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Pantsman memories by Tom Blaxell

Former WA Surfboard manufacturer Tom Blaxell recalls Greg ‘Pantsman’ Laurenson.

I first met ‘Pantsman’ in 1966. It was at Cordingley Surfboards in Hay Street Subi, where Colin Cordingley had just given me a job for the summer school holidays as a board repairer.

I had made my own first board in the garage at home in ‘64 when I was age 14, and had been instantly hooked on surfing. I also had this creative side and loved making things as well.

Seeing my enthusiasm for surfing, my Dad bought me a book by Midget Farrelly called “This Surfing Life” which had this underlying theme of submersing your life in surfing and I swallowed it hook line and sinker.

In those days there was no such thing as professional surfing, so the only way to make a living out of surfing was to get involved in making the equipment.

Ding fixing has always been the starting point in a surfboard making career, and sure enough it is the best way to hone your skills initially, on a miniature but broad range scale. Repairing a board actually involves small amounts of shaping, graphics, glassing, sanding and finishing – all the major skills in making a board.

So there I was on the threshold, on $20 a week and blessed by being amongst a fine team of experienced craftsmen who were at the height of their game.

Colin Cordingley was the nicest guy you could come across and was the front man for the shop, along with his wife Jenny, who had this knack of somehow making me feel like I was her little favourite.

Colin’s brother Rex was the main task master and head shaper. He could get a little grumpy at times but every team needs somebody to keep the show rolling, and he always kept his sense of humour.

Photo: 1970 Colin and Rex Cordingley with Bill Oddy at Australia Day contest presentations at Yallingup. Ric Chan pic.

Kathleen King and David Moss are among the spectators’ bottom left.

Charlie Campbell was the ultimate glasser who toiled like clockwork, ever dependable, never making a fuss and a great working companion.

Photos: 1970s Charles Campbell – Cordingley glasser images. Norm Bateman pics.

Left: 1970s Charles at Cordingley Surfboards Subi.

Right: 1975 Charles skate boarding at Carine.

Dave Ellis was a more colourful character with a certain artistic flavour to his way of thinking. He did the graphics, glossing and most of the sanding. He guarded his gloss room like Fort Knox and used to do a lot of the glossing in the cool of night. He also did some repairs and was the one who gave me most of the guidance in my work.

Photos: 1970s Dave Ellis – Cordingley finisher images.

Left: 1970s Dave at Cordingley Surfboards Subi. Norm Bateman pic.

Right: 1979 Dave at Cordingley Surfboards Jolimont. Ric Chan pic.

Then there was Pantsman, the rising star shaper. The thing that struck me about him most was his totally engaging way of communication. What with big wide eyes, full of interest, his insightful thoughts and questions, delivered with such eloquence and spiced with humour amongst the foam dust. It always required a considered response, so that the briefest exchange, even if it was just a joke, left you with the feeling that it was something important and it stuck in your mind. He could become spell binding, and always made you feel good when you had a chat.

Photos: 1970s Pantsman images

Left: 1970s Pants in Cordingley Surfboards Advt which appeared in West Coast Surfer magazine.

Right: 1970 Pants with GL Surfboard and mates at Yallingup. Ric Chan pic.

For some unknown reason he dubbed me “ Tonneau “ and always opened up with it whenever we ran into each other, and I would be compelled to respond “ Pantsman”, a silly little thing that I always cherished.

Of course in those days, as a punter you got to talk to the shaper, and even get to watch him shape your board. Greg’s gift for communication stood him well in that arena, and of course also later as a contest commentator.

At the same time Pants was of course an extremely talented craftsman who set himself very high standards. In those early days at Cords he was fairly new on the scene but I could see him rapidly developing a growing following, which was encouraging for an even younger bloke like me.

At the end of summer it was back to school, but a lot of my mates wanted me to make boards for them which I did in my spare time in the garage. When I finished school that year I had decided that I wouldn’t go on to Uni but instead devote my life to surfing, so it was back to Cords again.

