Probably my favourite board to ride and possibly the best board ever made (well the best I have seen anyway). Quite a claim but my god this a good board! Me and my wife both use and love them.
Okay, it’s not strictly vintage as it was made in 2010. BUT it is made by Sally Parkin of The Original Surfboard Company who created the business because she feared she would not be able to replace her old boards. She can def be called one of the saviours of the bellyboard (or surfboard as Sally still likes to call them). She tried various ways of producing boards – from working with Dick Pearce originally to finding new ways to create boards of REAL quality. More about Sally later, but I can tell you this board is so good to ride and it’s really fast. They are no longer produced (this model), but are incredible as are all of Sally’s boards (www.originalsurfboards.co.uk). If you board/surf buy one!
I emailed Sally about this board and asked her for a full history on it. For any of you who know Sally you will know she likes detail, so on this one I have the full story and some brillaint pics of Sally testing the boards and of Jack Johns using them. I have many of Sally’s amazing boards and will write more about them. But here is the story of the Championship board.
Sally first approached a bunch of boatbuilders about making higher spec boards in spring 2010.
This was all driven by notes in the 1950s guide “The Art of Surf riding” author Ronald Funnell. “I found a glowing review about the superior qualities of a gaboon ply board he had had made for him in the 1930s and wanted to see if I could re-create this quality board,” says Sally.
In May 2010, she started discussions with a female boatbuilder called Kaila Simmons, who was based near Bridport, in Dorset.
In June 2010 Kalia delivered the first samples. Below is a picture of Sally testing them at Porthcothan in July or August 2010. She looks pretty happy with them!!
“I still remember the thrill of riding the boards for the first time – I was amazed at their performance. Up until now I had never thought of the Dick Pearce-made boards as being heavy but in comparison, the veneered boards were significantly lighter which was a great bonus when carrying the boards to the beach and also when walking back into the sea to catch more waves. I also loved the fact that they were a little thinner (about 1mm) which gave them more flex and the sense of being even more in the wave. This made them much more like the 1960s vintage boards our family had been using for the last forty years. The high spec polyurethane coating gave a smoother glide and more of a sense of speed, but for me it was also that they felt so good to hold onto and looked so stunning that you wanted to have them around the house like a work of art”, remembers Sally.
So why was it named the Championship board?
Well, in September 2010 a highly talented bodyboarder Jack Johns (who had never ridden a wooden bellyboard in his life) kindly agreed to enter the World Bellyboard Championships on one of the new boards. Jack won, and the rest is history!!! Sally – interestingly – came third in the junior ladies!!
The boards have burnt in branding on reverse tail. Initially some of the boards were branded vertically and some horizontally – but after branding the first batch of boards it was decided to brand them horizontally. I have both variations. See below
In January 2011 the first championship boards went for sale online at £85 (way under priced). In just over a year, the boatbuilder closed down and Kalia moved back to Bermuda. But between that period when the boards were in stock they sold out straight away. Truth was that Kalia working alone couldn’t really keep up with production. The detail and quality of these boards is pretty unbeatable. There were various different variations made, built the darker models (pictured) sold the best.
Everything was done by hand – even the coating was painted rather than sprayed and the boards were left to air dry.
The boards are NOT steam bent, but made with a bespoke jig. The are made another from five sheets of ply – an inner core of three sheets of gaboon ply and then two sheets of hardwood ply for the board exterior. It’s a perfect build. 7mm thick. 47.5 inches long. 12.5 inches at the top narrowing to 11.5 inches at the bottom with a lovely rocker!
If you see one BUY it. I’m going to try and persuade Sally to make some more (I believe these bards were replaced by the Atlantic Stripe board). If I had to have just one board (never going to happen!) I think it would be this one. It’s so good.
These boards have traveled well and have been used in Hawaii, Australia & New Zealand, USA (New York and California) and the Barbados.
See picture below of Jack Johns surfing the shore break in Hawaii.