Redhead Shark Tower and other stuff

The Redhead Shark Tower Rocks have always meant a lot to most Redhead locals, it has the best ring side seat to an awsome view of the bluff and the surf.

My daughter Lia in 1976 playing in the storm blown foam in front of the Redhead Shark Tower. This photo also appears on the ABC Website – You know you grew up in Newcastle when…see  http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2010/02/22/2826363.htm

Lia Redhead Shark Tower 1976
Lia Redhead Shark Tower

Lia Redhead Shark Tower

After a storm around 1975 the Shark Tower Rocks showed themselves for the first time since I was a kid (bloody long time aye) Shark Tower Rocks exposed 1975.
Shark Tower Rocks exposed 1975

Shark Tower Rocks exposed 1975

I remember surfing this day still – Redhead Little Beach about 1985.
Redhead Little Beach going off 1985
Redhead Little Beach going off 1985

Redhead Little Beach going off 1985

Eddo again around 1977 – William Harrison defines the re-entry – goes right over to the dry side and glides back down again right in front of the Shark Tower Rocks.
Eddo’s Re-entry behind the Redhead Shark Tower 1977
Edo Redhead reentry

Edo Redhead reentry

Local Newcastle band Pamdemonia take a break from practice around 1977.
Pamdemonia 1977
Pamdemodia 1977

Pamdemodia 1977

It’s my daughter Ellen’s 25th birthday tomorrow – happy birthday Darl.
1985 – After 42 hours labour, a cesearian and 8 days in hospital, Sandy and Ellen finally got home.
Sandy & Ellen 1985
Sandy & Ellen 1985

Sandy & Ellen 1985

Ellen relaxing in the water at Fingal Bay around 1989
Ellen at Fingal Bay 1989

Ellen at Fingal Bay 1989

Simon Anderson is announced the winner at Bells Beach in 1977, all the finalists ripped so it would have been a close call.
Simon Anderson Bells Beach Winner 1977
Simon Anderson Bells Beach 1977

Simon Anderson Bells Beach 1977

Awsome Byron Bay Line up around 1980. Byron Bay surf 1980
Byron Bay good 1983

Byron Bay good 1983

Belmont South Sunset 1985 – or any arvo there is a few clouds.
Belmont South Sunset

Belmont South Sunset

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Surfing Photos by Graeme Harkin 1979

Graeme Harkin took great nice water shots of the Redhead surf crew around 1979, here are some of them.

Col Smith, Redhead, close up and having way too much fun, what a grin!

Col Smith close up Redhead 1979

Col Smith close up

Col Smith close up

 

Col Smith again getting tubed at Redhead in 1979

Col Smith tubed

Col Smith tubed

Mick Carr on a hollow Redhead Little Beach right in 1979

Mick Carr Apr 87

Mick Carr Apr 87

Paul Smith Redhead Little Beach 1979

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Philip Woodward Redhead 1979

Phillip Woodward

Phillip Woodward

Peter Kuba on a Redhead Shark Tower left 1979.

Peter Kuba

Peter Kuba

Chas Woodward at  Redhead1979

Chas Woodward

Chas Woodward

Kenny Stanton well covered up Redhead 1979

Kenny Stanton Redhead

Kenny Stanton Redhead

Col Smith again Redhead 1979.
Col Smith Redhead

Col Smith Redhead

More Redhead Beach

Redhead Little Beach in 1983 on a cold winters afternoon. A surfer on a nice wave, framed by the cliff and the shark tower rocks. Redhead Beach 1983

Redhead Beach surfing 1983

Redhead Beach surfing 1983

Redhead Shark Tower, this time covered in foam during the June 2007 storm. Lots of people were out and about as the ship Pascha Bulka had grounded at Nobbys and also the power was out for 3 days so there was nothing to do at home.

Redhead Shark Tower storm june 2007

Redhead Shark Tower storm june 2007

 

Redhead Beach Ghost 1983 . I took the photo of my wife Sandy with the cameras flash and left the button down and she walked out of the photo.

