Steve Pezman and Barry Haun, two of the most knowledgable surf historians of our time, take you through a brief but detailed discussion of the evolution of the surf board. From hollowed out wooden planks to the machine shaped and mass produced surfboards of today, some of the world’s best surfers weigh in.
Central Califorina Surfboard Shapers
Ventura and Santa Barbara (couldn’t find a San Luis Obispo List)
WORK IN PROGRESS:
*July 20 Scott Kam, creator of Rootamental, was born.
*American Rolf Arness wins the ISF World Championships in Australia, accepts his trophy and is never heard from again.
*January 14. Sunny Garcia is born.
*Nat Young wins $2,000 in the Makaha Smirnoff.
*Jimi Hendrix dies a week after playing a “Rainbow Bridge” show at the Haleakala Crater on Maui. Mike Hynson and David Nuuhiwa are some of the surfers fortunate enough to catch the show. Rainbow Bridge is filmed and later released to the public.
*Bing “Maui Foil” is the hot new surfboard design.
*The average yearly income was $9,357 and a new home cost $23,400 and you could buy a new car for $3,979
*Surfboard leash is introduced and becomes an instant hit. With the invention of the so- called “kook cord”, surfers were no longer faced with long swims to shore after wiping out. Tuberiding simultaneously becomes the new move of choice.
*In February 1971 young Alby Falzon was on the Gold Coast filming for Morning of
the Earth during one of the best runs of swell ever seen there (12 continuous
weeks rarely below head high). He’d earlier run a picture of Peterson in his
magazine Tracks with an article about the underground Gold Coast scene, and on a
particular day happened to be filming at Kirra while Peterson was taking the place
apart. The result was a 3 minute sequence in the film, and many stills printed in Tracks. The shot of Peterson that stood out became known simply as “the cutback”, it had Peterson tall and muscular, long hair flying, doing a big cutback at Kirra. That shot became the cover for the July 1972 issue of Tracks too (after the film was released).
*July 7. Tom Morey, an engineer with saltwater taste buds, carves a float thing out of some polyethylene foam lying around in his garage on the Big Island of Hawaii and the Boogie Board is born.
*First Pipe Masters is held at the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu.
*Lightning Bolt Surfboards releases the “Diamond Tail” by Gerry Lopez.
*In 1971 Peterson won the Kirra Pro-Am contest, the first Queensland contest to offer any prize money ($150), and following that the Queensland Titles which had its final round at Kirra. That title earned him a start in the Australian Titles held at Bells Beach (incorporated into the Bells Beach Classic). He did poorly there, with his narrow 5’9 board unsuited to the fatter waves.
*January 10. Peterson didn’t go to the local premiere of the film “Morning of the Earth” His mother Joan drove him up to the hall at Miami High (his old school) but he balked at being the centre of attention and they went home again. His nervousness at
presentations and gatherings would be repeated many times in the future.
*January 17. Huge Monday at Pipeline with Owl Chapman and Sammy Hawk taking top tube honors on one of the most perfect big days at Pipe in history.
*In Coolangatta the police had an unofficial campaign to clean up the beaches, getting rid of marijuana and the undesirable types who didn’t suit the family-oriented tourist destination the local chamber of commerce wanted to promote. Surfers were on the top of the list of targets (and on occasions they weren’t carrying anything the police were not averse to planting something). Peterson had been a heavy pot smoker for some time and on 24 January 1972 got arrested for possession and supply, but was lucky in court and got a $500 fine instead of 3 months jail.
*February 1. Kelly Robert Slater is born in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
*Surf manufacturer giant Billabong is born.
*MacGillivray and Freeman release a movie called Five Summer Stories, which quickly becomes the best surf movie in the world.
*Hawaii’s David Nuuhiwa wins the World Contest in San Diego riding a Steve Lis-inspired twin-fin fish.
*May 24. Layne Beachley is born in Australia.
*The “swallowtail” gains public notoriety.
