The 1992 Coke Classic at North Narrabeen

Stu Nettle
The Rearview Mirror

As a general rule, surf contests are only memorable when the swell is big or perfect. Think the ‘74 Smirnoff, ‘81 Bells, or the Volcom Fiji Pro in 2012 when the comp was called off but the webcast continued and the best big wave surfers rode huge, perfect Cloudbreak. We need a spectacle for the memory to burn into our collective memories.

The ‘92 Coke Classic at North Narrabeen didn’t get good surf, it was neither big nor perfect, there was no lasting spectacle, but there’s reason to look back at it because few surfing contests have ever had as much backstory. And it wasn’t just one plotline, the ‘92 Coke had many, each of them intersecting on the Narrabeen sands 29 years ago.

In 1992, pro surfing was experiencing great upheaval and not everyone approved of the change, administrators and surfers bickered, with and against each other, as a younger crew of surfers sought to assert themselves over a stubborn old guard while popularising a design that still has relevance today.

As a metric for pro surfing’s health, counting the number of sponsors is a good place to start. In 1989, the men’s pro tour had a record 25 events deciding the world title. There was no pattern to the schedule, surfers visited Australia twice, Hawaii twice, Japan twice, the USA three times. If a sponsor was willing to stump up the bucks, the ASP pitched a tent and the surfers followed.

After ‘89, the labyrinthine tour slowed as a global recession put the brakes on spending thus bringing the ‘80s surf boom to a close. By ‘91 the tour was down to 18 events and a seasonal pattern was discernible: Australia, Africa, Europe, Japan, Brazil, Hawaii. It was during this year that ASP CEO Graham Cassidy and longtime stats man Al Hunt hatched the idea to split the tour into two: the Championship Tour would be made up of the top 44 surfers in the world, while the World Qualifying Series hosted aspirants building points towards advancement.

One of the goals, as Al Hunt told Swellnet, was to increase sponsorship potential. He’d seen the Bud Tour succeed in North America, and the APSA tour work (for a time) in Australia, and thought smaller tours could be incorporated into a global structure and create a pathway to the world title.

There was also the goal of minimising the load of trials events, which was the traditional way of leap-frogging into the main event for those outside the Top 16. The participant numbers at trials events had also swelled during the late-80s and whittling the hundreds of hopefuls down to 16 had become a cumbersome task.

Pro surfing was also branching out beyond its traditional roots in the US and Australia. Brazil was clearly on the rise, Europe too, and surfers worldwide needed a way to elevate themselves onto the pro surfing stage.

The plan, as it was unveiled in late-1991, was a two-tier world tour, however there were strong objections both from surfers and surfing administrators. During the closing Hawaiian leg, when the ASP was meeting to vote on the following year’s board structure, Triple Crown owner Randy Rarick sent a survey out to surfers asking their opinion on the current state of the ASP. Rarick had an agenda: the Hawaiian leg was healthy, it had an eager list of sponsors, and for ten years it’d been well organised, yet now he feared losing control of his interests.

Rarick wanted more independence to run his contests the way he wanted, however if pro surfing was going to take the next step into the mainstream, the ASP figured it’d need an umbrella sponsor and consistency across the tour, meaning the contest organisers would all have to fall into line.

Like Rarick, some surfers, particularly lower rated Australian surfers, took umbrage calling the QS a “learner’s tour” and second rate. Top-rated surfers, however, deferred to the Cassidy/Hunt model which guaranteed a $100K purse at every event and a defined schedule. More money, less travel.

Yet acceptance didn’t make the new system any easier to understand. Not only did the format of the tour change but the format of the contests did too. Hunt introduced a round robin system where all 48 surfers - the Top 44 plus 4 wildcards - would surf against themselves across three ‘no loser’ rounds. There’d be no priority either.

After 48 heats - 3 surfers a heat, 16 heats a round, 3 rounds - the points would be tallied and a percentage given to each surfer. The system is far too arcane to detail here but it effectively ranked the surfers, with the top 16 progressing into Round 4 and beyond.

Not only was it complex, it was also rife for manipulation. At the first contest of the season, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells, Damien Hardman engineered his last heat so rival Barton Lynch  - surfing in a different heat - wouldn’t progress.

