WOOD'S GOOD: This Sunday's event will be the 11th edition of the popular gathering.
WOOD'S GOOD: This Sunday's event will be the 11th edition of the popular gathering. PETER STURM

Event like a tribal gathering

THE 11th annual wooden surfboard day is on this Sunday at Currumbin Alley.

When Duke Kahanamoku gave his famous surfing exhibition at Freshwater in 1915, it was on a huge redwood board that the Hawaiian Olympic swimming champion had carved out himself.

Duke wasn't the first to set foot on a surfboard in Australia - as far as we know that was done by Tommy Walker, a Sydney seaman who had brought back a solid wooden board from Hawaii and was photographed at a Yamba beach in 1911.

Yet Duke's board remains one of the most impressive exhibits in the Freshwater Manly Surf Club and there just so happens to be another one of Duke's redwood boards at Surf World Surf Museum at Currumbin.

Solid wooden boards were replaced by hollow plywood boards prior to World War II, then replaced by balsa boards during the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games and then foam and fibreglass signalled the end of wood and start of the modern surfboard from 1960.

This Sunday Currumbin Alley will turn back the clock with wooden boards of all descriptions, sizes and designs.

It's a case of what's old is wood again, in as many shapes and sizes from self-shaped to professionally built.

Now in its 11th year, it's like a tribal gathering and a complete departure from today's modern surfboard.

It is more about the aesthetics and the craft of creating such a unique board out of timber.

Aficionados of wood display pride and joy in their work.

It will be a show-and-tell display at Currumbin Alley on the grassy knoll behind the carpark.

What started as the Fish Fry (shortboard version made of wood) ignited a passion lit by wooden surfboard shaper connoisseur Grant Newby.

From a novel idea it took on an international following, with die-hards flying in from all over the globe to be part of this special one-day event - and it's free to enter.

"If you build wooden surfboards or would like to, or maybe you just have an interest in how it all happens, then come down from 9am-3pm," Newby said.

"There's a host of board shapers from all walks of life who will be on hand to showcase their designs, including the well-known American surfboard shaper Tom Wegener from Noosa on the Sunshine Coast."

Newby said the day was all about like-minded people who enjoyed the challenge of spending countless hours in a shed building wooden boards and getting together to share their passion and progress.

"Even if you don't build boards but want to find out more, this is the ideal place to ask all the relevant questions, because there are many ways to build a wooden board," he said

Newby encouraged everyone to bring your wooden boards and a picnic lunch and, yes, even go for a surf.

"It's almost at the end of the winter season and perfect for taking the wooden board out for a slide across the banks at the Alley," Newby said.

"There is nothing better than being on one you built yourself.

"Looking forward to catching up with old faces and welcoming some new ones too."


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