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There is a bit of controversy over who found the surf break at The Farm in Bunker Bay circa 1962.
This is how pioneer SW surfer Tony Harbison heard it. Source Surfing Down South book.
“A young surfer named Barry King (Barry was the Taj Burrow of the 60s) had an uncle in Busselton who owned half of Bunker Bay. So Barry, under instructions from his mother, went to visit his uncle. The bay was working at about 6 foot and the new break was called The Farm”.
At the same time, Murray Smith and his mates in the North End Board Club also found waves at The Farm.
Photos: 1960s surfing at The Farm. Photos courtesy Brian Cole & unidentified.
(Left) 1962 Bob Keenan & Terry Williams. (Right) 1969 Ron Waddell featured in surf mag.
In the early 70s a dirt track run off Bunkers Road and enabled surfers to drive and park near the creek behind The Farm surf break.
Photos: 1971 George Simpson’s Valiant Ute bogged on the dirt track to The Farm. Photos courtesy of Tom Collins.
Photos: 1970s surfing celebrities at The Farm. Photos courtesy of Tom Collins.
(Left) Yalls surfer Paul ‘Rooster’ Woods (dec’d) cover shot West Country Surf mag. (Right) Marg River surfer Lindsay Thompson (dec’d).
SW locals remember The Farm used to produce good shaped waves even on moderate swells before the creek (which flows out to sea at The Farm surf break) was dammed up. Unfortunately the creek no longer creates favourable sand banks as regularly as it used to. That’s a pity!
Photos: 1970s Unidentified surfers at The Farm. Photos courtesy of Tom Collins.
Photos: 1970s The Farm (Left) former private road to beach. (Right) Beach girl Jenny Davies. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.
Photos: 1970s unidentified surfers at The Farm (Sheepdog bottom Right). Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.
Photo: 1976 The Farm & Boneyards surf breaks. Photo courtesy of Gary Gibbon.
In 1978 Vance & Nancy Burrow were living in a rental cottage in Meelup Valley on Geographe Bay. Vance used to drive his 4WD around Bunker Bay & pull up on the beach in front of Boneyards surf break. Driving on that beach is now banned.
Photos: Boneyards at Bunker Bay. (Left) 1978 Vance Burrow. (Right) 1979 Andy Jones. Photos courtesy of Vance Burrow & Gary Gibbon.
Photos: 1980s Steve Hannett surfing at The Farm. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.
Like a lot of other SW surf breaks, increased predator sightings and crowds are impacting on surf breaks at Bunker Bay.
Back in the 60s the front men for popular Perth bands ‘The Banned’ and ‘The Young Blaydes’ were surfer/singers Peter Dyson and Dave Aylett/Greg Wynne respectively.
At the same time in New Zealand young surfer/singer Ric Chan was the front man in popular NZ pop band The Morguemen.
Surfing North Island NZ.
Photos: Mid 60s Ric Chan surfing in NZ. Ric Chan pics.
(Left) Ric surfing unidentified surf break. (Right) Ric’s Ford Cortina & surfboards and Ric with bush turkey & friends in middle pic.
The Morguemen Band NZ
Ric Chan – I was the lead singer/guitarist in the Morguemen band. The band was based out of Masterton and did gigs in Wellington and dance halls throughout the North Island.
We toured the country-side in a vintage 1935 Chrysler convertible with a dicky seat. We purchased the Chrysler for 10 pounds NZ.
I left the band at age 18, then headed to the East Coast of Australia and started photographing my surf travels.
Photos: Mid 60s Ric and the Morguemen band. Photos Ric Chan.
Photos: Mid 60s Morguemen Band promotional photo-shoots. Photos Ric Chan.
Photos: mid 60s the Morguemen’s vintage 1935 Chrysler convertible with dickie seat. Ric Chan pics.
Photos: mid 60s Morguemen’s Band on tour. John McKechnie is in racing googles top left. Ric Chan pics.
Night Clubs Bali
Similar to WA’s Peter ‘Dyso’ Dyson, Ric Chan went into the nightclub business in Bali in the 80s.
