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From Wood to Foam
Beginning with the innovation of using fiberglass and foam to craft surfboards by Bob Simmons
in the late 1940's, this chapter (written in the late 1990's) details how the polyurthane foam board was developed and how it caused a
radical change for surfers from using fiberglassed wooden surfboards to fiberglassed foam boards.
This chapter has been reformatted for easier on-line reading and hardcopy printing.
From Wood to Foam
Late 1950's image of Hobie Alter, Hoppy Swarts
and Whitey Harrision courtesy of Gary Lynch and the Tom Blake Collection.
- Posted: 15 April 2006
Great Women Surfers of The Wooden Era
During the Twentieth Century, males came
to dominate the world of surfing almost to the exclusion of women.
Toward the century’s end, this situation changed. Even so, few of
us realize that surfing’s roots lay in an egalitarian surfing lifestyle.
Although there were hierarchies
in old time Polynesia and Hawai‘i, surfing was a common
pursuit by not only males and females, but children as well.
When one looks at the entire history
of surfing during its approximate 5,000 year history, most of that time
was spent with, yes, an admittedly male dominant role, but certainly not
without the ever presence of kids and women. In that sense, the increasing
modern day influence by female surfers can be seen more as a return to
past balance, rather than just a new development.
Great Women Surfers of The Wooden Era
Cover of Kaua'i Magazine, 1994.
- Posted: 30 March 2006
In surfing, the year 1957 is notable for the continued opening
of the North Shore of O`ahu by mostly Coast Haoles. It's also the year
when major experimentations in polyurethane foam surfboard manufacture
took place on the U. S. Mainland. To read more about the development of
polyurethane foam, please read "Wood To Foam".
journey with me back to 1957...
Fred Van Dyke surfing Waimea. Image courtesy of John Severson.
- Posted: 6 March 2006
Bud "Barracuda" Browne
A lifeguard/surfer beginning in the late 1930s, Bud "Barracuda" Browne
went on to become surfing's first commercial surf film maker. Throughout
the 1950's, it was Bud's surf movies that provided the stoke and defined
the genre. While other notable surf film makers certainly followed, Bud continued to practice his craft, resulting
in his surfing cinematic influence continuing to present day.
The LEGENDARY SURFERS chapter has been updated for easier reading
Bud "Barracuda" Browne
"Gun Ho!" movie poster courtesy of Bud Browne.
- Posted: 17 February 2006
During the period 1920-1929, the popularity of surfing continued to grow amongst the determined and dedicated.
Surfing's revival during the previous two decades had gone by relatively unnoticed by the rest of the world,
with the exception of Australia, New Zealand and the United States. With the death of George Freeth in 1919,
surfing's spread was left to Duke Kahanamoku almost single handedly.
From a surfing perspective, the 1920's was largely Duke's era and he dominated all news about the sport during that time.
However, Duke was not alone. There were growing numbers of surfers at Waikiki, in Australia and California.
Significantly, a champion swimmer named Tom Blake got interested in surfing and would become - second only to Duke -
the most influential surfer of the next two decades. This chapter covers the events and the surfers
of the 1920's in the kind of depth that cannot be found anywhere else other than through the LEGENDARY SURFERS collection.
This chapter has been completely rewritten and updated and totals approximately 17,287 words, comprising 46 pages,
including footnotes and historically important images. To find out more about this chapter and order
the ebooklet for just $4.95, deliverable to your PC within 24-hours of ordering, please go to:
- Posted: 8 January 2006
LEGENDARY SURFERS Volume 1 covers the very
beginning of surfing history, 2500 B.C. to 1910 A.D., through the life of Duke Kahanamoku.
This premier LEGENDARY SURFERS publication incorporates not only all
the material available on the LEGENDARY SURFERS website for that period, but greatly expands
on all subjects as well as offers totally new material.
The colored cover paperback dimensions are: 7.5 inches X 9.25 inches. Total pages: 358.
Total wordage: 145,950. Black and white historical images: over 50.
In-Depth, Detailed Surfing History
If you are a serious reader of surfing history,
this book was made for you. If you or your loved one(s) just
want to know how surfing began and progressed on into the time of
"The Father of Modern Surfing" Duke Kahanamoku, then the
book also makes a great gift to give at $29.95 plus shipping and handling.
Several Books In One
Volume 1 goes into the realm
of the beginning and early days of surfing in an exhaustive and detailed manner. Nowhere
else can you read about the pre-modern days of Polynesian and Hawaiian surfing in such
detail, extensively footnoted, and all in one volume. You would have to
buy half a dozen books on history and surfing just to get a
portion of what is contained in LEGENDARY SURFERS Volume 1 !!!
The First Surfers
Traditional Hawaiian Surf Culture
Ancient Hawaiian Surfboards
Legendary Polynesian Surfers
Mo'ikeha and Sons
The 1800's: Surfing's Darkest Days
The Ka'iulani Board
Bronzed Mercury: George Freeth
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku
Depth of Coverage
As I've been writing,
my emphasis has been on depth of coverage on all aspects related to
surfing's history, culture and heroes. Most of you know that I have
been writing about surfing's history for more than a decade
and have one of the oldest surfing websites on the
Internet. My work has appeared in such important surfing resources
as The Surfer's Journal and Longboard Magazine and,
along with Tom Blake's good friend Gary Lynch, I wrote the definitive
Tom Blake biography, TOM BLAKE: The Journey of a Pioneer Waterman,
published in 2001.
