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Origin of Twin Fin Surfboards in Oz by Tom Hoye

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.

1970s Tom Hoye in SW collage_photocat

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.

1965-66 Tom Hoye surfing Steamer Lane USA - Images of America book 2009 IMG_0497

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.

  1. 5’4” twin fin, 13” nose, 20” wide, 14” rounded sq. tail with a 10” block, fins too far back at around 8”, bottom was a full length  vee, no concaves.
  1. 6’0” single fin, 12” nose, 20” wide, 13” round tail, bottom was a nose vee to a disc concave (deep) edge around the concave front foot back, exiting out the tail as single.
  1. 6’8” single with a trailing keel that came from the back of the fin, 6” long 0” to 1” high at the very end of the tail. 12” nose, 19 1/2” wide, 12” diamond tail with an 8” block, bottom was entry concave to vee with concaves either side of vee (deep) exiting out the tail as duals.

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.

1970 Tom Hoye and Twin Fin with Bennett Surfboards. Bennett family

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.

1970 Tom Hoye & Tony Hardy Blaxell shapers Osborne Park Tom Blaxell pic

Da Claw

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.

Regards

Tom

Images: (Left) 1984 Da Claw cartoon design. (Right) 2008 Tom with 6’10” Da Claw board. Images courtesy of Tom Hoye.

1981 Da Claw sticker & 2008 Tom Hoye & Da Claw board 1 - collage

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.

Wade Jancey.

Photos: Wade’s 2001 Tom Hoye designed twin fin with keel fin. Wade Jancey pics.

2001 Tom Hoye twin fin with keel fin - Wade Jancey pic

Photo Gallery

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.

2008-9 Tom Hoye factory & award collage_photocat

Photos: 2000s Tom Hoye hand crafting surfboards at Precision Equip Surfboard factory in Margaret River. Photos courtesy of Tom Hoye & Chris Warrener.

Tom Hoye factory 7 collage_photocat

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.

2016 Jim Connelly 12ft PE surfboard at MR collage_photocat

Photos: 2016 Tom Hoye hand crafted surfboard shapes. Tom Hoye pics.

TomThese are the current shapes I have just finished.

2016 Tom Hoye surfboards 4 collage

You can contact Tom at Precision Equip Surfboards Lot 4, 1 Burton Road Margaret River.

Ph. 97572585 or 0428224402    Email:  hoyequip@gmail.com

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  • Steve

    Tommy Hoye led the way in setting up shaping down south WA , lots try to ignore the fact that Tom was a true early pioneer and brought with him truly advanced shaping and laminating skills in most cases far more advanced than what was going around in WA for shapes designed to work with the power of the southwest waves , skills he learnt shaping boards for Sunset in Hawaii.
    Toms love of all things surfing remains as strong as the day he was first stoked back in Santa Cruz we are lucky to have Tom turn up in WA he drove some real design innovations we have all benefited from and he remains true to the spirit of ALOHA.

    • SurfingDownSouth

      Steve. Thanks for the feedback. I will forward your comments onto Tom in Margs.