Things hadn’t improved by the Coke Classic. The same system was in place when the tour visited Narrabeen in late April, 1992, and with the free-for-all, no-priority nature things were getting ugly. It wasn’t quite Peter Drouyn’s mantra of ‘kill or be killed’ but heavy hassling and fighting for the inside became the only way to win heats.

On Day Two, then-World Champion Tom Curren made a silent protest, refusing to engage Rob Page in a priority battle, while that night Rob Bain made a more forthright objection, openly criticising the system in the mainstream media who turned it into a low heat sports scandal. Some surfers, such as Brad Gerlach, refused to hassle and found they couldn’t advance against a hard-marking opponent. Gerlach kept his integrity intact but bowed out of both Bells and Narrabeen without jockeying to survive.

The next day Curren upped the ante, writing a letter of protest to Al Hunt then forfeited the rest of the contest, grabbing a cab to the airport. For his dissent, Curren copped a $2,000 fine. Yet it was obvious Al Hunt and his new system - at least the round robin part of it - were against the ropes. An emergency meeting was held where Hunt proposed just one three-man round, the winner of which progressed to Round 3 while the losers moved to sudden death in Round 2. Though hastily organised, a similar version of the system exists to this day.

While the rules were getting refined down in the arena, surfers were also beginning to get their heads around the overarching CT format. With only 48 surfers at the contest, warm up sessions were far less crowded than what they were used to, giving a sense of exclusivity to the new tour. But with that came fear of relegation back to the “learner’s tour”. No longer was the tour a travelling circus where surfers could simply put their entries in and party around the world. They now had to make the grade, and this, coupled with a fresh injection of youth and cutting edge board design, caused a sharp leap in talent on tour. It also led to a swathe of retirements.

Three months prior to the Coke Classic, Kelly Slater won the Hot Buttered Pro Junior, also held at North Narrabeen. Up against Shane Dorian in the Final, each surfer took off on their first wave switchfoot. What was goofy camaraderie between friends was viewed as insouciance by contest director Terry Fitzgerald. A lack of respect for an Australian institution.

Despite Curren’s three titles, Australia still considered itself the natural home of pro surfing, and the quintessential Australian style - back foot heavy, rail engaged - still the vanguard of great surfing. Likewise, Australian businesses ruled the surfing landscape, and homegrown conventions were considered global. Yet If the titans of Oz surfing hadn’t yet realised it, they would soon: everything was about to change.

Feted since he was a junior, it was hard to distinguish what was hype with Kelly Slater, but by ‘91 it was clear he was unlike David Eggers, Bud Llamas, Matt Archbold or any other of the Next Big Things from the US. 1991 was the last year of the single tour, with the 44 top-ranked surfers invited onto the new CT. Slater came 43rd, having surfed just 10 events out of 18, the least amount of all the invited surfers.

Though he won none of those 10 contests, Slater’s future was being gauged by other criteria. There were the obvious factors such as his speed and flexibility, his willingness to unweight the rail - typically frowned upon in Aussie surfing - and slide the tail, or to experiment above the lip, visiting parts of the wave his predecessors ignored and make it functional.

It wasn’t just youthful energy that had him earmarked for greatness, it was his confidence in being cast as the face of a new generation. “Slater is the electricity of the new world order,” said Derek Hynd in a 1992 issue of Surfer mag. Sensing they were being put out to pasture, 80s power surfers stepped up their game, some beating their chests before a heat - as Pottz did, ostentatiously revving himself up for an encounter with Slater in France - or Kong who showed alpha primate form during one infamous heat at St Leu.

Slater may have had the target on his back, yet he also had running mates who gave credibility to the new way of surfing, and collectively pushed it further when they met in heats. From the States, Shane Dorian and Ross Williams were about to join the CT - in ‘93 and ‘94 respectively - while here in Australia Shane Powell and Shane Herring - who were already in the top 48 by the end of 1991 - each had their own version of the new school style.

A Slater, Herring matchup at Narrabeen was indisputable proof that the door was closing on a generation of surfers, making redundant their style, and even other cultural baggage. Paraphrasing Trainspotting, “the world was changing, music was changing, drugs were changing”. Of the latter, there were none, a big change in itself.

Surfboard design was also changing. Most notable was a shift to thinner, narrower boards, but closer inspection revealed fundamental changes across each axis. Led by Al Merrick and Greg Webber, boards were getting more curve in the rocker.

