"Gerry is coming out (to Australia) next week and I"m doing the tour with him promoting the film,A Deeper Shade of Blue.
"Gerry didn't surf long reef by himself and he only shaped a few boards while in Oz, a couple for me and a couple for himself at Terry Fitz's.....
AND I have the board he brought to Australia for the Bells and Coke Contest that he took to Bali when I took him in 1974 and has an amazing story of which we will tell on the night with the board that you would have seen at my house."
Obviously Jack McCoy is an expert on Gerry's exploits in Australia. So Gerry never shaped a board at Bennett's, but they did make legitimate licenced copies.
Tim Ellis has never spoken a word of a lie to me so lets assume it was me who heard the story wrong about Gerry surfing Long Reef.
I have been lucky enough to meet Jack and the board Gerry took to Bells / Bali at the Deus Surf Swap 3, when Jack brought it along to share the stoke.
My good friend Thomas "The Cosmic Dog" gave me a copy of Gerry Lopez's autobiography 'Surf is where you find it'. Skimming through it, I'm yet to find any reference in there regarding his travels to Australia.
I know he did go, based on anecdotes and boards like this he shaped at the Bennet factory in Brookvale. Guessing by the shapes I'd say around 73 - 74.
Tim Ellis told me the legend of how Gerry surfed massive, maxing out, Little Makaha off Long Reef on Sydney's Northern Beaches, alone, some time in the 70's. But I'm yet to find any record of his exploits in my collection of Australian surfing magazines from the time.
The man is an enigma. Mysterious and puzzling.
Gerry on a wind swept Australian headland some time in the early 70's
Long Reef headland showing Little Makaha reef to the left and Butterbox to the right
One of Australia's most famous surf shops is closing down. On Saturday afternoon, surfing legend Mark Richards will shut the doors on the family shop at 755 Hunter Street - a surfing institution that has been selling boards since 1958. In an industry when retailers come and go - in a street where too many businesses, sadly, have simply gone - 54 years of selling surfboards from the one address must be some sort of record.
Ray Richards 2nd hand car yard / historically important surf board shop
For the four-time professional world surfing champion who turns 55 in March, shutting the shop is not "doom and gloom". The man known simply as MR acknowledges retailing's decline along the once vibrant Hunter Street but says the time has come to move on with his life.
The unmistakable grin of a future world champ
"I haven't made it a secret but the word has got around," he said. "We've had people in just wanting to wander round and soak up the atmosphere one last time." His good friend and the shop's other main face, fellow Merewether surfer Mick Adam, can hardly believe it's happening.
Ray Richards- the great uncle of the modern era of Australia surfing??!
"I started here in the 1970s when I was still at school," Adam said. "I'm going to miss it." It's the stuff of surfing legend that Mark's father, the late Ray Richards, started the shop as a second-hand car showroom in the post-war 1950s.
Mark with Ben Aipa Kong stinger that still hangs in the Hunter st store
Records that Mark's wife Jenny found this week showed the first board Ray bought came from Barry Bennett's at Brookvale, in 1958, at a cost of 26 pounds. Surfboards remained sidelines for a few years but in the early 1960s, Ray and wife Val took a history-making plunge and gave the shop over to surfing.
As David Knox wrote in his 1992 biography, Mark Richards, A Surfing Legend: "For a surf-struck youngster, that shop was a wondrous place. " It was also home to the young Richards, who lived as an only child with his parents in a flat above the showroom. By the late 1970s, when Richards was an idol to a generation, every kid in town wanted an MR twin-fin.
The shop stocked full of early 80's gold.
MR twins (by Bob Margets), Lightning bolt twins (by Greg Clough) and McCoy Laser Zaps (by Geoff McCoy)
Winning four consecutive world championships from 1979, Mark Richards was the Kelly Slater of his day. With a knees-together, arms out style that had him christened "the Wounded Seagull", Richards was the surfer with the "famous Novocastrian grin".
Now a handful of big companies dominate the industry and small independent surf shops are finding it harder to survive. "I love shaping boards, it's what I'm good at, but I'm not so sure I'm so good at retailing," Richards said.