Sandy the ghost 1983 Redhead Beach

Sandy Redhead Beach Time Exposure

Sandy Redhead Beach Time Exposure

 

Redhead Surf Club March Past Team around 1978. A great bunch of blokes who put a lot of time and training into what they do. Redhead March Past team around 1978

Redhead March Past Team

Redhead March Past Team

 

Redhead Swamp before the drought and the digging out of the Third Creek. We used to paddle tin canoes made from roofing sheets and wooden boxes with road tar to seal them, from the second creek up into the swamp when we were kids.

Redhead Swamp 1975

Redhead Swamp 1976

Redhead Swamp 1976

Mick Carr surfing on a nice left from behind the Redhead Shark Tower 1977

Michael Carr at Redhead 1977

Michael Carr at Redhead 1977

 

Surfing at Redhead over the years

Ronnie Rudder drops around to show off another new board,  but this one has a history. A shaped blank has been stored in the rafters of Forster Board maker Bobby Brown’s shed for 10 years. This 9?6? Noserider was shaped by the then 72 year old Floyd Smith from American Gordon & Smith Surfboards fame. Given to Ronnie by Bobby, faithfully cleaned and glassed at Pacific Dreams by Roy and the boys, this old classic beauty eventually has come to life. Ron & Crow & Floyd Smith Noserider.

Ron & Crow with Floyd

Ron & Crow with Floyd

Redhead 1984, Martin Littlewood the Margaret River board builder of Delta Designs, comes back over to Redhead with a new batch of space age boards way ahead of their time. All lightweight epoxy/styrene hand shaped and hand glassed beauty’s. Included here are some Antman Paul Patterson UFO fish models featuring step decks and drop rails. Martin Littlewood with new Delta Designs 2004
Martin new Deltas 2004

Martin new Deltas 2004

Col Smith surfing a local Redhead Board Club event around 1975. Col as usual tearing it up, showing lots of style. Col Smith Redhead Boardriders Comp 1975
Col Smith Redhead Comp

Col Smith Redhead Comp

Around 1964 Skateboards made their way into the surfing culture. They looked like a good idea so we grabbed some skates from the Op shop and some packing case boards for decks and made our own and off we went down the back of then Kotara Fair (now Westfield) car park on a Saturday arvo when the shops closed. Yes they closed at 12pm then. Crow Skateboarding Garden City Carpark 1964
Crow Skateboarding 1964

Crow Skateboarding 1964

Redhead Little Beach has not been as good as it was. Just to show what I mean check this 1977  empty line up with a perfect left tube coming off Pinny Reef next to the cliff.
Redhead Little Beach left 1977
Redhead perfect

Redhead perfect

Another ground breaking surf board design from around 1976 shown off here by the proud owner Peter Murnaine. The Ben Apai Stinger just looked awsome. Ben Apai’s boards were available at Mark Richards Surf Shop Newcastle.
Peter Murnaine and Ben Aipa Stinger 1976
eter Murnaine and Ben Aipa Twin

eter Murnaine and Ben Aipa Twin

Eddo (William Harrison)  on another of his left-go-right foam hits at Redhead surfing in the same heat as Col Smith in a local boardriders comp around 1976.
Eddo Redhead local comp 1976
Eddo Redhead comp 1977

Eddo Redhead comp 1977

Music and Surfing

Some of Crows favourite records
Crows favourite Records

Crows favourite Records

Surfers have been into music since the start of surfing, in the beginning surf music was a bit corny but always fun.

1968, a typical surf on a summer Saturday morning at Redhead, the flags were up already but no one was in the water yet (hard to imagine these days). Two young long haired surfers sneak into the surf club (it’s ok they were members but they were sneaking). They set up a portable tape player in front of the PA mike, switch on the PA and the tape player and then grab their boards and paddle out fast.

