Bonzer Development at G&S

PT's first Bonzer - which he shaped at the Goodtime factory in Coolangatta
receiving technical specs from his friend Mike Eaton in California.
Photo by PT - from the PT Collection.

Bonzer Development at G&S

In 1973, PT shaped his first Bonzer surfboard at the late Brian Austen's Goodtime factory in Coolangatta. The inspiration came after PT received a response to a letter of enquiry he wrote to his friend, Californian shaper Mike Eaton, asking for details and technical specifications on the evolving and experimental Bonzer design.

At the time, Mike Eaton was head shaper at Bing Surfboards and was also shaping boards on the North Shore of Hawaii for all the young aspiring pro surfers of the day. A recognised design innovator, Mike had successfully help spearhead the twin fin push in surfboard design three years earlier, in 1970.

Bing Surfboards had negotiated a licensing agreement with the Campbell brothers who developed the initial concept of the Bonzer design for surfboards.

In an effort to share the unique design, the Campbell Brothers had written to all the larger US surfboard makers offering an exclusive option for production of their proven new concept. Bing Surfboards was the only company that responded.

The Campbell Brothers had to make their presentation to both Bing Copeland and Mike Eaton, who were both world class shapers. Just imagine these young kids turning up with their garage made boards, photos and Super 8mm movies under their arms to convince Bing and Eaton of their concept - must have seemed quite daunting.

In '73, when we first started to develop the Bonzer at Gordon and Smith this was one of
our first ads in Tracks - proudly announcing the arrival of the Bonzer. Shaped by PT,
this board
was pin-lined by me and I took these photos on the G&S showroom

seagrass matting floor and I also scripted the copy for the Tracks Magazine ad.

Suitably impressed, Bing and Mike went forward with a deal after making Bonzers for the Bing team to test surf. Hawaiian Jeff Hackman was riding for Bing then [he also rode for Dick Brewer].

After one successful year of Bonzer production, it all went downhill when Bing sold his company to Gordon and Smith Surfboards in 1974.  Shaper Mike Eaton and the Bonzer design went to G&S as part of the deal. Things just didn't work out under the new arrangement and the Campbell brothers soon went back to making Bonzer boards themselves.

During this same period in '73 in Australia, PT moved from his hometown of Coolangatta on the Gold Coast, to the Cronulla area and began working and shaping at Gordon and Smith Surfboards in Taren Point. Where he continued to experiment and develop the Bonzer design.

This is a work-in-progress story folks - so please check back again as we research for more detailed information, anecdotes, and photos, and develop the story further.

 2016 Footnote: Mike Eaton still lives in Hawaii and still surfs and shapes surfboards and paddleboards.

For more details on Mike Eaton see: Mike Eaton Surf