We’re proud of our history here at Cord Surfboards. It spans six decades shaping surfboards on two continents, and we’ve been involved with some of the most pivotal and important moments in modern surfboard design. We still look to the future and strive to innovate with designs and materials, but it’s good to occasionally look back and appreciate all of the hard work and milestones that got us to this place. We thought it high time we record some of those, in a timeline of how Cord Surfboards has been shaping surfing since 1965:
1965 – Caloundra, Queensland, Australia. At the age of 17, David “Humphrey” Lascelles persuades his parents to help fund a surfboard factory and launches Cord Surfboards with his friends and craftsmen Kevin Platt, Russel Hughes, Bob McTavish, John Mantle and Algy Grud.
“They were working at Hayden and made good boards, didn't earn much money but had a good lifestyle and plenty of time to surf,” recalls Humphrey, “I think it was late in '65 that there was a big blow-up at the Hayden factory and the boys were all either fired or quit. Right about that time I'd been talking to my parents about financing a surfboard factory for me.”
Spreading between them the roles of shapers, glassers, sanders and finishers, the team were quickly inundated with orders from near and far. Big names Kevin Brennan, Nat Young and Peter Drouyn were among the first to snag Cord boards, and they had a strong support network from New Zealand too, headed up by Wayne Parkes. Before too long, word of the new kids on the block had reach the USA, and influential surfers such as George Greenough and Bob Cooper were showcasing what the boys could do.
The Cord Surfboards factory and shop opened at 65 Bowman, Caloundra. “It took a while to fit it out and organize suppliers. Materials were sometimes a bit hard to come by back then!”
As the factory got busier, new shapers joined the ranks. Darrell “Rooster” Dell worked for Joe Larkin and Hayden before integrating himself into the Cord crew, closely followed by Humphrey’s younger brother, Peter “Chops” Lascelles. Chops was a hot surfer and contest winner. “Back then 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,” Humphrey recalls, “At the ripe old age of 14 Chops already had a head full of surfing knowledge and was ripping apart some of the best waves alongside the great surfers of the day.”
1966 - Australian Surfing Titles - Peter Drouyn wins on a Bob McTavish shaped 8’0” Cord, Peter “Chops” Lascelles wins the U15s on 8’3”
From then on, all the boards coming out of Cord were getting lighter and finer, and Humphrey recalls that within a matter of months most shapers were taking their designs in the same direction. “Some of the things we created were totally different to anything else made before; flex tails, stepped decks, very rolled bottoms, concaves, scooped decks and even three fin models plus much more.”
“When all the boys formed Cord Surfboards, it was the best of all,”
Bob McTavish, Surfing History of Queensland
1967 - The Caloundra factory closed its doors early in the year. Humphrey continued to build and sell Cords through Australia. Initially he moved down to the Gold Coast and set up an ill-fated and short term arrangement with Laurie Hohensee for a couple of months before thinking better of it and going his own way.
After Cord finished at Hohensees Humphrey went to New Zealand from 1967 until 1969. Chops had left school and was hanging about the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, working in the surfboard industry and in pubs. He went over to join his brother in NZ for a few months in 1968, both returning to Australia in 1969.
1970 - In September Humphrey flew to Amsterdam with a bloke he knew: “He wasn’t really a surfer, just a beach-hanger. His brother worked in the airlines and we got really cheap staff tickets.” They bought a 12 month old VW van for US $600 and headed south through France, Spain, Portugal and then over to Morocco in December. “We stayed in Maroc for about 15 months until finally they caught up with us and threw us out. There were lots of waves and not many surfers there back then. I was riding a couple of Rooster Dell shaped boards – 7 footers, give or take.” Whilst in Morocco, Humphrey met some surfers from Cornwall, UK. “This young bloke had flown down from Cornwall to spend some school holidays with his brother who was there in a van. He told me when I got to the UK to go to Perranporth. His old man owned a pub there called The Green Parrot. So that’s what I did.
1972 – Humphrey arrived in Cornwall, UK, in March and worked the summer as a lifeguard at Holywell Bay. That was the beginning of the brothers’ association with Cornwall.
“I surfed pretty solidly in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, California, Baja Mexico and Australia in the 1970s. Peter and Mary did quite a few trips and of course Peter travelled extensively to surf also. Over the years we would meet up and managed to have a lot of good waves in a lot of spots around the world.”
1973 & 74 – Humphrey spent the winters away, returning to Cornwall to lifeguard through the summer. In December 1974 he returned to Australia for Christmas. Humphrey and Chops’ dad passed away suddenly and “family things were a bit hard” so Chops decided to follow his big brother to the UK.
1975 – Humphrey, Chops and their brother Stephen drove down to Sydney and met up with Chops’ girlfriend Mary. The two brothers flew out of Sydney, with Chops heading to Hawaii for a few weeks and Humphrey going to California to stay with some friends in Santa Barbara. Chops joined them and they stayed until April, surfing Rincon whenever it was working. In April the brothers flew on to the UK and stayed in Perranporth. Mary joined Chops a couple of months later and they worked through the summer before buying a van and travelling down the European surf trail to spend the winter in Morocco.
1976 – Chops and Mary returned to the UK and went to live in Devon where Chops worked with Bruce Palmer for a while. Later that year or next year he returned to Cornwall and started shaping boards with Tris out at the Pig Farm in St Agnes. He eventually bought Tris out and it was his first factory in Cornwall. Chops and Mary decided to settle in St Agnes and make their home there.
