The story board
"That board would've left the factory in 1980," says Phil Myers of the 5'11" six channel Free Flight singley we're looking at in the photo.
"It was probably shaped in the second half of 1980, just before Simon launched the Thruster," continues Phil. "I say that based on the stickers and the channels. The earlier ones had longer channels, but they were shallower and rounded, but Col [Smith] and I figured we had to do them shorter and deeper."
"That board's a good example of it."
Whoever bought the board, and Phil can't remember, took home a state of the art single fin, a defining board of the era, but one that would only stay relevant for a few months before Simon wiped the slate clean with his three fins of equal size.
Fast forward 34 years
In 2014, Port Lincoln surfer Shane 'Fredo' Smith is sniffing around a garage sale in his hometown, a Baby Boomer couple are downsizing and amongst the clutter is a board in an old stretch cover leaning against a shed.
"I grabbed a rail, as you do, and it had some meat in it," recalls Fredo, "then I ran my hand down towards the tail and that's when I felt a channel."
"The price was $30, and I felt guilty haggling for $20 but I waved a redback in her face and she was happy."
"However, I didn’t really know what I actually had until I got it home a few hours later."
Made by one of Australia's channel pioneers, the board had minimal damage, just a few small dings and slight discolouration. The spray was unblemished, the sharp edges of the channels intact.
In 2018 Fredo posted it for sale on the Vintage Board Collectors site, with a slight mark up, and a number of Burleigh Heads crew vouched for Shaun 'Hymie' Martin as a keen buyer.
"I've got lots of old single fins," says Hymie, "a few ABs [Allan Byrne, Hot Stuff], but also boards like the Free Flight single fin."
A member of Burleigh Boardriders, Hymie laid the board down on the grass for their single fin festival both last year and this year too.
Then in August this year Hymie took the board to Bali for the Uluwatu Single Fin Classic. Tai 'Buddha' Graham needed some old singleys and Hymie obliged.
"The board was ridden almost every heat," says Hymie. "A lot of the good guys rode it."
On the first day of the contest, Agus 'Blacky' Setiawan scored a perfect 10 on the board, then the next day he rode it to third place in the final. Ozzy came first, Chippa second.
A few weeks later the board was stashed in Buddha's overflowing garage in Canggu when Harrison Roach went looking for a board. Rather than grab a black Channel Islands - apparently Buddha's got a few - the six channel singley beckoned.
"Can I have a go of that?" asked Harrison, and with Buddha's approval he took it for a spin.
The board left an impression, 'cos as soon as Harrison got home he rang up Phil and asked to make one identical to it - the son of the 1980 singley!
"I sort of knew Phil," says Harrison when I call, "because he shaped me a similar-style six channel single fin back when I was 17. That board changed my approach to surfing. I started looked at surfing differently, and soon afterwards I was riding for Rhythm clothing and had a thing going."
"It's so good to connect again and I can't wait to ride the new board," says Harrison, who even ordered a period correct spray.
The period, 1980 as you recall, is a whole decade before Harrison was born, yet here he is getting jazzed on a board that's ten years older than him.
"People talk about sustainable surfboards," says Harrison, "but that board is...what, 39 years old and still going. Which shows what a strong glass job can do."
Harrison continues: "And it's such a significant board: the last of the performance single fins before the Thruster took over."
After he takes ownership, Harrison is hoping to take the board on a surf trip to Alaska, spreading the story father and wider, while the original board is still offically Hymie's but lives in Buddha's garage and gets the occasional run. Such as just last Thursday at Canggu.