Dyso ran the Casablanca and Peanuts Nightclubs and Ric Chan ran the Cheaters Night Club on the Kuta strip.
Dyso – Ric spent most of his time in my nightclubs (-:
Ric Chan – That’s not how I remember it (-:
Photos: Mid 1980s Kuta Bali nightclubs. Photos courtesy of Jim King & Ric Chan.
Photos: Mid 1980s Cheaters Night Club in Kuta Bali & some Bali pics courtesy of Ric Chan.
Ric is back rockin’ in NZ with his family & dog Fella.
At 10 years of age (1948) I started riding my bike from Daglish where I lived to City Beach, that in itself was quite an experience as the then only road leading to City Beach was the old “switch back” a narrow unsealed road which literally went up and down over the sand dunes. At the beach I used to swim and catch wave’s body surfing style with arms to my sides and chest out usually in the white water straight to shore. As I got a bit older I started cutting across the face of the wave with one arm out and hand of the other arm on the face of the wave to keep me in the action area of the wave, I guess that’s where I first experienced the thrill of surfing and I just kept riding that bike back for more.
At about age 12 or 13, I joined my big brother Lyn as a junior member of the North City now Floreat Surf Lifesaving Club and then a couple of years later followed him to the Swanbourne club. Lyn was a pretty good swimmer and won a state junior R&R title in 1952, unfortunately I wasn’t much chop as a swimmer and usually brought up the rear of the field in most races, come to think of it I’m still not much chop as I usually find out when swimming after my board at Margaret’s or Yals after snapping many of Creatures leg ropes, they reckon I’m their best test pilot!
The real stuff was yet to come and at age 17 I ventured down South to Yallingup with my cousin and best mate Ray (Spider) Evans for the Australia day long week end 1955. It took us about 5 hours to get there via the South West Hwy. as there was no coast road then. I can still recall driving the little green bug (Renault) over the hill looking at Yals for the first time and saying “shit spider, have a look at that” both our eyes were popping out of our heads as the waves looked monstrous, in reality it was probably a typical Yals 5-6 foot day but by Perth standards it was huge.
To this day I still don’t know who told us about Yals, I guess the word just got around!
Some of the guys I remember heading down south in the first couple of years included the following:-
Apologies for any left out.
It didn’t take long for the word to get around, so the numbers swelled significantly in subsequent years and still is today.
Photo: Early 1960s Yallingup Beach line-up. L-R Tony Burgess, Don Roper, Dave Williams, Don Bancroft, Howard Kent, Rob Birch, John Peterson, Kevin Merifield, unknown, Alan Hamer, Gary Birch, Mark Paterson, Barry King, Laurie Burke & Colin Moore. Photo courtesy of the West Australian.
Our home at Yalls was an ex-Navy hammock pitched between a couple of melaleuca trees in the virgin bush overlooking Yalls main break. Tucker was usually a couple of tins of baked beans, great for Jim’s blue flame fart trick or spaghetti and meat balls around the camp fire, later jaffles became the go with Horse Williams regularly knocking off a half a dozen or so a meal.
Sometimes for a real treat Red Abbott would walk out on the reef at low tide and catch a couple of octopus which he would cook in olive oil and share if there was enough to go around, it was a bit like JC feeding the multitude.
Getting into the old hammocks at night after a skin full of booze provided a challenge which often resulted in being tipped upside down with the help of a mate flat on your face in the dirt. Trying to keep warm wasn’t easy until someone got hold of a couple of ex air force bear suits which the fighter pilots used to wear in world war 2, they were great and it wasn’t long before quite a few of us had one. When it rained, we used to head for the shelter of the veranda of the old one room Yallingup primary school on the corner of Caves Rd. and Wildwood Rd. just down the road from where I now live, or sometimes if there was an unlocked door or window head for one of the old Hammond cottages, which were the only houses on what is now the exclusive Yallingup hill.
