Born in the mid 60s on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, we’ve had our feet firmly planted in surfing’s heritage since conception. Our founding fathers were innovative before their time. The solid team included brothers David “Humphrey” Lascelles and Peter “Chops” Lascelles, accompanied by friends and craftsmen Bob McTavish, Kevin Platt, Russel Hughes, John Mantle and Algy Grud.
Above: Original promo poster for the Cord Factory. Early 60's.
The boys were growing up in Caloundra, home of Moffat Beach and a great pointbreak. Older brother Humphrey was working in his parent’s hotel, dreaming of being in the board building business, whilst most of the other boys were doing just that, at Hayden Surfboards. “They 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 blowup 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.”
At the age of 17, Humphrey, funded by his parents, launched Cord Surfboards with his friends. 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, too.
Above: David Lascelles on a very early Cord at The Bluff, 1965.
As the factory got busier, new shapers joined the ranks. Darrell “Rooster” Dell worked for 60s legends Joe Larkin and Hayden, before integrating himself into the Cord crew, closely followed by Humphrey’s younger brother. “The other member of the Cord team was my brother Peter, or as he's known all over the world, Chops. He 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.”
Not only were boards flying out of the factory, but ideas were flying around within it too. What began as a spark or insight would be built on by each of the boys, “overnight we'd have another innovation coming out of Cord.” Around this time surfboard fin design was also being transformed. George Greenough brought new shapes from the States, and the Sunshine Coast manufacturers were the first to use them. “These fins revolutionized surfboards and are still in use today.”
“In 1966 the Australian Surfing titles were held at the Gold Coast and everybody wanted new boards to surf whilst competing.” Peter Drouyn, an emerging, “hot, young surfer” from the Gold Coast placed an order at Cord ahead of the competition. “He kept saying he wanted it shorter and lighter,” Humphrey said. After much argument with shaper McTavish, it ended up at 8ft and incredibly 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.” Did the Cord boys make history? “I do believe this was the beginning of the shortboard era.”
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.”
“The absolute beginning of a whole new era…” is the nostalgic way that the Cord co-founder described the birth of the surfboard factory. He paints unbelievable scenes of uncrowded waves in Noosa, when 5 or 6 people would seem busy, and describes the progression and change of surf style during the glory days, “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. All these new manoeuvres were happening and we were developing the boards to do them on.”
A lot has changed at Cord Surfboards, as you’ll now find the factory on the west coast of Cornwall, England, in St. Agnes. But we aim to be as innovative as ever. The stories and heritage defining the brand have shaped the business, and Markie Lascelles, son of Chops, is at the helm, producing beautiful boards that are paving the way for modern surfing.
A quote from McTavish, found in The Surfing History of QLD, read, “when all the boys formed Cord Surfboards, it was the best of all,”. It still rings true to this day.
David "Humphrey" Lascelles and Daryll "Rooster" Dell still on the Cords at one there favourite spots in Noosa.