The lag on the tape leader allows them to get out and then we hear the crackling and over the air waves comes Jimi Hendrix – Third Stone from the Sun. The music sort of rumbles and growls then squeals and sets into an awsome  rythm. We take off and surf a wave to the new sound. Hendrix growls, You will never hear surf music again. Soon enough the funbusters discover what’s happened and the music is switched off.

When we return to shore and its….  ””Crow …..you cant play that kinda shit over the PA!!!”

Well I guess I like shit music.

Anyway, we all like different music and I would like to list some of my favourites in the hope someone else likes it.

Jimi Hendrix – Are you experienced – the first record that hit me, the times were changing and this was a big change, no soppy verses and structured choruses – just whatever Jimi felt like. Other Hendrix favoutites are Axis Bold as Love and Band of Gypsys.

A couple of years later a work mate loans me the 3 first Mothers of Invention albums, I listen, hear some weird stuff but some good stuff. In 1970 I go and buy the album Frank Zappa – Hot Rats and now have another favourite guitar player. Captain Beefeart’s growling vocals and Zappa’s Wah-Wah together on Willie the Pimp, awsome. Zappa has some 60 albums out and there is something incredible in all of them. My favourite now is Joe’s Garage, the song Watermelon in Easter Hay is Joe’s last imaginery guitar solo before music is made illegal. However Zappa’s a little bizzare for most people and I am sure I couldn’t paddle out with him playing on the PA, so I have to imagine it too.

Captain Beefheart was Zappa’s school mate and then formed his own band Captain Beefheart & the Magic band, his first album Safe As Milk has a young Ry Cooder on slide guitar, favourite song Sure’Nuff and Yes I Do. Other notable Beefheart albums are Trout Mask Replica, Clear Spot and Doc at The Radar Station. Growling blues boogie and meshing electric guitars. Not for the faint hearted.

Dr John, The Night Tripper – New Orleans Voodoo Swamp Funk, the album Gris-Gris is scarily awsome. The good doctor has appeared on most big names albums as a session pianist and has many fine albums.

After a re-listen I am back into the Gratefull Dead, the hippy tie-die head band. Listen to American Beauty the song Ripple is beautiful.

After James Brown (try – its too funky in here) came Funkadelic/Parliament – the same band but just add more players. For fun, some great funky rythm’s and guitar and Zappaesque humour leader George Clinton (Brother Bill) is the new hip hop guys hero. Try Parliament Tear the Roof off – which inspired Talking heads Burning down the House after watching them. Also try Funkadelic Music for your Mother and Standing on the Verge of Getting it on.

Took me a long time but I did it and never looked back.- Listen to Miles Davis best intro is the album In a Silent Way.

Carlos Santana’s Greatest hits and Carlos with John Mclaughlin – Love Devotion Surrender is music at its sweetest.

Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa had the same guitar hero – Johnny Guitar Watson, try Funk beyond the call of Duty or his 1959 song – 3 hours past midnight.

More good music.
More Crow's Records

More Crow’s Records

Redhead’s best Surfer – Col Smith

Around the mid seventies there was 2 great surfing Col Smith’s, the other from Narabeen, both powerfull goofy footers and both shaped surfboards and won contests.

Redhead’s Col Smith was an Australian Champion and also placed in 3 contests in Hawaii.

These photos around 1976 shows the boards he took to Hawaii and shows the distinctive channel bottom, Col riding Pipeline on the board shown here is in the surf movie Fantasea. These boards were made by Shane and were shaped by Jim Pollard who invented the channel bottom.

