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a dip into the past

It’s all about speed, riding a board is best when you’re going fast, everyone knows that.

Kids out there on the Lennox re-form every afternoon after school, slicing, sheeting up hard whitewater. When you’re that young getting a move three-quarters done is good enough, everyone falls off.

‘Did ya see that?’

bondi 6

This is where we started, about 1944, cruising – riding toothpicks and looking like knock-kneed stickmen until you look closer and appreciate the skeletal positioning, the sculptured, vertical distribution of weight and acute angulation of his arms: the particular skill of imperfect balance on an early surfboard. And this fellow is poised. The babes onshore must have been shrieking. Contests were won on the length of ride, how else could you judge someone on these things?

Toothpicks used to have a bung in the nose so when young Bazza on the left has had enough looking like Rudolph Nureyev he drags his Queen Mary up on the beach, upends it, unscrews the brass cap and lets out about 25 litres of seawater.

Surrounded by blushing babes.

This was 1944, I was there, in a nappy, and when was a surfer ever happy with his board?

Even the best gets soggy, and our man here ^, young Bazza, made the biggest equipment jump in in the history of our sacred game. Stand aside Bob McTavish, Nat Young, Wayne Lynch, you came later.

This is where you might pay attention if your interest is in the true evolution of shortboard riding in Australia.

Bazza decided toothpicks weren’t fast enough, and when the yanks went home in 1956 and left a few of their boards behind, Barry the Toothpick had one shaped up just like them and went surfing, again.

A couple of years later he went to Hawaii.

drop in

This is Rocky Point, and I think they’re riding 9′ multiple stringers, double-ended, thin rail, about 22″ – or something. Island made. Someone step up.

I don’t know Rocky Point surf from Rocky Creek dam, but it has to be a left because Mick Marlin’s photo here has the boys going that way, and it’s not a short left, like Bondi, it has length of ride, you can tell this because of their wakes. They haven’t just paddled onto this wave, Mick’s waited until they’re partway through the ride before he’s clicked the Kodak, maybe they’ve all thrown off about five big swooping turns already because everyone’s looking calm here.

Barry in the middle has just full-speed faded the inside man with a sweeping forehand turn; all that bone-dancing he needed to balance up on a toothpick forgiven and rewarded by a dose of Hawaiian speed and one loose as a goose arm. He’s watching at it all go by, looking at what Curren sees when he’s flying. Look at his knees, the joy, he’s smiling.

The inside man, Jack.

How do you like the position of his back foot, and the rail grab that’s going to get him a little higher.

Scotty on the outside, leaning into it, looking at how far away the end of this beautiful, strong, fast Hawaiian wave is.

header pic tom curren by tom servais

Only a surfer knows the feeling.

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