WA surf pioneers Brian Cole & Barry ‘Joe’ King started making King & Cole surfboards with Bennett blanks in 1962. Their surfboard factory was located at the corner of Station St & Salvado Rd in Wembley. Later they moved to an old dairy in Harbourne St Wembley.
In 1963 Brian got the travel bug and headed to Europe on a ship with his surfing mates ‘Joe’ King and Bob Keenan.
Brian documented his surf travels in White Horses Magazine Issue 12 – Life of Brian in 2015. This is an extract of Brian’s article in White Horses Magazine plus some additional holiday snaps.
We parted company while hitch hiking through Europe, but joined up again in England where Joe & Bob had purchased a Kombi van. We toured Spain, Portugal & Morocco and checked surf beaches before returning to France.
Photos: 1963 France Cote de Basque (left) Kombi & boys on wall (Right) Biarittz Beach & top French junior surfer John Marie Lartigau – Brian Cole pics.
In France we met a fellow from Barton Surfboards. He allowed us to make boards for ourselves in his factory & we showed him how to improve his glassing techniques. He bought the boards off us when we left Europe.
While in Biarritz we met US film star Deborah Kerr’s husband Peter Viertel. Peter was the original surfer at Biarritz. We became friends & mixed socially. At the time Peter was a script writer for a US film on bull fighting and we helped teach the bullfighters how to surf.
Photos: 1963 France La Barre wave line-up & the mob on the beach – Brian Cole pics.
The French held an International De France De Surf competition at Biarritz and we were invited to compete against surfers from France, Hawaii, USA and Australia.
Photos: 1963 France Biarritz International Competition competitors (Left) Brian Cole & Hawaiian Jan W Lee. (Right) Brian Cole – Brian Cole pic.
Australia’s Peter Troy won the event. Bob Keenan came third and I came fifth in the final. I stayed on in Biarritz for a while with Peter Troy.
Image: 1963 France Biarritz International Surf Comp newspaper report – Brian Cole image.
From France I caught a Yugoslavia tramp steamer to USA. The ship was relatively small (6500 tonnes) and was tossed around the Atlantic in a hurricane. The ship docked in New York & I travelled across the US in a Volkswagen beetle with a fellow I met on the trip. His VW had shipped from France as deck cargo and was badly salt damaged on the journey.
On the US West Coast I teamed up with Bruce Shooper, a wealthy American surfer I met in France. We spent a week in Loz Angles driving round in his Porsche and then he showed the coastline up to Santa Barbara. Bruce knew Miki Dora and we shared a six pack of beer with Miki on Malibu Beach.
Next I travelled down the coast to San Clemente & stayed with guys from Hobie Alter Surfboards. I was astonished to discover Hobie was making 150 boards a week, as that was considerably more than any OZ board builder at the time.
While there I met Jon Severson, the editor of The Surfer Magazine, and film maker Bruce Brown. I told Bruce to contact Cordingley Surfboards when filming ‘The Endless Summer’ in WA. I was happy to hear later that the Cordingley boys showed him around WA. Unfortunately the surf was poor during Bruce’s WA visit.
I left the West Coast, flew to Hawaii and stayed at Velzyland on the North Shore in an old military hut I shared the hut with boys from Seal Beach California.
Photos: 1963 Hawaii Velzyland (Left) Brian’s shack & red Jack Haley surfboard (Right) sunset view from verandah – Brian Cole pics.
In Hawaii I purchased a second hand 10’2” red colour Jack Haley surfboard (ex Seal Beach California) for $90 US off American Arthur Crump. I bought this board home to WA with me.
Image: 1963 Receipt for second hand Jack Haley surfboard. Image courtesy of Brian Cole.
For six weeks I toured the North Shore stretch and mainly surfed Haleiwa.
Photo: 1963 Hawaii North Shore beaches (left) Sunset Beach line-up from the hill (Right) Waimea Bay with elephant rock in foreground – Brian Cole pic.
Banzai Pipeline didn’t agree with 10ft Malibu’s!
Photos: 1963 Hawaii Banzai Pipeline (Left) uncrowded waves (Right) Bill Fury USA – Brian Cole pics.
At the time Bob McTavish was on the run from US immigration for stowing away on a ship from Australia to Hawaii. We sheltered Bob from immigration officials on several occasions, but he was eventually caught and flown back to Australia.
I late 1963 I caught a ship from Hawaii, back to Perth in WA and ended my adventurous life when I married Rhonda in 1964!
Rhonda & I live in the South West and I still enjoy fun waves and great companionship with other mature board riders.
Photos: 2015 Brian (age 76) surfing fun waves at Yallingup on his home made triple stringer Malibu board. Bruce King pics.
2006 Len Dibben Award
In 2006 Surfing WA awarded Brian the Len Dibben Award for his outstanding service towards the development of surfing over an extended period of time.
Image: 2006 Len Dibben Award to Brian Cole. Image courtesy of Brian Cole.
Clink on this link to view Brian Cole’s East Coast Surf Trip 1959-1961