All posts by Emily Robertson

Bennett Retro Vintage Skateboards

Bennett_skateboardThese vintage shaped skateboards have been assembled at The Bennett Surfboard Factory at 180 Harbord Road, Brookvale, as were the first original skateboards which were handshaped and developed in the sixties at the Bennett Surfboards Factory, but at its original location of 188 Harbord Road, Brookvale.

The Vintage Skateboard components are all from the 60s & 70’s, which have been sourced from the USA and Australia. The only new piece will be the deck itself. A 910 cm long super flat vintage styled Fijian White Cedar plyboard of very high quality.

The components are:  Metaflex NOS Urethane wheels Dragster , Easy Rider & Hi Speed in colours of Black, Red, Green, Blue & Super Dark Green

Each NOS 1960’s truck base has been hand stamped.  The truck bases used are the same as used on the 1960’s steel wheeled TITAN & SATURN Rocket skateboards by Fairfax Co.of Sterling Illinois.

Two designs will be available a total of 100 Skateboards, of which only 50 have been released so far. Each Skateboard will be stamped with its unique number. The first has been screen printed in 2 colours. The second design to be released at a later date.

Price $395


Floating and Paddling

Complied by American Shaper / Designer Rich Harbour of Harbour Surfboards

As a shaper and surfboard designer, I’m frequently asked questions regarding flotation. The best package for you has many elements, and ultimately you will assemble all of the variables and make the appropriate choice. There are, in addition to flotation, several other closely related subjects that need to be covered. These relate to the damage done to the body and to the surfboard with different kinds of paddling, as well as the difference between a good paddling board and a high performance surfboard.

The first rule of flotation is: the mass of a surfboard is directly related to its manoeuvrability. Mass is described as the resistance to inertia. Plain and simple, the bigger it is, the more mass a surfboard possesses, the more flotation it has.

Most surfers want the most manoeuvrability. Make it shorter and it turns better. There are some variable here, and different shapers will give you their own arguments. One school of thought says make a board thicker or wider to compensate for reduction of length. Those who argue against this say that thicker boards have less sensitivity and wider boards have less rail and action, making turning sluggish. As long as you don’t go overboard, going wider or thicker will help a shorter board float. However, you will always give up something in order to get more float. This is variably dependent on the surfers bodyweight and level of experience.

A board designed specifically for paddling has unique characteristics. It will have less rocker than the more manoeuvrable board made for surfing, less curve in the bottom, and a fin several feet from the tail. Studies have shown that paddling at 3.5 knots the amount of wetted surface accounts for approximately 85% of the drag. However, at about 5 knots, the curves of the outline and rocker now account for about half of the resistance, and friction on the wetted surface accounts for the other half. We also know that a full-arc shaped bottom will displace water much more efficiently than a flat bottom. A very pointed, long, narrow shape glides rather easily through the water. But at 12’ long and 20” wide, this almost rocker less, efficient paddling machine is not going to do many roundhouse cutbacks. The point I am making is that you should make the decision about how much manoeuvrability you are willing to sacrifice in order to paddle well. In general, go for size increase for better paddling instead of design changes that may detract from surfability.

Catching waves easily seems to be one of the more frequent design requests. I never have thought that the nose has any great influence on wave catching. A narrow nose will certainly be more efficient in off shore winds, and excessive rocker will push water. The bigger the board the easier it catches. Yet one board will catch waves better than another of the same length. Why? Without getting into a bunch of technical possibilities, look to the obvious. A wider tail will capture more of the wave’s energy than a narrow one. A 15” square tail (always measure tails and noses 12” from the ends) will certainly capture more wave energy than an 11” pin tail. But remember that turning is tipping the board on one rail to create resistance. This resistance pulls the board in the direction of the tipped rail. Of course rocker, rail, curve and tail thickness will also have a bearing on the turn ability. Too wide and it won’t turn well, and too narrow and there will be no curve for it to relate on.

