Posts Tagged ‘Doug Saunders’

Sid Pitman R.I.P.

Sid Pitman sadly passed away while on holiday in the Mediterranean last week. Sid will be greatly missed by the whole Isle of Wight Surfing Community.  Are thoughts at this time are with Sid’s wife Jan. Sid started body boarding during the early sixties with a homemade plywood board, curved at the front and painted […]


IOW Surf Club – 10 Years on

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.


Old Clarks’ Glossary of Surfing

Image: Chris Slater riding the wave at Compton with Dougie Saunders in the line up. The image has no relation to the below article.

Old Clarks’ Glossary of Surf – taken from Wight Water Magazine 1981

Being an Authoritive Guide to an Old Sport and New Pastime, in Alphabetical Order and Fully Cross-Referenced. Essential to Gremmie and Old Salt alike. First Pub. at Hulverstone 1981. Compiled by JW and RA Clark.

A

Awful Tea. Brewed by the National Suss (q.v.) since AM 1979 (After Munt q.v.)

B

Burt’s – often used in cases of depression (q.v.) or packs of six, but works better as a laxative.

Bogs – (at Compton), locked in winter, full up in summer.

C

Cretin. Species of lunatic, (see Grockle)

D

Dumper truck, suitable for removing burnt out remains of Surf Club Huts

E

Ephriam Prenderghast; obscure missionary and collector of Hymenoptera, sent to the Pacific Islands in 1850 to convert natives. Last seen ripping six foot tubes and lying on the beach surrounded by dusky maidens. Coined the phrase ‘far out’. (q.v.)

F

Flat; no surf (see summertime)

Far Out! – uncertain meaning, perhaps applied to low tide (q.v.)

G

Grockle; much suffered complaint of NW Frontier, viz., pain in the Khyber Pass

H

High Tide – alcoholic soap powder.

I

Isobars; Lines on a map connecting pubs at the same height above sea level.

J

Join – the Isle of Wight Surf Club!

K

Kelp; Health food, manure and an unholy stinking fly-ridden beach on a hot day.

L

Low Tide – Little soap powder left.

Laxative; The Bay at 10 feet.

M

Mortgage; essential for buying a new surfboard.

Munt, Mr. Friendly local capitalist, now retired.

N

National Suss. Brewers of Awful Tea

O

Ocean. Large Volume of oxidised hydrogen containing dissolved salts, and other people’s rubbish. Causes many problems, mostly by not coming across with the necessary.

P

Polysiphonia Elongata – does not mean ‘many long drawn-out tubes’ but does mean you can get very tangled up whilst surfing (see Kelp).

Q

Queen. What the hell’s she got to do with it?

R

Rubber Suit; protective device.

S

Summertime. Period of year given over to flatness (q.v.) Grockles (q.v.), and fickle sunshine.

Surfboard; expensive implement of self-torture often connected with Rubber Suits (q.v.)

Surf; inferior soap powder.

Sand; ingrdient of beach lunches, tea and canned beer. Occurs naturally in shoes and socks; used as a floor covering during Summer (q.v.) in VW Micro-buses (q.v.) and French bordellos.

T

Ten; Hang Ten. Pointless excersise popular in the 1960’s now almost impossible of boards of current length.

U

Underpants. Essential element incorporated in the Davy Lamp Principle as described in Sid Dipman’s ‘Varp Lightning’, previously published in a back number of Wight Water, and abstracted from the greater work ‘Things to do on Flatulent Days’.

V

VW Microbuses; for transportation of picks, shovels, surfboards and other implements of destruction.

W

Wistful, waiting, watching, weather map and Winter – (c.f. Summertime), period of year given over to Rubber Suits (q.v.)

X

Xenoiphobia; pathological dislike of foreigners (see Grockle).

Y

Yesterday (overworked word).

Z

Zone

Sub-littoral surfing area
O – you can smell it at low tide (q.v.)
Disaster; Swimming Area
Forbidden; Good Surfing Area
No Parking; Right next to the Good Surfing Area
Erogenous; After-Surf entertainment
Inter-tidal; Rubbish tip
War; Surfing Area

Zombie; soulless corpse given the appearance of life by witchcraft (see Grockle)

THE END (See Grockle)

(slightly edited to protect the innocent)


Frost Bite Series – Event No 2

The Isle of Wight Surf Club Frost Bite Series – Event No 2

Congratulations to all involved, another great event. Compton had very challenging conditions for the competition but once again we were treated to a very high standard of surfing from all who took part. The onshore waves grew in size as the day went on and all the competitors had their strength and endurance tested as a lot of paddling was needed to get out through the waves and to get themselves to best place in the line up, which seemed to continually move about.

