Surf Museum

SHANE STEDMAN — A BRIEF HISTORY

By December 19, 2017 No Comments

Anthony Stedman (1941) started making surfboards in his mum’s garage in 1963. “But my first boards were so rough,” he later recalled, “that I used to wax them straightaway and advertise them as second-hand.” After graduating from the University of New South Wales with a degree in Industrial Engineering he began calling himself “Shane,” after Alan Ladd’s cool-handed gunslinger in the like-titled movie.

 

His simple plan reflected the times. To make enough boards to support his surfing lifestyle.  What he ended up doing was a whole lot more. Shane Stedman and his mates became the legendary Shane Gang – a bunch of surfers who were also shapers, sanders, designers and  glassers.  A tight crew of mates who created the surfing lifestyle followed nationwide today.

 

By 1967, Shane Stedman had a factory-showroom in Brookvale, Sydney’s board making capital. A tireless worker, Stedman soon had four separate factories— three in New South Wales and one in Queensland—and was advertising his talented pool of shapers and surfers as the outlaw-themed Shane Gang. Ted Spencer, Russell Hughes, Simon Anderson, Terry Fitzgerald, Butch Cooney, David Trealor, Josette Lagardere, Peter Cornish, Judy Trim, and dozens of other top Australian surfers of the era worked for, or were sponsored by, Shane Surfboards. Spencer’s stubby White Kite signature board, introduced in 1969, remains the best-selling model ever produced in Australia.

 

Meanwhile, Stedman introduced a line of self-named clothes (including Shane Jeans), and in the late 1960s began to distribute an early version of the sheepskin ugg boot. He trademarked “Ugh,” the original name, in both Australia and America, but sold the rights in 1983, before the boots’ became a global fashion hit.

 

Steadman is perhaps best known for the short, stubby, Shane Surfboard “popout,” a mass-produced board designed for beginners and offered at discount rates in sporting goods and department stores. The brightly-coloured boards earned Stedman a lot of money in the early ’70s (an Aussie magazine nicknamed him “the summer millionaire), but pushed him out of favour with Australia’s surfing tastemakers. Stedman didn’t seem to mind, and remained very much a public figure, doing daily radio surf reports in Sydney for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1975. “It was the infancy of pro surfing,” one local surfer of the period later recalled, “and I remember Shane’s blistering voice, the furious enthusiasm, the over-defined surf speak roaring out of every car radio.”

 

Shane Stedman himself was a true surf world entrepreneur and in the 1970’s was Australians top selling boardmaker. He was “Irrepressible, enthusiastic, with a sharp head for business and a great nose for promotion.”

 

This collection of boards in this room we understand to be unique in the world. In no other location is an ‘evolution of surfboard shapes’ from 1900 to present, been assembled primarily using one single brand. From the 1960’s D Fin to a first generation Thruster in 1982.

 

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