By the end of that summer the demand in the garage had grown to mates of mates, and it had got to the point where I had 20 boards on order. That gave me enough courage to make the decision to go into business myself at the age of 17. Col took the news pretty well but pleaded with me to stay on until Easter as things were pretty busy, so I agreed to stay on before setting up shop in Ossie Park.

Photos: 1970s Tom Blaxell images.

Left: 1971 Tom at Blaxell Surfboards factory in Osborne Park. Ric Chan pic.

Right: 1973 Tom with full mop top at Gobbles Night Club. Tom pic.

Later on Pantsman did the same, setting up just down the road from me. There was no bad blood, and to me it seemed like a natural progression for him as well. We always had a special connection from the days back at Hay Street.

There was one notable incident when he was shaping a board but made a mistake, and in a Van Gogh perfectionist reaction punched a hole in the wall and broke his arm! He couldn’t shape for some months after, which probably didn’t help business very much.

Another moment was one year at the Margaret River Masters. We had organised a low key sundowner at the point on a Saturday night with a local band from town to entertain the troops. However at the end of the show I had come to the realisation that we didn’t have any cash on hand to pay the band.  So I was discretely making myself scare behind a banner to save the embarrassment, when up pops Pantsman “Tonneau, what are you up to? “  When I explained my predicament he instantly responded by opening up his jacket to reveal 2 bottles of vino to say “Well I’ve got a couple of orphans that I’ve adopted. They were looking for a good home. Why don’t you come back with me to keep em company? “… Band? What band?

Cheers,

Tom Blaxell

Click on this link to view Greg Laurenson – Master Shaper by Errol Considine published 2 August 2017.

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Gallery

Rotto fashion parades ***Updated 2 August 2017***

Update 02 August 2017 – see Dave Aylett comments below.

Peter Docherty’s comment on Jeff Dalziel on SDS Facebook reminded me of the weekend we lost a great guy. A hero, who wasn’t wanting anything but to save the lives of some thoughtless, reckless surf club individuals who were warned but chose to scoff the advice of men who knew the peril.

These are my recollections of Jeff Dalziel (18) of Mosman Park drowning at Yallingup in 1962.

The weekend began with fun and great surf. Caves house bar was really rocking and spirits couldn’t be higher. From memory Glen Smith took off in his M.K.1 Ford Zephyr with George Godard and Vick Francis to have a look at the surf. It was really getting impressive. Returning from the beach up the ghost trail Glen got sideways a number of times and flipped. I think it was George or Vick who were in the back seat and while trying to untangle themselves from the upturned car heard an elderly couple who had taken cover from the gravel spraying Ford, casually walked past and said “I thought that would happen.” George and Vick walked the rest of the way to the bar and we all heard what happened PLUS the surf was humongous. I think it was Graham Booth and Rob Birch went to see what they could do for Glen with his upturned Zephyr. Returning to the bar to buy a drink for Glen, just to steady his nerves, they told us Yallingup was unrideable and we might as well head home. We all wanted to help Glen with his sorry Zephyr and decided to tow it with dad’s Holden panel van to Perth and the yard at the back of Ozone Hotel. We then had a number of night caps before repose. At dawn we were woken with the smell of salt in the air and the thunder of BIG SURF. Off we went to hook up Glens Zephyr.  Entering the beach car park was a squeeze. It was packed with sightseers. The Surf was thunderous. We all knew it was suicide. The rip going out of the lagoon was bucking like a rapid. Some clown even asked me if he could borrow my board.