*October 11. Shane Powell is born in Australia.
*Australian cinematographer John Witzig releases The Islands.
*In 1972 Peterson successfully defended his Queensland Title, narrowly beating friend Pete Townend. (Townend ended up with an unenviable record for second place finishes in his career.) The win put Peterson into the Australian titles again, but he almost didn’t get there. Paul Neilsen was the reigning Australian champion but hadn’t made the Queensland titles final and so hadn’t qualified as such to defend his Australian title. His club “Windansea” from Surfers Paradise hatched a plan to bring up Peterson’s drug conviction (as if any of them had never indulged) at the inter-club meeting and get him ousted, in favour of Neilsen. The meeting descended into chaos and the selections were put to a vote, with the result Billy Grant was sacrificed. Over the years Peterson’s schizophrenia would make him imagine all sorts of plots, this was perhaps the only time there really was one. The Australian titles were held that year at North Narrabeen in Sydney. In the second round Peterson surfed with energy, but also some luck, getting practically the only good waves that came through, and making it to the final. For the final the ocean went completely flat and the organisers had to cancel it, instead declaring Peterson the winner (with Pete Townend second, yet again).That win then sent Peterson to the 1972 World Titles in San Diego. It was a wild time, with surfers practically taking over the Travelodge hotel there. Peterson made it through his first round heat, then in the second round in 1.5x head high waves at Oceanside he got a full 5 second tube ride, which one judge saw and scored 19 out of 20, but the other two didn’t. Only later when they compared scores did they realize the other two hadn’t seen him go in, and had only scored what they saw at the end. But it was too late, the scores stood and Peterson was eliminated.
*As surfing becomes more crowded, Bernie Baker goes on surfari through Central America and finds scores of empty perfection.
*October 16. Rob Machado is born.
*Surfboard designer George Greenough releases a film called Echos that features unique views from inside the tube.
*The Bells Beach Classic in 1973 offered a $1000 prize, which was very substantial at that time, and was to be run under the new “points per manoeuvre” system which had been trialled at the Hang Ten event in Hawaii a few months earlier. The idea was to eliminate subjectivity from judging, it was to be just a matter of counting moves completed. In the first few rounds in big messy conditions Peterson didn’t do well and was outside the top ten on total points. On the last day he had a bit of luck when the leader Midget Farrelly came down with a bad flu and had to withdraw. Peterson was still well behind but he got a bigger board and started bouncing around making turns like crazy. By the end he thought he hadn’t done enough and didn’t hang around while the judges did their arithmetic. In fact he’d won and was amazed when told. The presentation was supposed to have been on the beach but it was so cold the organisers moved it to the local pub. Peterson’s speech was characteristically short, “I just want to thank everyone”, before he disappeared to the back of the room. The 1973 Australian titles were held at Margaret River in big surf. Peterson was right up with the leaders through the early rounds, but it was fellow Queenslander Richard Harvey who got the win (and Pete Townend second, again). Back on the Gold Coast Peterson did more board shaping, with Furry Austen enticing him away from Joe Larkin’s factory with the offer of more money.
*October 3. A huge earthquake rocks La Isla, Peru and creates a tidal surge that sucks former World Champion Felipe Pomar and a freind (no one caught his name) out to sea. Pomar later claims to have rode a tidal wave back to shore.
*Thanksgiving. The Smirnoff Pro is held in huge surf at Waimea Bay and local Hawaiian Reno Abelleira beats Jeff Hakman to win it.
*Michael Peterson wins $3,000 at the Coke Surfabout.
*Scott Dittrich and Skip Smith release A Fluid Drive.
*A series of thousands of disused vehicle tires were dumped off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida to form an artificial reef, causing environmental problems over time.
