Friday, September 23, 2011

All '60s mystery surfers identified

Classic surf photo from the early sixties
Cronulla surfers all identified

Good friend, life-long Cronulla surfer and avid board collector from the Stringerless era; Larry Cohen has managed to shed some additional light on the mystery '60s surfers photo published last Saturday in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Photographer Bob Weeks captured this rare shot
of these Cronulla surfers at the Ulladulla
Golf Course Reef back in the early sixties.
Larry lives just a few doors up from John Coleman, who we identified as the young 'Gremlin' in the photo earlier this week in a story.

John dropped in to visit Larry and could clearly name all the guys who were in the photo. As John tells the story, he was around 14 yrs old at the time and the photo was taken around 1963/64. He goes on say that all the other guys in the photo are much older than him, but they let him tag along on surf trips just because he was such a good surfer.

The photo, which turns out to be a fashionable time stamp of the times, was taken by Bob Weeks and the location was the famous Golf Course reef at Ulladulla, on the NSW South Coast.

'60s shot of Nigel Dwyer glassing boards
at Norm Casey Surfboards, Taren Point.
Photo from the Nigel Dwyer,
Del Surfboards Collection, NZ.

Identified and hand marked in the photo above; are Cronulla's top surfers from the era, here's the entire crew: John Coleman, John Gittins, Nigel Dwyer, Robert Ayers and Tony Nicholas. 

A surf industry person, Nigel Dwyer worked at both Jackson Surfboards and Norm Casey Surfboards. Nigel moved across the pond to North Island of New Zealand in 1965 and founded Del Surfboards in New Plymouth and is still entrenched there - some 46 years later.

Cronulla's loss was New Zealand's gain. Nigel became and essential part of the development of surfing in New Zealand and to this very day, still makes a major contribution. Take a look at his Del Surfboards website - it has a timeline of some awesome old photos on there.

All this is perfect timing for this nostalic photo revival action as it will all be vividly relived starting tonight at the Surf City Exhibition at the Museum of Sydney.

If you like this, you might also like:
Huntington Beach surfboard pioneer 'Gordie' passes away
Manly's Heritage Surf Shop to close its doors
Surfing in Vietnam during the Vietnam War


Photo: Typhoon Wave Power

Pure Ocean Power
Massive waves lash Japan's Tsunami ravaged coastline

Tokyo: A powerful typhoon slammed into Japan Wednesday, halting trains and leaving 13 people dead or missing in south-central regions before grazing a crippled nuclear plant and heaping rain on the tsunami-ravaged northeast.

Giant waves generated by Typhoon Roke explode against
the breakwaterin Udono, Mie Prefecture, Japan.
The storm, packing sustained winds of up to 100 mph, made landfall in the early afternoon near the city of Hamamatsu, about 125 miles west of Tokyo. The fast-moving storm went past the capital in the evening and then headed up into the northeast, where it eventually lost strength.

Tokyo, where many rush hour commuter trains were suspended, stranding thousands of commuters who were trying to rush home were stuck at stations across the sprawling city. More than 200 domestic flights were cancelled.

Parts of Japan's central city of Nagoya, about 170 miles west of Tokyo, were flooded near swollen rivers where rescue workers helped residents evacuate in rubber boats.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's No. 1 automaker, shut down its plants as a precaution. Machinery maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries told workers at its five plants to stay home, company spokesman Hideo Ikuno said.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Puzzle: Mystery '60s surfers - problem solved

Can you name this surfer? I can.
Sydney Morning Herald's lost '60s surfers

From last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald.
Surf City Curator; Gary Crockett holding the board.
The young 'gremmie' sitting on the car [arrowed] is
Cronulla's 14 year old, John Coleman.

[click to enlarge the photo]
As the countdown draws near to the opening of the Surf City Exhibition at the Museum of Sydney later this week, the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday published this montage of photos and asked if we [the readers] could name any one in the photos.

In the group shot of the guys sitting on the car, perched on the far left of the car [with my arrow] is life-long Cronulla surfer and resident, John Coleman.

John was one of Cronulla's hottest young surfers throughout the sixties to the mid-seventies. Getting his picture regularly published in the surf magazines in the late sixties when I was just a struggling grom.

Above, John Coleman [left] and Steve Core
just a week ago at the Bobby Brown
Exhibition at Jackson Surfboards.
Photo: courtesy Jackson Surfboards.
John, like myself, these days is in his very early sixties and still lives in Cronulla and still surfs at every opportunity. 