LEGENDARY SURFERS Volume 1 is available by order on the Internet, through
print-on-demand publisher CafePress. Why can't you just pick it up at
Amazon.com or your local bookstore? Because I make most
all my own material. That is: I write it, lay it out, market it and send
out to a print-on-demand (POD) publisher (in most cases, CafePress) that not only prints the material,
but also handles credit card payments and order fulfillment. Once I'm done writing
and creating the finished product, I let them handle the rest.
Despite my homespun approach to publishing in
the digital age, the website that houses most of my surf writings -- LegendarySurfers.com -- has been
used by surf veterans, gremmies and millions
of surfers and non-surfers over the past decade. Currently, the site averages
9,486 user sessions a week. That's an average of 1,355 user sessions a day. Not bad! It's nowhere
near the kind of volume that, say, Surfer Magazine gets at their website, but, hey, I'm just a
By the way, LegendarySurfers.com
continues to offer the vast amount of my material for free, with less
than a dozen chapters requiring payment in order to read. Material is continually updated and
new chapters added throughout the year. As far as Volume 1
is concerned, this is the first time I have a surf history book for sale.
It's been my honor to advance my writing in plain view
of you all (via the Internet) and, sometimes, receive appreciations and criticisms personally from many
of you. Some of the nicer things that have been said over the years
(that I've saved), include:
"Hey, Malcolm: You are the keeper of the flame, every time I get you newsletter I learn
something... Email me when your ready to let the rubber meet the
road. Anyways, there's nobody doing what you are. Keep up the great work. 'AS ALWAYS,'"
-- TUBESTEAK/MALIBU (January 2005)
"Malcolm, I just wanted to tell you that Legendary Surfers is getting better and better all the time.
Keep it coming. I am enjoying every news letter better than the last. Thanks,"
-- Gary Howe (December 2004)
"My old pal, Chuck Shipman, lives across the street from Sunset,
hosted Mal Piau (sp) the navigator from Yap island.
He has retold me many storries about the birth of the Hokule'ia and how it was destined for trouble...
History cannot be lost to time, it is too valuable an asset. This is evident by your extensive research, Malcolm.
Mahalo and aloha"
-- Jim The Genius (November 2004)
"At 45 & surfing most of my life , it wasn't till I went through you're volumes,
did I realize just how heavy the surfing STOKE really is and always has been.
I'm especialy moved by the old Hawaiian stories, and of course,
the fact that woman were so much a big part of that history.
I've been to Hawaii twice and somehow this info never passed through this thick skull!
Long story short, I really think these volumes should be mandatory for all people,
young and old who have an interest in the sport.
It would undoubtedly alter many attitudes out in some of the more pleasant
line-ups we have today... sincerely and kudos to yah,"
-- Al Allison (January 2004)
thanks for putting me on your list. I continue to be amazed at your prolific output and dedication.
Keep up the great work -- a valuable and lasting contribution to surf culture and history.
-- Paul Holmes (November 2003)
"I really think you have been doing an incredible service to the surfing community.
I have been fascinated by all the info... Mahalo and all the best!"
-- Randy Rarick, North Shore, O`ahu, Hawai`i (May 2003)
"Always find something interesting in your newsletter. Aloha Always, Jack"
-- Jack McCoy (August 2003)
"Aloha from Kona .... I'm really enjoying reading all these biographies.
I've read a few books on Hawaiian surfing and Tom Blake's book.
Your stories seem to go more in depth which I really like."
-- J.D. (August 2002)
"Thank you for all your great work. I've really enjoyed reading all the things you've written!
Especially all the stuff about the old time classic surfers -- some of whom I know."
-- M.B. (November 2001)
"You have it all. There's nothing better around; you did a lot of homework.
It's great stuff; makes it seem like it was yesterday and not 43 years ago."
-- Tubesteak (April 1999)
"Kudos and accolades."
-- E.J. Oshier (1998)
"Your [writings web] page is a very big asset to preserving and celebrating the historic figures of Surfing. Terrific..."
-- Fred Hemmings (April 1997)
"I think you've got it like I said it, even with the local talk we use when we're among friends.
Thanks for taking the time."
-- Wally Froiseth (May 1996)
"Malcolm Gault-Williams is on a mission to record oral histories as told to him by as many of
our great surf elders as possible, in scholarly fashion, before they are lost forever.
He submits his manuscripts painstakingly footnoted. He transcribes and presents the interviews verbatim,
the way they were spoken, false starts, verbal stumbles and all.
This allows a fuller sense of the personality and nature of the speaker than the condensed,
sanitized versions normally published."
-- Steve Pezman (Fall 1996)
WOW! - With guys like these saying nice things about my writing, I feel confident you
will be stoked by all that is in LEGENDARY SURFERS Volume 1... But, if for any reason
you are not...
The book -- as with all stuff I sell -- is 100%
guaranteed. If, for whatever reason, you decide you do not want Volume 1,
simply return the book to CafePress within 30 days of purchase and you'll be refunded the full purchase price.
To purchase your book, just click on the book icon.
If the links do not work in your web browser or you do not see the book image, you can order Volume 1
by going to:
LEGENDARY SURFERS Volume 1 sells for $29.95, plus shipping and handling, and ships within 2 business days.
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