Friday, September 5, 2014

Jackson Surfboards tribute to a master, Wayne "Zombie" Johnston

Remarkable resemblance of what symbolised the '60s: 

Jackson Surfboards tribute to a Cronulla surfing master, Wayne "Zombie" Johnston

In a thoughtful and passionate tribute to a Cronulla surfing legend, a master shaper brings some old magic back to life. The Leader's John Veage wraps up the feeling nicely.... 

Legendary surfboard craftsman, ex-Jackson Surfboards' head shaper, Laurie "Froggy" Byrne - 
hands over 5 cobalt blue retro '60s single fin reproductions to the late Wayne Johnston's five sons.

L/R: The five Johnston boys; Dane, Blake, Ben (Laurie Byrne in stripes) Adam and Sam.

Photo taken in Jackson Surfboards showroom in Taren Point. Photo John Veage
Story & Photos by John Veage

There are times when a surfboard is not just for surfing. A surfboard, like many objects and experiences, can be an emotional attachment to the past.

Cronulla's five Johnston boys — Adam, Ben, Blake, Dane and Sam — took this on as a tribute to their late father, Wayne, when they commissioned legendary surfboard craftsman Laurie "Froggy" Byrne to recreate a quiver of the late-1960s retro, single-fin traditional Jackson "Frogman Shaker" model surfboards, in memory of their father.

Wayne "Zombie" Johnston surfed for — and worked at — Jackson Surfboards in the late 1960s and early 1970s with Froggy, Brian Jackson, Denny Childs, Frank Latta, Billabong creator Gordon Merchant and others.

Wayne Johnston working at Jackson Surfboards in the '70s
achieving a tradesman's respectability.

It was a seminal period for surfboard development and the shortboard generation was in full swing.

Current Jackson Surfboards owners Jim Parkinson and Dave Matterson who started at Jackson in the mid-'70s handcrafted the five identical blue-tinted boards to the specifications of the day, even down to the tinted, fixed, wooden fins and unconventional resins.

Wayne rode Laurie's boards as a sponsored schoolboy at Jackson Surfboards, and later Laurie was the best man at Wayne's wedding.

It was a fitting tribute that almost 12 months to the day since Wayne died, the five cobalt blue boards (Wayne's favourite colour) were handed over at the Jackson surfboard factory to be hung in pride of place on the five boys' walls as a constant reminder of their late father's presence.

A foam artist who set this cultural machinery 
going. Laurie Byrne - shaping at Jacko's
in the halcyon days of the '70s ...
It was Ben and Laurie's idea that the boards would be built for "display only" - but brother Blake, the current NSW head surf coach, thought it would be a terrific board to surf at Voodoo Reef on a good day.

"Zombie" would have agreed.

Read John Veage's Surf Column in the Leader

Visit Jackson Surfboards website or visit their Facebook page.