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Classic Malibu rising from the ashes

Classic Malibu man Peter White must surely hold the unenviable title for losing the most boards in one night.

His Classic Malibu surf shop and factory was burnt down about midnight 27 January, taking with it more than 300 finished boards and 200 blanks along the way.

The only saving grace was the survival of his favourite, 40-year-old sander and his templates.

The good news is that Classic Malibu is back up and running at 16 Mary St, Noosaville, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

“No one was there and no one hurt, thank goodness,” his wife Janet, said of the fire that gutted the shop in Eumundi Rd, Noosaville, home to Classic Malibu for the past 15 years.

“The fire started in the adjoining dry-cleaning business, but unfortunately that didn’t help our cause with insurance.

“Everything was destroyed. Blanks in his shaping room had fallen and for some reason hadn’t burnt, and the templates were underneath. Also saved was his precious planer, which he had had for over 40 years; apparently they don’t make them like that any more.

“The boards lost in the blaze included all the shop stock, boards in for repair and others boards we had been looking after.”

White, who has been making boards for 45 years, started Classic Malibu in 1987, shortly after moving to Noosa.

Before shifting states, White made mainly short boards for Balin in Victoria. Once at Noosa he realised the points were suited to mals and for years was the only local manufacturer meeting the market demand for long boards.

The new shop Classic Malibu has a growing number of boards for sale as well as wetsuits and accessories.

Peter White has just about caught up replacing custom orders lost in the fire as well as making stock boards for the shop. He’s also taking new custom orders.

Call Classic Malibu on 0754 743 122 or go to www.classicmalibu.com

White, originally of Seaford, Victoria, featured several times in Breakway. In early 1977 Breakway editor Keith Platt caught up with him at Braunton, a small town in north Devon, England.

White and John Hall, of Dee Why, Sydney, were at that stage working for Britain’s leading board supplier, Tiki Surfboards.

Platt’s story – European winter – and its wide-ranging look at the British surf scene – “English surfers are starting to think about secret spots … many surfers still pass up a well designed stick if it has bubbles in the glass or a marked blank in preference to a sleek, unblemished, glassy red phallus that will never find its full potential until Waimea moves north into the Atlantic” – are in Breakway No. 40, March 1977.

Ocean & Earth founder Brian Cregan interviewed at 20

Ocean & Earth was started by Brian Cregan and some partners in Sussex Inlet, NSW, back in 1978 and made some basic surfing products. By the late ‘80s Ocean & Earth’s products had grown to a broad range of surfing accessories, backpacks and a small range of clothing.
In 2010 O&E released the “World’s Strongest Leash” – a fully moulded surf leash as opposed to three piece heat welded surf leash. Cregan’s introduction to urethane leashes happened in Durban, South Africa, when Shaun Tomson (IPS world champion in 1977) showed him the cord he was using.
“He gave me the address of where to get it and I bought back to Australia a roll to experiment with,” Cregan told an interviewer.
“From there we sourced it locally and then introduced urethane leashes into our range and the Australian market.”
Three years before the launch of Ocean & Earth, Breakway interviewed Cregan, then 20, during a trip to Bali where he was filmed for Harry Hodge’s movie Liquid Gold. This was July,1975.
He talked about leg ropes, professional surfing and even hinted at making a living from what he loved doing.
Cregan obviously relished the hollow, powerful Bali waves. And his surfing was impressive.
Riding his own boards, “Cool Curl Cruisers”, he was by far the best backhand surfer at Uluwatu.
Breakway: How big have you ridden Uluwatu?
I’ve ridden three times since I’ve been here. The first time it was a small 6 ft. the second time just a little larger and yesterday it was a solid 8 ft. with some 10 footers. There were two big sneaker sets about 14′ ft. I reckon. The first one broke in front of us and washed us way back down the line. I had a leg rope on and it pulled out the metal pin in the rope box. Luckily a guy got my board before it was battered against the cliff. Later there were only three of us out and another set with about ten waves poured through. We all managed to scratch over them. I think I was more scared the second time because I knew how hard they could hit. I think Harry Hodge got them on film for his movie.
Breakway: Is it like anything you’ve ridden before?
There’s a place on the south coast which definitely breaks in a similar way. It has as much power I think but more predictable, a shorter ride but as tubey as Uluwatu.
Breakway: Why do you make your own surfboards?
I never used to get exactly what I wanted from the guy who used to make them for me. I thought I’d be able to get closer to what I wanted by making them myself. The first couple worked all right and I’ve kept improving on them. I enjoy riding my own boards. It’s a fulfillment – you feel good riding a board you’ve made yourself.
Breakway: Would you like to make boards full time?
Maybe not for 12 months of the year, but through the summer it’d be feasible. I just enjoy being creative in my spare time and there’s not much to do weeknights in Sussex.
Breakway: What’s your opinion of professionalism in surfing?
It’s really great – for surfing in general and for the good surfers. It’s bringing surfing to older people and those who don’t surf. I think guys have got to understand that being a professional doesn’t mean just winning money in contests, it’s a whole lot of other things like endorsing products, appearing in movies and even shaping surfboards. At the moment it’d be fairly hard for a surfer to live solely from pro-contests.
Breakway: Would you like to become a professional surfer?
I think a lot of people would.
Breakway: Have you ever won any money?
I won a surfboard once; at Woolongong about two years ago, I just missed out on a trip to New Zealand. It was called the Aquarius festival.

FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW, BUY THE JULY, 1975, ISSUE OR COMPLETE SET.

The young Trigger Brothers on boards and best surfers

Ted Bainbridge talked to his friends, The young Trigger Brothers Paul and Phil, for this interview published in Breakway, December 1974.

The brothers remain successful board makers and retailers to this day, operating out of their headquarters at Pt Leo, Victoria, their spiritual home.

At the time Phil, the glasser, was 22 and Paul, the shaper, was 24.

That year Paul qualified for the Australian team to compete in the World Titles and was Victoria’s top seed in the team for the Australian Titles. Phil was fifth in the Bells Easter Contest against a field of internationals and Australian surfers. He went on to win Victoria’s only other professional contest – the Pt Leo ‘1200’, where he regularly surfs.

 

TB: How many boards do you ride and what dimensions are they?

Phil: I’ve only really got one at the moment because I’ve sold all my others in our summer secondhand board sellout. I would like to ride 6’8″, 7’0″, 7’4″ and 7’8″; I think that would give me a really good range for all surfing conditions that I’d find in Victoria.

Paul: I’ve got a 6’8″ hot dog board, a 6’10” “good wave” board and a 7’1″ “power wave” board. I haven’t really got a big wave board because I don’t like big boards, but I like riding big waves. I’ll probably make a 7’8″ speed machine pretty soon though.

TB: Are they all basic boards?

Phil: We’re definitely basic surfers. Surfing’s a basic thing so you should stick to basics. A basic (board) should go best because it’s a flowing sort of an art.

TB: But isn’t a concave a basic thing in a board?

Phil: They only have a real affect if they’re pretty deep and right at the back of the board.

Paul: We’ve ridden boards with bonzas, tronzas, twin finners, five finners, swallow tails, scoop-outs and we always go back to a basic board.

TB: You’ve competed against all the top surfers in Australia and seen them in action, who do you think is the best?

Phil: Michael Peterson: he’s the best contest surfer.

Paul: He can go out in any contest and get a tube, do re-entries, cutbacks, and manoeuvre his board anywhere.

But in bigger surf there’re better surfers than him. There’s Farrelly, Nat Young, Drouyn, Wayne Lynch, Ian Cairns, Ted Spencer and Peter Townend.

Out of the international surfers, Lopez is about the best I’ve seen because he can manoeuvre his board radically but with continuous carving arcs.

He’s incredible because he’s about the best tube rider in the world, but if you watch him hot-dog he can hot-dog better than anyone, too. A lot of people don’t realise that: he impressed me as much as Peterson and Drouyn did at Bells’ contest, but he didn’t get the waves they did.

TB: Who do you admire the most in Victorian surfing?

Phil: I’d say Alan Atkins and Rod Brooks. Those two guys have been in the finals of almost every contest since the A.S.A. started down here (Victoria). Rod even won the last contest we had. His surfing has improved out of sight this year compared with the last couple of years. When you look at those guys, you can see that as long as you have enough time in the water you can still improve even through you’re middle and late twenties.

 

Read the entire interview by downloading the issue or the whole set.

 

BREAKWAY DECEMBER 1974

Memories of the Pipeline pioneers

This is all about the Pipeline pioneers, surfing history, vintage surfing at its best.

Breakway covered surfing in ‘70s when memories of the first big wave riders at Banzai Pipeline were still fresh in our minds.

 

When you think of Banzai Pipeline you think of Lopez, Russell, Bertleman and the other latter day surf heroes. But what about the days when Pipeline was only ridden by a few? When Pipeline meant risking your life? When Pipeline wasn’t even ridden.

A nostalgic trip back into the “good old” surfing mags revealed the early days at the Pipe when surfers would stand for hours on the beach and watch in awe as these monstrous sucking giants threw out over a shallow coral shelf after travelling thousands of miles across the Pacific in huge swells.