*1974 was a big year for Peterson, his most successful in contest results. It started with a second place finish to Rabbit Bartholomew in the Queensland titles though. Peterson had a bit of a feud going with Bartholomew in those years. It started, as these things do, over a trivial enough thing, Peterson hadn’t paid Bartholomew back for a cab ride they’d shared in Hawaii in early 1972. But with rivalry in surf competitions, it all escalated to the point where Peterson thought Bartholomew was stalking him or somehow out to get him (which wasn’t the case). They patched up their differences in later years, but in 1974 it really burned Peterson to lose the Queensland titles to Bartholomew (for a second year running).Peterson then won the Kirra Pro-Am, the start of a remarkable run of wins. The next event was the Bells Beach Classic where instead of the come from behind win the previous year he was well in control and won by a big margin. The contest was still under the points per manoeuvre system and he milked it, even slipping in old school longboard moves that were still on the scoring card. This contest was also where he found that showing up from nowhere just minutes before a heat really played with his opponents heads and made his blitz in the water even more effective.
*The inaugural 2SM/Coca-Cola Surfabout was held in May 1974. Coke didn’t just dip their toe into surf sponsorship, they went into it in a big way, offering a $2400 first prize, which was a new record for an Australian contest. It drew surfers from around Australia and the world, including some like Nat Young who had otherwise become disillusioned with the contest circuit. Pete Townend lead all the way to the final day and it was looking like Townend first and a young Mark Richards second. But Peterson just kept gaining and gaining and it played on Townends nerves. Townend slipped back (to fifth in the end) and Peterson came through the winner. The Australian titles for 1974 were held at Snapper Rocks and Burleigh Heads. Peterson started slowly then crushed his opponents in tubes at Burleigh. On one tube he disappeared for so long the judges thought he’d fallen, until the crowd went wild when he popped out almost at the beach.It was also during 1974 that Pete Townend gave Peterson the nickname “MP”. Peterson used to call him “PT” all the time, so Townend in turn coined “MP” and used it in newspaper columns he wrote, and it stuck. Peterson didn’t much like “MP” in later years, associating it with hype and image, though it’s still how he’s most often known.
*In September 1974 Peterson started his Michael Peterson Surfboards business, with a factory in Currumbin next to the Burford Blanks factory, and a shop at in Musgrave St, Kirra, right opposite the Kirra beach. His name by then was so big it seemed a sure winner. A caption in the Brisbane Courier Mail wondered if he could be “Australia’s first millionaire surfer”. He had a rather inflated idea of his own business acumen, but did have the sense not to try to go it alone, he brought in Peter Hallas as a partner. Hallas was a fellow Kirra surfer and had worked alongside Peterson at Hohensee’s factory. They had a total of seven staff and would sell boards up and down the coast, often delivered by Peterson himself in his panel van. Orders for boards soon flooded in, more than they could fill. The boards they supplied were actually more designed for Peterson’s level of skill than the average surfer, but the “MP” label certainly made them sell. The problem was that Peterson wasn’t very business minded and would too often sell stock out the back door or treat the business like a personal bank when it was going well. Eventually Hallas despaired and by mutual agreement let himself be bought out by Peterson’s mother Joan for just $1000. If run well the business should have been a gold mine, but he thought getting out was the smartest thing to do, and he remained friends with Peterson. Joan took charge better, but couldn’t much improve the overall operation. She ended up walking away in 1977 when Peterson brought in a girlfriend who Joan strongly disapproved of, and shortly after that the business folded.
*September. Triple New Zealander swell sends some of the largest Southern Hemisphere swells ever seen in California. The swell lasts for a week and snaps thousands of single-fins surfboards up and down the coast.
*Hal Jepson releases Super Sessions.
*Gerry Lopez and Lightning Bolt brand clothing, surfboards and accessories are the hottest thing going. Gerry Lopez releases his famous 8’0″ Bolt “Pipe Board.”
*Randy Rarick, Fred Hemmings and Jack Shipley create the world’s first organized pro surfing circuit, the International Professional Surfers(IPS) tour.
