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.
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 Curls...in perfectly balanced trim.
When Worlds Collide: A foamie Hot Curl...with a leash plug!!! Is nothing sacred?
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.
I was sifting through some old stuff the other day, and ran across this flyer from the original Wilderness shop...in St. Paddy's green! (Sort of.)
Brings back a lot of memories for anyone who was in and around the Santa Barbara area in the late 60's.
Here's a Wilderness ad that was in Surfer Magazine from the same era...
Pushing the wide point forward and generating a small tail is nothing new...even Pat Curran did it back in the late 50's!
Late 50's Curran gun. Modern replica by Pat.
And who could forget the stringerless Keyo Nat Young rode at Malibu in August of 1968? That board was designed by George Greenough on the living room floor of his parent's home in Montecito....on a large sheet of tar paper. He laid out a true foil curve, then rounded the nose and tail off. His idea wasn't to create a surfboard that could be ridden in a conventional manner. He just wanted to make the most efficient outline shape possible, and rely on Nat's talent to make it work.
Nat's stringerless Keyo. Malibu, 1968.
No one has spent more time and effort sorting out the plusses and minuses of a wide point set well ahead of center than Greg Liddle. His 7'1'' roundtail template was a personal favorite for over 20 years.
Classic Liddle 7'1'' roundtail hull. C 1976.
During the embryonic shortboard transition era, wide points were set far forward on the really short surfboards and kneeboards. The idea was to get more drive with the long tail length afforded by the wide point well ahead of center.
Two examples are the El Paipo and G&S knee machines.
The shapes were very interesting. The rails were dropped...but the bottom had a distinct roll under the nose. Much to my surprise when I rode one...it worked! The seemingly odd combination of a big nose, tiny tail, rolled bottom, low rails, and a molded plastic flex single fin flourished in some kind of cosmic collusion.
I was working at G&S at the time, and the way they made their kneeboards was interesting. They were blowing their own foam, and had a blank mold that was the finished shape of the board. They would remove the blank from the mold while it was still hot and curing, and a shaper would go over the super soft foam with a big sponge covered with sanding screen. Since the bank's crust hadn't formed yet, all he had to do was scrub the blank with the screen, and in about 10 minutes it was done!