Surf Museum

THE PLYWOOD TOOTHPICK 1940’s-1956 —A BRIEF HISTORY

By December 19, 2017 No Comments

After the war, there was a heavy focus on service so many men joined their local Surf Life Saving Clubs using Cigar ‘Kook’ Box boards to perform their drills. During this time, Surf Life Saving became a competitive sport. The toothpick came about as board paddlers began to look for ways they could increase the speed of the old Kook Box.

Gordon Woods, amongst others, was an early pioneer responsible for designing and creating the first ever Toothpick. They were made to be longer and slimmer in their design which made them more streamlined and much faster in the water for competition. Woods claims much of the changes came from advancements in nautical engineering. At The Boarding Office Mooloolaba, we have two 16ft Toothpicks on display and another 14ft at the Club Hotel Nambour. One of these is confirmed as being created by Gordon.

Once the shape became more widely known – everyday cabinet makers aided the supply volume as demand skyrocketed. Hence the professional board manufacturers such as Gordon Woods, Norm Casey, Scott Dillon & Bill Wallace who helped establish the surfboard industry in Australia make the more legitimate ‘industry’ boards a pretty rare find.

Boards were often decorated with funky graphics including cartoon characters; mermaids, sharks and WW2 airplanes which helped their identification in the huge surf club storage facilities on the beach as few were taking them home.

While these boards were primarily styled and shaped for speed when used while paddling. In short, they would paddle out and around the buoys and then often stand up and ‘shoot’ surf them in hence some began to use them purely as surfboards too. This was referred to as ‘showboating’ and just by their design and the fact that they stood at around 6m tall, you can tell it is no easy feat to keep your balance on one of these boards. To make things worse the earliest boards were also finless which made them difficult to handle, regardless of the conditions.

 

Related Posts

  • 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…
  • The Morey Boogie was created in Hawaii in the mid 70’s by Thomas Hugh Morey – as such Tom would go on to become the founding father of the bodyboarding community. Yes, it was originally called a Bodyboard but Tom is a very talented music tragic and so he called…
  • The Balsa board first made waves at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. Though Surf Life Saving wasn’t counted as a legitimate sport – a Surf Life Saving carnival was held at Torquay Beach in Victoria that was in conjunction with the Melbourne Olympics. Riders from all over the world gathered…

Facebook