Greenough, Brad Mayes, Gary Keyes, Chris Brock, et al ...
McTavish Surfing Tools...
How long ago was the transition era? Check out the truck transporting these leading edge shortboards !!!
George rang up the other night. The subject? Well duh...surf mat design!
After a detailed, 6 minute monologue about the performance of a prototype mat I sent him a few weeks back, the next thing he blurted out was, "Can you believe we're still talking about ways to make better mats after all these years! We're still at it! We're still learning things!"
I knew his birthday was a couple of days away, and I ran the numbers in my head as we spoke, realizing he was going to be 74. The voice on the other end of the phone didn't sound like anyone I've ever known over the age of 70. (Or 60. Or even 50.) So much positive energy was behind everything he said. Still, at this advanced age, all he wants out of life is a better surf mat and having more fun in the water. Amazing.
George was born in 1941. Skip Frye and Greg Liddle hail from the same time period as well. It's interesting how three of the world's most influential hull builders are the same age...and still actively surfing and designing.
What a poignant boiling pot they grew up in! With one foot in the WWII era and the other in the cultural revolution of the 60's, they intuitively found a way to see the value in both. Surfers who are either younger or older don't have the silk touch that these three demonstrate, in or out of the water.
With that thought in mind, I looked up a website citing well known people who were born in 1941, and it netted some interesting results...including Bob Dylan.
OK, I don't want to go off the rails here with cultural analogies and such. But I've always found it fascinating that George conceived, built, and rode the first flexible spoon kneeboard in 1965...
And, 1965 was the same year that Dylan "went electric," casting aside his folkie persona in favor of heading up a band with electric guitars, an electric organ, and a drummer...
While Dylan's transition was unpopular with many of his fans, what followed over the next few years was a burst of timeless originality and creativity. The same could be said of Greenough's flexible kneeboard riding during the same period...resulting in his well-documented influence on surfing.
The difference between the two artists is that electric guitars had been use by musicians since the early 50's. What Dylan did was take an established form of popular music -- electric rock and roll -- and utilize it in previously unthought of ways.
Greenough, in comparison, invented surfing's electric guitar. Shorter boards had been around since the dawn of surfing. But George brought so much design insight and raw surfing talent to the table, nothing that came before him is even remotely valid in terms of explaining why surfing changed in the late 60's. He was Les Paul, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, Miles, Aretha, The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan, Hendrix and Zappa rolled into one. And he did it all wearing a disarming face of innocence.
Does this look like the guy who would change the sport of surfing forever???
George was kneeboarding when everyone else was still knee paddling...
Aside from a very cool image of a kid standing on a paipo board at Waikiki...
...it's all hot rods and 30 pound D-fin longboards. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But there was no precursor to Greenough back then. No harbinger what was coming next. No time-line of progress that would lead one to conclude that if it wasn't George back in 1965, it would have surely been someone else. Because no, it wouldn't have been someone else. Even today (50 years later!) mainstream surfboards haven't caught up to where he was in the mid-60's.
George is a one-off, and we're lucky to share the lineup with him...