Ok back to Glen’s Zephyr. By the time I got there the boys had got it on its wheels. We hooked up with some very dodgy rope. Five of us in the Holden van towing a very sad Zephyr with no windshield , crushed roof and streaked with oil and sand. It was decided the better man for the job of driving the Zephyr was Graham Booth and Glen rode shotgun. Slowly we proceeded until we entered some downhill runs then Graham looked like he was wanting to pass me. He was running out of breaks. Being upturned caused the Zephyr’s brake fluid to escape and Graham was madly pumping to get a response. Somewhere on the way to Perth we bought some fluid and Graham found some feeble excuse for brakes. The scariest part of the journey was when a cement mixer truck in the causeway roundabout tried to get between our tow-er and the tow-ee. While uncoupling the Zephyr from the Holden the scary news of Yallingup was heard. We all raced home and on the spur of the moment decided to drive back to Yallingup. Dad and mum understood how we felt and dad said we could have his big Chev. Thanks dad. Next morning at daybreak we searched the cliffs but no sign of Jeff Dalziel our mate. Yallingup was a very sad place to be that night and beyond. Even harder to bear when Jeff’s body was found. The full heroic story at Mosman Park’s Three Boy Park.

Davo Aylett

Images: 1962 media coverage of Jeff Dalziel’s drowning at Yallingup courtesy of Cliff Hills.

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A group of young Cottesloe surfers ventured to Rottnest Island for the Australia Day weekend in 1962. A weekend of surfing merriment away from parents was on the menu.

Davo Aylett’s recollection of the ’62 boy’s weekend at Rotto.

From memory there was Ron Allen, Len Dibben, Jeff Dalziel, Harold Gregory, Robby Birch, Brian Webster and me. Hope I haven’t left anybody out!

Well, as young blokes visiting the island, some for the first time, spirits very were high.

Disembarking the Islander ferry we just threw our stuff on the beach and headed straight for the legendary Quokka Arms and the day progressed from there. Bear in mind the drinking age was twenty one. After some time drinking jugs of Liquid Amber in the sunlight it was announced that soon there was going to be a fashion parade. Well we took our positions to get the best viewing. Well it started out with a bevy of beauties and the crowd responded accordingly, UNTIL, out strode proud as punch, our surfing mate Len Dibben. He appeared made up like something out of the Gidget goes Hawaiian movie, topped off with a straw pork pie hat. I think it was Harold who made that famous quote “OO BRUNG IM!!”

Night fell and we had organised nothing. Staggering to the beach we just flopped on the sand and crawled into our sleeping bags alongside our surf boards. A row of inebriated bodies. We were all fast asleep when suddenly there were voices and a blinding light. One of my mates responded with “BUGGER OFF WILL YA!” Slowly coming to our senses it must have dawned on us all at once. It was Sergeant Plod, the Islands constabulary. We were in deep and it was impossible to run in a sleeping bag. Starting from the nearest to the jetty the most noble, honorary, sir, started with a full-blown interrogation with a side kick writing everything down. “Now, what’s your name?” and “Where do you live?” and finally “how old are you?” Of course the answer to the last question, the officer repeated the age in a loud and astonished voice “17 ” and “19” and “18” and so on until he reached the end of the line. Poor Harold was the last to be interrogated. After giving the under-age answer and with a kick and a clank of bottles the Sergeant asked. “And what do you have at the bottom of your sleeping bag?” With that, all our reserve supply was confiscated and with a stern warning that if we spend another night on the beach, we will suffer the consequences.

After a slow recovery from the night time of terror, we became organised and civilised very quickly. Acting MOST adult from then on, we surfed the Transit Reef and took the Islander ferry back home.

Photo: 1962 Cottesloe surf mates at Rottnest on Australia Day weekend. Len Dibben pic.

L-R Brian Webster, Len Dibben (crouching on surfboard), Graeme Booth, Rick Skelton, Jeff Dalziel, Ron Allen, Bob Birch, Harold Gregory, in front unidentified girl with Dave Aylett.

Len Dibben’s recollections of the same ’62 weekend.

