Pulling Out All The Stops- Building a 1970's McTavish in Wood
The call came into Allen, our west coast partner’s office from his neighbor Ron. He had visited his office in Frogtown LA and got a glimpse of some of our boards. After a short discussion, it was clear that Allen and Ron had some things in common. Ron told Allen tales of his family Christmas trip to Hawaii in 1970. Allen grew up Hawaii, where he started surfing at a young age before moving to California.
After a closer look at a few of our shapes, Ron realized we were uniquely qualified to help him build a board like the one his grandfather bought on that trip more than 50 years ago, only this time in wood. As soon as Allen saw the board, he knew what a special project this would be.
The original foam board is about 79” long and is of the same radical shape that the shaper became known for. The board is 3” thick x 19” wide with a 7” diamond tail. The graphics on the board are somewhat minimal but are indicative of the late 60s early to mid 70s time period. There below the large deck sticker was the script…. ‘Shaped by McTavish’.
There is only one Bob McTavish in surfing, and he came from Australia to the north shore of Oahu to enjoy and test these new board shapes. This was a time of rapid evolution and development in surfboard design. This board is one of the early shortboard designs to be developed in the surfing world. Design ownership is still argued at the highest levels…. McTavish and Brewer, Hawaii or Australia…but no one can argue that the shortboard changed everything.
We discussed the shape with Ron and went through our process of how we’d go about designing and building a board like this one. First things first, we had to contact Bob McTavish to get his ok to replicate this incredible board. Once he heard the story of the 70's family trip, he was happy to allow us to replicate this shape.
We scanned the foam board , capturing every detail, curve and shape. Ascher, our Head Board Designer, ran the model through our 3D modelling software, fairing out any discrepancies (the scanner picks up every dent, ding and sticker on the surface), and then scaled the board up a few inches to meet what Ron was looking for. From there, we generated and the keel, frames, templates and rocker lifts, milled up some cedar and we were off and running.
We’ve never built a board like this shape before and it took some time to wrap our heads around the voluminous rails, the flat deck and belly in the bottom nose of the board. But as Nolan built the board, every detail of the shape flowed into the next, from the planks through every piece of the rail and up on the deck.
Ron really wanted us to replicate the board exactly, right down to the graphics. We contacted Pua Rochlen, the shop owner at Surfline Hawaii where the board was purchased all those years ago. Pua’s father and mother started the shop, selling clothes under the JAMS label. We asked permission to use the Surfline Hawaii graphic on the board, and Pua happily agreed. Final touches were a glass-on leash loop and a wood burn on the top and bottom front of the board to accentuate the pattern in the wood.
A project like this doesn’t come along very often, and it was an honor to be asked to replicate such an important board. Not only is it a major milestone in a critical time period for surfing, but this board is a family heirloom, now being passed down through the generations. We couldn’t be more excited to have this connection to the past. Thank you Ron, and enjoy the board!