The Longboarders were up first witht the majority of contestants heading to the outside to try and get the set waves. This may have been a mistake as they didn’t seem to be making it through to the inside and early on Matt Harwood seeemd to see this, taking a few waves on the inside right through to the beach. It definitely looked very hard to find some good waves early on and a few very frustated faces came up the beach after the first few heats.

The Juniors were up next and now there seemd to be a waves making it through from the outside. This only made the paddle out even harder and the boys struggled in the difficult conditions, but eventually pick off a few waves.

When the Open started the waves had picked up and they were competing quite far out. There were some good size sets coming through but it still looked very hard to find the best spot to line up. The Open saw 4 heats with the winners of each heat going through to the final. One of the heats saw Chris Mannion, Andrew Tyrrell and Alan Reed against each other. This was going to be a very closely contested heat and didn’t disapoint. Andrew and Al pushed Manni all the way but Chris held on to his lead. The final was Douglas Richards (sporting a moustache rivalling anything I ever saw in the old World War II movies I used to watch with my Dad as a kid), Matt Harwood, Chris Mannion and Joe Truman. Matt got straight into the final catching a few through to the inside but I think his mind was on getting into his pyjammas and watching X-Factor as he didn’t seem to be able to find any of the set waves. We saw Joe treated us to some of his lovely style with some beautiful cutbacks but I think by this time hyperthermia was setting in and we didn’t see him perform at his best. Dougie and Manni got the best of the set waves that came through putting in some big moves with Dougie coming out the winner. But Manni definitley came out of the water with the best spiked punk hairstyle that I definitely think Al was quite envious of (ok I admit, and any of us lacking in that department).

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A Great Day and Night

What a day Saturday the 9th of October turned out to be. The swell started to grow from only a couple of foot first thing to an epic swell that saw Compton, Freshwater Bay and The Pearl all fireing. I checked Compton early and a few of you were either in or going in and it was about 2 – 3ft and building. The wind looked a little strong, making the waves hard to catch but as the swell grew it got better and better. I knew I was only going to get one go at getting a few waves so opted to come back in a couple of hours in hope my timing would pay off. Will still alot of things to finalise for the movie night I did about 15mins filming and the shot off to try and get as much done as possible in 2 hours.

While I was away my phone didn’t stop. I had messages saying nearly every break from Freshwater Bay right round to Sandown were breaking. When I came past Freshwater Bay there was too much water and I couldn’t wait any longer. At Compton I met up with Andy Haworth (Devon Lanes and Longboards) who was already on the cliff top filming (Can’t wait to see the footage Andy). After quick introductions he exclaimed that in all his times on the Island he had never seen Compton like that. While talking a set came through and I hadn’t seen anything like that at Compton for a very very long time. I then ran back to my car to get changed and get in. With only about 15 – 20 people in the water it was perfect, I managed to get a couple of the big set waves right to the beach. When I wasn’t catching waves it was just great to watch some of you guys getting some great waves and the standard of surfing on the Island is very high. I don’t know all of you, but being out there on Saturday really showed that all those days surfing in small wind chop, onshores and just getting in when there was any wave has produced some excellent surfers on the Island.

I only had a short time at the beach and only managed to photograph Compton for about an hour. If any of you have any good photographs of anywhere on Saturday please send them in to us and we’ll put up a gallery of all your shots. I have seen some great shots of The Pearl and Freshwater Bay on Facebook so send them to us too.

Havig such a great swell during the day it couldn’t have been any better for the Movie night. With everyone buzzing from the waves earlier in the day the Sandpipers was soon full to the brim and a wall of noise as everyone talked about the waves. We started the evening with ‘Devon Lanes and Longboards’ by Andy Haworth (If you are interested in buying Andy’s movie go to his website here Devon Lanes and Longboards ). This was followed by a great movie by Sid Pitman ‘Surf Rats’. We also had Strat Cat Productions who very kindly set up a screen and played movies in the Sandpipers big hall all night from ‘Brown Water’ by Sid, ‘Isle of Wight Surf Club’ by Annie Macpherson and Andy Haworths footage from the day. A big thanks to Mark, Nigel and the boys for helping making it a great night. The evning was to finish with ‘Fusion’ by Ross Johns and you can also buy his movie at surfclips.co.uk. At this point I think most of the Ale in the bar had gone and people still wanted more, so by popular request we put on Bert’s ‘Wight Water’. We went on playing movies well into the early hours and raised over £100 for the Freshwater Lifeboat. Many thanks to all who came and especially Jason, Andy, Ross, Annie, Sid, Bert, Al, The Sandpipers Hotel, the West Wight Landscape Partnership and all who helped to make the evening a great success (Apologies if I forgot anyone).

