More than 80 surfers paddled out at Compton today to say goodbye to Dave Gray with many others lining the cliff tops to give him a really great send off
I asked Dave Gray if he would let me interview him for Wight Surf History and eventually he sent me this. We actually planned to do a proper interview and he was going to dig out some old photos but sadly it never happened. A history of surfing on the I.O.W. by David Gray aged […]
Wight Surf History have been given some great pics taken by Rog Powley of the 1978 South Coast Contest, including shots of Dave Gray, Keith Williams and Sid Pitman. The winner of the competition was Guy Penwarden from Wessex Surf Club. In 1976 surfing for Shore Surf Club, ex English Champion and Honorary President of […]
Wight Surf History has been given a surfboard originally thought to shaped by Dave Gray as part of a school project Dave passed the board onto Russell Farrel during the 1980’s and then passed to his brother Steve who has kindly given the board to Wight Surf History. Dave we would love to know a […]
‘Fantasy: The Art of Riding Tubes’ (F.A.R.T.S. for short) by Dave Gray A piece in a 1979 copy of ‘Wight Water’, the Isle of Wight Surf club’s magazine In addition to his undeniable talents as a malibu surf rider, Dave Gray has submitted the following piece for inclusion in this August periodical. An ostentatious little […]
I suppose I have always considered myself a surfer.
I was brought up in Joberg, South Africa, but holidays on the coast at Morgans Bay and Port St Johns near Durban always involved belly boarding on the wooden boards.
It was in Port St Johns in 1970 that I spotted “proper” surfing for the first time, I thought then that’s what I wanted to try. The beach boys came into the café and sat at the table combing their hair, which my mum considered very uncouth, they made a tremendous impression on me as a ten year old.
When we came to live on the IOW it was only a couple of years before I realized that you could surf on the Island, Mr Munt from the teashop steered me towards the Surf club and in 1975 I joined up. Dave Jacobs sent me a nice handwritten letter of welcome and a sticker to “stick where I wanted to”.
I didn’t have a board or a wetsuit, so spent up untill December surfing in a leotard on the rather interesting selection of mals from the surf hut, my favourite was an old blue Bilbo with a split nose. I got a real pasting and went home every week on my moped covered in bruises.
Finally I had a wetsuit made up at the Diving centre in Appley, Ryde, A Beavertail thing with knobs on that were definitely not designed for paddling prone.
I also bought a 6ft pink board that was far too small and traded it in for Diggers green gun that was far too fast. I think every learner has to go through this wrong board thing.
Finally Keith and Jake took pity on me, showed me how to push up, paddled me out back and lent me a suitable board. A 7′ 5″ shortboard that was nice and wide.
The first surf trip I went on to The Gower in Wales in April 1976 was so cold that the wetsuits froze on the hedge outside, as did the loaf of bread for breakfast but the cider was so strong you couldn’t feel a thing.
The next trip to Newquay in September was memorable for a classic swell at Crantock, meals in the Golden Egg, Americans playing pool in the Sailors, in check shirts and caps, how cool, and the first rains for 2 months, and how it rained.
Those were golden times and the club had a real good feel to it, we had BBQs on the beach and played volleyball, met in the 3 Bishops on Fridays and played darts and rode the first skateboards of the era up in the Castle car park and down Staplers.
I’d told everyone I was 18 so I could go to the pub with them, I lied but dipped out, as I couldn’t have a birthday for 3 years!
I think Dave Gray (Digger) summed it up one day when we were all sitting post surf on the beach and a crowd of grockels sat alongside us, rather white and pasty, he looked at them and quoted from a popular advert at the time, “we’re the Prize guys and they’re the thin yoghurts.” We all knew just what he meant.
Surfing continues to be a big part of my life, and I get in at Compton whenever I come back to the Island and miss the camaraderie of the car park. I now live in Newquay and work at Fistral beach, so waves are plentiful, both my daughters surf (much better than I ever will) and my Dad still surfs on his 1950’s Ride the Crest wooden belly board.
The waves on Monday obviously weren’t as good as Sunday but they were still a lot of fun and it also mean’t I didn’t mind grabbing a few pics.
Saturday saw the first Rappanui Frostbite Event of 2012. Due to small waves, it was decide that just the Juniors should run. With a clean but small swell the groms took to the water.