I have a theory about the popularity of knee-paddling surfboards. At age 15, and 150 pounds, I started on a 9’8”. To surf on a 6’2” in the middle of the winter before full suits were invented would have taken a tougher guy than I was. With no wetsuit you had to kneel, completely dry, on top of the board while waiting for the next set. You would see a few guys with their feet dangling in the water, but most of us paddled out and sat in the line up in the kneeling position while waiting for that perfect wave. With the advent of comfortable full wetsuits and the down sizing of surfboard length happening almost simultaneously, one begins to wonder.

So you want a knee patch on your boards? I think there’s a better idea. The foam boards of the 60’s were made of much denser foam, about 3.9lbs per cubic foot and glassed with at least two layers of 8oz. cloth top and bottom. Today’s typical surfboard foam is 2.44 pounds per cubic foot (or less) and probably no more than double 6oz top and single 6oz bottom. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure that this new high tech, ultimate turning surfboards you want to buy has sacrificed something to make it so mobile. It’s lighter because it weaker. But that’s what makes it work so good. The old foam is available on special order. It can take, at certain times, several months to get.

Ordering the old style foam will solve the denting problem, you just went 30 years backward in time, designing a board that could weigh as much as 30lbs. I have a better solution. If you must knee paddle, go for a couple of sessions. Now strip the wax off where you kneel and you should find 4 dents where your knees and insteps have pressed the glass and foam. The glass is now being stretched and is trying to cling to the foam. Take your board to a qualified repair centre and ask them to put several layers of 4oz glass in the curvature of the dent and hold the old glass down. You have just added strength to the exact balance points with very little weight on your board. The cost was probably less than the cost of an oil change for your car.

Prone paddling, stroking arm over arm, always puts one arm in the water. Now many times surfers are suffering from back and neck problems due to constant arching of the back that prone paddling requires. Knee paddling also has its drawbacks. You put both arms in the water when you take a stroke. Therefore, you must rely on the boards coasting ability to keep up the momentum before the next stroke. Thus, anything less than a “full nose and tail out of water” board is not an effective knee-paddler. Clearly a board of these proportions will restrict the handling characteristics. Not only will the performance of your board suffer, but so will your in steps and knees. Those unsightly cartilage build ups, also known as surf knots, are as cool to have today as when you where 15.

That 9’6” that floated just fine when you were 18 may not support you today. No, the displacement of a 1962 surfboard is not significantly different from today’s 9’6”. But your personal displacement may have increased enough to make a major adjustment to achieve similar flotation.

As one gets older and spends less time in the water the need for flotation increases. At some point in one’s surfing career, the ability to do floaters, off the lips, and radical cut backs begin to diminish. Paddling starts to become more important. Your primary thing is to have fun. If hassling paddling is not fun, or you have medical problems, tell your sales person. Any qualified longboard shop deals with these questions on almost a daily basis: if you are dealing with a shop that has a “too cool” salesman for longboard flotation problems, find yourself some place else to spend your money.

The Long and Short Of It

Summary of article by Peter Lalor – The Daily Telegraph Sat, Oct 16th 1999.

Remember when a surfboard was as long as a summer’s day? When the old Holden groaned under its incredible weight? Well, the longboard is back, carrying the dreams of old surfers and even the kids reckon they’re pretty cool.

For most of the baby boomers the surfing dream went to pot a long time ago. Those sandy haired boys and bikini clad girls had come of age on a beach and thought life could never change. They had danced to surf movies, sworn oaths to surf philosophy and lived a summer that never looked like ending. These bright eyed “beach bums” had straddled elongated Malibu boards and squinted back towards the shore, never imaging life would call them beyond the carpark.

