The surfboard and the act of riding it has seen profound innovations and refinements since the reintroduction of surfing to the world by the “Father of Modern Surfing,” Duke Kahanamoku. The modern era began with renditions on ancestral solid wood, Hawaiian Olo’s and Alia’s. Enter Tom Blake. Blake, a competitive swimmer, arrived on scene inspired by Duke’s Gold Medal Olympic swimming skills. He followed the stately Hawaiian to his homeland where, like the opening of Pandora’s Box, he was infected by Aloha, surfing, and the “waterman” lifestyle of Duke and the Wiakiki Beach Boy’s. An innovator by nature, Blake began a search for a lighter board that led him to develop the hollow “kook box” surfboard, employing lightweight wooden struts and a thin wood covering.
Still riding solid wood surfboards, Wally Froiseth, Fran Heath, and John Kelly grew tired of “slidin’ ass,” the term used to dedcribe the lack of turning stability on their wide tailed, finless boards. The solution; with adze and draw knife, hack, chop, and shape a deep “vee” into the bottom tail section of their boards to achieve a directional turn. The “Big Chop” forever, literally, changed the direction of wave riding. The advent of the fin — arguably another Tom Blake innovation — provided ever greater stability and mauverability. “Slidin’ ass” had suffered a near extinction event. (Thanks go out to Tom Wegner and Derek Hynd for their interest in, and resurgence of the “friction free” movement.)
The ending of World War II brought new materials — balsawood, fiberglass, and resin. Joe Qigg, Matt Kivlin, and Bob Simmons grasped the possibilities the new materials provided for surfboards; manuverability and lightness were further advanced. Bob Simmons, a Cal Tech grad, using the principles of Lindsey Lord’s, “Navel Architecture of Planning Hulls,” designed and rode surfboards that, for the time, must have seemed otherworldly when set beside the surfboard of the day. In 1949, Simmons designed and manufactured the first surfboard with a styrofoam core, balsawood rails, plywood veneer deck and bottom, and glassed with fiberglass and resin.
In 1950 Hobie Alter entered the fray. In ’58 with the cost of balsa skyrocketing, Hobie and Gordon “Grubby” Clark embarked on the path least taken, and yes, that has made all the difference. Hidden deep in the recesses of Laguna Canyon the pair formulated polyurethane foam for surfboard production rendering heavy wooden surfboards obsolete, although their mystic has remained intact.
Flash forward to 1965. Tom Morey and Carl Pope are busying themselves with a new surfboard model, “The Snub” at their Ventura factory. Wanting its introduction to make a slpash, Morey decides to throw a contest; names it the Tom Morey Invitational. He invites California’s best to a timed nose riding contest with a guaranteed cash purse; a first! Twenty-four surfers answered the bell. A veritable who’s who, including Mickey Munoz, Corky Carroll, Dewey Weber, Robert August, Mike Hynson, Skip Frye, David Nuuhiwa, Rusty Miller, Donald Takayama, and a colorful supporting cast.
Morey encouraged design innovation with only one rule: the front twenty-five percent of the surfboard had to be painted red with the rider standing within it to be scored as a successful ride. All fashion of surfboard arrived at Ventura Point on the appointed July day. Weber had a “secret gizzmo” attached to his fin. The equipment that Doyle and Miller unveiled was contriversial; ten foot Hanson Surfboards, Mike Doyle models with an additional four feet of stringer hanging out the back. Ingenious, the extra stringer increased the twenty-five percent nose area a foot; advantage team Hanson. Their fins also featured horizontal trim tab stabilizers created by Carl Ekstrom. Morey cried foul while Doyle and Miller recount the rules. In the end Morey says: my contest, my rules. Mike Doyle declines to submit while Rusty cut down the protruding stringer and repainted the nose to spec.
Skip Frye and Mike Hynson showed up with what Morey called, “… two of the sweetest boards I’ve ever seen.” Hobie sent Mickey Munoz and Corky Carroll with boards designed by Phil Edwards specifically for noseriding. Edwards explained, “.. it was not the ideas behind the board that were unique, but the collective application of them.” Crediting Bob Simmons, he said, “… the best way I can describe our noseriding board is a Simmions board with the nose cut off — a speedboat turned backwards with planning lines in front. We put it togeather deliberately: the big, wide nose, the concave area, the flat bottom up there — all to make the surfboard trim on the nose.”
This brings us full circle, ending where we stated, with the Board of the Week. This weeks board is the Hobie, Mickey Munoz Noserider. This resin tinted, colbalt blue beauty has everything Phil spoke of: wide nose area, ample nose concave, a tad more tail rocker, and parrall rails. A legendary classic! This example is 9’6″ x 23.5″ x 3.25″ and can be found at the Hobie Surf Shops, Aveineda Del Mar, San Clemente store. For more boards check out www.hobiesurfboards.com, or call me at the shop: (949) 542-3400.
Eplog: Mickey, riding the Phip Edwards designed noserider won with a 9.9 second ride. Mike Hynson scored second with a time of 9.8 seconds. Corky Carroll won his divison with a timed ride of 9.6 seconds. Years later Morey untombed the offical scores and discovered that a tabulation error had occurred. Mike Hynson, riding a beautifully crafted G&S “Stretch” model had actually won the inagural Tom Morey Invitational.