Others might disagree. Walk into the shop on any afternoon - after Richards has had a morning surf - and chances are he's there to serve you. Shutting the shop will let him concentrate on making surfboards in a room tucked away in an old weatherboard building behind the shop.
While one door shuts, another is opening a block away from Richards on the corner of National Park and King streets. "Paul Green, whose Slimes Surf & Skate is at Erina, is opening his Newcastle shop next month and Mick is going to work for him and my boards will be available there too, and I'll keep my website going also, so it's all worked out well," Richards said.
The saddest thing about surfing in the 80's was the terrible conditions the pros were forced to compete in. The great thing about surfing in the 80's were the terrible conditions the pros were forced to compete in that forced them to work closely with their shapers to innovate and experiment with new and exciting shapes to try and gain an edge over their competitors and the conditions. No one surfer/ shaper/ surfboard model exemplifies the fact more than the Cheyne Horan / Geoff Mc Coy/ Laser Zap combo.
My trip to America has been fantastic for my 1978-1983 surfboard collection. I have scored some great boards and had a fantastic time connecting with new people and learning more and more about US innovation period surfboard design. But I'm interested in more than just the boards from the great US shapers. I'm interested in the history the culture the personalities the boards and naturally the surf breaks they were built for. I'd say I've been even more successful in collecting US surf and surf culture experiences than I have been surfboards. I've visited every break mentioned in the Beach Boy's songs I grew up with and I've tried as hard as I can to get out and see the best of what the Californian coast has to offer.
You would think that if your going to write a blog as a hobby, you'd buy a decent camera instead of relying on a iPhone with a dirty lens. Not me, so please forgive the terrible photos of my adventures. I almost never take shots of sets or of the surf when the conditions are ideal as that's when I'm frothing to get in the water. The phone only comes out at the beginning or end for a quick shot to remind me of the day.
High lights of my US surf break collection from the past 2 weeks include (going South to North)
Blacks, arguably the birth place of the US thruster surfboard and home break of shaping legend Rusty Preisendorfer
I collected some sore legs going up and down the trail.
Some sick left hand barrels
and some unbelievable sun sets.
I've collected a few parking tickets here. Is a great fun wave that is generally over run by packs of shredding groms. The right is often better than the left but when it get big enough the kids disappear and the left turns on. I love the way the left has a series of ledges and steps you need to weave your way down and through the connect the sections.
This day had some solid sets, sun shine and off shore wind.
although the crowd is usually diabolical I was the only car in the car park on New Years Day, just in time for a thick fog and a new swell.
Half way between Seaside and Cardiff is a series of beach breaks called Georges. All I've collected from here is these photos and a bunch of beatings on my back hand.
shot with the phone, out the window while driving
CR is a favorite of mine at low tide and decent swell.
It can get hollow, the rides are long, it breaks left and right and it can hold almost any size.
The craziest thing I've seen at Cardiff was during a King high tide. The swell came in over the reef and reformed in the river mouth creating a left that broke along the edge of the bank and peeled all the way to the bridge. Some skilled long boarders were surfing right under the bridge!
a bad photo of a nice barrel
My love hate affair continues with Swarmi's. She can be so fun and so annoying at the same time. The fact it never closes out means it can get over packed with any one with a surfboard althought the mood is generally pleasent and rarley agro. I have collected some pretty good wave counts out here and because its a relitively easy wave it means I get to experiment with all my new found vintage surfboard designs out here.
I stopped to shoot this vid with my phone as I was getting out of the water and walking up the stairs to go to work on a wednesday.
You always appreciate the things you have to work for and I think the long walk into trestles makes me appreciate it all the more once I get there. We have had a few bigger days and a few simply beautiful small clean winter days too this year.
A real high light for me was scoring the Rincon swell of the 5th and 6th of January.
I got to collect a couple of fantastic long rides, some great memories and a very special Rincon souvenir that I'll get to keep forever.
pulling in at low tide at the river mouth I scored a fin chop from my own board.
I collected a new friend on the path named Nick who cleaned me up and found me the address of an Urgent Care in Ventura.
He came with me, hung out for the stitches and took me out for beers afterwards.
I've collected great freinds, great boards, get storeies and a couple of great new souvenirs this month!