Then it all began to go horribly wrong. Their surf dreams were wiped by the evil conspiracies of age offspring – often conceived in the dunes of a beach party or in the back of a rocking panel van – arrived and started to demand attention and time. Homes were bought and mortgages mounted. Lawns needed mowing on the weekend and that beloved big board began to take up too much space in the shed. And if over the years they did manage to get out among the new cold eyed generation of surfers, the boomers found their pot bellies strained with fabric of the old wettie and made it almost impossible to stand up on the ridiculously small boards the kids had taken to. The old 30kg, long as a Cadillac Malibu had been replaced by a toothpick sized thing that made surfing akin to having a threesome in a hammock. Bummer! But you can’t keep a good baby boomer down for too long. After all, the world was created to plot their return.

And the only way they could do it was by bringing aback a board capable of holding their generously accumulated frames. For Mark Rabbidge, 50, one of the pioneering world class Australian surfers, the longboard began to call again when his son took up the sport.

Rabbidge had begun surfing back in the summer of 1969, and he appreciated the value of a longboard “in my case my son started to surf and I didn’t want to surf a 6ft 2in twin fin in choppy, shitty waves, but I wanted to be in the water with him” he said ‘ thought, gee a longboard would be good’, but you couldn’t buy one – even though I was in the business I couldn’t even buy a blank (the raw board which has not been shaped or finished)” Rabbidge like a few others, started to manufacture his own – and over the years the demand just grew and grew.

The return is nothing short of a miracle. For many years those monstrosities from the past had been about as popular on beaches as an outflow sewage pipe and as common as a surfer with a job. The boomers have made sure that the boards are now a booming business. Some of the classic older models are fetching around US $20,000 and a good Australian balsa board can demand $10000. Man, you might even have to cash in a few shares to strap one of these on top of the BMW. Longboards are hip all over again and are doing huge business. World wide they now account for 60% of surfboard sales, less than 10 years ago it was just 5% and it’s just not the grey haired getting back onto them.

The world champion longboard surfer, Joel Tudor. An ultra cool sports star for the new millennium, he travels the world in one set of clothes and rides a board with a classic style and modern dexterity that amazes all who see him.

Watch the kid hanging five or throwing a 360-degree turn and you may be forgiven for pulling out that old Little Pattie record. Number two in the world is Beau Young – son of Australian legend Nat. the old man is proud of his son’s achievements and just pleases that people are again accepting the longboard. He says that he will never give up the big ones; they certainly were out of vogue for a long time and it didn’t make sense.

“In this one aspect surfing is similar to golf in that you don’t use a putter for hitting your long shots, just as you wouldn’t use a wood around the greens” said Nat “Essentially longboards are not made for quality tubing surf but are great for the smaller choppier stuff”.

The near extinction of the longboard was caused by the excesses of fashion. “In 1967 we realised that the Malibu was just too long and too bulky to fit inside the tube, so we cut the boards down and we took those to incredible extremes. By 1969 I was surfing a board that was 5ft 9in long, so it was almost half of what I started on. The thing about them was that they were really good for surfing the tube but they were absolutely useless for getting a bit of momentum and gliding across the flat parts of the wave, and that’s were a longboard is incredible.

A longboard is perfect on a small surf day, perfect for people who are heavier than those callow youths who have hogged our beaches for so long, and brilliant to learn on.

Rabbidge who owns Retro Longboards deals with the newcomers and those making a

re-entry “The longboard craze means people who’ve only ever been on a body board can now stand up easily on a surfboard. And then there’s the other lot who are coming back into the water. I get hits on my email address and these are from people who say they haven’t surfed for 25 years. They have all the old stories and a head full of dreams and they want you to make these things for them and I say “look, I’m only a surfboard shaper, not a dream weaver, I can make you a board but I can’t take you back there”.

Ron Rudder, 53, of Newcastle surf company Pacific Dreams says he and his mates have been reliving their youth for the past 10 years thanks to longboards. “On them I can get out and pick up a wave, whereas if I had a short board I wouldn’t last long. They’re harder to paddle and catch waves” Rudder says he knows of one old longboard rider who is 75 and making the most of the “new” fad. The boomers returned to the longboard out of necessity and nostalgia, but the conversation of youth took everybody by surprise Matt Kay, 17 year old Newcastle local, was always intrigued by the monstrous boards his father kept in the garage. He and his mates would take them out for a laugh and then it just stuck.

