The Legacy of George Greenough

Posted by

Wave-riding innovator George Greenough was born in 1941 in Montecito, California. Montecito is located just south of Santa Barbara and a bit north of Rincon, the world-class right point break. He was raised in a wealthy railroad family and is a relative of well-known American sculptor Horatio Greenough, who lived from 1805 to 1852.

George started out as a stand-up surfer in the mid-‘50s, but soon became more interested in kneeboarding and mat surfing – partly because he wanted to be closer to the water. His unique perspectives led Greenough to develop as a cinematographer, taking viewers deeper into the tube than ever before.

While I have yet to meet George Greenough, I have been fortunate enough to become friends with one of his childhood buddies, John Eichert. John has known George since grammar school and has told me many stories of adventures the two of them shared. Eichert, a Santa Barbara area surfboard shaper and boat builder in the late ’50s and through the ‘60s, was a trusted sounding board for many of Greenough’s kneeboard and fin designs. I thank John for sharing fascinating tales about Greenough, including some interesting backstory on the famous clip of George in the tube at the very beginning of the movie, The Endless Summer.

Greenough began making balsa kneeboards in high school, and soon thereafter started designing fins (patterned after the tail fins of tuna) and shooting film. At the age of about 23, George began visiting Australia regularly, where he befriended guys like Bob McTavish and Nat Young. Both Young and McTavish noted Greenough’s style on his spooned-out kneeboards, impressed by the radical turns and high performance cutbacks he was able to perform. Young was using a Greenough-designed fin when he won the ’66 World Surfing Championships, and George’s kneeboard designs led McTavish to develop the first vee-bottom surfboards in 1967…regarded by some as the beginning of the shortboard revolution. As a 15 year-old teenager in 1968, I remember trying to shape a vee-bottom with my brother in my parents’ garage; somehow it just didn’t come out right. It seemed like something new was coming out every day during that time.

That same year, 1968, Greenough began working on what would be his only full-length surf movie, called The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun. Introduced in 1969 and using a heavy, shoulder-mounted camera, George shot from vantage points never seen before. George also contributed to a few other notable surf movies, including Big Wednesday and Rip Girls.

The creative, innovative and influential George Greenough lives in Australia.

Looking Back on Canyon Surfboards...

Information on this mostly ‘70s and ‘80s surfboard brand is hard to come by. In the mid-‘70s and through the ‘80s, I was living in Northern California and skiing whenever I could. Occasionally, when I’d come home to San Luis Obispo to visit family and friends, I would always stop by a local surf shop to catch up on [...]

Read More »

Brush Up on the History of Presidents Day...

I couldn’t find any cool info that connected the subject of surfing to the Presidents Day holiday, but I couldn’t resist writing a little something about its history. I guess everyone knows that is was originally meant to honor George Washington, the first U.S. President. He died in 1799, and for most of the 1800s, the observance was not an [...]

Read More »

Dick Brewer and Surfboards Hawaii

In 1961, Dick Brewer opened the first Surfboards Hawaii shop in Haleiwa, Hawaii. At the time, it was the first retail surf shop on the North Shore of Oahu! Needless to say, a lot has changed since then…Born in Minnesota in 1936, Dick’s family moved to California in 1939. He started surfing in 1953 at the age of 17, [...]

Read More »

Operation Surf - Changing Lives One Wave at a Time

Veterans Day is this Sunday, and since we’re fortunate to have a fair number of veterans as customers, it’s fitting that we honor those who have served - and are serving - in our military.In 1938, Congress declared November 11 of each year a legal holiday to “honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to [...]

Read More »

The Woodie Station Wagon

The term “station wagon” was coined right around the turn of the 20th century. Train stations were usually located on the outskirts of town, but hotels and restaurants were in downtown areas. So the “wagons” used to carry travelers from the “station” literally became known as “station wagons.” They were first referred as “depot hacks” because train stations were originally [...]

Read More »

Cunningham Surfboards - A Surfing Pioneer's Story

The Central California coastal town of Santa Maria has always been known for cattle ranching, farming, and barbeque tri-tip. In the 1960s, it was typical small town where teenagers danced to rock ‘n roll music and cruised Broadway on Friday and Saturday nights. But the sleepy community was transformed by the influx of aerospace engineers and their families who [...]

Read More »

The Save The Waves Coalition

Last Wave Originals has become great friends with the Save The Waves Coalition! Based in Santa Cruz, California, the Coalition’s mission is to protect and preserve worldwide coastal ecosystems with a focus on the surf zone. Save The Waves (STW) is the only nonprofit dedicated exclusively to conservation of surfing coastlines on an international scale. Its vision is a world [...]

Read More »

Barreling At You...The Artificial Wave

Last month, an article appeared in our local Central Coast newspaper, prompting me to write a little something about interesting developments in artificial wave technology. The article reported that this past September 19, 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater hosted group of about 300 people from around the world to “witness the future of surfing in the middle of California’s [...]

Read More »

The Psychedelic Legacy of Rick Griffin

As a freshman in high school, the late Rick Griffin was charging 50 cents to draw surf characters on t-shirts. Now, some 60 years later, Last Wave is stoked to offer a t-shirt featuring Griffin’s famous Murph the Surf!Rick Griffin influenced both modern surf art and the revolutionary music scene of the ‘60s. After meeting Surfer Magazine founder John [...]

Read More »