Semi-final 1 saw Matt Townsend dominate the heat with a tight battle for the second spot to the final. With some great surfing and long rides Kirra Bell just edged out Jamie King and Toby Green.
Semi-final 2 was another tight affair but Dylan Hamlet styled through in first spot but it came down to a tie and a count back to determine the second place. Dom Arnold in the end just edged out Tom Francis for the final’s berth.
The final saw a dropping tide and swell but the finalist made the most of the conditions. Dom caught some great waves, Kirra contiued to find some really long rides but it in the end despite some great turns by Matt Townsend it was Dylan Hamlet with some really stylish surfing who won through. Island legend commented on how well he thought all the groms were surfing especially Kirra and Dylan.
Great to see the groms getting better all the time. With only one event down the Rapanui Frostbite series is wide open.
1st Dylan Hamlet
2nd Matt Townsend
3rd Kirra Bell
4th Dom Arnold
=5th Tom Francis
=5th Jamie King
7th Toby Green
Massive thanks to Ollie, RDK, Mandy, Bump, Joshy and Dave Gray for his Horn!
In March 1977 the Isle of Wight Surf Club became 10 years old and in the winter issue of Wight Water magazine, Keith Williams wrote a great piece on his personal view of the previous 10 years.
Ten Years On: A Personal View – by Keith Williams
Not until reading this will many people know that in March ’77, the IOW Surf Club celebrated its 10th birthday. “So what?” you may ask. Well, my first excursion on a “Malibu” surfboard was 11 years a go. The board was 9 ft. 6″ long, made of polystyrene foam sandwiched with plywood and coated in polyester resin, made by Mike Hutchinson.
1966 and Mike Hutchinson’s board
“Sure”, he said , “You can have a go. Just lie on it, face the shore and paddle for the white water – don’t shoot the curl!” I was lost – what did ‘shoot the curl’ mean; how did you paddle, in fact how on earth did you lie on the bloody thing without falling off? Some time after the disatrous outing, I went out surfing with Mit Sidpan and Ben Kelly of Kelly’s left fame. Watching Sid was a help to me even though I still couldn’t catch waves. It wasn’t until I joined the IOW Surf Club in March ’67 that I began to see the light.
All the surfing terminology was soon explained and because most of us were still at the learning stage, we all seemed to help each other with learning techniques. Developement was still very slow: I remeber that it took me nearly 3 months to get a ride in which I didn’t wipe out within 3 seconds of standing up, and that was on a longboard too! Compare that with today when newcomers are given the benefit of up to 10 years experience by established surfers. People who, until now, have had only one winter’s worth of waves are really getting it together, considering the greater difficulties involved with short boards.
People like Rog Backhouse and John Ainsworth, (who was one of the best surfers on the Wight when I joined the Surf Club), are still surfing. Most of the original members have drifted away through marriage, mortgage or moving. Some veteran surfers do make comebacks, Ned Gardner is getting into the water again after a lay off of about 6 – 7 years, and really enjoying it. Nice one Ned. Some of the old timers still appear now and again, although they seem to have lost the vitality and aggression that made them good durfers 10 years a go.
During the last 10 years every aspect of surfing and surfing equipment has improved. Foam is lighter and stronger, as is the fibreglass itself; wetsuits are especially tailored to the surfers’ needs and readily available now. Even skateboards have undergone a technological revolution. Obviously during a period such as this when hardware has improved, surfing performance must have improved at a proportionate rate – today’s average surfer can easily outperform yesterday’s hot dogger, although grace and style of a longboard surfer is hard to achieve on today’s boards. Surfing has become a very individual thing, there are almost as many styles and techniques as there are surfers.
Even after a long period of development, a surfer’s individual style is still recognisable, his attitude and posture on a board still having the same characteristics, which seem to be an integral part of the body even carried through to other activities like skateboarding.
Surfers are much more self sufficient now than in the 60’s, when about 30 of us used to sit around the downstairs room at Clare Cottage on a Friday evening, debating where we would get the best swell conditions on the following day. Once decided, everybody without exception, would duly arrive at the appointed place. Nobody would go in on their own, it was usually “I’d come in if you want to go in”.