Col Smith with Hawaii Boards 1976

Col Smith with Hawaii Boards 1976

Col Smith 1976 Hawaii Boards

Col Smith 1976 Hawaii Boards

Col Smith Channel Boards for Hawaii

Col Smith Channel Boards for Hawaii

Col was 8 years younger than me and I saw him grow up into a powerful surfer with his own smooth style. I first saw Col in the surf when he was 8 on a coolite and was free falling into a tube as I was scraping over the top of it.
He started borrowing his brothers 9 foot 6 big red South Pacific at Seal Rocks and then was soon winnning junior contests on a plastic machine around 1969. Boards then started getting shorter and Col mostly rode “Bee” tailed channel boards.
Here Col gets into his trademark in the tube positon at Redhead around 1975.
Col Smith Redhead tubed

Col Smith Redhead tubed

Col Smith was the secret weapon for Redhead Boardriders club in the early 70’s, put in the last heat and only around 13 years old, the other clubs would put their older more experienced riders in and get a shock.
Col would cheer you into any wave you may have had second thoughts about and off you’d go. When you emerged either having made it or near drowed, he would be there still chearing you on. Same thing when fishing, he was just as stoked to see you get a good one as himself.
Col and family at Christmas 1983, his son Rique is an excellent surfer.
Col Smith & Family Redhead

Col Smith & Family Redhead

Col Smith surfing a big one at Redhead Beach 1977
Col Smith at Redhead on a big one

Col Smith at Redhead on a big one

Col Smith Shaping Channel Boards 1977. This one was mine.
Col Smith Shaping Channels 1978

Col Smith Shaping Channels 1978

Col Smith paddles out at Redhead.
Col Smith paddles out Redhead

Col Smith paddles out Redhead

 

Surfing at Redhead – Starting at 1963

Surfings early days.

Hawaiians rode waves on wooden hand carved boards, royalty standing up on 16 foot Olo’s and commoners on shorter Alaia boards mostly ridden prone. Peruvians rode waves in when out catching fish on boards made from bundles of reeds tied up.

Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku delivered surfing to the rest of the world in the early 1930’s, visiting many countires demostrating his surfing skills on a hand carved 10 foot solid wooden finless surfboard. Duke demonstrated the way of the aloha lifestyle and the rest of the world caught on. His famous quote – “out of the water I am nothing”.

Around 1935, Tom Blake, Duke’s good friend and fellow swimmer, drilled holes through one of his heavy redwood boards and covered it with a wood veneer, making it a lot lighter and managable. Blake then made a hollow chambered board, put a fin on it and then patented the model and had it produced by the L.A. Ladder Company and others. This lighter more manouverable board won races, was used as the standard surf rescue board and then developed into a better wave riding board. Tom also wrote the surfers bible Hawaiian Surfriders 1935. Tom worshiped at the church of the open sky and his theory was nature=god.

Around the early 1950’s Californians Joe Quigg, Bob Simmons and Matt Kivlin developed the balsa and fibreglass Malibu Chip and then Dale Velzy starts manufacturing surfboards on a large scale.

Around 1955 the polyurethane foam board was developed and surfing  grew like wild fire. In 1963 Midget Farelly wins the prestigeous Makaha championship and then the 1964 World Championships in Manly with style.

At the same time the surf culture grows with Phil Edwards showing style and manouvers and Miki Dora showing us surfing style with attitude. Dora summed up his feelings here – ” I drop in, set the thing up and behind me, all this stuff goes over my back: The screaming parents, teachers, police, priests, politicians – They’re all going over the falls head first … and when it starts to close out,  I pull out the back , pick up another wave and do the same goddamn thing”

In 1967 Bob McTavish with Nat Young and George Greenough push surfing into the more serious involvment way of surfing by shortening and thinning and lightening boards with V in the bottom and so they now turn faster. Dick Brewer with team rider Gerry Lopez refine the shorter boards and prove they go in Hawaii’s powerful waves when Brewer narrowed the width of the tail.

From there we got into smaller and lighter boards, all sorts of shapes and settle on the Simon Anderson Tri Fin as the most popular. Four time world chamion Mark Richards rode a combination of board types with success in competitions and his twin fin is still popular.

These days the old  and the new co-exist (well almost) with the theory of ride what you like or horses for courses and its common for surfers to have several types of surfing equipment.