Len DibbenI was on a Modelling assignment for Walsh’s Menswear store and some of my Cottesloe surfing mates were able to come over. I was flown over for the Gig and put up at a Chalet. The boys came over on the Islander on Saturday and moved in. As I remember, the swell was up all weekend and we surfed Transits. On the Sat night, the guys had a lot to drink and were doing Belly Bumps at the Quokka Arms.

Some of us were offered a passage back on a private launch. We tied our nine 9ft plus boards onto the roof of the cabin and set sail, but when we hit the open sea we discovered they were not tied on properly. So a few of us had to get up on the roof and do the job properly with waves breaking over the bow. As I remember, it was bloody dangerous!

Back in the day we would all meet at the Jeff Dalziel’s place in Mosman Park, I think on a Wednesday or Thursday night to watch the Wrestling on TV. Great days. We all played Rugby as well for Cottesloe.

Photo: 1972 Len Dibben fashion photo-shoot at Injidup. Ric Chan pic.

Tom Blaxell’s 2017 Rotto Fashion Parade

Miss West Coast beauty pageants were held on metro beaches from 1967-85.

In 2016 the pageant was revived as the local precursor to the Miss Universe Australia competition. The West Coast beauty contest is now held at Hotel Rottnest. Hotel Rottnest has been reborn out of the renowned Quokka Arms Hotel.

Photo: 2017 Tom Blaxell (with thumbs up bottom right) enjoying himself at the Miss West Coast beauty contest held at Rotto. Tom Blaxell pic.

 

Fun times at Rotto.

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Gallery

Tom Blaxell’s Gallows recollections

Tom Blaxell is one of the pioneers of WA surfing. He was involved in the surf industry from the 1960s to 1990s. He is a past President of Dolphins Surfriders and was made a Life Member of the club in 1975. Tom is also a Life Member of WASRA (1982) and served as President of WASRA from 1995-97.

These are Tom’s Gallows recollections:-

My first introduction to the Gallows was with the Dolphin Surfriders in the mid 60’s. The Dolphins were largely a group of down south surfing pioneers who had originally banded together in the 50’s as the West Coast Board Club nicknamed the Big Wheels… because they had cars!

This older crew included Kevin “Legs” Merrifield who I consider to be the spiritual Grand Master of surfing in WA today, Ron “Jungle” Drage who was one of the first to ride Yallingup, Dave “Globehead” Williams who led the discovery of Guillotine as a surf spot, Ray Geary who Gearys surf break is named after, Tony Harbison who went on to build Hideaway Cottages at Yalls, Ray Nelmes the ultimate hairy back amongst hairy backs, Alan Robbins, Stan Duffy, Don Campbell, Rob Wakefield, Keith Smith, Glen Marshall, Ken Gimm, Alan Cough and several others.

It was they who had earlier organised South West farmer Boodge Guthrie to bulldoze the Gallows track skirting away from the Cullen cottage right down to the beach for 15 quid. The West Coast Board Club ended up fading out when they were made to pull down their shack in the grounds of Caves House, some went over east, others went overseas, most ended up getting married, going into business and headed off in all different directions.

The reform in the 60’s as Dolphins gave us younger guys including Garry Nicholas, Johnny Wynne, Geoff House, Jim McFarlane, Bruce Elliott and Steve Fordham the privilege of a fantastic mentor peer group because not only were they fearless trail blazing adventurers who lived and enjoyed life to the full, with a real sense of humour, but by that time were mostly successful trades men, business men and go getters who gave us great examples to follow on all sorts of levels in life.

“Legs” for example at that time was in partnership with Kerry Stokes and could have gone to the very top of the Australian corporate ladder, but later chose to turn south and apply his talents there, as well as soak up its natural blessings on a daily basis.

Photo: 1970s Kevin Merifield with his Blaxell Surfboard at Trigg Point. Ric Chan pic.