*Surf Movie”Tubular Swells”
*Womens Professional contests started and Margo Godfrey was the first pro woman surfer. She won the W.I.S.A. Hang Ten Championships at Malibu (the first all-women’s
international pro). Margo’s illustrious career of complete domination
of her sport was unequaled by any male surfer.
*Meanwhile back in 1974/75 at his factory Peterson shaped for himself a 6’6″ six-channel triple-flyer pintail which became known as the Moonrocket, or the Fangtail, or the Christmas Tree. His staff laughed when they saw it, wondering how anyone could possibly surf it. The fang-like flyers at the back and finger-deep channels also made it a glasser’s nightmare (so Peter Evans, who had that job at the factory, wasn’t laughing). The board was Peterson’s secret weapon for the Pa Bendall contest at the start of 1975 at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. There was a lot of general weirdness on the beach at that contest, like Keith Paull going around with his head shaved and painted purple and blue. But Peterson’s board brought him victory (and a $2000 prize) in knee high slop, continuing his run of success from 1974. Later the board passed to a young Peter Harris who worked at Peterson’s factory, in lieu of wages owed when the business shut down. Harris surfed it until it became hopelessly waterlogged and then gave it to a friend’s son on the Sunshine Coast, where, so the story goes, a famous piece of surfing memorabilia finished up as landfill.
*Peterson first tried heroin some time in 1974, and later in 1975 got into it in a big way. The Queensland Police had done such a good job cleaning up the pot on the Gold Coast that they’d created a vacuum, which was filled by a far worse drug, heroin, cheap and very pure. Many local surfers got into it, and, with everyone naive, many died from overdoses. Rabbit Bartholomew has written about that time too, he lost twelve friends to overdoses. Peterson had a phobia about needles, so he didn’t inject, instead he’d chop the heroin up and snort lines. His brother Tommy (who himself wrestled with heroin ddiction over the years) thought that was the only thing that saved Michael from an overdose, the fact he couldn’t get enough up his nose at one time to be fatal. All this time Peterson’s schizophrenia was gradually getting worse too, he became ever more erratic, hostile to friends, and imagined plots against him. These were classic symptoms in retrospect, but at the time those who knew him just thought it was the drugs, certainly he’d done enough to make anyone act weird. His friends later wished they’d done much more for him at the time.
*At the start of 1976 Peterson went to New Zealand for the first event in the new IPS professional world tour. There weren’t many big names there, they were in Hawaii for the much more prestigious Duke contest, and Peterson got the win. There was a certain irony in the first event of the new professional era being won by a man who was in so many ways the opposite of budding professionals like Pete Townend (the eventual winner of the series that year).
*Lightning Bolt Surfboards release the Bolt MR Model twin-fin.
*MacGillivray and Freeman re-release Five Summer Stories plus Four.
*South Africa joins the world tour with two events: one in Durban and the other at Cabana Beach.
*Rory Russell wins Primo Pipe Masters.
*Australia’s Peter Townend wins the inaugural IPS world championship title.
*February 4. After a failed attempt that sent his feet through the deck of his surfboard, James “Booby” Jones successfully tube rides Waimea Bay for the first time in history, setting off a fad in big wave surfing that had never been seen: Performance over survival.
February 2. Kalani Robb is born in Hawaii.
*March 21. Cory Lopez is born in Florida.
*South Africa’s Shaun Tomson wins the ISP World Title over Australia’s Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew.
*Rory Russell wins Pipe Masters.
*Hawaii’s Margo Oberg wins the women’s World Title.
*Surfing prodigy Bunker Spreckels dies after taking too many drugs and not enough waves.
*Dick Hoole and Jack McCoy release their first big surfing movie, In Search of Tubular Swells.
*August 14. Tim Curran is born in California.
