Saturday, 24 March 2012

GORDON WOODS "Australian Surf Pioner"

Gordon Woods Biography

Born in 1925, Australian Gordon Woods made a name for himself as a trailblazer in surfboard manufacturing. With a keen eye on the progression of surfboard design, Woods was the first in Australia to make a business out of building surfboards and ran the successful Gordon Woods Surfboards from 1956 until 1974, during which time he made boards for world champion surfers Midget Farrelly and Nat young.
Gordon Woods sold his first boards (large, hollow timber models) to lifeguard clubs. These 14 foot behemoths were at the time standard equipment in Australia. In 1956, Woods was inspired by a team of visiting American lifeguards who took to the water riding relatively smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable “Malibu” boards. During their trip to Sydney, the Americans surfed with such surprising speed, and radically tight turns that Australians collectively realized their own equipment was obsolete. Woods seized the moment. He bought Bob Burnside’s 9’ 6” Velzy-Jacobs surfboard and a year later built his “Okinuee”, which closely resembled the American Malibu board.

He established his first factory in 1958 in Brookvale, New South Wales from where he sold modified Malibu replicas. Gordon Woods Surfboards became the industry leader and was soon followed by other successful surfboard manufacturers who together became known as the Brookvale Five (taking up residence in the same area as Woods).
By 1963, Gordon Woods was shaping boards for both Midget Farrelly and Nat Young. In 1966, Nat rode a Gordon Woods shape, which was modified by Bob McTavish and George Greenough, all the way to a world championship title. Young’s famous “Magic Sam” was a thin railed 9’4” square tail with a flexible swept-back fin. Lighter and thinner than most equipment of the time (but not yet a shortboard), “Magic Sam” is recognized as an early step in the Shortboard Revolution ushered in by Young and McTavish. Their new “involvement” school of surfing focused on riding waves radically while remaining close to the curl and generating maximum speed.

As a shaper, visionary, and entrepreneur; Gordon Woods helped build Australia’s surfboard industry and (as Nat Young’s shaper) had a hand in surfing’s most radical design shift to date.

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