Later on in the 90’s I asked him if he would become the patron for Surfing WA. He asked me what that entailed so off the cuff I said “Well it means you have to keep surfing!” (as a bit of a joke, because I already knew that he did!)…He responded “What on a short board?” (He wasn’t getting any younger and I could sense a little bit of strain in his voice, so I kept the pressure on)… “Yeah of course!”… “Well it’s not getting any easier, but I think I can keep it up !”… “Great you’re in!”

Deal done. To this day he’s still out there most days, even if he can’t stand up any more, post inner ear and hip replacement operations.

The other good thing about the old guys was that they had wheels. My first trip down south was in Ken Gimm’s Falcon station wagon. We stayed in a Caves House shack that was still standing at the time, where I was introduced into the wonders of a blue flame competition and the supposed risk of abdominal explosion if you happened to suck in by mistake.

In those days the “search” was still on in full force to explore for new uncrowded perfect waves and to learn what breaks worked best in the various conditions and swells. Dirt tracks and bush bashing featured heavily in these explorations and our original search engines were 2 wheel drives. Looking back from today’s cruisey four wheel drive viewpoint, it really is amazing the places we used to pump our 2 wheel drives through. Some of course didn’t make it and there was always the odd dead wagon that had died and been abandoned.

Dirt tracks are an embedded facet of West Australian surf trips and Gallows was just the start. Places like Rocky Point, the Farm, the Other  Side of the Moon, Injidup Point, Wilyabrup, South Point, Lefties, Big Rock, Ellenbrook, Grunters, Conto’s, Booranup, Black Point and Bears all had their challenges.

Photo: 1972 Tom’s ‘Blaxell Surfrider’ HK panel van negotiating the boggy Gallows track. Jim McFarlane pic.

The Gallows track was always a major challenge because of its deep soft sand, steep hills, creek beds, valleys and wooded with trees, sometimes hot n dusty, other times wet n muddy and there was always the ever present danger of getting seriously bogged.

The first time I hit it, I was actually reasonably conditioned for it. I had been rattled around in the back of Graeme Pateman’s Vauxhaull ute on the Long Point track many times by then. He was a madman at the wheel and the ride was like being on a roller coaster in a bumper car, and just so much fun!  Pity about the boards that sometimes got knocked around.

Don Campbell brought down a brand spanking new Ford ute one time to put to the test and feeling a bit concerned about it I said “Don’t you worry about scratching and messing up your brand new pride and joy ?”  His wizened response was “Tom, cars are made for using, not for looking at.”

So from that day on I adopted the same attitude and when not long after I got my own first pride and joy, a FC Holden ute, I didn’t hold back either, and to this day I still wear scratches with a sense of pride. There’s no St Georges Terrace tractor for me.

Photo: 1967 Tom Blaxell, Garry Nicholas & Johnny Wynne in the back of Tom’s FC ute at Miami just around the corner from Gearys. Tom Blaxell pic.

The FC ute was later repainted bright Kodak yellow and became known as the Yellow Submarine.

On one memorable occasion in 1968 I was back at Long Point in my FC ute when the Meckering earthquake struck. It was a big deal and everyone was pretty freaked out about it but I didn’t feel a thing or even know about it because I was doing the roller coaster along the track when it struck. I thought that was pretty cool.

Another moment in the FC ute came at Salmon Beach out past Windy Harbour with Garry and Johnny. I had been giving it a fair bit of stick getting through the sand when I got the red light on the dash… followed by steam coming from under the bonnet. So in typical silly teenage fashion we decided to take the radiator cap off and have a look.

That of course allowed the last remaining coolant to burst out to the heavens.  Then we were faced with the prospect of no water to replace it, out in the middle of nowhere and no one else around. We were stranded. Then came the light bulb moment.  Piss in it! The three of us took turns to empty our bodily fluids into the radiator. We didn’t manage to fill it, but with a bit of gentle motoring along the track we did make it back to town.