Compared to Pipeline, Waimea Bay and Sunset were comparatively “safe” surfing spots. To even contemplate riding Pipeline was a long thought about affair.

Back in the early ‘60s Phil Edwards and a few of his hardy mates ventured out to the super-hollow lefthander followed by the ‘heavy’ of all big wave riders, the legendary Greg Noll.

And remember these guys rode cumbersome and heavy boards that lacked the speed of today’s guns!

However, back in those golden days, one man conquered the Banzai Pipeline like no-one else could – Butch Van Artsdalen. Van Artsdalen didn’t worry about those bottom- scraping wipeouts or huge drops down the vertical face at the take off. For every ride the ordinary person got at the Pipe, Butch got five. And four of them would be· bad wipeouts!

Van Artsdalen would slide down the face of a gnarly 15 ft. wall sideways, then push out through a spitting Banzai tube until he was speeding in front of the pursuing white water.

Pipeline held for Van Artsdalen what Everest must have nurtured for Hillary or America for Columbus. But although the Pipe is ridden by many these days, one can always reminisce about the “Good Old Days” when the long board surfers would paddle out at 15 ft. Pipeline, not knowing whether they would ever make it back to shore.

 

BREAKWAY JULY 1974

Runaway boards caused safety concerns

Keith Platt, writing in Breakway (May ’74), canvassed the problems associated with runaway boards and moves by safety organisations to mandate board design, outlawing pointed noses and sharp fins. The universal take-up of leg ropes and separation of swimmers and surfers at popular beaches headed off the confrontation.

 

As the number of people using surf beaches increases, so will the number of problems facing boardriders. Boardriding as a sport tends to make its followers oblivious to the many laws of man and acutely aware of the laws of nature.

It’s easy to flow with and accept the laws of nature, but man-made laws tend to hit the unwary with an uncomfortable crunch…

And if boardriders do not watch out, they may be hit hard from two directions:

  • The Australian Standards Association is presently looking into board design with a view to making boards “safer.”
  • The National Safety Council of South Australia wants board riding banned on all Adelaide beaches.

Efforts are already being made to approach the Standards Association to put surfers’ points of view and if possible stop a ban being placed on pointed boards and sharp fins.

But no organised action agalnst a possible boardriding ban has been announced.

Unless surfers get together to fight possible limitations on their sport they may find the rules being set by outsiders.

The call for a ban on boardriding on Adelaide beaches came from a Mr Colin Daddow, president of the safety council. He made this statement in a South Australian daily newspaper after reports of swimmers being injured by “lost” boards.

Mr Daddow said: “Surfboards should be banned from all beaches where conditions are ideal for swimmers.”

Meanwhile, surfers being an uncaring lot while waves continue pumping through will leave all the hassle to others and probably wake up one day to find themselves ordered to use only round-nosed foam rubber boards on a specially preserved reef break off the north-west coast of Tasmania each August.

 

Read the whole article in BREAKWAY MAY 1974

Buy a digital copy of the magazine or download the entire set.

Surfing history: the back story of Breakway online

This is a story of surfing history. It’s about vintage surfing in Australia, in particular, but it covers other parts of the world.

For almost 40 years I’ve had a three-inch (75 mm) stack of tabloids on the top shelf of my office cupboard.

They’ve occasionally been dusted off for research. Like when the local Reef team needed some background for a court case on past use of the name Ugg (Ug, Ugh etc) boot. The court was deciding if it was a generic term following claims that the name had been ripped off and used by an overseas’ manufacturer.

When we decided to post the four-decades-old magazine online, I turned the page on our first edition of Breakway magazine. It’s dated December 1973, has a 25-cent price tag, and features a classic cover shot of Alan Atkins doing a top turn at Bells. The first advert inside the cover was for Oke Surfboards. The Okes were a great supporter right through to one of the last ads of our final edition in January 1978. Today the second generation is in charge at Oke’s and still pumping out a range of sweet surfboards. And the range is really diverse.

The current crop of young rippers are riding all sorts of different equipment, and many have an old ‘70’s surfboard in their quiver, or one inspired by that era. Even current surf fashion has more than a hint of ‘70s flavour. Although the basic tee, boardies & thongs has remained the same since the ‘50s.

Oke is just one example of a number of manufacturers that started back then and are now being run largely by the kids. Bennett’s, Surfblank’s, Burford’s and McTavish to name a few.