He can be easily spotted in the line-up at Sandshoes Reef, where he's been a local stand out surfer for 45+ years. Ripping it up on his Force 9 thruster.

By the way, that cool looking car in that photo above is a classic '46 Ford sidevalve V8 Super Deluxe Sedan - which incidentally, also came in a distinguished wood paneled [Woody] station wagon version - see photo below.

So not only do I know John, and have done so for decades, we were both pictured together just a week ago at the Bobby Brown Exhibition at Jackson Surfboards in Caringbah.

Mystery solved.


DETAILS: The Surf City Exhibition opens this coming weekend at the Museum of Sydney and will run right through the Summer.

RELATED: Want to see some of the realy cool surf related photos capturing the bygone era of Sydney's surfing scene that Curator Gary Crockett has unearthed? Then check his: Surf City Blog

End note: How cool does this beautifully and
authentically restored '46 V8 Deluxe Ford Woody look?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Phuket: It's just a wave

Phuket: It's just a wave
It's just another empty wave - but isn't that we're all searching for?

Everyone thinks there's no surf in Phuket, Thailand. Wrong. I guess it's because it really has not had much coverage globally. But check out this photo that Saltwater Dreaming's Rick Gamble has sent us that was taken this week - just as their wave season is supposedly coming to an end.

No big deal - it's just a wave. But this is Surin Beach, about 10K's North of the popular Patong Beach. So how about the size? Compare it to guy you can see paddling out.

Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand this week.
Surin is home of Saltwater Dreaming Surf Shop.
If this sparks your interest in perhaps travelling to Phuket, then I suggest you have a good look over Rick Gamble's Saltwater Dreaming website. It's got a surf report and all the good information about breaks, conditions and wave season.

Phuket's best waves are on the island's West facing beaches - in the vast Andaman Sea.

Phuket doesn't get the deep ocean swells fanning over an abundance of reefs like Bali. But it's beaches are nice and white, the waters are crystal clear and really warm all year round. All you need is a bit of Monsoonal activity offshore and bingo - you've got nice little waves to have some fun amongst.

Rick Gamble is an Aussie ex-pat and has the only true salty surf shop on the island. Apart from carry everything you need for any kind of wave riding or SUP, Rick also makes his own local formula Surf Wax called Gekco Glue surf wax - ['cause Geckos can stick to the wall - get it?]. Nice one Rick.

"Undoubtedly the island's best Surf Shop" - says Lonely Planet


Steve Core's Ocean Rhythms now available on DVD

You might also like:
3rd Quiksilver Thailand Surf Competition
Surfers in Vietnam during the Vietnam War


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Event: Seventies Sessions

PT's Seventies Sessions
A no pressure, no judges, fun event

My good friend, former '76 World Surf Champion, Peter Townend [PT], is putting on what he calls the Seventies Sessions Surfing event this weekend in his home beach of Huntington Beach.

In the true spirit of the decade of the Seventies, this weekend in Huntington Beach as part of the new 'Surf City Days' weekend the inaugural 'Seventies Sessions' event will take place.

In a celebration of the surfboard culture that swept the globe in the Seventies, heavily impacting in Huntington Beach, this event was inspired by the Golden Breed Expression Sessions on Hawaii's North Shore in the early Seventies. These events were less about competition, they had no judges or scoring system, no winners and losers, but instead were focused clearly on the creative individual expression of wave riding.

The 'Seventies Sessions' will be no different says PT, with a congregation of forty-eight [48] participants gathering in front of the Waterfront Hilton to surf from 8:00a.m. until 1:00p.m. on Saturday September, 17th. Then retire back across the street to the Hilton Hotel's 'West Coast Club' to drink a few beers and 'Talk Story' on those who surfed best and the stories behind the boards they brought to ride.

Here's the unique hook; participants are required to bring their own boards and those baords must have been made under a Huntington Beach surfboard maker's label during the time period of the Seventies.

Photo #1 - PT riding his hollow W.A.V.E.
at Tea Tree Bay Noosa, 1974.
Photo: Steve Core
Some of those classic '70s Huntington surfboard brands are still around like Check Dent, Randy Lewis, The Greek and Robert August, some have left town like Infinity and Walden, while others have become extinct like Plastic Fantastic, RC, Hawk, David Nuuhiwa/Dyno, Carl Hayward, Bronzed Aussies, Wayne Brown, Corky Carroll Spacesticks, Sunline, Creative Designs and Gordie.