If anyone took any photos during the Surf Movie Evening we would love to put a few on here too, so send them in to paul@wightsurfhistory.co.uk


A Surfing Life – by Sid Pitman

A Surfing Life-by Sid Pitman, (or the ramblings of a senile idiot).

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been involved at the start of surfing in Great Britain and especially on the Isle of Wight. The friends I have made and the great times /fun we had together can never be erased from my memory.
My involvement with surfing started with body boarding in the early sixties, as soon as I could drive and could get to Compton, with a homemade plywood board curved at the front and painted blue (a lot of my boards have been blue).
I then saw surfing on Television from Makaha Beach Hawaii and I knew that was the sport I wanted to follow, I was hooked,
I had no idea on the exact shape or length of a surfboard, only that they were made of some sort of foam with a fibreglass outer shell, I decided to try Polystyrene foam and shaped my first board with a handsaw and a surform blade. When I had got the shape I thought it should be it was cut lengthways in half and an oak stringer glued in after covering with cascamite and newspaper it was then fiberglassed and painted blue with white and yellow stripes, hence the cover shot of wight surf history. I had this board a few years before giving it to Rob Clark when he started.
I had seen other guys at compton surfing but not met them until an advert appeared in the County Press announcing the Isle of Wight Surf Club had been formed and to contact a Ventnor phone number which I did with my mate Ben Kelly. That’s when I met Roger backhouse and his girlfriend Sue Ellis, Geoff (Ned) Gardner, Rusty Long, Jon Jon Ainsworth, Colin Burgess, Colin Hickey, Bob Booth, Steve Brown. Very shortly afterwards others joined including-Keith Williams, Roger Cooper, Rory Angus, Ian Vallender, Mary Hughes, Dave Bottrell, Glynn Kernick, Rob Eldridge Dave Saleroe, Doug Saunders,Mr Cosmic(Derek Thompson) and many others
Soon after the formation of the surf club Sues mum and dad allowed us to have Clare Cottage in Spring Hill Ventnor as a clubhouse, where we could meet-up hold parties and film shows. It was quite something to find 80 people crammed into a small two bedroomed cottage watching a super 8 surf film, Having Spring Hill outside also enabled us to try out the new surfing craze “Skateboarding” invented by a Californian to practice on when the surf was flat. Someone got an old pair off roller skates, removed the wheels and bolted to the bottom of on old piece of wood and we were away. Rusty Long memorably overtaking a car one evening.
In the 60s and 70s the car park at Compton was obviously considerably larger that it is today, and on the left hand front side, was a large wooden shiplap café/shop belonging to a chap called Ron Munt who sold everything from ice creams to plywood surf boards, this shop was there for many years before the inevitable erosion of the cliff face took its toll on it, likewise the early surf club was fortunate to be able to lease one of the many quite large two roomed beach huts from the National Trust, that were situated in the small valley to the right side of the car park, unit that to fell victim of erosion although we did manage to move it with a “Cheek Bros Crane” away from the cliff edge on one occasion, (any photos would be appreciated to add to this).
My First surf trip was to Porthtowan Cornwall to go to see the Cornish and Open Surf Championships in which our Honorary club president Rod Sumpter was completing, Rory Angus and myself travelled down in Geoff (Ned ) Gardners Standard 8 car.it took 6 to 8 hours driving to travel down in those days and at about two in the morning Ned by this time was understandably getting tired,and at that time you had to go through Launceston were you had to negotiate a hairpin bend, Ned unfortunately missed the bend and shot up an ally opposite, after doing a three point turn we returned to the main road and continued to Cornwall, after about half a mile a police mini van over took us blue light flashing and stopped us, Ned got out walked up to the policeman who was emerging ominously from his vehicle and said-“Hello Gilbert, I suppose it’s about that whoreing u bend we missed back there”. The copper was so non plussed at this approach he just said “Well I saw you had one go at that bend when you returned for a repeat I thought I,d better stop you” He graciously let Ned off with a warning and a form to produce his documents at a police station within seven days.
When we camped we had no tents only ex Army Sleeping bags which we lay either between the cars (before the days of VW campervans) or under hedges or walls, after consuming generous quantities of Scrumpy to ease the often very wet nights. Some very boisterous evenings were had including one notorious one in the Old Albion ,Crantock, which involved first eating large amounts of baked beans drinking lots of beer and a lit cigarette lighter, those who were there can remember Derek Thompson rolling on the floor helpless with laughter, it also cleared the pub of locals.
The next trip to porthtowan I shared a berth in Roger Coopers van, only to get him to wake me at three o,clock in the morning with him saying “ Do you want some prunes sunshine?” I politely declined, where on he commenced to eat the whole tin.
Later surf trips included Mort Hoe, The Gower, and France, one memorable trip in 1980
Found over 15 members of the surf club assembled on the sea front at Bidart, where the inevitable party ensued, during that trip one of my memories was of about 200 people enjoying the 8ft shore break at La Barre ,being rolled over in a multinational jumble of arms, legs, bodies, sand and gravel great fun!
Anyone who has ridden Freshwater Bay remembers the first paddle out and drop-in, the heart in the mouth feeling of anticipation not knowing for certain what is going to appear on the horizon to the east of the needles, seeing the large lumps of sea building and not knowing exactly how big the next set is going to be. The bay has an unnerving habit of doubling in size every 10 to 12 minutes to catch the unwary that are caught on the inside. For the brave or skilled the best take off zone is in front of the rocks in front of the Albion Hotel.
As you start to paddle if the sets are much over head high it is advisable to paddle at an angle to the wave or immediately turn before the drop, as the wave is so hollow you may well free fall down the wave if you attempt to bottom turn. Once on the wave you face a collapsing section of wave we christened “the Cabbage Patch” once past this a long wall of peeling surf will follow you if over 8ft it will sound like thunder cracking and spitting in your ears, if over 10ft the light goes darker as the wave blocks the sun from the south and you need to race the break to the centre of the bay.
Years ago I remember surfing the bay when a large patch of maggots had accumulated in the calm zone in the middle from some form of dead marine animal and when you finished surfing you had to remove them all from your wetsuit and baggies.
Any Surfer knows when there is no surf it can get pretty boring, on one such episode after taking a walk along Compton beach I thought it would be a good idea to have a mud slide on one of the wetter parts of the cliffs near the fields, after generating some interest from about ten others we dammed up a small rivulet on the cliff and made a pond at the bottom. After experimenting a bit it turned out to be quite a bit of fun and we filmed it. A couple of months later Mike Smith saw a National competition for any film to do with mud to be presented to Johnson and Johnson, so mike took the film I had and added it to his and edited the film and sent it off, After a couple of months Johnson and Johnson told Mike that he had won a 8mm sound cine camera.
My first custom board was a Surfboard Basques, made by Len Howarth and Bob Ward,
bob, who in my opinion was one of the greatest surfers the Island has ever produced.
Other island pioneer board makers have been Roger Cooper- Zippy Sticks, Tad Ciastula- Vitamin Sea, Keith Williams, Dave Jacobs and Tony Macpherson –Jake Wilson Surfboards.