Often in the mornings at first light we would be wakened by the sounds of the then budding trumpet player Don Bancroft a non-drinker going through the scales to the annoyance of the hung over, bleary eyed rest of the crew. After much yelling of abuse and rock throwing to no avail it was time to scramble out of the hammock and from where we were camped check out the waves. Don later became one of the leading Trad jazz trumpeters in Australia and if I’m ever in Perth on a Saturday arvo and not watching my old footy team Subi, I head down to the Railway hotel North Fremantle to see Don and his Cornerhouse Jazz Band do their stuff.
Photo: 1957-68 Subiaco Football Club. Kevin Merifield SFC 213 games & 4 State games – Photo courtesy of the Subiaco Football Club and Weekend News.
When it was time to go for a surf we would venture out at Yals on whatever equipment we had. For the first couple of years that was usually a 16 foot toothpick ex lifesaving paddle board, 9-10 foot home made hollow ply board, chest board, hand board and not to be outdone Jim Keenan & Cocko’s whopping big double ski which was about 25 foot long.
For me at first it was a chest board which was probably the equivalent of today’s body board. It was about 4 foot x 18 inches marine ply with turned up nose, they were originally hired out at Scarborough beach as ‘surf shooters’ in the 1920s / 30s but later banned, being too dangerous at the popular beach. After being stored at the Scarborough surf club for many years we managed to get hold of a few which were ‘re born’ at Yals.
Photo: 1950s wooden chest board similar to the board used by Kevin. It is understood this board was made by Ward boat builders. Photo courtesy of Bob Green.
Kevin – The board built by Ward looks very familiar and similar to the one I used to use, chrome handles and all. You will notice the concave at the bottom that used to fit around our mid drift when lying on the board, we also wore flippers. Hard to see if the Ward board had turned up nose as mine certainly did.
Surfing in those early years was hassle free, dropping in wasn’t a problem and it was normal to see 3 or 4 guys on the same wave sometimes even holding hands. Jim and Cocko were classic to watch on their double ski as was Pato doing head stands no wonder Jake and Paul turned out so good and Davo carving up the waves in great style, he was probably the pick of the bunch at that stage. Kneel paddling was the go and for some like Pato finished up with calluses on their knees the size of tennis balls. There were no wet suits, or leg ropes just ‘budgie smugglers’ or a pair of old footy shorts and jumper which meant you spent half the time swimming after your board in the bay at Yals and if you wiped out spent time under water trying to free the footy jumper wrapped around your head.
For the first couple of years we only surfed Yalls but then started exploring other spots, they included Injidup Bay now Car Park Gallows and South Point. Getting to Injidup was a challenge as there were no roads or 4 wheel drive vehicles just a sandy fisherman’s track with plenty of limestone outcrops. You would regularly get bogged and more often than not take out a muffler or stake a tyre. About the only car that could handle the track trouble free was the old reliable VW Beetle, they would go anywhere and looked a sight with six or more 9/10 foot Mals strapped on the roof. It seems funny now but we surfed South Point for a couple of years, usually when it was onshore at Yals before someone said “hey have a look at that over there” pointing to what is now famous North Point. We also didn’t make it to Margaret’s until 1960/61.
I can’t recall exactly when, probably late fifties, Davo, Horse and myself ventured south down the beach after a surf at Gallows and spotted a few good looking waves coming in, Davo said that looks like a cut throat wave and hence ‘Guillotine’ a now popular break was born.
There is always conjecture as to who and when the first waves were ridden at Yals and Margaret’s. At Yals the names of Ron Drage, Rod Baker & Don Morrison and Bruce Hill, Bernie Huddle & Bill Pratley come to the fore. Bill Pratley swears it was he, Moonshine & Bernie in Easter 1953 and I reckon that’s probably right. As for Marg’s the most accepted claim is that Mal Bromley and Warren McKinney were the first in either 1960 or 61, Murray Smith, Cliff Hill & other names also pop up in conversation. Harbo claims Mal & Warren came back to Caves House raving about the monster waves they discovered and surfed at Prevelly. With more than a few ales under our belts their claims were dismissed as exaggerated bullshit, “nothing could be bigger than Yals we all said. Harbo reckons he and I went down there the next day and surfed it but my memory fails me on that one.