Surfing equipment in those days covered a wide variety of construction techniques and design concepts. Plywood/Polystyrene sandwiches; hollow ply construction with solid rails (usually necessitating at least 2 drain plugs); polystyrene sealed with either ‘Cascamite’ wood glue or, less successfuly with papier mache, and glassed over the top. These were just a few of the combinations tried by home constructors. Designs also followed almost as many different avenues as construction techniques – whilst I was endeavering to make an 8 ft. x 24″ polystyrene – cascamite – glass virtually flat board with a removable fin in an aluminium skeg box, Rog Cooper was making an 11′ 3″ monster of similar construction with a hollow scooped bottom and an 1/8″ thick aluminium skeg – specially honed for the annual influx of grockles!
Durfing these early days many were the arguments that raged on a Friday evening at Clare Cottage about the relative merits of this and that. However, as time passed, better communication with the outside world by way of magazines, films, and trips away taught us the basic construction methods and what we could expect from each type of board design. All this was upset in 1969 when the shortboard and vee bottom revolution hit the surfing world. This revolution wss orginated by the so called Power Surfers of Australia. Bob McTavish and Nat Young really shook up the rest of the surfing world when they took their short, deep vees to Haliewa in Hawaii. Since then surfboard design has evolved again along many different avenues. Construction techniques have also undergone a critical scrutiny from major manufacturers. Honeycomb construction, hollow boards, even back to Balsa strips, have been tried in the last few years. However it would seem that the basic construction of polyurethane foam and GRP is here to stay. Board designs are developing all the time, short to long, to side to narrow – where will it all end? Probably when you as an individual do not want anything more from your board. Some people may never reach that stage; their surfing improving all the time – searching in vain for the perfect vehicle!
So where does this leave the IOWSC after 10 years of change and of fluctuating levels of interest? Gone are the days when any one who was vaguely interested in surfing automatically became a member. At present there are a number of surfers on the Island who show no interest in the club whatsoever and many more who sometimes pay their yearly subs, and sometimes not, but who still attend the club functions and use club facilities. These absentees, however temporary, must be drawn (back) into the club to strengthen it in as many ways as possible – not least financially. Obviously the more members there are the more each member can get out of the Club, not only in enjoyment of more films etc. but in communication, competition and companionship.
The IOWSC has contributed to making the last 10 years the most entertaining and fulfilling years of my life, from the day I walked up the path at Clare Cottage and met a ginger haired bloke in faded jeans and a sloppy jumper (John Ainsworth as I later discovered).
Now, after 10 years I hope that the club has given and will give in the future as much enjoyment to the rest of you as it has to me.
The 1980 Annual was finally wrapped up on 22 March. A meaty depression prowling round the mouth of the Channel produced totally maxed out Compton with onshore gales and waves breaking way out in the bay half way between the carpark and the most westerly visible point of the Tennyson Down. There was no alternative but to most the contest east of Niton to Hope, where it underway at midday.
A disappointment after the Saturday which was gutsy at 4-5 feet with very nice inside sections, the waves only managed to struggle up to 2 feet at most for the first heat. However, the six contestants in this heat made the most of a bad job, with Marcus Lloyd dominating to the accompaniment of raucous cheering from the kids on the cliff above and ‘Come on Marcus, give it some welly’ from his girlfriend. Mike Smith slid a few to the very inside, as did Dave Jacobs, but Simon Rolfe and Chris Hollis really needed bigger waves to show off their repertoire to its best advantage. Who didn’t?
Heat Two ripped, slashed and bogged out in similar waves – in fact there were a couple of reasonably-sized sets to break the monotony! Perennial champ Dave Gray adopted a ‘ride anything’ policy which paid off – he won his heat. Steve Williams and Mark Todd followed him through to the finals.
Yes, finals! As the tide dropped out, allowing the swell to break a bit bigger and more consistently, the six finalists paddled out for the decider. Keith slid from further out on a borrowed longboard (the right tool for the job?). Steve broke his fin off half way through a kick-out in the shore break and had to swap boards before many minutes of the final had passed. Dave and Marcus, being goofy, rode mainly lefts, the latter obeying his beach-callers instructions, giving it welly wherever possible, whereas the other four shared the remaining rights amongst them.