Going back to the Gallows, getting down to the surf was always very refreshing. It was a reliable wave that caught the swell easily and even handled the sea breeze reasonably well because of the protection from the reform.

Photo: 1968 Tom Blaxell surfing Hangman’s at Gallows. Tom Blaxell pic.

It also had a bit of a mystical fairy tale atmosphere about it with the little Cullen’s cottage that you could see from the water out at Hangman’s, set amongst the wooded hills and even complete with a damsel!

Photo: 1969 Tom Blaxell on a Hangman’s sparkler at Gallows. Tom Blaxell pic.

Recently by chance I discovered that a friend, Dr Cullity’s daughter Jude, 50 years ago planted the very first premium grape vine in the Margaret River region at his property across the road from Gallows at Vasse Felix in Autumn 1967.

For more information on Vasse Felix click on The Weekend West 25-26 February ‘Age makes fine wine and fond memories’ by Wendy Barrett.

Jude tells me that the Cullity’s and Cullen’s were both vineyard pioneers across the road from each other and that the local folklore is that some previous owners of the Cullen property ran an unofficial abattoir and used to hang the stock from the trees which led to the property being nicknamed the Gallows.

If this is true, then this may well be the reason that Dr Cullen’s friend Rankin Wilson (who is said to be the first to surf Gallows) named it Gallows, rather than for the characteristics of the break. Interesting!

Tom now works in the Marine Industry at Hillary’s and still enjoys surfing.

For more Gallows history watch out for 1970s Gallows surf break & dirt track (Parts 1 & 2) on Saturday 20 May 2017.

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Gallery

1968 Yallingup – Invitational Event at the State Championships

In 1964 Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly (NSW) won the World Mens Title at the first World Surfing Championships held at Manly Beach NSW. Midget won from Californians Mike Doyle & Joey Cabell.

Photo: 1964 Midget surfing Manly on his way to winning World Mens Surfing Title. Photo courtesy of Keith Campbell (former WASRA President).

1964 Midget Champion at Manly

In 1968 former Australian world surfing champion ‘Midget’ Farrelly was invited to WA to compete in a special Invitational Event held in conjunction with the State Championships at Yallingup on the LWE in March 1968.

The field for WA’s Invitational event included Midget, prominent WA surfer Terry Jacks, former South Australian Barry Young and representatives from most states.

Image: 1968 Midget arriving at Perth Airport for the Invitational event. Newspaper image courtesy of the Daily News.

1968 Invitational Comp Yalls - Midget Farrelly

There was a big crowd in attendance to watch Midget surf at Yallingup. He bought rounded pintail surfboards to the event and WA surfers saw the new design from the East Coast for the first time. It introduced another advance in WA surfboard design.

Photos: 1968 Yalls Midget Farrelly & spectators at the Invitational Event. Photos courtesy of Sally Jones (nee Gunter).

Top: (Left) Midget with WASRA President Ron ‘Doc’ Naylor. (Right) Midget descending steps to the beach.
Bottom: (Left) Midget heading out to surf in Invitational event. (Right) Midget returning to the beach with his rounded pintail surfboard.

1968 Yalls Midget Farrelly invitational Event Sally Jones collage_photocat

The invitational event was held in sunny offshore conditions at Yallingup. Midge rode the lefts in his smooth controlled style. Terry Jacks was frothing and went for it. At the conclusion of the event many spectators thought Terry had won the event, but Midge’s name was already engraved on the trophy and that was that!

Some of Terry’s supporters kicked up a bit of dust, but it was in vain.

Images: 1968 Midget Farrelly at the Invitational event. Still frame images courtesy of City Beach Surf Riders Super 8 movie film.

1968 Yalls Invitational event Midget Farrelly collage_photocat

Image: 1968 Terry Jacks surfing in the Invitational event. Newspaper image courtesy of the Daily News.