Image: 1969 Kevin Merifield surfing Margaret River main break. Image courtesy of Sunday Times.
Around 1957/58 we formed the West Coast Board Riders club with meetings held in Davo’s garage in Wembley. By then, there were regular groups heading down south for weekends, this usually entailed 4/5 hour trips via South West Hwy. with the obligatory refreshment stops (pubs) along the way. By the time we hit Yals we were well and truly primed for a good days surf the next day. On the return trip home we would often stop at the Highway Hotel in Bunbury for the Sunday arvo session. With Bernie Huddle (piano), Don Bancroft (trumpet) Moonshine (clarinet) Artie Taylor (trombone) and Harbo (tea chest slap base) we had the makings of a pretty good Trad jazz band. The band and the rest of us would get free grog which made it all worthwhile. How we got back to Perth in one piece I’ll never know!
After a few years of roughing it between the melaleucas at Yals we put the hard word on Bill Copley, the then manager of Caves House hotel to take over the old laundry as our new home. After a bit of tidying up, double decker bunks, concrete floor and a roof over our heads we really had it made, and we only had to stagger about 50 metres back to the ‘Shack’ as it became known after a night at Caves. With sometimes a dozen or so crammed into the shack it was every man for himself. They were hilarious times with everyone taking the piss out of each other, it was a laugh a minute with some real characters within the group. The mateship amongst that early crew was very special and still is today.
Photo: 1962 Yallingup WCBC shack with Laurie Burke’s FB Holden & the Ghost’s Holden panel van out the front. Brian Cole pic.
A couple of years later another shack was built not far from the original to house the ever increasing crew heading south, most were younger than the original crew and many too young to hold a Driver’s license hence the originals became known as the ‘big wheels’ and the younger crew the ‘little wheels’.
A collection of my anecdotes follows:-
Mixing with the locals
For the first couple of years the locals, primarily dairy farmers couldn’t work out who these weird bods were invading their territory, trespassing on their land and going out in what they considered wild seas and shark invested waters. Even back in those days we dressed, acted and spoke differently (surf speak had already began). Sometimes on a Saturday we would head into Busselton for a night out on the town. It usually took about a half an hour at the Vasse or Commercial hotels before it would be on. The locals would have a go at us and it would be good old fashion one on one fisticuffs for about 5 minutes until you were both buggered then up to the bar to share a beer together. After a while the locals got to know us better and we became good mates with some and were eventually accepted into the community.
Proto-type leg rope
Getting tired of swimming after his 16 foot toothpick at Yals Bill Pratley proclaimed enough was enough. What was probably the first attempt to attach board to body Bill tied a big hunk of rope around his waist and the other end to the handle on the tail of his 16 foot tooth pick board, the rope was pretty thick and no way was it going to snap. Bill paddled out at Yals on a reasonable size day, took off, blew it, got wiped out and consequently got dragged behind his board all the way to shore. I can still picture his head bobbing up in the white water every now and then desperately gasping for air on the journey to shore, just as well he had good lungs!
There were times when we would be sitting out the back at Yalls when someone would yell out “lookout here comes Butch”. All eyes would turn to the sky and in the distance this little single engine plane would be heading our way. Before long Butch would swoop over us at about 10 feet above the ocean do a loop and come back for seconds. We would be crapping ourselves usually diving under as he passed over us. We got to know Butch a local farmer and real character and after we discovered Guillotine, put the hard word on him to put in a track for us from Gallows. Butch who never wore shoes had feet about 6 inches wide with soles as hard as leather, he came to have a look and literally walked through this prickly bush scrub as though it was carpet, “no worries boys” he said, went home got his bulldozer and an hour later we had our track, total cost 1 carton of beer.
Photos: 1960s Butch Guthrie with bi-planes and tractor on his Moses property. Photos courtesy of Guthrie family.
While there are old car bodies littered along Butch’s old dirt track to Gallows as testimony to its roughness, Kevin didn’t need a 4wd to conquer the track, he did it with ease in his Mercedes sedan.
Photo: 1968 Kevin Merifield driving his Mercedes 280SE on the Gallows track. Photo Jim McFarlane.