“Longer, more curve nose to tail, narrower, flatter rail to rail, thinner,” said shaper Phil Byrne when asked by ASL what he saw as the main difference between his boards in 1992 and five years ago.

The same issue had an editorial titled ‘The Wafers Are Coming’ mocking American surfers and their sub-18 inch wide boards, yet the board Shane Herring took to the Coke Classic - shaped by Greg Webber in late-1991 - was only 17 ¾ wide. It was similarly diminutive in other dimensions, measuring just 2 inches thick and 5’10” long. By comparison, Slater’s board was 6’1” long, 17 ¾ wide and 2 ¼ thick.

Now stored at Onboard on Sydney's Northern Beaches, Herring's Coke board is slim and thin, yet the planshape, rocker, and concave resemble modern day boards

While shrinking in size and curving at the ends, another key element was being added across the bottom. Concaves weren’t new on surfboards: Duke Kahanamoku’s 1915 Freshwater board has concave in it; a few of Bob Simmons 1950s boards have concave; and more modern shapers such as Mitchell Rae in Australia and Greg Loehr in America used concave. 

Webber himself first dropped concave into a board in 1986, however a few other design elements had to change for surfers to feel the full effect of concaves. For one, modern concaves produce lift so it wasn’t until boards had been shorn of excess foam and fibreglass that the weight came down enough to feel it. By the 90s, rails were being thinned, decks rolled, and board makers were experimenting with lighter ‘pro model’ glassing techniques that reduced weight - and lifespan.

Also, many shaping techniques were borne out of vee bottoms so it wasn’t easy to mix concaves with other design staples, and when concaves don’t match the other curves of a board it can be near enough to unrideable. However, with leading surfers leaning towards them, Webber, Merrick, and other shapers such as Nev Hyman and Phil Byrne had to learn the art of shaping concaves, and fast.

The final element that fell into place was rocker. As mentioned, Slater and Herring were already moving towards heavily rockered boards. Their sub-18 inch boards had straight rails. Without planshape curve they needed to be turned off their rocker line, the theory also being that if the longitudinal curve matched the curve of the wave the surfer could turn tighter and deeper.

A byproduct of these experiments was a new understanding of the relationship of curves across and up the board, and also the relationship of the rail line to the stringer line. When all were correctly placed, the concave would create exceptional lift, creating bursts of speed when the surfer pumped the board, and amazing hold when it was put on rail. From 1991 to 1993, surfing got turbocharged with concaves under the hood.

The unveiling of concaves didn’t rock the foundations the way the Thruster did. Their introductions wasn’t as sudden, nor wholly attributed to one person, and from a distance they’re almost invisible, unlike the spectacle of three fins on the tail of Simon Anderson's board. Concaves did, however, alter surfboard design from that point forward, few pros continued with vee bottoms once Slater and Herring had shown the advantage of concave, and within a year the single to double concave would become the standard shortboard bottom curve. It still is.

Ironically, Herring, the surfer who helped introduce concaves, hopped off them later that year. After the Coke Classic he asked Greg Webber to shape him something extreme that would give him an edge over Kelly. The result was the infamous Banana Board, with Herring taking a fleet of them on tour. Yet despite solid results all year - he finished 4th at year’s end - the boards polarised judges and the media.

Displaying characteristic immoderation, Herring swung the pendulum all the way to the other side and by early-93 he was riding the ‘Baked Bean’, a 5’8” no nose, low-rockered, flat bottom. Such emotional swings manifested themselves in his results, slipping from 4th in ‘92, to 22nd in ‘93, then 44th in ‘94, when despite qualifying for the CT, albeit in last place, he quit pro surfing altogether.

In contrast, Slater slowly brought his extreme designs back to a happy medium. By the end of 1992 his standard width was back up to 18 inches, and he was also World Champion, the first of 11 titles. In fact, though he won’t be competing at Narrabeen, he’s still on tour now, 29 years later.

Similarly, 29 years later the 2021 Narrabeen Classic will use a seven round format almost identical to the one Al Hunt hastily rigged together at the Coke Classic, and the two-tier system - CT and QS - is still the pathway to the world title.

Comments

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 12:09pm

Interesting read, thanks!

Andy Mac's picture
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Andy Mac Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 9:59am

Yes great read Stu Nettle.

