It was in 1935, however, that Tom Blake made his most significant contribution to surfing. In an attempt to provide some directional stability whilst surfing, he attached an aluminium skeg salvaged from a speedboat onto the bottom of his cedar surfboard and encased it in a thin layer of wood for protection. At a foot long and 4 inches high, many surfers would struggle to recognise it as a fin, however it was this that allowed surfers to ride at a tighter angle across peeling waves and to begin to effectively turn surfboards. Tom Blake’s inquisitive and brilliant mind and relentless quest to improve the performance of his equipment changed surfing forever, and through our choice of materials and construction techniques we owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Tom’s contributions.
“Along the shore I wander, free,
A beach comber at Waikiki,
Where time worn souls who seek in vain,
Hearts ease, in vagrant, wondering train.
A beach comber from choice, am I,
Content to let the world drift by,
Its strife and envy, pomp and pride,
I’ve tasted, and am satisfied.”
Thomas Edward Blake
For a more thorough biography please take a look at the fantastic Encyclopaedia of Surfing or the website of the California Surf Museum.
All images reproduced from the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center