RELATED: Huntington Surfboard Pioneer 'Gordie' passes away.

The format is much the same as the original North Shore, Hawaii event, with four one hour heats of twelve and one final one hour heat 'Free For All' with everyone invited to participate - to express themselves on their vintage weapon of choice.
PT, late afternoon backside turn
at Gas Chambers/Rocky Point,
North Shore, Hawaii.
December '77
Photo: Steve Core

Event producer and organiser Peter 'PT' Townend of The ActivEmpire [ATE] says; “I participated in the last of the very original Golden Breed Expression Sessions on Hawaii's North Shore and that's where the inspiration for this event is coming to me from - only this weekend our event will adapt a localised Huntington Beach flavour”.

Of further interest, PT also posted a couple of old surfing photos of him [taken by me] on his Facebook site this week. I had not seen these photos in many years and they come to us from courtesy of the extensive PT Collection.

Photo #1 above: We were chasing some cyclone surf and headed up North to Noosa from the Gold Coast. Ended up with some nice clean surf at Tea Tree Bay, Noosa. I took this shot from sitting on my surfboard with my Nikons II waterproof film camera in 1974. PT is riding is hollow W.A.V.E surfboard. This is the same board that he rode in the "Pipeline Rights' sequence in my 1975 16mm film 'Ocean Rhythms'.

Photo #2 [left] Originally a Kodachrome slide, I snapped this shot very late one overcast afternoon at Gas Chambers/Rocky Point in Hawaii a few days before Christmas in December '77. PT said this week, that this is just about his favourite backside shot of himself ever.
The view down over Huntington Beach from
the rooms at the Waterfront Hilton. Nice.

Thanks for sharing PT and we should have some photos of the Seventies Sessions to post next week.


Ocean Rhythms is available on DVD
Some Ocean Rhythms stockists are: Saltwater Dreaming Phuket - Heritage Surf, ManlyJackson Surfboards, Caringbah, - Express Surfboards, Taren Point

Something to add or say? E-mail us at:


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Manly's Heritage Surf Shop to close its doors

A unique Manly Surf Shop falls victim to floundering times

Heritage Surf's founder:
Chris Moss
Things are tough across the board in surf retail right around Australia and Surf Shops have not been spared. After a long slow Winter, Summer can't come soon enough for some. This week Manly’s well known Heritage Surf Shop, announced that it will shutter its doors on October 12th, 2011 and cease trading.

Owner Chris Moss said that due to increased competition and brittle economic times, the store was under performing and was only marginally cash flow positive. Our forecast, he said, indicates slow to negative improvement in all our market segments, so therefore we'll be taking down our shingle. He stressed that this was not a bankruptcy – but rather sliding out gracefully with a soft exit. All our creditors will be paid he confirmed.
Classic wood not chrome.
A corner Surf Shop in the older,
more traditional motif.

A finger count of Surf Shops in the greater Manly area will fill more than two hands. With fourteen Surf Shops in one major beach location, the economic pie can only be divided up so far.

Heritage built its strength by offering a unique selection of smaller to medium brands. Choosing not to carry the major surf brands but supporting the likes of Patagonia, Toes on the Nose, Okanuis, Deus, Critical Slide Society.

Closing the store is the action that will be taken to optimize their current buoyant financial position. Current sales cannot support the assortments and staffing that the company believes the store should be offering.

Across the surfing market, sales at stores that have been open for at least one year, or same-store sales, are considered a key gauge of a retailer’s health. Many Surf Shops are reporting same-store sales for domestic locations falling for several of the last fiscal years. The ranges vary from location to location.

A lot of Surf Shops have not produced top-line growth for several consecutive seasons according to an analyst report released last month. [Top line is a term used by the industry to refer to revenue.]

Many shops are also cutting prices to chase sales, but this tactic is usually unable to translate into positive sales revenue growth.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said although $265 billion passed through the nation's cash registers in the past financial year, it was the weakest annual growth in 50 years.

"The Aussie consumer is certainly depressed. The latest figures show that consumers are still unwilling to spend despite cheaper prices. It highlights how tough business has found the past year," he said.