There was this time when we were in our hammocks at Yalls and it started to piss down. Jim Keenan said let’s check out one of the Hammonds cottages, so he Spider and myself headed off and managed to find one with a window unlocked, after settling in with a bed each there was this knock on the door with a female voice shouting “come on out I know your there”, there was silence and then after about the third time, Jim casually called back in a soft voice “There’s no one here”, we pissed ourselves laughing and with tails between our legs fessed up to a not so amused Mrs. Hammond.
Photo: 1971 a Hammond Cottage on Elsegood Road Yallingup. This cottage was purchased by Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell. Photo courtesy of Peter Bothwell.
Spider Evans, Jim Keenan and myself would often hitch a ride down south with Bernie Huddle in his FB Holden. Bernie who was an industrial chemist by profession wasn’t very mechanical minded, Jim sitting in the front seat without Bernie realizing would ease his leg across, put his foot on the clutch and slowly push the peddle down. With the motor revving like hell Bernie would throw his hands in the air and declare “there’s something wrong with this bloody car” Jim would suck Bernie in several times without him ever knowing what was going on, Spider and myself would be pissing ourselves in the back seat. After a couple hours of driving Bernie would be seen continuously tapping the fuel gauge and further declaring “there’s something wrong this bloody thing keeps going down”.
Photo: 1958 City of Perth SLSC members L-R Bernie Huddle, Tony Harbison, Artie Taylor, Dave Williams, Colin Taylor & Bruce’ Moonshine’ Hill. John Budge pic.
Spider’s lucky break
One night at Caves House Hotel Arty Shaw lined up this barmaid and arranged for her to meet him back at the shack after she knocked off. At closing time we all staggered back to the shack and settled in for the night. About a half an hour later, I heard this little faint voice in the darkness calling “John are you there” Spider not being one to miss an opportunity responded also in a faint voice “over here” Well Spider did pretty well for himself that night and for me on the bunk above him, it was little sleep with the boat rocking and rolling all night. At daylight we heard this almighty scream and the barmaid yelling “who the hell are you”, Spider had a grin on his face from ear to ear for the rest of the week end.
One day at big howling offshore Marg’s Ghost Kent took off on this huge set wave and didn’t make the drop. Paddling back after a wave I spotted Ghost swimming to shore after his board. I paddled over to him and said “Ghost your board went back over the wave and is heading out to sea”. Ghost who wasn’t a very strong swimmer turned around and headed back after his board. After sitting back in the line-up for a while and watching what was going on I realized Ghost wasn’t making any headway as his board with the aid of the stiff offshore was drifting faster than he could swim. I decided it was rescue time and took off after his board, by the time I got to it and caught up with him we were probably a K or more off shore in the deep black water struggling like hell to make any headway. I reckon it took us a good hour or more to make it back where we both collapsed buggered on the shore, but very pleased to be back on dry land.
Photo: 1961 The Ghost surfing Gallows on a King and Cole surfboard. Photographer unknown.
Serenade at Caves House
Sometimes in the arvo after a good mornings surf we would head over to Cave House for a quiet ale. Caves a State Govt. owned hotel then catered mainly for honeymoon couples. We would sit on the road next to the pub playing 78 rpm Trad Jazz vinyl records on a wind up gramophone which was our kind of music in those days. Jim Keenan’s favourite was ‘I want a gal just like the gal that married dear old dad’ it was a great rendition but after about 10 times straight it got a bit much. The honeymooners also thought so and would lean out the window telling us to shut up.
When we went to Gallows for a surf pre track days we had to walk through the scrub for about a mile, board perched on our head Indian style. We would sneak past the Cullity house in the middle of the scrub and if you were lucky sometimes get a glimpse of a very attractive Cullity daughter sun baking nude in the back yard. On our way back we would collect drift wood from the sand dunes and trade it for a Devonshire Tea at Mrs. Hunt’s Tea Room on Caves Rd (now Lavender Tea House), she used to use it for dry floral art arrangements.
