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  • Andrew Cowell


History tells us that the “Total Involvement,” or “Shortboard Revolution” exploded onto the surfing world stage when Australian, Nat Young won the 1966 World Surfing Championships at San Diego, California’s Ocean Beach. Nat, with his gunslinger attitude, came prepared. He rode a short, thin, narrow, extremely foiled 9’4” surfboard, (most contestants were riding the standard ten footer) dubbed Magic Sam. Competitors, media, and spectators alike witnessed Nat’s staccato bursts of speed and maneuverability as he pin-balled his way to victory; the harbinger of death for the longboard and the hang-ten posing Americans.

Truth be told, the insemination of the Shortboard Revolution’s seed occurred two years prior to Nat’s victory. In ’64, the inquisitive, innovative, trailblazing George Greenough visited friend and California expat Bob “The Beaded Barb” Cooper in Australia. George, traveling with his cameras and balsawood “spoon” kneeboard “Velo” with its tuna tail inspired flexible fiberglass fin, was introduced to the itinerate surfer/shaper Bob McTavish and others who were gobsmacked by the other worldly surfing performances of Greenough. Bob McTavish from his biography, STOKED: “I witnessed George kick into a six-foot wave and get to his knees in a snap. He took off fast, his right arm flying, his left grabbing the front rail of the short kneeboard. With all the speed he gained form the drop, he planted a hard bottom turn, and shot forward along the hovering wall. But he didn’t run straight along it as we would have on our big boards. No! He carved back up into the pit. Again he drove off a long bottom turn, and flew along the threatening section. Amazing surfing. So fast! And those turns! Most impressive… I gotta get me some of that speed and acceleration.” The only real stumbling block to Greenough’s approach, McTavish later lamented, was Miki Dora. “He was so darn cool! His walking, trimming, and noseriding style.”

Photograph - John Witzig -

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