1968 Invitational Comp Yalls - Terry Jacks1

COMMENTS ON INVITATIONAL EVENT

Peter ‘Spook’ BothwellMidget had just got back from Hawaii and was full of stories about Joey Cabell and his pintails.

Barry ‘Baz’ YoungBesides me, for the Invitational, another surfer from interstate was Alex Chobinoff (NSW) who had been here for 6 months roughly like myself. I placed third in that Invitational as well as coming 2nd to Spook in the State Titles. It was pretty small that day and I gambled and surfed the ‘Bunbury Break’, which was named because of the crew of Bunbury surfers who surfed it more than most. It’s now known as “The Cove”. Whilst Midget and the other 4 competitors hassled each other at Main Break I got a little lucky where I was.

When Midget arrived for the contest and pulled 4 Pintails out of his car we were all flabbergasted. The Press on what was happening design wise over East was very limited and I’m pretty sure no one had heard about boards that had pointed tails. It seemed weird to have a tail shape that looked the same as the nose. There was a lot of disbelief and almost jeering as he walked past the big crowds lining the steps and beach with one of these strange designs under his arm on the way to the water. I think he thought about not staying for the Invitational, but the WASRA contest directors talked him around and tuned a few crew to keep their opinions to themselves for the rest of the weekend.

I have been surfing in the Maldives twice now in recent years, at the same time as Midget and his wife, and he still surfs pretty good for age 71.

Photo: 2015 Former WA Surfboard Manufacturer Tom Blaxell with 1964 World Surfing Champ Midget Farrelly in the Maldives. Photo courtesy of Tom Blaxell.

2015 Maldives Tom Blaxell and Midget farrelly at Pasta Point

In 2001 Surfing WA made a presentation to Midget Farrelly at Yallingup Beach.

Photos: (Left) 2001 montage presentation to Midget at Yalls designed by Quindalup’s Loz Smith. (Right) 2006 Midget & Loz Smith at Jack Egan photo exhibition held at Vasse Felix Winery.

2001 & 2006 Midget Farrelly & Loz Smith images collage_photocat

1968 STATE SURFING CHAMPIONSHIPS HELD AT YALLINGUP.

The state championships were held in good offshore conditions at Yallingup over the March long weekend. Members of most WA Board Clubs competed in the Titles. Finalists in the divisions went onto represent WA at the National Surfing Titles held in NSW in May 1968.

Editor’s NoteA month after the State Titles finalist Arty Sherburn nearly died when he was stung by a blue bottle jellyfish while surfing at Cottesloe. He was unable to take his place in the WA State Team and compete in the ’68 National Titles in NSW.

Images: (Left) 1968 Cover of WASRA program. (Right) Preview of State Titles at Yalls. Images courtesy of WASRA & the Daily News.

1968 State Surfing Titles Yalls media 2 collage_photocat

Images: 1968 State Surfing Titles at Yalls. Images courtesy of the Daily News & Trevor Burslem.
(Left) Media preview of the WA Titles. (Right) Jim King competing in Open Division.

1968 State Ttiles Yalls Jim King 3 collage_photocat

CONTEST RESULTS

Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell (age 19 years) from Sand n Sea board club won the Open Mens. Competing in 6ft surf Spook beat former South Australian Barry Young and Arty Sherburn the Southern Surfriders champion. Surprisingly, John Balgarnie & 1966 champion John Staley were eliminated in the semi-finals.

Ian Cairns from Southern Surfriders was the outstanding junior surfer & won the Junior Title from Phil Taylor & Ian ‘Moochie‘ Strongman.

Dave Williams won the Senior Title.

Maureen Farrell won the Womens Title.

Images: 1968 State Surfing Titles at Yalls.
(Left) Media review of the WA Titles courtesy of WA Newspapers.
(Right) Contest spectators & judges scaffolding on the beach. Photo Jim King.

