Travers Alder on my 6'7" White Owl stubbie.
1967 6'7", circa 2012.
You’ve heard of George Greenough.
Of his eccentricity and innovations of surfboard design. Of his sharp spear that was the shortboard revolution. He is, in the words of Paul Gross, “the living personification of surfing’s evolution…beyond the scope of mere legend.”
Legend began in 1966 via Santa Barbara’s first Wilderness Surfboards shop, located inside an ice factory on Cabrillo Boulevard. In 1970 the shop was moved to 317 South Alisos Street, where Wilderness lived until 2010, when it was brutally bulldozed for a freeway-widening project.
Last December, for Santa Barbara shapers Gregg Tally (White Owl Surfboards) and Ryan Lovelace, a blessing rose from the wreckage.
“In the Rincon parking lot,” Lovelace said, “I complimented a fellow on the White Owl sticker that graced his car’s rear window. He introduced himself as Cenen and told me he’d checked out my blog off and on for quite a while, and he was stoked on my work. He also told me he was the handler of a trio of templates saved from the Wilderness shop’s demolition, and said I should take a look at them and, if I was interested, make use of them. My ears perked up, but when he showed them to me, I almost lost it. Then I picked up the phone.”
Tally, a Santa Barbara native who’d grown up down the street from Greenough, was first on the line.
“Apparently Cenen had been involved in demolishing the Wilderness shop and had found these three templates behind a wall,” Tally said. “Ryan brought them over and we laid them out. They were full templates made from tar paper, and very deteriorated. The first two were little guns, but when we opened up the third one, I immediately saw that it was a 6’7” stubbie. Then when I got down to the tail and saw Greenough's old Santa Barbara round-tail, I got goose bumps.”
“When I held that template,” Lovelace said, “I tripped out knowing where it'd been and where it slept for so long.”
Tally: “I'd say it is one of the original — if not
original — stubbie template from 1966 or 1967, when Greenough and Michael Cundith were working out of the old ice factory (or maybe they were still up at George’s parents’ house). They took one of George’s early balsa kneeboards and templated it, then stretched it out, so it was basically a long kneeboard that looked like a short longboard.
“Those original stubbies were single-fin displacement hulls that evolved into having concaves and chines, as well as a rounder tail and a narrower nose. I recall watching guys like Richie West, Cundith, Danny Hazard, and Shaun Claffey (the best Santa Barbara surfer ever) tear it up on stubbies at Rincon and the Ranch.”
With this in mind,
and the ancient shred of tar paper before them, Lovelace and Tally grasped the obvious: a duplicate Masonite template was in order. The results? As the owner of Tally’s first board from said template, it completely changed the way I approach waves — sling-shot flex-fin drive is all that matters.
“Made for speed and power and maneuverability,” Tally said, “my version is a direct copy off that old template. I’ve modernized the bottom contours a bit to a rounded or barrel vee, with a very soft chine and various flat areas and pinched rails.”
“I find a lot of peace in using it in place of some of my older templates,” Lovelace said. “The curves fit a million different ways, and I've only used it directly about four times. I like tweaking it, using it as a 90-percent base, and working the wide-point around to suit more modern styles of hull-riding.”
In essence: Greenough, still the barefooted genius, is a man to be thanked and praised.
“I consider the ‘Santa Barbara stubbie’ to be the start of 1967’s shortboard revolution in the United States,” Tally said, “and I consider George to be the innovator of it all. Making these stubbies today really energizes me and reminds me of that youthful and exciting era when shortboarding was the cutting edge of surfing, and Santa Barbara was leading the way.”
The correct fin for the job.