The kook box was a hollow ply board and was often referred to as a cigar box or a coffin box due to their uncanny resemblance.
In Australia, Kook boxes were surfed almost exclusively between the late 30’s to mid 50’s. After marine grade plywood became widely available in the late 30’s builders around the world went crazy for it – replacing solid timber and using it to construct anything from boards to canoes to sailing boats.
We say ‘surfed’ but in reality, these massive beasts were mostly ridden in the prone position or used as paddle boards. Awkward and too big to control standing up – fins and ‘keels’ were often retrofitted seeking control. They however, unquestionably played their part in early surf shooting and hence the evolution of surf craft.
Their founding father was American Tom Blake who in 1931 patented a design called the ‘Water Sled’. Tom Blake was a celebrated Californian lifeguard himself. His design was based on careful research and observation. He based the design on the ancient Hawaiian Alaia and Olo surf craft. He wanted to somehow lighten the load a little and decided to drill holes in it and cover it with sheets of timber. Blake would later go on to publish surf related articles that would educate people all over the world.
The Kook box can take on a lot of water which made them a challenging ride – hence the bungholes often made from Brass featured at the nose and/or tail of the board.
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