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 12:21pm

Great look back Stu. I feel it is a shame we are back at the beach breaks (4 is there?) in 2021 which is full circle. The whole Best surfers Best Waves mantra which came later to the ASP and really sorted who could hold their own in waves of consequence is gone. If the Wozzel can go to Brazil surely they can get to Indo where there are real waves. They should have the final over there not a soft trestles and surely Kelly's tub is a joke at this level. It seems to be devolving to a new lowest common denominator. I want to see theses surfers in waves I wouldn't go out in, not a 2-3 foot rip bowl which I thought looked great fun but come on, the cream of the crop hopping around and doing airs to win in 2-3 foot. Sad.

dr-surf's picture
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dr-surf Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 12:30pm

I feel Fully Briefed.

stunet's picture
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stunet Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 12:35pm

And that was the brief version!

Had to cut out the bits about Coke coughing up equal prizemoney, how the two-tier system hammered Australian surfing dominance, and much of the concave rabbit hole.

One day, maybe

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 1:03pm

any footage of the Final anywhere?

stunet's picture
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stunet Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 1:07pm

Glad you asked!

Now sit back and prepare to be undewhelmed by the surf and the surfing (relative to today of course).

Craig's picture
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Craig Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 1:18pm

Haha sounds like commentary from a horse race, rapid fire.

Hall of Lame's picture
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Hall of Lame Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 2:47pm

PT definitely has the race caller's drawl.
What ever happened to Todd Harris? I like that PT called Herrings manouvre a float after PT called it an air.
Would love to see current crew of commentators back in branded sports shirts.
Some pretty big changes in judging compared to today. A big Slater slash gets a six a Herring end section floater on marginal 2' at best gets a little more.

nextswell's picture
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nextswell Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 7:00pm

And yet still easier to listen to than Joe T

Dannon's picture
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Dannon Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 5:43am

Hahaha...
Yeah mate.
Jabberin Joe Ear Worm.

Roker's picture
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Roker Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 3:28pm

Shane Herring's final words to PT during his winner's interview contain a certain poignancy.

Taken as read at the time.

bluediamond's picture
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bluediamond Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 6:35pm

Surely Joey Turpel learnt everything he knew from that Todd Harris fella. Thought i was listening to him in a parallel universe for a sec there. And for what it's worth, i stiill am a fan of the surfing and surfboards from back then.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 7:54pm

he called the surf 5-7ft.

And PT's American tinged vowels are hard on the ear.

surfing was better than I thought.

Tommy Carrolls power gouges held up well to the ravages of time.

tomdo's picture
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tomdo Sunday, 18 Apr 2021 at 10:50am

Pam Burridge’s timeless style at 14:50 - the highlight.

Hiccups's picture
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Hiccups Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 1:16pm

How did Dooma work that to get Barton out? No wonder they called him The Iceman.

stunet's picture
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stunet Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 1:25pm

Running updates for their scores and the how that placed them after the three round robin heats. 

Dooma knew he'd already done enough to stitch up a Rd 4 showing.

He also knew if his opponent, Dog Marsh, lost then Barton would progress as the 16th and last surfer in Rd 4, but if Dog won then he (Dog) would progress.

So Dooma fell on three bog standard waves.

Hiccups's picture
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Hiccups Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 1:28pm

Full villain stuff.

Dicky Roberts's picture
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Dicky Roberts Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 3:18pm

Wasn't there another contest at North Narrabeen when Hardman engineered an interference from Tom Carrol, spinning around mid-duckdive to stand up in the foam on the same wave as Tom (who was miles down the line) and draw the interference under the rules at the time?

lost's picture
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lost Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 4:05pm

Wow that’s even more full on than Medina’s deliberate interference. Did he kind of make it look like he was trying ?

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 11:39pm

It's not always talent that takes you to the top.
Is there any footage of the curren cab ride.....................?
29 nine years ago,,

Back to your best work @Stunet A+

Bob Sacamano's picture
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Bob Sacamano Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 1:19pm

Nice write up Stu. Though my favourite Coke Classic story will always be "Allan Willis, a 32-year old brickie from Bundaberg who’d surfed twice in the last six months and was recovering from haemorrhoids."

https://www.swellnet.com/news/swellnet-dispatch/2018/04/16/where-wildcar...

brownie48's picture
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brownie48 Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 5:52pm

Wasnt he the fisho who brang an esky full of prawns down with him?

