Malibu ‘Mals’ surfboards where introduced into the WA in the early 1960’s. They replaced the longer, heavier, less manoeuvrable Toothpick surfboards. At that time, there was no balsa or fibreglass surfboard business in WA and the Malibu boards were imported from Gordon Woods and Barry Bennett Surfboards in NSW.
Malibu Surfboards background
Malibu surfboards originated at Malibu Beach in California. The longboard shape has a slightly pulled in nose and tail sections for extra manoeuvrability. This classic shape has been ridden and praised by experienced surfers for its manoeuvrability and performance. Classic party tricks eg “Hang Five” and “Hang Ten” can be performed on a Malibu board. There was a resurgence of longboarding in the late Eighties and Mals are still popular worldwide.
Photo: 1959 the boys & their toys on Yallingup Beach. This image includes a collection of different surfboard types at Yallingup Beach. The boards range for plywood toothpicks to balsa and a few fibreglass Malibu surfboards. The boys include Ken Hamer, Bernie Huddle, Dave Williams, Cliff Hills, Mark Paterson & others. Photo credit Bill Pratley.
Jim Keenan: “My first Malibu board was a Gordon Woods balsa with a centre stringer for added strength. Balsa was imported from South America and was expensive to say the least. My board if I remember right cost about 30 quid and represented approximately five weeks salary. On a relative scale that would put a new board at approximately $10,000.
I well remember the Californian life guards performing at Torquay and Sydney in 1956. They certainly created surfing history with the introduction of Malibu surfboards into Australia.
We were so isolated in WA in those early days, as the ‘Septics’ had been riding Mals way back in the forties. Those bloody Gidget movies stuffed up surfing because it revealed the life style and as a consequence a greater participation.”
Photo: 1961 pioneer SW surfers resting on Yallingup Beach with imported Malibu’s & some homemade balsa surfboards. The crew includes Keith Campbell, Don Roper, Bob Keenan, Brian Cole, Howard ‘The Ghost’ Kent and other unidentified persons. In the background are the old timber change rooms, timber steps and a shelter for the lifesaving reel. Photo courtesy of Terry Williams.
In 1961 Brian Cole & Barry ‘Joe’ King formed King & Cole Surfboards in Wembley and commenced making fiberglass Malibu surfboards to cater for the local market.
Brian Cole: ” We used Bennett blanks and at that time Bennett Surfboards were experimenting with coloured foam. They blew foam with different colours and some of their surf boards had dual colour foam. Previously most fibreglass boards were coloured white to cover the discolouring in the foam.”
Photo: 1961 King & Cole Surfboards logo. Photo courtesy of Brian Cole.
Photos: 1961 Howard “The Ghost” Kent surfing a King & Cole malibu surfboard at the Gallows in the SW. Photographer unknown.
By 1962 Dibben & Cole, Cordingley Bros & other surfboard manufacturers followed King & Cole and started manufacturing fibreglass surfboards in WA.
See Surfing Down South and Surfing WA celebrating 50 Years books for more details of WA’s surfboard industry in the 60s.