1968 State Titles Yalls 4 collage_photocat

COMMENTS ON STATE SURFING TITLES

Peter ‘Spook’ BothwellThe 67 titles were when I thought I could win and was surfing at my peak. I didn’t get out of my heat, John Staley went on to win. In 68 I was over it (the competitive hype) and more relaxed. I thought John Staley was surfing good enough to win in 68, but he got over anxious like I did in 67 and was knocked out. My other memory was that everyone who surfed went in it. A bit like a festival.

I next went into a state contest in 76, after not surfing much for a few years and the crowd and competitive crew numbered about fifty. The atmosphere had changed, still seriously competitive, but the wider social interest went for a time.

Barry ‘Baz’ YoungIt was borderline whether I was eligible to compete in the main event (State Titles) because you had to have been living in WA for 6 months and I got Arty Sherburn and John Staley to say I had been here that long, but I think I was about a week short.

I had been called up for National Service and came to the West to surf as much as possible before going in. I ended up doing my Draft medical in Bunbury, and swallowed silver foil in the hope it would show up as a spot on my lung (it had worked in the Big Wednesday movie) but they never remarked on it. What they did notice was my very large surf bumps on my feet. I had gone to the medical in suede Desert Boots, which were the rage at the time and they asked me if I could wear leather boots, and I said I doubt it, so they got me to try a pair on, and I faked pain enough that they didn’t sign me up….relief! We had been losing about 3 or 4 soldiers a day in different skirmishes in Vietnam and I didn’t want to be part of it. I remember I hitched back to Yallingup and went out and had just the best surf. A big weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

SOCIAL

With a big LWE crowd in attendance it was not surprising that some anti-social behaviour occurred at Caves House pub on the Saturday Night.

Image: 1968 Media report on an alleged brawl at Caves House pub. Newspaper cutting courtesy of the daily News.

1968 Caves House Yalls pub brawl

A fun long weekend surfing & socialising in the South West was had by all.

Gallery

1970s Huzzawouie surf break

Huzzawouie (Huzza’s) reef break is located in Cowaramup Bay at Gracetown in the South West. It works on a large swell and is sheltered from the prevailing south west winds. Huzza’s has been surfed since the early 60s.

For more background & earlier images click on this SDS link – 1960s Vintage Huzzawouie Images

Photo: 1970s Cowaramup Bay southern surf breaks. L-R South Point, Huzza’s and Boris’s. Photo credit Jim King.

1970s Cowaramup Bay J King pic

Photos: 1970 Celebrities at Huzza’s beach. (Left) WA model Jane Priest (Right) WA surfboard manufacturer Tom Blaxell.
Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1970 Huzzawouie celebrities 2 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970 NZ surf photographer Ric Chan preparing to paddle out at Huzza’s on Blaxell single fin board. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1970 Huzzwwouie Ric Chan collage_photocat

Surf photographer Ric Chan took the following water shots with his water proof Nikonos camera.

Photo: 1970 Huzza’s water shot of take-off zone. Photo credit Ric Chan

1970 Huzza water shot - Ric Chan pic 008

Photo: 1970’s Huzza’s water shot of unidentified surfer. Photo credit Ric Chan

1970s Huzza water shot - Ric Chan pic 008 (4)

Photos: 1971 SW surfers Al Fixter and Ian Mitchell surfing Huzza. Images courtesy of Country Surf Mag & photographer Rob Farris.

1971 Huzzawouie Al Fixter & Ian Mitchell - Country Surf Mag - Rob Farris

Photo: 1973 Mick Black cuttie at Huzza. Photo credit Ric Chan

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Photo: 1976 Huzza’s line-up. Photo credit Ric Chan.

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Huzza Cliff Tragedy
In 1996 a tragedy occurred at Gracetown when five adults and four children were killed in a cliff collapse while watching a school surfing carnival held at Huzza’s. The victims were sheltering underneath a rock overhang at the base of the limestone cliff during a rain storm when the cliff collapsed without warning. A memorial to the victims has been erected at the site.