The Tom Blake Book

25 . 11 . 17

This last week we’ve been caretaking a book that is both very rare, and incredibly relevant to what we do here. Tom Blake – The Uncommon Journey of a Pioneer Waterman was lent to us for a week by a gentleman who passed by the workshop, popped his head in to see what we do here, and said “I think I have a book that you’d be rather interested in.” We were!

Published in 2001 by The Crouyl Family Foundation and co-authored by Gary Lynden and Malcolm Gault-Williams, this boxed hardcover edition is one of 300 signed copies from the initial print run. Over 240 pages it details the life, achievements and incredible contributions to surfing of Tom Blake, the iconic waterman who pioneered hollow wooden surfboard construction, invented the fin, and over the course of his lifetime had an immeasurable impact upon surfing. We’ve posted about Blake’s life and work before (read it here), but this beautiful book goes into incredible detail and contains a huge number of images, many of which we’ve never seen before. It also has pull-out pages with detailed design drawings which we’ve only ever seen pixelated screen-shots of in the past.

These days, a copy of one of these books from a later print run will cost you in excess of £250, if you can even find one. We wondered if we needed to wear white linen archivist’s gloves whilst turning the pages of this copy, and were incredibly grateful that it was entrusted into our care for a week.

“It’s easy to learn in the ocean. I learned there because you’re very close to nature. You’re in it! You’re immersed in it! You learn to wait patiently. There’s a time for everything to happen. You’ve got to learn to wait for your wave. You can’t make it come to you. It teaches you about life. There’s a pleasure to riding a wave. You’ve mastered something that’s unknown and unseen there. It’s not only the ride you get, but using your wits to win. To win! Every good ride is a win. That’s the fun in life – to win! It goes up to challenge you, and when you pull it all together you’ve got something.”

Tom Blake, Surfer Magazine interview, 1981

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