History Of Surfing Innovation: Part 2: Tom Blake & George Freeth

As surfing spread across the globe, reaching the USA in 1885 and Australia in the 1910’s, the history of surfing innovation took a major turn.

Surfboards were beginning to change as the sport of surfing continued to grow. It has been widely quoted that the historical ‘king’ of surfing who brought on the surfing revival was Hawaiian Olympic swimmer and all-round water-dweller, Duke Kahanamoku.  

History Of Surfing Innovation Part 2 George Freeth

The 'Sea God'himself, George Freeth



  By the 20thcentury, the sport of surfing was a hot topic, with Europeans and Americans attempting the ‘strange’ new activity. At this time, Hawaiian GeorgeFreeth, who has been named the ‘Father of Modern Surfing’ came to public light. Following a surf lesson Freeth gave to renowned author Jack London, he was described as a "seagod . . .a brown Mercury. . . calm and superb."

Freeth rode a ‘16 redwood board, which he later chopped in half. Although initially thought of as foolish – this ‘half-board’ spurred a revolution in the shorter size of boards, changing the average ‘16 to a 6’-10’, a radically shorter shape to the previous – allowing easier manoeuvrability and a much lighter ride.

A decade later, Tom Blake, a pioneer in surf history and surfboard design emerged with an innovative new paddleboard that was lightweight and hollow.This board contrasted enormously with the 25kg plank used commonly used at the time. With the new hollow board being seven kilograms lighter, surfing became widely accessible for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to a lug a heavy plank down the beach.  

History Of Surfing InnovationPart 2, 1937_BlakeHollow

Blake's design plan for the hollow paddleboard

Blake’s boards were in high demand, resulting in him becoming one of the first commercial shapers, his boards being used widely for surf lifesaving clubs as lifesaving paddleboards. In 1935, Blake added a wooden fixed fin to his hollow boards for stability and the easier maneuverability of surfboards. Through Blake’s innovative surfboard designs, he was fast becoming a gamechanger in surfing history.
It is noted that later, the inventive Blake created the first surfproof camera housing, a surf leash that is tied at the waist and a sail to add to your paddleboard.      

Similar to Blake's buoyant paddleboards, Disrupt makes your own 100% custom Stand Up Paddleboards - You dream it, we create it!

Tune in to our next post in the History Of Surfing Innovation series - PART3: Wood to Fibreglass

Images credit: surfresearch.com.au 

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