Collectors Corner guest this month is Peter Hudson, better known as Hudo or the Grey Ghost. He started surfing, aged nine, on a balsa board he found washed up on Port Macquarie’s Town Beach. Chrissy Jones chats with Hudo about his unique surfboard collection …
We hear you have a great collection of surfboards – tell us about them …
I have a variety of surfboards ranging from my father’s surfboard to the modern day surfboards – both short and longboards. My father’s surfboard was shaped out of Canadian Cedar. He waited 6 months for the cedar to arrive in Port Macquarie, then hand shaped it using an adze. Dad lived in Park Street (the house is still standing today), and Dad walked (or paddled the river) to Town Beach, just to go surfing.
Another classic old surfboard is a hollow plywood surfboard constructed around the late ‘40s to early ‘50s. It has not been restored and is still in good condition. I’ve been tempted a number of times to try it out on a few waves.
Another classic board is one of the first balsa/fibreglass surfboards to arrive in town. Derek Crisp owned it. Along with this surfboard, he brought a few up from Sydney in 1956. The surfboard is still in its original condition, along with a few dings sustained in wipeouts.
Another beautiful crafted surfboard is a Sunset Surfboard shaped by Geoff McCoy in 1961. It has 4 redwood stringers and one balsa centre stringer, finished off with a racing stripe. I have surfed this board a lot, and you don’t realise how heavy they are until you catch a wave. The surfboard just takes off and glides but is very hard to manoeuvre – and very unfortunate if a surfer gets in your way! It was great in the ‘60s with small crowds, but not so good nowadays in crowded surf.
The surfboards in my collection range from single fins, twin fins, thrusters, shortboards and longboards. I even have a kneeboard – it is a Gordon Woods from the early ‘60s.
How long have you been collecting?
I didn’t really consider it ‘collecting’ at first, because I started out with Dad’s surfboard, and all I wanted to do from a very young age was to surf. One of my uncles taught me how to body surf at Flynns, then I fell into riding a surfboard in 1961 – and haven’t stopped since.
So, from that small beginning, I have been collecting surfboards.
How many pieces do you have in your collection?
I didn’t think I had that many pieces, until you asked the question and I had a look. I couldn’t believe the number of surfboards and associated bits and pieces I had kept which relate to surfing.
You must remember, I started riding a surfboard in Port Macquarie in 1961 and still surf today, so I have had over 50 years to acquire surfboards.
Recently, I picked up a Lewis surfboard. These surfboards were manufactured along Hibbard Drive during the ‘70s, and the one I have is number 100. It’s in reasonable condition and would have been made around 1974. To most people, that wouldn’t mean much, but I rode a lot of Lewis surfboards in that period but didn’t keep any of mine, so I was thrilled to get hold of it.
Where do you find the boards; are they hard to source?
I don’t find the surfboards – usually they find me. Having lived my entire life in Port Macquarie/Lake Cathie, a lot of people know me and associate me with surfing. That enables people who are not involved in the sport and have access to a surfboard that belonged to a relative and, for whatever reason, want to get rid of it, contact me in that regard.
It’s like the kneeboard I mentioned earlier – the gentleman had just moved to Lake Cathie to retire and was just lugging the board around, so he approached me.
Another surfboard I purchased was a beautiful Hayden stringerless surfboard made around 1967, and the owner was retired and going back to Sydney. A friend of mind was transporting some of his belongings and mentioned that I may be interested, and I ended up with a beautiful surfboard.
So, I physically do not go out and seek these great surfboards – they just find me, and I am happy to oblige. I keep them safe and will pass them on to future generations.
Is your collection still growing?
Yes, I still am interested in acquiring surfboards to complement the ones I already have. They don’t have to be from the ‘60s or ‘70s. I have a nice Byrne gun, which was made in 1987. It was shaped by Phil Byrne, and it’s in beautiful condition.
I would love to get hold of one of Marcus Brabant’s surfboards when he was riding Byrne surfboards during his career in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. So the collection will not stop – especially when we have young local surfers (like Matt Banting) taking surfing to another level, and they generate a whole heap of young grommets who will watch and be inspired to take the surfing world head on.
What makes your collection so unique?
The surfboards I have kept are unique to me. Take Dad’s surfboard, built in 1932. That is only 20 years after the first surfboard was built in Port Macquarie. Imagine what it would have been like catching a wave in that period of time. You would have had a hard time finding somebody to surf with!
Also, Derek’s surfboard. I am stoked just to have that first balsa/fibreglass surfboard, because as a young grommet growing up, Derek was a legend. He brought surfboards from Sydney, then made surfboards and produced wax. I would see him every morning as he went to work and I was checking the surf at Town Beach. He never failed to have a big grin and wave to me.
Are you a member of any collectors and/or enthusiasts clubs?
No. I’m just a surfboard rider who enjoys riding waves and picking up a surfboard that interests me.
This story was published in issue 81 of the Greater Port Macquarie Focus