The Surf Cub is formed by Keith Williams

Sue came up & introduced herself and I remember her asking my girlfriend if she wanted to become a full member or just a ‘beach bunny’. That was the start of the best period of the Surf Club for me. In a matter of weeks the membership had grown to 90+ due in no small part to the CP ad. Friday night was the highlight of the week, with Clare Cottage bursting at the seams for the club meetings. Very soon there were movies being shown, mostly taken on 8mm by Dave Bottrell, and skateboarding down Spring Hill. I well remember Sid remarking that Merry Hughes (a quite well endowed young lady) had done a 6 point landing having fallen off her board halfway down. Hands,knees & boobs for those with no imagination. Also, a decision was taken as to where the club would be surfing at the weekend. Bear in mind that the majority of members had no board & were reliant on the good will of the established members, mainly the Ventnor crew, to borrow boards, thus meaning that everyone had to turn up at the same place at the same time. My belated thanks to Rog & Sue, John Ainsworth, Rusty Long & Colin Burgess.


Morthoe Surf Trip 1987

Isle of Wight Surf Club Trip to Morthoe 1987 In 1987 The Isle of Wight Surf Club organized a Surf Trip to North Devon about a week or so before the infamous storm of ’87. This was my first ever time to the West Country and my first ever surf trip with friends. We loaded […]