Final results were:1 Dave Gray, 2 Marcus Lloyd, 3 Keith Williams, 4 Steve Williams, 5 Mark Todd, 6 Dave Jacobs. Thanks to everyone who helped with the contest, in particular the judges Ann Macpherson and Dave Bottrell; Tony Macpherson for providing the duck-caller (modern technology!) and gallons of frothing tea; Steph for the coconut; especially our hallowed Hon Pres, Sir John, for traipsing from one side of the Island to the other with us, in search of waves – bless their cotton Damarts!
(taken from a 1980 issue of Wight Water Magazine)
Hurricane Katia may have tracked north but it still delivered a few waves to us here on the Island. Last Sunday and Monday I got down to Shanklin capturing some of the action.
Surfers started Skateboarding on the Island back in the 1960’s after hearing about the craze taking off in California. It all started with wooden boxes or boards with roller skate wheels slapped on the bottom. Eventually companies were producing decks of pressed layers of wood similar to the skateboard decks of today.
By 1963 there were already big downhill slalom or freestyle competitions taking place. By 1965 it seemed that skatebaording had died and that it was just a craze. Coincidently it was probably about this time that surfers on the Island started their own experiments with wooden planks and roller skate wheels.
In 1972, Frank Nasworthy invented urethane skateboard wheels, which are similar to what most skaters use today but it was to be many years before this new invention was to be seen on the Island. In 1978 a skater named Alan Gelfand (nicknamed “Ollie”) invented a maneuver that gave skateboarding another revolutionary jump. He would slam his back foot down on the tail of his board and jump, thereby popping himself and the board into the air. The ollie was born, a trick that completely revolutionized skateboarding.
By the end of the 70’s skateboarding looked to be having it’s second death. Public skate parks had been being built and on the Island I remember one at Golden Hill Fort, but by the 1980’s they had started to crumble and were in a terrible state. Skateparks were starting to be forced to close. Through the 1980’s skateboarders started to built their own ramps. Skateboarding began to be more of an underground movement, skaters making the whole world their skatepark.
In April 1990 the first known advert for a mountainboard appeared in a freshly-formed Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. Although many people tried off road wheels on skateboards over the years no one has a true claim to have invented the first All Terrain Skateboard.
During the late 1980’s I remember being at Compton on a very small wind blown day and it was the sort of day you could guarantee that Dave Grey, Jason Matthews and a few of the others would be found skating the car park. There were a few of us hanging around chatting when I noticed Dave and Jason checking out the the grassy slope that was the way down to the beach (Where the top steps now are). This is long before anyone had thought of, or even seen off road wheels for skateboards on the Island. I grabbed my camera from Clive’s car thinking I was going to get some pics of great crashes.
Jason and Dave soon mastered the top bank and would come down the new concrete path a great speed each time eyeing up the muddy bank down to the beach. It was just too un-even and muddy and they eventually had to give up on the idea of getting all the way to the beach (but not without giving it a pretty good go). Dave wasn’t prepared to give up now and started to climb the cliff to the side of the path. At this point I really thought it was going to get messy but Dave get persevering. Although the drop from the top of the cliff turned out to be impossible Dave managed a pretty hairy drop from at least half way up the cliff.
Were Dave and Jason the first to achieve off road skateboarding on the Island, probably not, but here is the proof that they did it.
I have been told a story about Paul Taylor, Dave Gray & Chris Salter once doing a trip to the west country. At the end of the trip and time to think about returning home they realised that they were all skint, totally penniless. The boys soon came to the conclusion that the only way to get home would be to try and raise some money some how. To get enough money to get home they were would have to sell something. They decided to draw straws and unfortunately for Dave Gray, he lost. Dave had to sell his wetsuit as a means of raising cash so they could get home.
From the Virgin Islands they traveled onto America, working their way across to the west coast. They stopped in North Carolina to stay with Barney’s sister Rosie who was at university there. Word had got around about Barney and Chris’s travels through Europe and across to the Caribbean and onto the U.S.A. and the university president had questioned Barney’s sister Rosie where they would be staying. When he found out that they were staying at her small flat he made arrangements for them to stay at his mansion. The staff were never to remember Barney and Chris’s name properly and they soon became known as Bonnie and Clyde by the them.