My own involvement in surfing started in 1964 as a 14 year old,  some of my mates started getting boards and I was surfing with a surf-o-plane. I was lucky to live across the road from the beach. I came home from school one day and my Mum had just returned from walking the dog on the beach and said there was a board washed up down at the second creek. I rushed down and pushed the finless dinged up balsa pig into a few foamies and got hooked and went home and patched it up.

My first surfing lesson:

I never hesitate to pass this lesson on to new starters.

I paddled out into the lineup with the local Redhead mob and straddled my board eagerly waiting my first wave.

A loud voice boomed out at me – “Crow…. F%#@ Off down there…” and I saw a finger pointing away from the rest of the pack towards the deserted southern part of the beach. I stayed away until I could handle the board and its a pity that learners don’t get this same kind of expert advice these days.

Within weeks I had pestered my parents with promises of doing well at school and as an early birthday and christmas presents, into buying me a new board. (I just went to school to draw waves in my books and my birthday and christmas were still 6 and 8 months away respectivly)

I then got to order a 9’3″ Custom Warren Johnson – and it was awsome. No one these days seems to remember Warren’s board shop near Hamilton one of the older Redhead crew put me onto him and I still think this one was great and wish I still had it.

Crow’s first 2 boards 1964

Crows first 2 boards 1964

Crows first 2 boards 1964

We could’nt wait to get pictures of ourselves surfing, Peter Kuba paddles out with a box browie camera in a plastic bag in his teeth and takes my photo. I am unsure how the camera survived from the look of the wave coming at him. I was wearing the state of the art wet suit of the time, a sleaveless singlet of 5mm hard neopreme rubber that rasped your arm pitts off and you had to put a T shirt under it or risk sawing your arms of as you paddled.

 Crow water shot Redhead 1964
Crow water shot Redhead 1964

Crow water shot Redhead 1964

The Redhead surf crew consisted of varied aged guys,  and I was one of the younger guys then, but I still got to go places with the older guys. Seal Rocks was uncrowded and camping on the beach with an open fire was just great.

Camping and surfing at Seal Rocks 1964

Seal Rocks 1964

Seal Rocks 1964

Crow surfing seal Rocks 1965
Geoff surfing seal Rocks 1965

Geoff surfing seal Rocks 1965

I eventually got my own car and what a beast – yep a Renault R4 a whole 750 cc’s of power and 3 speeds. However it did get us up the coast to Green Knob near Old Bar for 50 miles a gallon at an average of 50 miles an hour. By this time boards had thinned out but not yet shortened. The board I had here was a Gordon Woods 9 foot stringerless mud resin with a flexable Greenough style fin bought from Ray Richards Surf Shop.

Crow & R4 Green Knob 1967 Photos by Alan Swadling

Crow & R4 Green Knob 1966

Crow & R4 Green Knob 1966

Crow surfing Green Knob 1967
Crow Green Knob 1967

Crow Green Knob 1967

Around late 1968 boards started getting shorter . Here Marty and I pose for a shot with our new boards before heading away to try them. Marty had a 7ft10 inch black railed Gordon Woods Pintail and I had an 8ft red railed Sam Egan Tracker with a clear plastic movable fin.

Martin and Crow 1969

Martin and Crow 1969

The new shorter narrow tail boards went fine. Crow 1969 on a Sam Egan Tracker Surfboard
Crow 1969 on Tracker Redhead

Crow 1969 on Tracker Redhead

 Around 1975 the Redhead crew settled on rounded pintails with channels, made by Martin Littlewood and Col Smith. Marty still makes surfboards and other surf stuff at Margaret River WA under the name Delta Designs.
Crow 1975 with 6’5″ Delta Design Rounded Pin Channel Bottom.
Crow 1975 Delta Design

Crow 1975 Delta Design

In the 80’s Mals and windsurfing added variety to surfing. Here is my stuff from my garage back then.

Crow & Board Collection around 1983
Crow and his Boards 1985

Crow and his Boards 1985