The effect of weak retail sales is profound. It can lead to a build-up of inventory, a profit killer for retailers, and curbs their appetite to place orders, which is a killer for suppliers. For listed companies, the effect is falling share prices, tighter margins and negative investor sentiment, and for those unlucky enough to be renegotiating debt - good luck.
Finally; Google Earth will now have to update their Street View
image of the Heritage Surf Shop corner that has been
a fixture in Manly for the past 5 years.

*This image taken from Google Earth.
For the next month Heritage Surf will be clearing out their stocks with a Grand Closing Down sale. Clothes, boards, wetsuits, posters and Sydney's best and widest selection of surf books and DVDs are all being marked down to go.

If you are missing something for the collection - here's the opportunity to fill the gap at a closeout price.

Check their website and Heritage Surf are located at 24 Darley Road, Manly - go grab yourself a bargain. You've got until October 12th!

You might also be interested in:
Qld veteran forced out by cheap Asian imports

Something to add or say? E-mail us at:


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bobby Brown: Back to the Heartlands

Bobby Brown Exhibition at Jackos

Part of the Exhibition in the Jackson Surfboards
showroom in Caringbah.
The Bobby Brown Exhibition yesterday returned to Brown's former mystical home at Jackson Surfboards showroom in Caringbah. The official unveiling launch yesterday, marked the start of the 10-day temporary exhibition.

This concept collective is set in a venue that has been a surfboard-maker's showroom for the last 48 years. Its daily role is normally an impressive collection of surfing memorabilia and accolades. Artifacts on display represent milestones to not only Bobby Brown, but fellow surfing luminaries and immortal Jackson stablemates like; Gordon Merchant [founder of Billabong], Laurie 'Froggy' Byrnes, the late Frank Latta and a host of others.

At a time when we all get hectored about lowering our expectations, surrendering our attention spans, and settling for less - a deeper look at the small Bobby Brown collection wants us to demand for more.

Even though as diverse as surfing is now, and being rather somewhat fractured with sub cultivations, it is worth noting that this exhibition, in this showroom, captures the sense of deep culture that embraces all surfers - no matter what they ride or how or when they rode it.

From left; Curator Andrew McKinnon, Steve Core
and veteran South Coast photographer Dave Milne.
The offering is the culmination of several years of research by self-recruited curator Andrew McKinnon. As the last winner of the Bobby Brown Memorial Contest in 1970 and holder of [what became] the perpetual trophy, Andy Mac was there yesterday to chair the floor, fill in any missing gaps and assist guide the launch.

Amid the distinctive special guests were Brian 'Jacko' Jackson, down from his semi-retirement home of Crescent Head. Founding Surfabout Magazine publisher, a doyen of '60s surf photographers, Jack Eden and his wife Dawn. Because of the strong, life-long connection of Jack Eden and Jackos, Eden's powerfully iconic images of Bobby Brown surfing were debuting to the public in this format for the very first time.

Amongst other special guests were Bobby's older brother John Brown and fellow Cronulla surfing great, now surf artist, Garry Birdsall. In his address to the gathering, John earnestly recounted great stories of growing up in an unremarkable Cronulla in the '50s and '60s. When the vast Kurnell peninsular sand dunes sprawled right down into Elouera Beach and there was a dairy farm close to the breaking waves.

Cronulla surfing legend, Garry Birdsall [left] and
Surfabout founding publisher, Jack Eden.
In summary, everyone seems to agree that Bobby Brown was a certain World Champion in the making. Nobody really says 'Number One'. Therefore; carefully not claiming any significant rating of who was the best, even though the deepening interest in old surfing is diverse, the idea of a numerical ranking is not hardwired into surfing's DNA.

There's a huge trust factor with many of Cronulla's old surfing guard and a small posse [that are still left in the Cronulla area] ventured out to pay homage at the exhibition and recount old times. I spotted Mark 'Bluey' Aprilovic, Bruce 'Fox' Hennesey, Andy Britton, John Coleman, Freddy Farmer, John Vass, John Veage, Chris Stroh, Greg McCarthy, Dave Milne, Jamie Hocking and Lazza Lane. Apologises to all those I don't know or didn't recognise.

Many thanks to our hosts; Jackson Surfboards owners since '97; Jim and Christina Parkinson and Dave Mattison

The Exhibition runs for the next 10 days and guess what, in this day of tightening purse strings in the community - it's totally free. No matter what label you ride or where your allegiances may lay, drop in and check it out and say Hi to the good folk at Jackos.

For an extensive photographic coverage of the launch festivities, see the Jackson Surfboards Facebook site.