As I scanned over the pages of issue one, I noticed a piece from Alan Hunt, relating a trip the Narrabeen boys had done to the legendary “Box” on the northern side of Pittwater, taking Al’s Dad’s fuel injected Volvo. Alan was our regular NSW contributor for many years. I’d met him along with other Narra surfers like Brian Whitty, Colin Smith and Terry Fitzgerald, when Paul Trigger and I pitched a tent next to theirs in the Margaret River camp ground during the 1973 National Titles. I was introduced to the ‘crazy eights’ card game by those guys, but rarely won.

Fitzgerald’s casual looks back into the tube on the Margaret rights had me awestruck, as did Smith’s powerful backhand attack on small waves near Dunsborough, when we hunted down a free surf in a strong south westerly blow. But Richard Harvey was the deserving open men’s winner that year, ahead of PT and Peterson.

Alan Hunt went on to become ASP tour director for 18 years, and has a gazillion surfing magazines in his collection.

I also met Tom Blaxell in WA that year and he became our regular correspondent from that area.

By the second issue of Breakway, we had a bunch of people come on board, who offered their contributions and became the nucleus of the magazine. Paul Harris’s (where are you Paul?) fabulous artwork and cartoons are featured for the first time. SA champion, Kym Thompson, provided an informative design article, with diagrams and dimensions – a picture is featured with Kym surfing the new design on a wave at Bells with no-one else in the line-up. In late 2014 he was enticed into crowdless rights again by Mornington Peninsula legend, Mick Pearce, while on a Mentawai boat trip with Damien Oliver, Alan Green, Brian Singer and others. It’s no wonder he’s head of surfboard production at Cobra, a world leading manufacturer, based in Thailand.

Greenough’s Crystal Voyager is advertised for a screening on 20 February at the Brighton Town Hall, with an accompanying photo of George and Nat about to start a surf session from the stern of Morning Light.

Radio 3XY DJ Rod Stone’s inaugural music column gives an insight into “Summer means fun” by ‘The Legendary Masked Surfers’, which was a compilation of old taped sessions by Brian Wilson, Leon Russell, Jan and Dean and other notables. Google it and have a listen; just for fun.

Sparrow’s (John Pyburne) 1969 photo of Fledge (Greg Hill) at Bells is a classic. No wonder he took out the Victorian title that year. I caught up with Sparrow recently in the depths of Ripcurl’s Torquay headquarters, making a subtle change to a steamer pattern. He’s on a 6ft7in SUP now and experimenting with foiling kite boards.

Former Maroubra surfer and runner up for the Vic Title in 1970, Charles Bartlett, had just changed his name to Charles Ofthesea and given up on surfboards. He is quoted, after ripping apart six to eight feet powerful Gunnamatta waves on a finless coolite kick board, that he didn’t want to make it too easy for himself. His iconic Bells sign “Don’t destroy what you came to enjoy” was to be immortalised by the ASA Victoria (now Surfing Vic).

There’s a letter about localism by John Witzig (co-founder of Tracks magazine), rumours of bizarre specs for an Australian Standards Association surfboard design, an interview with KKK and more.

The 1970 World Titles was a pivotal event for Victorian surfboard riding. Sprint Walker’s display at Portsea in 1926 was inspirational, the ’56 USA Olympic Surf Lifesaver’s and their Malibu boards prompted a huge popularity in Australian board riding. Peter Troy and his mates also stimulated things with their inaugural Bells Beach Board Rally in the early sixties. But Tony Olson’s untiring effort to bring the World Titles to Bells is what ushered in an explosion of design, fashion, life style and innovation to a sport with modern roots barely 50 years old.

Forty five years on, and much of what evolved during that decade is relevant all over again. In the four years that Breakway was published it captured a unique perspective of surfing which was coming to grips with professionalism, localism, affordable travel and a gradual acceptance from the wider population.

To open the pages now, and read interviews with the likes of Stacey Peralta, Gerry Lopez, PT, Midget, Simon Anderson, Tom Carroll or Peter Drouyn (now Westerly Windina) is a rare chance to get a glimpse of what inspired their surfing. For the interviewees who have passed, like Eddie Aikau, Stan Couper, Chris Crozier and Frank Latta, it is a fitting tribute to their surfing lives.

Breakway is now available in single issues or the complete set of 47 monthly magazines published over four years. You can now download pdf scans of the original pages and read the magazine as it was read by hard-core surfers four decades ago.

Surfing’s who’s who … then and now

Breakway’s pages carried the names of surfing’s who’s who in the 1970s. Many of those names are still around today, having been part of international competition or associated with some of the world’s biggest surf industries. Ted Bainbridge looked through some old issues and came up with some names and events you may or may not recognise.

• Michael Gordon wrote a poem in our November ’74 issue called ‘Men of Oz’. Michael is political editor of The Age Melbourne and a Walkley Award winner.