These days Kevin is retired and lives on a rural property in the South West with his wife Margaret. He still surfs in the South West and enjoys surfing up north during the cold SW winter.
Photo: 1990s Kevin Merifield surfing Turtles on the North West Coast. Photographer unknown.
70th Birthday party.
In 2008 Kevin celebrated his 70th birthday with surfing friends at his Millbrook property.
Photos: 2008 Kevin’s 70th birthday pics and bottom right 2012 Kevin & Harbo at Yalls. Photos courtesy of Kevin Merifield & Loz Smith.
Kevin has written & published his biography ‘An Interesting Life’ for friends and family…see book cover below.
In the 1960s Dave ‘Davo’ Aylett lived with his mum and dad in a block of flats his dad built in Marine Parade Cottesloe. Dave surfed the local breaks and played in the popular Young Blaydes Band.
Photo: 2016 Belvedere Apartments in Marine Parade Cottesloe. Davo’s dad built these apartments. Dave Aylett pic.
These are some of Dave’s recollections of growing up in Cottesloe.
The most beautiful woman in the world.
I lived with my mum and dad in a block of flats dad built at 120 Marine Parade Cottesloe. It was very early 60s. Before I opened the front door I looked over the balcony railing. What a vision! Driving a bright red 57 Chev convertible was this ample chested gorgeous woman. I nearly fell over the balcony trying to get a better angle when she disappeared into the parking spaces 2 flights down. Like some sort of crazed animal I descended then abruptly nonchalantly strolled as this vision became real. Her lips moved and words came out something like.” Will my car be alright here?” I burbled something in response and she rode the lift upstairs. Just to get another look I rocketed up the stairs. She drifted from the lift and said to me. “You must be David”. Once again I burbled something. She smiled and went in her front door. That was TANIA VERSTAK ! I was IN LOVE and suddenly heartbroken when I was told she had married Peter Young. They were tenants of dad’s.
Editor’s note: Tanya Verstak was Miss Australia in 1961 and Miss Universe in 1962.
Photo: 1961 Tanya Verstak Miss Australia. Web image photographer unknown.
I lived over the road from the beach. My friends and I must have thought we were pretty cool as we big mouthed on the beach. Someone said. “Get a load of this!” We all turned and looked. IT WAS MY MUM, with a glass of water in one hand and some pills in the other, awkwardly negotiating the sand dune heading my way. Oh GOD. I’d forgotten to take the antibiotics I was taking for a rather nasty case of reef poisoning. BOY, did I cop it from my mates. Every now and then someone would say, “I think I see your MUMMY” and I would duck. This incident topped my dad coming down the beach with an apple saying “have this son, it should tide you over till dinner!” I copped it for that too.
Photo: 1960 North Cottesloe Beach. L-R Glen Smith, Cliff Hills, Rob Birch & Graham Booth in front of the North Cottesloe surf club. Tania Hills is in the background. Cliff Hills pic.
I once had a Morris Minor with many faults one of which was the hand brake. Mine was the first of the overhead valve pre the Morris 1000, which had a one piece screen instead of a split screen.
One night up in Kings Park I was making out with this chick when things begun getting serious.
I was parked on a gentle rise coming onto the road and as we shed our clothes we retired to the back seat. The transition from the bucket seats to the rear bench was tight. Next I knew there was a gentle bump and the darkened car suddenly was ablaze with light and car horns were erupting. My little Morris was broadside across the road and I heard raucous laughter as I made my way to the driver’s seat nude from the back seat where my companion hid. From that time on I found parking facing downhill into the curb was the answer.
Photo: 1955 model Morris Minor 2 door sedan similar to Davo’s wheels. Web image photographer unknown.
This was like my old Morris. Horrible car, probably one of the worst I owned.
Short boards with twin fins were introduced to Australia by Santa Cruz surfer/shaper Tom Hoye in 1970. He built the first OZ twin fin at Barry Bennett’s board shop in Brookvale NSW.
Tom Hoye moved to South West WA in 1971 and started making surfboards in a small shack next to Surfside at Yallingup. He then moved his surfboard factory to Smiths Valley in 1972, Cowaramup in 1977 and Margaret River in 1980.
