Friday, 31 January 2014 - Posted by Roger at 7:10 am
Norman is an Island! (Part I)
Back in the early ’70s, surfboard building materials were not readily available and I had feed my shaping hunger thus far on a steady diet of old dungas with which to strip off the outer fibreglass layers and reshape the foam inards.
After a while, the limitations of this method was holding me back, the old boards invariably had too little rocker from nose to tail and too much roll running from rail to rail. I needed fresh canvases with plenty of foam to create the curves I was starting to visualise as my design mind began to grow.
The blank mold that Grant Efford and I went halves in was around 8’4″ long and was wide and thick. After a string of failed attempts I soon become the solo owner of this fibreglass device for molding surfboard blanks from foaming polyurethane chemicals.
One day I “blew” a blank which while being far from perfect, looked the business!
With far more foam to work with than usual I had to really “shape” to remove the excess and unveil the surfboard design I had in my mind’s eye. Thinking back this may have been the defining moment when I transformed from back yard hack to a fledging shaper albeit with a long way to go.
This particular board was always going to be something special. “Norman” as it was soon to be called was 6’10” by 21″ wide, quite a full board with lots of volume and a curvey planshape that pulled in to a narrow pointy pintail.
Grant Efford had volunteered to do a mural on the bottom which I was really stoked about as art was a bit of a stretch for me back then. Grant used colouring pencils directly onto the foam and when he finished, “Norman” had a colourful cosmic mix of abstract and stylised sunsets, waves and dolphins. I glassed the bottom clear to show off Grant’s masterpiece. For the deck and rails I added opaque white pigment to the resin.
Taking a leaf from Grant’s book, I used colouring pencils to draw a palm tree on the deck with the word “Inspiration” which was a tentative attempt at a brand name, although short lived.
The main thing about Norm was that he surfed well and I got comments like: “you’re surfing well on that one”.
Riding Norm somehow just seemed easy and everything just came together for me on that board.
My mates used to tease me a bit about “Norm the floating Island” due to two things I suppose; Norm was a big board with lots of float and Norm had a large palm tree clearly visible to all onlookers.
I surfed Norm all over Northland and he just seemed to “go”, as if on automatic pilot.
Norm was such an easy board to ride I eventually got a bit bored with him and one day I took a saw to his tail section slicing off the narrow pintail. The new Norm was 6’5″ and now sported a wider wing swallow tail which all just seemed to fit into Norman’s accommodating form.
The “new Norm” surfed just fine and was more manoeuvrable and looser feeling. A good board… just got better!!!
(to be continued…)