Humphrey and Chops continued to make Cord Surfboards on and off over the years and never let the label or the family ownership slip. “Sometime in the early 1980’s when the mal thing was kicking off, a guy asked if he could make some boards under the Cord name” Humphrey agreed and they ran the arrangement for about 12 months but then ended it and went back to just making a few boards under the Cord label mainly for themselves or in Chops’ case whenever he had a really special board order like a classic log or a balsa gun, in which case he’d put a Cord decal on it.
1981 – Chops comes across Simon Anderson’s Thruster tri-fin design whilst on a visit back to Australia, just before Anderson takes out the 1981 Bells Beach Classic on his new design and changes the course of surfboard design. Chops brings the concept back to the UK.
1986 - Chops set up and ran his surfboard business, Laminations (who produced Cord Surfboards and Beach Beat Surfboards) out of the back yard of the old Count House at Wheal Kitty, on the cliff top above Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes. He became one of the leading board makers in the UK sharing not seen before knowledge with his new found Cornish mates. Through the 80s Chops coached the British surfing team as well as, through his contacts across the world, becoming the first person to bring the big Australian surf brands into Europe (Billabong, Rip Curl and Quicksilver). This lead to many of the teams' sponsored riders and the best surfers of the time, surfers like Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholemew and Cheyne Horan, coming through for the big contests in Newquay and a lot of them staying at the Lascelles’ family home.
Chops and Mary had three sons, Sean, Brennan and Marcus. All three grew up to be keen surfers. When they were growing up, the boys used to pull old Cord surfboards out of the shed and surf them, and so loved the Cord brand from an early age.
1994 - Cornwall Council redeveloped the old mine works at Wheal Kitty, and Chops moved Laminations down the lane into one of the new workshops there. He and marine environmental pressure group Surfers Against Sewage were the first two businesses to take up residence. Laminations was one of the most successful surfboard factories in Europe, exporting all over Europe, Japan and throughout the UK. Chops was also among one of the first overseas shapers to take boards over to Ireland and stay to surf with the locals, building a connection and relationship that endures to this day.
“As with the old factory it was a centre of surf community, both local and international. A place that gave many local lads their breaks in industry, and where the Lascelles groms were often better behaved than the adults!”
Steve England, Editor, Carve Magazine
Through the 1990s Humphrey and Chops were talking about bringing the Cord brand back into production. Eventually Chops shaped two boards and Rooster (an old friend and one of the original Cord shapers) one, and they surfed them and finally decided on a model that was to become the first of the new Cords .
Chops’ youngest son, Markie learnt the art of board making from a young age from his dad, whilst always watching and learning new shapes and techniques from the travelling shapers rolling through the factory from all corners of the world.
2006 - Chops sold the Wheal Kitty factory to a few of the team who had been working with him, who kept the Laminations name. Jeremy Walters, Stevie Two Fins and Kev White took over, finishing Cord and Beachbeat boards for Chops (who had moved his shaping to a new unit on the other side of St Agnes) whilst running the Laminations show themselves. Time passed and the boys went their separate ways, with Jeremy keeping the factory going until early 2012. Always at the leading edge, Chops brought one of the first surfboard shaping machines into the UK.
2013 – Tragically, Chops passes away suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving a big hole in the local surf community not to mention his family. Youngest son Markie, a highly accomplished shaper and surfer by now, took on the family business and became the head shaper and co-owner at Beach Beat and Cord Surfboards with his eldest brother Sean, as well as inheriting the licenses their dad had to import surfboard blanks and materials for other UK surfboard builders. Markie built a unique team of surfers from across the UK and Ireland (including an Aussie expat from the Sunshine Coast, which happens to link nicely back to the origins of the family business) with whom he develops and tests innovative new designs, whilst retaining the core values of Cord.
2020 – Markie and Sean made the decision to resurrect and focus their energies on the Cord Surfboards brand. The brand identity is updated, and in the original spirit of Cord to pursue innovation in high performance surfing Markie moves the majority of team riders on to Cords. In Ireland, Noah Lane tested his channel bottom twin pin Ark model in waves of consequence, whilst Connor Maguire successfully rode enormous waves at Mullaghmore on Cord guns and tow boards.
2023 - Following another tragic and untimely death, the surfboard factory at Wheal Kitty became available. Because of Markie’s history and connection with the site, he was approached as a potential new tenant and saw that a once in a lifetime opportunity was presenting itself. It was now his time. After 25 years the surfboard factory at Wheal Kitty is once again Lascelles owned and run, and Cord Surfboards had been brought full circle with Markie shaping surfboards under the family label in his dad’s old shaping bay.
What's Next For Cord Surfboards?
As a family business with such a rich history, we'll always have one foot in the past but we're always looking to and stepping firmly forwards into the future. The great thing about the future is that it's always still being written. We have a great team of both craftsmen at the factory and of surfers out in the water, we're continuing to develop new designs that push surfing to new heights, we're continually improving the facilities and offering at our factory and showroom, and we've recently been audited and accredited by Sustainable Surf to produce gold-level EcoBoards (the only producer in the UK doing this in "standard" foam and fibreglass construction). We have welcomed several prominent international guest shapers to the Cord Surfboards factory in St Agnes and plan to host more, whilst head shaper Markie has and continues to explore offers and opportunities for short guest shaping residencies overseas. Our aim is to grow the Cord Surfboards community and brand at home and away, building on our unique heritage and not wavering from Humphrey and Chops' ethos of producing the greatest quality high performance surfboards, to keep pushing surfing forwards.
Come and pay us a visit at our factory and showroom in St Agnes, Cornwall, to see our surfboards for yourself and find out what we're all about, or get in touch to talk through what we can offer you.