Rabbidge has a keen eye for the social history of surfing and has watched the kids pick up on the old ways with some satisfaction “The rebirth has happened more from the older guys who’ve got the mortgage and the wife and kids all in order and now can go back to it and grab his Malibu, but that sort of syndrome is now being taken over by the youth. “The longboard thing has only recently become trendier because they are associated with California and a lot of youth are looking for more fun in surfing than just the straight battling board under conditions that aren’t always available”. Of course the new boards are not exactly like the old ones The Mexican Government recently sponsored a tube riding competition for longboards. Nat Young was amused by the concept “It’s almost a contradiction in terms by my standards, but these kids have got so much talent they can make a longboard surf inside a tube. A lot of the new longboards are hybrids – they have a lot of short board elements, the rail lines, fin configuration and weight are about the same as a short board “I ride traditional longboards and that’s the difference from what Beau rides”.

Bennett Surfboards of Brookvale have been making boards since 1956. Barry Bennett started the company and now sons Greg and John are helping to run the show. It wasn’t that long ago they weren’t making any longboards at all, but these days they are the bulk of their output. Greg says that some of their customers are more than 60 years old, but the boards they are buying are not the same as the ones ridden 30 years ago “They’re fully polished and they have all the traditional spray designs and full length stripes, and so they have a bottom curve of a modern day surfboard and usually have three fins for manoeuvrability. They have the best of everything these days they’re not as strong, but they’re lighter just like modern cars. If they were too heavy and built like they were 30 years ago, no one would buy them” Greg says longboards are part of a cycle like the yo yo, but this one has brought so many more people back into the sport they thought was gone forever. “We have customers who have come here weighing 17 stone and they’re puffing from the stairs, but some of these boards could handle a sumo wrestler. They are a real good business now because these people are flushed with cash, unlike the kids who traditionally surf and have little to spend”.

With the boomers has come the big buck. Sponsors such as European clothing company Oxbow are flinging around huge amounts of money to be associated with longboard competitions. Mark Rabbidge is happy to see the business booming “The difference now and even ten years ago is that companies are automatically making and selling longboards as part of their range. Clothing companies also want to be associated with the longboards, whereas before they would shy away so they didn’t lose their image – it was considered to be a bad look.”

The boomers are keen to get their hands on some of the old equipment. Like other areas of sports memorabilia, the historical surfing gear is demanding big bucks. “If the boards have a history and are associated with a well known shaper or brand they are worth money” Rabbidge says “That area is getting huge. I’ve got a heap that are worth a lot of money and my daughter is going to get them one day. I’ve got one in a museum in Victoria and I’m lending some more to another. All the paraphernalia is starting to attract attention and value because it’s a real cult, it’s recognizable with the baby boomer image or baby boomer time”.

However, while the big board is back Rabbidge says of lot of longboarders are asking for shorter boards for days when the swell’s up “I don’t think the future of surfing is long or short boarding. But I think people are just determined to make sure it is fun. I am finding now that more people who like longboards find they need another board for boisterous days when the longs are a pain in the arse. So they come back to a seven footer, which is the size a board should be”.

Cruisy Way to Surf

Courtesy of Ansett Airlines Magazine 1996.

The revival of longboarding is not just another nostalgiated trend. To it’s fans, longboarding is more graceful, aesthetically pleasing and easier style of surfing.

Longboards are back, proving that if you wait long enough, everything comes back into fashion, longboarding has taken off again in surfing. Longboards currently account for 60% of surfing sales worldwide. Seven years ago, just 5% of all the surfboards made in Australia were longboards, today longboards account for 50% of production, with local surfboard manufacturers churning out 60,000 longboards a year.