Photos: (Left) 1971 Tom Hoye at fisherman’s shack Contos Beach Margaret River. Photo Gary Kontoolis (Right) 1972 Tom Hoye Surfboards Yallingup sticker. Image courtesy of Grant Mooney.
Tom has been producing quality surfboards at Precision Equip Surfboards in Margaret River since 1980.
These are Tom’s ‘origin of twin fin in OZ’ recollections.
This is the way I remember the twin fin story. In the late 50s American surfboard shaper Dale Velzy did the first twin, it was ‘58 I think. It was a full size Malibu. I saw a picture of it in the 60s when I was working for O’Neill’s. It had stinger fliers 3/4 down the rail, pin tail with twin fins, so first stinger, also. Too far ahead, didn’t catch on.
Image: 1965-66 Tom Hoye surfing Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz California. Photo by Dave Singletary.
Photo & text sourced from Images of America, Surfing in Santa Cruz by Thomas Hickenbottom with the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Published 2009.
In 69 just as I was getting ready to leave California and immigrate to Australia. Corky Carroll started using a twin fin. So I decided to take one with me to Aust.
I brought three shapes with me, all were around 3” thick down rail with tucked edges and full length rocker.
I had been in Aust for around 1 month. Bought a truck drove it to the Palm Beach caravan park and built a camper inside. On my first day looking for a job, I went by Dee Why point and it was 6′ and clean one guy out, decided to surf before looking for work, and I tried out the new twin. The guy in the water was Terry Fitzgerald and we were sitting deep in front of the swimming pool, not really twin fin country. I got some good waves but from the first one I was thinking that I was not really into the twin trip, no drive off the bottom.
After we got out of the water Terry noticed the twin fin and asked about it. He said he shaped for Shane Surfboards, and I said I shaped and was looking for work. I told him I didn’t really like twin fin because it had no drive, and showed him my other shapes, raving about my 6’8”because it worked so well. He couldn’t get his mind around the bottom shapes and rocker at that point and didn’t identify with my other shapes.
I ended up getting a job with Bennett Surfboards taking over from Bob McTavish. Two weeks later surfing the ‘butter box’ at Long Reef, Terry came paddling up and turn his board over and said “check this out, I really like twins.” From there the whole thing took off.
I put a trailing keel, like my 6’8”, behind my twin on my 5’4” and it worked much better, still not enough drive. I don’t know why I didn’t think of three equal fins at that point! In retrospect, probably because the twin fins were too far back in the first place.
Photo: 1970 Tom Hoye with Twin Fin from Bennett Surfboards. Photo courtesy of Bennett family.
This image was used in an advertisement for Bennett Surfboards which appeared in Tracks Magazine issue #1 1970.
I ended up shaping around 300 shapes for Bennett, most were twins and custom orders. I talked to a few of the guys who had ordered boards, I told them what I thought about twins, showed them mine with the little keel, no one went for it, they all just wanted two fins because that was the current thing. Also at that point in time the little trailing keel was looking different, if not a little unusual.
By the time I got to W.A. (Easter holidays 1971) I still had a 5’10” twin but didn’t use it much. I surfed the south west for a week, met the half a dozen surfers that were living here. It was a good week swell wise. The next week I started working for Tom Blaxell and was into shaping mostly single fins for Margaret’s and the south west waves.
Photo: 1971 Tom Hoye & Tony Hardy shapers for Blaxell Surfboards in Osborne Park Tom Blaxell pic.
I have been surfing 5 fins (Da Claw) since 1981. The best fin configuration I have used in the last 50 years (and I have tried heaps of different configurations) I was stoked to see Kelly Slater using 5 fins at Margaret’s Pro Comp in 2012.
