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Wallace Surfboards

Wallace SurfboardsWallace Surfboards specialises in replicating the legendary models of Bill Wallace plus a modern twist to the ‘Wallace Longboard’ model. The boards are made to the same beautiful standard with quality workmanship and products and all approved by Bill himself.

Contact Underground for the latest Wallace Surfboard shapes available.

 

World renowned surfing and shaping legend Bill Wallace

Timeline

  • 1926 Born in Bronte, Sydney
  • 1942 Built his first surfboard at age 16, a 16’ toothpick
  • 1950s Shaping 4 toothpicks a week and wooden skis for the clubbies
  • 1950s Surfing 20-foot waves on 16’-20’ toothpicks weighing 30 kilos with no fins
  • 1956 Developed the Okanui model
  • 1960s Introduced foam in surfboard manufacturing
  • 1962 Opened Brookvale surfboard factory
  • 1960s Manufactured D-fin pigs
  • 1967 Manufacturing shorter boards
  • 1971 Moved to Noosa
  • 1970s & 80s Shaped throughout Noosa
  • 2000s Hand-shaping replicas of the toothpicks and Okanuis
  • 2011 inducted into the Surfboard Shapers Hall Of Fame, California
  • 2012 retired from shaping aged 86

 History

Bill was born in 1926 and grew up in the Sydney surf suburb of Bronte. Bill joined the local surf club and spent his spare teenage time in the ocean. When World War 2 broke most of the older members of the club went to war. In1941 Bill got an apprenticeship as a Pattern Maker working in munitions factories building boats and weapons for the diggers on the front line. In 1942 Bill started making his first surfboard, a 16' toothpick. Building materials at that time were so scarce that the board took a full year to build. 

Bill says, "That board wasn't easy to make, no materials and no one to show me what to do!" The board was sold weeks later and it was the start of a life-long passion that would see Bill Wallace at the forefront of Australian surfboard design.

In the early 1950s Wallace was making four Toothpicks a week as well as wooden skis for clubbies throughout Sydney. During this period Bill and his mates where known to surf 20-foot waves off Bronte, Bondi and fairy bower on 16' to 20' toothpicks. The toothpicks weighed around 30KG - this would be thought of as ludicrous to the big wave surfers of today as the toothpicks had no fins!

In 1956 Greg Noll and other surfers from the USA brought the Balsa Malibu to Australia, when Bill and others saw the board in the water they couldn't believe how a board could ride across the wave and turn so easily. Bill set out to replicate that board but at that time you could not buy Balsa wood in Australia. So he made it like the toothpicks from the '40s - hollow in the middle and chambered with Marine Ply. These boards would be known as the "Okanui."

Bill Says "Most people think the Okanui was a Hawaiian word but I think Bluey Mayes came up with it. 'Oka' Meaning Aussie and 'Nui' meaning new, the new Aussie surfboard!"

In the late 1950's surfing exploded in America when movies like Gidget where released. In the early 60's boards where being made out of foam and Wallace was on the forefront of the revolution being among the first to make foam in Australia.

"By that stage I was letting other people shape my boards and I concentrated on the business and the hard things like trying to make foam. It was a trial & error, It nearly sent us bankrupt!" Bill said

In 1962 Bill opened his first Surfboard factory in Brookvale Sydney. When he opened the doors on day one, there stood a young wild looking Queenslander, none other than the young Bob McTavish. Bill remembers Bob saying, "Have you got any work going?" Bill replied,  "When can you start!" 

The list of legendary names that worked under Wallace goes on, Daryl ‘Rooster’ Dell, Frank Latta, Dick Van Straalen and the legendary glasser ‘Lutsig Becelli’ who was known to glass 24 board a day. Bill says, "At that stage in summer we would make 120 boards a week. We made D-fin pigs in the early '60s and by 1967 we were making shorter boards which Bob McTavish and Nat Young where riding".

The '60s surfing boom came to and end and Bill decided to move to Noosa Heads in 1971. He opened a factory after a decade it closed due to financial instability of that time. Bill worked in Surfboard factories in Noosa throughout the 1980s and is loved and respected by the community to this day.

In the early 2000s the retro surf movement began and Bill found himself in demand to Hand build replicas of the 1940s toothpicks and 1950s Okanuis.

In 2012 Bill retired and in 2014 appointed Underground Surf to work with he and his son Peter on the development of the new era of Wallace Surfboards. 

With thanks to www.pacificlongboarder.com and Surf Research and Museum of Surf



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