For the next generation
We were all hanging out on the Sunshine Coast especially around Alexandra Headlands and surfing anywhere from Noosa to Sydney. By all I mean myself, Bob McTavish, Kevin Platt, Russell Hughes, Algy Grud, John Mantle, Bob Cooper, Hayden, George Greenough, Wayne Parkes, Darrell Dell and a whole bunch of others. The area also had a constant stream of good surfers passing through.
As we got busier, my mate Darrell Dell (Rooster) joined us and learnt to shape under Bob Mctavish. Rooster already had 5 years in the business having left school to work at Joe Larkin surfboards where he got an apprentiship in all aspects of surfboard production. From there Rooster went up to Hayden’s factory at Alexandra Headlands before joining me at Cord. He’s still shaping today and I would say is one of the best shapers not only in Australia, but also in the world. Kevin Platt was also a truly great shaper and just turned out lovely boards for the era.
Cord was a factory that was not only producing quite a few surfboards, but also a lot of ideas. Bob had a different idea every day, the boys would all add to it and overnight we’d have another innovation coming out of Cord. The other big change at the time was in fin design. George Greenough had arrived with his new shaped fins and the Sunshine Coast manufacturers were the first to use them.
These fins revolutionized surfboards and are still in use today. The boys just kept on refining them with George’s help and some of the things we were doing on a wave with the arrival and development of the Greenough fins were simply amazing for the day and some would say still are.
The other member of the Cord team was my brother Peter, or as he’s known all over the world today, Chops. Already a hot surfer and contest winner he got his basic knowledge from the older guys and was forever in Bob or Kevin’s shaping room picking their brains or hassling Algy to teach him how to glass or, “Hey Russell, take me surfing, you can borrow my brothers souped up EH Holden, no worries!” (that thing was fast. Very fast. I always reckon Russell drove it a lot faster than I ever did).
Chops, at the ripe old age of 14 already with a head full of surfing knowledge and ripping apart some of the best waves with the great surfers of the day. Our mate, surfer and waterman Geoff Nunquam captured a great collection of shots from this era which are featured on this site.
In 1966 the Australian Surfing titles were held at the Gold Coast and everybody wanted new boards to surf in them. Peter Drouyn was one of them, an incredibly hot young surfer from the Gold Coast. Peter came up to order his new board, which I think Bob shaped, and he kept saying he wanted it shorter and lighter. Eventually, after much argument it came out at 8ft and real light, Everybody thought he was mad but he went to those titles and did things nobody could believe – and won. My brother Peter won there too, cleaned up the under 15’s on an 8’3 “. I do believe this was the beginning of the shortboard era. In only a matter of months all boards began to shrink in size. It had a long way to go, but probably started at Cord. Certainly all the boards at Cord were getting lighter and finer, and some of the things being made there were totally different to anything else made before. Bob especially was feeding off George’s ideas and we made flex tails, stepped decks, very rolled bottoms, concaves, scooped decks and even three fin models plus much more. I think they referred to everyone hanging around Cord as the “hot generation” and maybe they were right, or as Bob said to Richard Harvey in his book, the Surfing history of QLD,
The other thing is that back in ’65/’66 we were constantly surfing great, uncrowded waves, and especially uncrowded Noosa (one of the best peeling point waves anywhere). You know that if there were more than 5 or 6 people out in the water it was “crowded”! Now at Noosa you could do amazing things. Take off and either bottom turn or wall turn, hang back in the hollow section of the wave by stalling on the back and then work out through the white water onto the nose and noseride it right under the lip. Big cutbacks, and probably the first re-entries ever done. The wave was perfect and we had all these new maneuvers happening and were developing the boards to do them on. Bob and Kevin shaped and surfed them and took the feedback from everyone else so in ’66 there were some very hot Cord surfboards and Cord surfers riding Noosa. The absolute beginning of a whole new era…