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 2:37pm

Dooma was one of the most ruthlessly competitive pro surfers ever. He was like Medina but he was smarter. Some of the stunts he pulled were pretty epic really; like the time he got TC on an interference... He was a deserving world champ I reckon. I think in 87 he won something like 7 events.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 3:47pm

Is Rip Curl Mick Fanning competing in WSL Rip Curl Narrabeen?
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/sport/not-getting-any-younger-why-mick-...

channel-bottom's picture
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channel-bottom Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 4:08pm

The travel schedule for that 1989 tour with 25 events would have been insane.

jetson.rover's picture
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jetson.rover Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 1:18am

With virtually all the events except the Hawaiian ones held in mediocre beachbreaks or breaks that get good but the comps were held at the wrong time of year so the surf was bad to average,pros that came later and surfed on the 'dream tour',must of thought it was insanity to even be on the tour back then.

mickseq's picture
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mickseq Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 4:34pm

wonder if people were nicer towards each other back then?

angatta cool's picture
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angatta cool Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 8:56pm

Getting trolled was getting bashed

tubeshooter's picture
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tubeshooter Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 7:12pm

Dooma was a caarnt who proudly wore his dirty pool techniques as a badge of honour , but I think he once said something along the lines of 'if they leave it [judging/interference rules] the way it is it's going to get exploited' which IMO was a fair opinion at the time .

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 7:38pm

That was a really good writeup, and explained precisely how the boards changed. Nearly 30 years for that type of design: endurance/stasis.

The reaction didn't wait long. Litmus was around by '95, longboarding exploded again, retro shapes took off; and surfing was split via a schism into sub cultures around different craft. (The design features of domed decks, improved rails and concaves are an improvement no matter the fin configuration or volume - I have a 1974 HB Rainbow board that has a complex single to double concave running through a tail vee, just sayin'.)

Today, most people taking up surfing are going the log/volume path, which has surprised me as it is against the corporate pro surfing imagery; and because of the log's initial obvious ease and accessibility to just get up on a little wave. People are led by other images, eg Insta. Or maybe the customer is making their own mind up and chooses accesibility. I'd guess many here on Swellnet are 5-10 years my senior, so spent the 80's on 3 fin boards and adapted in the 90's. For those starting afterward, you had very narrow boards that were hard to learn on, or you could go searching for volume and end up in different places, discovering things like glide and speed from going in a straight line. I'd argue this early 1990s design process lit a fire under Joel Tudor, who by the late 90's had, with Donald Takayama's help, re-mastered the old art and inspired hundreds of thousands. By 2000 when I was getting my local legend shaper to make me a proper log (just turned 21 now, it's beginning to yellow on the volan at the nose) I was pleading with him to drop the rocker, make it more like a 'Seedling' board... 21 years of fantastic fun in little waves, some of the best money I've spent. Tho now it's way more crowded - it used to be empty!

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 7:58pm

Recent adherents to surfing - particularly older crew -learn at surf schools on soft top logs. That’s why they don’t feel the cultural drag towards high performance as much. The groundwork for the massive uptake in surfing is expressly a result of the decades of corporate advertising and propaganda and their desperate creation of awareness of the sport in the mainstream at every opportunity, especially the lifestyle aspect.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 6:43pm

Agree with all that. It's just so damn marketable.

We could do some of those 'demotivational posters' showing some of the more annoying bits of surfing.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 8:12pm

VJ you reckon you could post some close up pics showing the HB bottom contours with a straight edge ? Cheers

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 6:35pm

Hi Udo, yes I could if I have some time in the week and Ben, Stu or Craig is happy to post it up.

I'd have to play with the light a bit as it's really subtle - you are looking at maybe 2mm depths. So this is taking nothing away with the shapers of the early 90's who took the concept further. But the basis of it was laid here in Oz in the 70's through Terry and HB.

We also have a beaut circa 1979 (? my guess) G&S shaped by Solness which features a single concave going into double concave in the middle, flowing into a vee in the last 1/3. I've posted pics of this board here before with Swellnet's help. Again, really subtle concave work, a couple of mms. Apparently this bottom contour was Nat's favourite as well? But for me, you need the concaves to go through the vee to get the juice.

