Soul Surf Blog

Here at Soul Surf, we get to see a lot of awesome boards and memorabilia. The history and stories behind these boards is always fascinating. This blog is purely to share these stories, and our love of all things surfing.

George Greenough - pure genius

Sharene Tailford - Friday, September 19, 2014

George Greenough, known for his innovation in surfboard design, film and photography, is considered one of the most influential surfers of his time.

Born in California, after open heart surgery at the age of 10, George turned his interest to the waves. After a short stint as shortboarder in the 50's, he switched to mat-riding and kneeboarding. His passion soon turned to designing kneeboards,  and although his boards were spectacular in design and performance, he only ever made them for himself and his close friends. Seeing a genuine Greenough board in person is extremely rare. You can go through an entire life time without every laying eyes on one yourself. In the mid 60's he designed the sub-five-foot flexible fibreglass "spoon" kneeboard. This innovative shape, together with his radical fin design, enabled him to get speed down the line, and change directions unlike anything that had ever been seen before. His excellence in design and mastery of fibreglass forever changed the surfboard design industry at the time, and started what was to be later known as the shortboard revolution.

Having visited Australia often in the 60's, George eventually committed to his love affair with our shores, and now resides in Byron Bay, NSW. During the mid to late 60's, he continued his passion for everything surfing, and after constructing some home made, waterproof camera equipment, he delved into the world of surf photography and film. His 1966 image of Russell Hughes is said to be the first known shot of a surfer within the green room. His masterpiece movie, The innermost limits of pure fun, was and still is today one of the most incredible, iconic surf movies ever produced, which for the first time took viewers directly into the tube.

The following article is from the 1969 Surfing World Volume 12, No.5 magazine. Simply titled "Greenough", it does not mention who the author is, but who ever it was captured the moment in time well, describing George exactly as we would all have imagined him to be:

"George Greenough does on a belly board what everyone else is trying to do. He does things with the waves and his board that I have never seen done before. I think he is the most exciting surfer I have ever watched and is just as interesting to talk with. Greenough is out here once again to ride some waves and shoot some footage for a movie he is making. The movie unlike most surfing films will be shot around the tube and most of the photography will be done by Greenough from his small board while riding inside the curl. He has already started his shooting and if the remainder of his film will be anything like the start it will be a remarkable film. His footage so far was shot inside the curl at Lennox Head. The stills from the film look fantastic, one in particular which shows a view from 15 feet inside a clean top to bottom curl and through the opening you can see blue sky and a few white clouds.

Greenough's equipment is just as unusual as the photographs he takes. Possessing a practical ingenuity George turns old pieces of machinery and plumbing into highly functional gear. His fluid head tripods, and super strong, super light, water-proof camera cases have to be seen to be believed. Greenough is not the type of fellow that you can say belongs to one group or another. He is an individualist in every imaginable way.

However one word we can think of does come close to describing every aspect of the man - and his attitude toward living.

The word is RADICAL -

In the face of conformity - and truly doing his own thing - stands GEORGE GREENOUGH."

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