Hollow to Balsa to Foam.
The epicenter of surfboard shaping in Australia between 1956 and 1959 was Brookvale. “At one end of Brookvale,” wrote Nat Young, “was Barry Bennett; at the other end, Gordon Woods; and in the middle, Bill Wallace. Bill Clymer was in a garage in Manly where he and Joe Larkin did some beautiful work, using stringers, nose blocks and tail blocks made from cedar and redwood to set off the blond balsa.”
“Gordon Woods remembers the days of the bad balsa shipments only too well; he made it a rule to always inspect the load on the truck. On one occasion he found it all to be greenish, heavier style. He turned the shipment straight around, realising that one heavy board could ruin his reputation.”
“In 1959 more than 1500 Malibu balsas were produced in Australia. By now there were other manufacturers in Brookvale. Greg McDonagh was building some light boards with styrofoam and Scott Dillon and Noel Ward were having some success with the same material. Competition between the manufacturers was getting more intense as surfing gained in popularity. Every Saturday morning each manufacturer would set out to deliver his orders to the prospective board riders who waited anxiously at surf clubs all over the Sydney metropolitan area. Surfboard building developed into a lucrative business in which agents could order a quantity of boards for their area and come to Sydney once a week to pick up a truckload. Mark Richards’ father, Ray, started in the surfboard business in this manner, taking thousands of boards to Newcastle in the late 50s and early 60s.”