• Living in the ‘70s, the huge Skyhook’s album was reviewed in January ‘75. The late lead singer Shirley Strachan loved surfing at Phillip Island. Today another band member, Red Symons, is the breakfast host on ABC radio 774.

• We interviewed Mark Holden when his debut album was released in July ’75. Lately Holden has been a judge on Australian Idol, X-Factor and appeared in 2014 in Dancing with the Stars.

• August ’75 was the shark issue. Also, there were Noah articles in March/April ’77, Oct ’77 and Dec ’77.

• Kym Thompson, now head of surfboard production at Cobra Surfboards, wrote a design article on his hot-dogger for our second issue in January ’74. He was interviewed for the March ’76 issue, and somewhere in our Gobbleygook section he’s mentioned as vice-president of Torquay Chamber of Commerce.

•American director and entrepreneur Stacey Peralta is interviewed in the January ’76 issue. A champion skateboarder, he made Powell-Peralta skateboards in the ‘80s. His movies include Riding Giants, Dogtown and Z-Boys.

• Also in that January ’76 issue, Phillip Island’s Laurie Thompson wrote a letter asking for a stronger skate ramp to be built for Surfworld ’76. In the one-and-only Surfworld ’75 on the Yarra banks in Melbourne an enthusiastic Laurie “bogged” his station wagon on the timber skateboard ramp on the last day of the exhibition.

• US journalist and author John Grissim did an interview with Jack O’Neill in August ’76.

• The Morey Boogie advertisement in October ‘76 heralded the start of the bodyboard phenomenon. In the same issue was a piece on Kombi conversion.

• January ’77 saw Bare Nature surfboards’ business for sale with two commercial blocks of land 144ft x 66ft on the corner of Tennyson & Browning Streets, Byron Bay. The asking price was $45,000. A modest house near the corner was being offered in March, 2015, for around $1million.

• Brian Walsh started doing film reviews in July-August ’77. Good career move because he went on to head up Channel 10 in Melbourne.

• September ’77 issue described shaky financial times in surf industry. Ted Bainbridge’s dad wrote about whales, and Ted Grambeau contributed some photos, another wonderful career move by the now acclaimed international surf photographer.

• December ‘77 issue saw the Morey-Doyle softboard advertised along with an interview with designer/inventor Mike Doyle (cash for comment?). Today softboards are used everywhere for beginners.

Keep reading: Go to Shop in the menu to download issues of  Breakway or the complete set.

 

Claw remembers the rough track to a legendary break

Rip Curl co-founder Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick describes the first time he saw and surfed Bells Beach (from a Breakway interview, March, 1974)

“Bell’s had this really rough track to it. What happened was the government and surfers made a road through.

They saw Bob Pettit who owned the land there and asked him if they could make a road. The surfers all chipped in about five pounds each and hired a bulldozer and made the road through. That’s the old road that goes from Torquay past Boobs Bay. The worst bit used to be from Boobs there, where we swung around the corner – where the new road is, from there to Winkipop. That was really bad.

You couId never see Bell’s breaking, like Winkipop was completely different. There were all trees there and stuff. You had to get around the trees before you could see Bell’s breaking.

But getting back to the very first time I saw Bell’s. It was the Christmas of 1960-‘61 and I was down with some of my friends and one guy had an M.G. or something. We all climbed into his M.G. with our boards sticking out – he didn’t have one. We’d all been surfing Torquay for about a week and, feeling pretty confident, we decided to try Bell’s. It’s funny but there always seemed to be good waves then. Torquay aIways seemed five or six foot, offshore and glassy.

Anyway, we made our way around to Bell’s and there it was. Well it wasn’t a particularly big day, it was high tide, and although the waves weren’t very big they were very thick. It was basicalIy breaking off the bowl at high tide. I kept thinking how small the cove was and how big the waves were.

The dominant surfer out there was Marcus Shaw. Of course Marcus was one of the all time greats at Bells and he was a real heavyweight – at least he had the reputation of being a heavyweight. He was champion boxer and star karate man and all that sort of stuff. He used to just terrorise the surf.

Anyway we went out and tried to surf it. I can remember getting crushed a few times – didn’t get past the take-off. I was about 15 or 16 and getting run over by Marcus Shaw. One of my friends just about got in a punch-up with him and it was just sorta too much for us.

And oh, Marcus was surfing it quite well, he was a goofy but he was probably the first guy to do the big sit down backhand turns. Nat really brought that in, in about 1966, but Marcus had been doing it all along – it was just his natural style. He used to do big reverse flickouts and stuff in the shorebreak, even then.”

BREAKWAY, MARCH, 1974