Whilst working as a graphic designer for Gul Surf Co, i was tasked with photographing their impressive collection of vintage surfboards that were displayed in HQ’s reception. During the shoot, I noticed on one of the boards had a “Newquay Malibu Registration” sticker on it, with a serial number… It was pretty neat from a design point of view, but apart from that i didn’t really know what it meant.
Luckily, a man named Graham Looker worked for Gul at the time, widely regarded as the oracle when it comes to the history of British surfing and a well known collector of surfing memorabilia. He told me that back in the 60’s surfers had to have insurance to go surfing, and that the sticker was used as a kind of tax disk that was checked by lifeguards before entering the water. Nuts. Not surprisingly the system proved too tricky to police and was eventually abandoned in the 90’s.
A recent ‘news’ article about crowded Cornish waters reminded me of these again, so i trawled the internet in search of some images and eventually came across this awesome site Vintage Surfboard Collector UK – A trip into the history of British surf design…an Aladdin’s cave of vintage surf boards, graphics and culture. I highly recommend a visit if you’re interested in British surfing culture. Below are a few images from the site. Click each image to go through to the site for more vintage surf memorabilia.
The design of the badges are so simple and timeless, especially the ‘Penwith D.C” versions (which would look awesome on a tee by the way) . I love how they show the history of the board, almost like a tree’s rings and that the serial number gives them a air of mystique, but also potential clues to their previous owners. Knowing that the board you own has been riding waves for over 30 years must be a pretty rad feeling, especially if you’re heading to the water with it.