From the start I have never tried to sell them to other surfers because they are harder to build and thrusters work well, but I liked them so much that I had a Da Claw cartoon designed and I produced Da Claw t-shirts in 1984 to try and get people to think about it in their own mind. A few of my friends got my old ones, a few people ordered them in the 80’s, 90’s and started using Da Claw, but mostly just me. Around 2006 Margaret River surfers started being interested when WA surfing legend Jeff ‘Camel’ Goulden borrowed my 8’4′ and charged south side M.R.at around 8 to 10 foot. Then in 2012, Kelly Slater used 5 fins at Margaret River in a pro contest. Today I have Da Claw stickers for the boards because they represent 70% of my production.
Images: (Left) 1984 Da Claw cartoon design. (Right) 2008 Tom with 6’10” Da Claw board. Images courtesy of Tom Hoye.
South West surfer Wade Jancey has been riding a Tom Hoye designed twin fin since 2001.
These are Wade’s comments and photos.
In 2001 I pulled an old twin fin from the rafters for a novelty surf. It had been my second fibreglass surfboard and I hadn’t surfed it for 13 or 14 years. After my first wave I realised that my opinion of it as a bad board was probably driven by my being a bad surfer back in the day. It was fast and super loose and I loved it. It did, however, slide a little too much for my liking. After a few more surfs and loving it I decided to get a twinnie custom made. The old girl was very decrepit after living outside for the best part of a decade and some of my juvenile ding repairs involving poly filler. I did a little research and found out about Tom. He struck me as the most likely to do a decent twin fin as he had actually shaped the things.
After a “quick chat” with Tom and showing the old board to him, he built the Raging Red Rocket. Tom modernised the rails, incorporating more of an edge at the back and a true down rail instead of the 50/50 that was on most of the rails on the first board. He also talked me into the small keel. Apparently this is how he shaped them originally, prior to Mark Richards winning his World Titles when most people no longer wanted the keel. The board came from a 6’10” blank I believe as Tom wanted to use the flatter part of the blank and not the built in rockers of contemporary blanks. He also deepened the channels slightly, although they are still a long way from a deep six. Tom put his usual concave to flat to vee with double concave bottom in it, then pushed the channels through that. My first surf on it was at six foot Margaret’s Mainbreak.
The board has been a truly magic beast. It has surfed knee to triple overhead waves. It is super fast and responsive, yet never spins out if laid on rail or pushed hard in a cutty with the back foot. It has held me in good stead in barrels up north and down south, although, to be fair, they are waves without a ledging take off that then barrel rather than take off and pull in type waves, but that’s probably more my deficit than anything to do with the board. For many years it was my secret weapon as for a good decade I was on a high volume 5’10” before Slater made shorter, thicker, wider trendy. The proof of Tom’s design is that over the years six people who have surfed it have had copies of it made, the most recent completed early this year.
Photos: Wade’s 2001 Tom Hoye designed twin fin with keel fin. Wade Jancey pics.
Photos: Tom Hoye pics courtesy of Chris Warrener.
(Left) 2008 Tom at Precision Equip surfboard factory in Margs. (Right) 2009 Tom receiving Surfing Industry Award at Surfing WA Award night held in the city.
Photos: 2000s Tom Hoye hand crafting surfboards at Precision Equip Surfboard factory in Margaret River. Photos courtesy of Tom Hoye & Chris Warrener.
Photos: 2010 big wave surfer Jim Connolly with his 12ft Precision Equip surfboard. Tom Hoye pics.
Top: (Left) Jim Connelly picking up new stick. (Right) Tom Hoye with Jim’s 12ft board
Bottom: Jim charging on the 12 footer at big Margaret’s.
Tom – Jim Connelly is a work away guy and friend of Camel’s. He’s in Hawaii at the moment & in his words “getting the best and biggest waves of his life”. I have been storing his12 footer for around 2 years. Jim has given Campbell Chambers and Robbie Bruce approval to use it on large swells if they want. It was made for Cow Bombie, but hasn’t made it out there yet. Jim is one of those guys that likes big shapes and big waves.
Photos: 2016 Tom Hoye hand crafted surfboard shapes. Tom Hoye pics.
Tom– These are the current shapes I have just finished.
You can contact Tom at Precision Equip Surfboards Lot 4, 1 Burton Road Margaret River.
Ph. 97572585 or 0428224402 Email: email@example.com