Early 80's thrusters are great boards too, got tubed on first wave on a circa 84 Rusty on an ordinary day and that just blew me away. My 89 Byrning Spears is missed and AB did a re-issue of it (single to double concave into 6 channel). And the 81 Energy thruster (again, single to double concave, with edged rails really curiously) is a really, really good board. The thick fins in it will hold in any takeoff, it's so stable, it's so flowing, backhand is beautiful (built for Narrabeen for Simon!), none of the nervous chaos that sees you get smashed on a takeoff.

I'll try to play with the light and straight edge in the week. Maybe do it as a post up in the shaping bay.

FWIW I spent a lot of time early 2000s on MC's 'edge' boards (when I wasn't logging or singling) and got some great waves, and one of the best of these post-90's thrusters with big concave I rode was a 'Pretowlon' by MC, very deep concaves and edges if I recall.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 6:40pm

Some quantification (wish there was edit function)

The G&S goes single concave into double concave in middle into a flat, panel vee with no concaves.
The Energy thruster is definitely a vee bottom board, but goes single concave into double concave in the middle, into double concaves through the vee.

The rusty - I remember the vee, it may have had concaves into/through it. Dunno.

All these vees apex before the front fin(s) and then fade out into the tail - is this the magic 'spiral vee'?

angatta cool's picture
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angatta cool Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 8:57pm

Nice story
If you're under 30

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... Friday, 16 Apr 2021 at 9:12pm

Came off the boog in 95’ straight onto those 90’s rockered out boards... used to experiment with old 80’s boards as I got better and found them so much better in average 2-3 ft central coast beachies. Those 90’s boards only started to wrk when it hit 3ft plus. Hence I ride a fish 26 years later....

jetson.rover's picture
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jetson.rover Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 1:02am

'The world was changing,music was changing,drugs were changing'.
'On the latter,there were none,a big change in itself'.
This was not the case with Shane Herring i believe.
Wasn't it drugs,and alcohol,that caused this contest,the entry point to the mainstage of his career,to also be the peak of his career?
And 2 years later his career was already pretty much over?

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 6:37am

Slow morning here so here's a bit of a spiel...

There was a shaper round here that pretty much refused to make the banana boards in the early 90's. His boards we're thinker, wider and less rockered out. His reasoning I think was that the banana boards were too hard to ride for the average surfer. At the time I reckon he lost quite a few customers due to his stance, but as the years have past he's been proven right. Just goes to show that the current tide of fashion in surfboards is hard to swim against if you're selling surfboards.

I think on the whole the average surfboard these days is providing a far better experience for the punters than in years past. There are a few areas where I reckon people could do with a bit of a re-think:

-A lot of surfers can't put a board on rail now as they're using the boards shortness to turn instead of learning how to carve properly.
-I see a lot of average surfers trying to surf stupidly short boards in solid powerful surf, with predictable results. They see Kelly Slater surfing a 5'9 at 6-8ft Pipe and think they can do the same. Pro surfers are freaks of nature. The average punter may as well be on a different planet. There's no shame in riding a 7'0" gun when it gets solid.
-Foam is not always your friend. My fish is 24litres and only 2 1/4 thick. The thing is that it has a decent flat planing surface under my chest and front foot so it catches waves well and goes like a cut cat when I'm up and riding. I've had goes on people's boards that have over 10 litres more volume but they push water due to the rocker. So basically extra foam is of no use if your board won't plane properly. The feeling of sensitivity of a thin board should not be understated.

bluediamond's picture
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bluediamond Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 4:50pm

+1 on this Spuddups, especially point number 2 about surfers riding too short a board for the conditions. Baffles me.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean Sunday, 18 Apr 2021 at 12:22am

Bingo !

Fliplid's picture
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Fliplid Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 4:33pm
I focus's picture
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I focus Saturday, 17 Apr 2021 at 5:12pm

Anyone say concaves.
I think it was a Pollard single fin board (blue) I bought in a surf shop up from the end of the Kirra break, had a concave through the middle, the year was 1977 maybe 78.

It went really good from a vague memory.

radiationrules's picture
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radiationrules Monday, 19 Apr 2021 at 11:41am

luv yer trainspotting investigative journalism stu..that planshape of herrings --very now..

Clam's picture
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Clam Tuesday, 20 Apr 2021 at 2:05pm

Read an article about concaves in a surf magazine by Terry fitz probably from the 70s. Looks like VJ already added that here. He was into the concept and it was a great article -from a long memory...

udo's picture
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udo Tuesday, 20 Apr 2021 at 3:01pm

Tracks Sept 1973..?