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it wasn’t until we reached Honolua Bay that he and Nat found waves that let them show what their boards could do. Photos: Witzig

it wasn’t until we reached Honolua Bay that he and Nat found waves that let them show what their boards could do. Photos: Witzig


The Inertia

In December 1967, I was on Maui with my brother Paul, Nat Young, Bob McTavish, George Greenough and Ted Spencer.

The year that followed Nat’s win at the World Championships in San Diego had been one of exhilarating experimentation in Australia in terms of board design. Nat and Bob had bought radical V-bottomed boards to Hawaii that winter. Bob had shown hints of what might be possible in the Duke contest at Sunset, but it wasn’t until we reached Honolua Bay that he and Nat found waves that let them show what their boards could do.

A superb swell hit Maui – peaking at over 10 foot. In the first (and best) two days, there were few people there. My brother was the only cinematographer; I was the only one shooting stills as far as I know. Dick Brewer was there, and Reno Abellira and Buddy Boy Kahoe were riding his pintails. The contrast between their long carving tracks and the more vertical attack by Nat especially was a revelation.

My brother quickly added a Honolua finalé to his film Hot Generation, and my stills had an outing in the July 1968 issue of Surfer in a story titled ‘The Challenge from Down Under.’ The footage especially had an immediate impact, and the derision that’d greeted the V-bottom boards on the North Shore was replaced by some amazement in some quarters at least.

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Matt Warshaw in his Encyclopedia of Surfing wrote that Nat and Bob “turned easily and repeatedly from trough to crest in a high-performance style that set a precedent for virtually all surfing that followed”.

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