Another baby boomer-led trend, the surfing equivalent of the revival of Motown music? No, its not just the old fellas who are longboarding, but also young kids keen to take surfing back to it’s roots. Longboarders range in age from 8 to 80 and cover all walks of life – business owners, executives, artists, designers, professional athletes, scientists and entrepreneurs – everyone is embracing the return of longboard surfing.

What’s the appeal? Older people are drawn to the longboard as a way to keep fit and to satisfy a desire to return to the roots of surfing younger people are flocking to the sports because of the aesthetic appeal of wave riding in a more graceful style than short boarding can offer.

For many people, longboarding triggers memories of a special time in the history of surfing: beach luaus, camping, 70 pound surfboards and a sense of health and vibrance centred around the ocean. One longboard maker recently told a newspaper reporter “We’ve had people into retro cars, retro fashion and retro music, so why not revise the idyllic time in surfing, when there was no pollution, no crowds and no violence”.

But the revival of longboarding is not driven soley by nostalgia. The son and daughter of former surfing greats, such as Nat Young’s son Beau and Midget Farrelly’s daughter Johanna are now some of the young guns of the sport. The youngsters are attracted by the sport’s heritage and the individuality of working their boards through various timeless manoeuvres; walking the board, hang five, hang ten and drop knee turns.

The popularity of longboard surfing waned during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, as the shortboard revolution took hold. The longboarding resurgence started in the early 1980’s more specifically, in 1981, when the Dewy Weber Longboard Classic competition started in California. The current trend back to longboarding is mainly the result of technological advances in surfboard design, which have made longboards almost as manoeuvrable as shortboards, but much easier to paddle.

Capitalizing on longboarding’s new found popularity the fast food chain Hog’s Breath Café has set up a Longboarding legends tour, with events to be staged along Australia’s eastern seaboard over the next 6 months. Longboard surfing tours are now also springing up, including a new Indonesian surfing safari spectacular for well-heeled longboarders, who want a surfing and fishing trip in style and comfort.

Professional longboarding has recently witnessed a split. In one camp are the traditionalists, who are attracted to the aesthetics and traditions of longboarding: walking back and forth on the board, hanging ten and turning helicopters (standing on one end of the board and rotating it 360 degrees while on a wave). In the other corner are the progressive longboarders, who ride lighter versions of the traditional longboards in much the same way that the short boarders use their boards, executing floaters, sharp turn re-entries and cutbacks.

Having surfed for more than 25 years, I have been around for the development stages of short board design right through to the rebirth of the longboard. For many years, my time was spent racing malibu boards and longboards and I was fortunate enough to be part of the “speed” development , that is the growth of the shortboards. But I have to say that the comeback of the longboard is the best development I have seen, because it has opened up this great sport to so many people.

Many shortboard surfers will disagree, because the waves are now more crowded than ever, but I think it’s great to see people of all ages in the ocean and really enjoying themselves. I like to ride both shortboards and longboards, but the appeal of the longboard is obvious, they are easy to paddle. On a longboard it is easy to stand up and easy to catch waves.

Longboarding is a really cruisy way of surfing. For older guys who want to get back into surfing, but have let their fitness deteriorate over the years and have put on a few unnecessary kilograms, longboards are the only way to get back into stand up surfing.

Longboard clubs are being established all over Australia if you are just starting out, I suggest you borrow or buy a second hand board, as a new longboard will set you back between $600 and $1000, depending on the length, graphic design and quality.

The best way to begin surfing on a longboard is to find an uncrowded spot, with relatively deep water, in such a location, the waves will break softly, rather than dump, and it will be easier to control the board. You don’t need nicely; shaped waves, that is, waves breaking to the left or right, to begin with – just small, soft waves that you can practice paddling on to, then standing up, then maybe making some little turns in the whitewash.

Once you have mastered those basic manoeuvres, you can progress to cutting across the face of waves. The world of longboarding will then start to open up. Before too long, you will be turning, carving, and hanging five, hanging ten. You will be a longboarder !!!