*In 1977 the inaugural Stubbies contest was held at Burleigh Heads. It was organised by Peter Drouyn and he devised the “man on man” heats system fot it (which is used in ASP World Tour contests today). Just two surfers in the water suited Peterson, he could focus all his psyche-out energy on just the one poor bloke in the water with him. He got through to the semi-finals comfortably where he came up against Rabbit Bartholomew. In front of a huge crowd the two took on 6 foot freight trains. Peterson went deep in the tube and took chances from way out on the point. Bartholomew made high-percentage moves in the pocket. Scoring was based on the whole heat and it split the judges with Peterson getting the win. Just who surfed better that day was a hot topic of debate for many years. The final was then Peterson against a young Mark Richards, MP versus MR. Richards thought he couldn’t match Peterson’s wave hassling and decided just to take whatever came through while Peterson paddled back out. It was still quite close, with Peterson getting the win and the $5,000 prize. That turned out to be his last major contest victory. He spent the next few years as something of a nomad, hardly known to anyone, taking erratic surfboard shaping jobs, sometimes dealing, and alternating time on and off drugs. To get himself clean he’d go camping to a favourite spot at the base of Mount Warning with big bags of health food like fruits and nuts and just be by himself. Later in court (below) his solicitor told the court he’d tried about 30 times altogether to get clean. He surfed intermittently during those years, and got into windsurfing as recreation instead, just in a small way, perhaps attracted by its solo nature
*Australia’s Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew wins World Title.
*Hawaii’s Lynn Boyer wins the women’s World Title.
*Free Ride is released.
*July 24. Andy Irons is born on Kauai.
*Hollywood director John Milius releases Big Wednesday featuring Jan Michael Vincent and William Kat.
*Larry Blair wins the Offshore Pipeline Masters. The event is filmed also filmed for ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
*Gotcha Sportswear is born when South African Michael Tomson starts selling surf trunks out his Laguna Beach bungalow.
*Hawaiian Waterman Eddie Aikau is lost at sea and never seen again.
*Pro Surfing comes to Japan for the inaugural Chiba Cup.
*Larry Blair wins second consecutive Offshore Pipeline Masters.
*Shaper Tom Parrish experiments with tail design and ends up with the “Round Pin.”
*Surfing featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Apocalypse Now.
*Lynn Boyer wins her second consecutive world title.
*November 16. Bruce Irons is born on Kauai.
*Australia’s Mark Richards wins his fourth consecutive world title.
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SEARCHING FOR MICHAEL PETERSON, SURF DOCUMENTARY BY AUSTRALIAN FILM DIRECTOR, JOLYON HOFF
OCT 9 2009
LIVE MUSIC, BEAU YOUNG AT 8PM AND FILM AT 8:40
See You There!
TICKETS AT THE DOOR
AT LA PERLA DEL MAR CHAPEL
205 WINDWARD AVE
SHELL BEACH, CA
(CORNER OF PIER AND PEARL)
Michael Peterson ruled the surf scene throughout the early to mid-1970s with his savage, groundbreaking surfing. An undiagnosed schizophrenic, Michael couldn’t handle the fame his surfing powers attracted, and he retreated into a world of hard drugs, fast cars and shadows. He eventually hit rock bottom after a car chase, which took 35 police cars to stop him.
Thirty years on, MP is still vitally interested in the sport and culture of surfing and is a fixture at most Queensland events, enjoying the action with his mother, Joan. He is rightly regarded as an iconic figure in Australian surfing, and Hoff’s film, while it pulls no punches, is an intensely moving tribute to the man.
‘The story of Michael Peterson makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like Alice In Wonderland. ′ — Sean Doherty
Surfer Magazine has nominated Michael as the #16 all-time greatest surfer in the world.
Adding a special touch to the U.S. tour is Australian singer/songwriter Beau Young (2 x world champion surfer) in concert. Beau retired from professional surfing in 2003 to focus on a fulltime career in music. He has gone on to record 2 albums and performed at many of Australia’s most respected music festivals and toured through Japan & Europe. Beau has an obvious affinity with the film and story of Michael Peterson, being the son of one of the worlds most recognised and famous surfers (and MP’s predecessor), Nat Young. This will be Beau’s first official U.S. tour.