All the photos in this report are courtesy of Jackson Surfboards.

Steve Core

If you like this you might also be interested in:
Huntington Beach Surfboard pioneer 'Gordie' passes away
Bobby Brown Exhibition launch on the Gold Coast - November 2010
PT's Seventies Sessions

Something to add or say, email us at:


Thursday, September 1, 2011

California mourns the passing of another Surfboard building legend

Iconic Californian Surfboard builder has passed away

Newport Beach, California: Robert ‘Russell’ Brown, founder of Russell Surfboards, who shaped custom surfboards in the city since the 1960s, has died. He was 63. Brown hanged himself, the Orange County Coroner's office has determined his death to be a suicide.

Robert 'Russell' Brown founder
of Russell Surfboards at the
'Echo Beach' movie premiere.
Brown was known for his handmade surfboards, and had become a legend in the Southern California surfing community, since opening his shop, Russell Surfboards, on the Balboa Peninsula, in Newport Beach in 1967.

On Tuesday, flowers lined the Newport Boulevard shop, some with pictures of children with their first board purchased from there. 

Russell, as most knew him, intentionally never changed with the times. He didn’t shift his small shop Russell Surfboards to adhere to the big business of the surf industry. He proudly ran a core surf shop – you’ll find no clothes for sale, except for the Russell Surfboards shirts he’d give away most of the time. Boards were the business here, hundreds of them lining the Newport shop.

Russell Surfboards Surf Shop this week in Newport Beach, closed
as a mark of respect to the founder's passing.
The surf world is now mourning the loss of another classic surfboard maker, who was one of the first to hit the scene in Newport Beach and whose name was synonymous with this part of the coast. If you rode a Russell, particularly in '70s, those next to you in the line up immediately knew you hailed from Newport Beach.

As news of his death spreads, friends and loved ones are remembering Russell for his character, and his contributions to the surf culture.

Customers and friends have been flooding into his shop – which was just recently moved from its long-time location to just north of the Newport Pier, closer to the beach.

Longtime surfer and Newport resident Tom Cozad posted this on his website
A note of thanks and and a last
goodbye to
Robert 'Russell' Brown
[click photo to enlarge]

“No other surfboard manufacturer has had a grip on the Newport surf culture as long, or as strong, as Bobby “Russell” Brown and his Russell Surfboards has. The older Blackies crew can be found cruising on his boards. The younger Upper Jetties crew can be found flying around on them. And the Underground Point and School Yards crews can be found pulling into pits throughout the world on them. No one person has transcended the vast array of Newport surf crews over the years like Russell has.”

Russell laid down the roots of surfing in Newport, and soon the scene exploded with the start of big brands taking over. While Russell was still a household name in the ‘80s, it wasn’t long before most surf shops were carrying the latest expanding lines of beachwear, sunglasses, and everything in between.

Not at the Russell Surfboard shop.

“There was all this potential money making, but he wanted to stay in his purist surfing ideals,” Reynosa said.

He often ate any profit on boards – if a board had a tag on it for $400, but a young surfer only had $200 in his pocket, he’d say ‘just take it kid, get outta here’, Reynosa recalled.

Despite his rough exterior, Russell has been described as a modest and generous man who became a dedicated friend to many.

Floral tributes garnish the
door of the
Russell Surfboards
Surf Shop
this week in
Newport Beach.
“The thing that set him apart was his complete lack of ego,” Reynosa said. “He didn’t even understand why anyone would think much of him, or why they would want to take a picture with him. He could never figure out why people wanted him to autograph his surfboards”

Friends say they’ll miss dinners shooting the breeze, the life lessons he shared. They said they hoped to share and maintain his legacy.

“The past few days, people have come in and out of the shop. I never really knew how much he was respected,” said employee J.P. Roberts. “He loved to build boards, he made them all by hand all these years. There are not a lot of shops like this left, but we’re going to try to keep it going.”

Customers and friends have been flooding into the shop - which was just recently moved from its long time location to just North of the Newport Pier, to be closer to the beach.

Russell is survived by his wife Cynthia, brother Richard, and sister Nancy. Thousands of surfers are expected pay tribute to Brown on Sept. 10th and attend a paddle-out at Blackie's, adjacent to the famous Newport Pier, at 7:30 a.m.

Compiled from various US Sources, with special thanks to the Orange County Register, Tom Cozad and Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime for the shop photos and who is the local editor of the Newport Beach Patch.