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Tag Archives: Ted Bainbridge

Bells Easter contest souvenir 1975

It was 1975 and Rip Curl was sponsoring the Bells Easter surfing contest for the third year. The co-sponsor was Midget Farrelly’s Surfblanks. The Breakway team, including Ted Bainbridge, Keith Platt and Harry Hodge, produced the official program that year. You can download a digital version of the historic publication on this site.

It features a potted history of Rip Curl and Surfblanks; a rundown on the star competitors, including an impressive list of internationals; a description of the scoring system; and photos and explanations of some of the manoeuvres the crowd could expect to see.

Australian Surfers’ Association president Stan Couper in his official message said: “This year, despite the unfavorable economic climate, thanks to our friends at Rip Curl Pty. Ltd. being joined by Midget Farrelly’s Surfblanks Manufacturing Company, Surfblanks Pty. Ltd., we have been able to offer total prizemoney in excess of $6000.”


Monster day at Bells, Easter 1965

Rod Brooks describes the monster day at Bells with waves at “fractionally over 20 ft.” In April 1974 Ted Bainbridge interviewed Brooks for a Breakway magazine special on the Bells Easter contest.
At the time Brooks was managing Klemm-Bell Surf Shop in Torquay. A year later Brooks and Fred Pyke would launch Piping Hot wetsuits, another business from the small Victorian seaside town to become a global player in the surf industry.
Bainbridge asked about the famous Bells waves and Brooks recalled 28 straight days of “over 6ft. and perfect”.
He said the most memorable Bells contest was in 1965, “the biggest and probably the most exceptional time at Bells.
“There have been days that big but there hasn’t been the number of people there to take advantage of it. On that particular occasion, top surfers from all over Australia were there and it was probably as big as it ever gets.
“I’d say fractionally bigger than 20 ft., but certainly 20. This was only on one particular morning then eventually it closed out on the low tide. The wind went around from N.W. in the morning, banking west all day and also the waves tended to wall across to WinkyPop.
“Robert Kenneally won and Nat Young came second. Jeff Watt, from Torquay, was third.”


Chairmen of the Boards

As the ‘70s dawned three successful surf related businesses kicked off on the Mornington Peninsula. They were leg rope pioneer Balin, Trigger Bros Surfboards and Peninsula Surf Centre, headed by Ted Bainbridge. The three successful operations have been profiled in peninsula-based magazine BusinessTimes.


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.



When Kanga Cairns jumped the opposition and won the Smirnoff

Ian ‘Kanga’ Cairns was just 15 when he first gained Australia-wide recognition as an aggressive surfer. It was around May, 1969, when the Australian Titles were held in his home state, Western Australia.

Even then he was regarded as an excellent big wave rider. During his first trip to Hawaii in 1972 he was acclaimed by many as being one of the hottest surfers on the North Shore. In November 1973 he became the third Australian to win the world-renowned Hawaiian Smirnoff pro contest. He received $A3361 for his trouble. It was a great achievement for the current Western Australian champion.

During a break in competition at the Bells Easter contest (1974), Ted Bainbridge talked to Kanga Cairns about Hawaii and his surfing


TB: How did you get into the Smirnoff contest?

Cairns: Well, I was second alternate and Clyde Aikau was the first – I was just there, you know, breathing down Fred Hemmings’ neck!, Clyde had got into it and Evo Honza, from Peru, didn’t turn up for his heat so I just went straight out.

I came third in my heat, second in my semi final and then won the final.


TB: Had you any idea you’d won it?

Cairns: I knew I had a really good chance. I knew I’d placed, there’s no way I couldn’t have placed because of where I’d taken off from and the waves I’d gotten. It was very close. The waves were 8 ft. most of the time, but I did get one that was 10 ft. It was probably 6 to 8 ft. but I got a couple of rare ones.


TB: Do those places (in Hawaii) work in the same way that Johanna works down here when Bells hasn’t even got a wave?

Cairns: Yeah. Except they all face the same way, but the type of reefs magnifies the swell different ways. Sunset is a really deep reef, but you can surf it down to 2 ft. near the point where it’s really shallow.

Rocky Point is kind of a ledging point which goes out under the water. The waves come in, hit the ledge and suck out over the really shallow reef. It’s because the reef’s so shallow that it makes the waves really rip off.

Then there are places no one ever surfs. We had a break with really a good left and right but no one ever surfed it.


Read the full Ian Cairns interview in BREAKWAY MAY 1974.

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.