George Greenough

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For the geologist, see George Bellas Greenough

George Greenough (born 1941) is an influential surfer known during the 1960s and 1970s known for his designs and work in film, board design, fin characteristics, and other creations for the aquatic medium. Greenough's and McTavish's contributions to developing the shortboards resulted in a wave of new advancements in surfing technology and shapes used to design boards.

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Personal life[edit]

George Greenough was born 1941 in Santa Barbara, California to a wealthy family that had connections to the railroad industry; he was a nephew by way of marriage to the opera star Beverly Sills, and also a direct descendant of the sculptor Horatio Greenough, who sculpted a massive marble statue of George Washington which was placed in the capitol Rotunda.[2] He had undergone open heart surgery at age ten and became known as an unconventional "character", "… a thin-faced, narrow shouldered scion… always shoeless, often shirt-less, resin-stained Levis clamped onto his nonexistent hips with a length of rope, stringy blonde hair cut straight across at eyebrow level and flapping down over his ears."[3] Greenough was not known to surf at crowded surf breaks; instead he preferred the solitude of northern Hollister Ranch or surfing Rincon at dusk to avoid the crowds. In 1964 Greenough went to Australia and would travel back and forth between Santa Barbara and his new home for some time.[4] He now resides in Byron Bay in New South Wales, Australia.

Surfing influence[edit]

Greenough is credited for the design of the modern surf fin as well as with influencing modern surfing's more radical maneuvers. The newer shortboards were built specifically to copy the same style of banking turns and fast down the line attitude that Greenough was known for.[5] Greenough started to shape his first boards out of balsa wood in his high school wood shop. He started out as a stand-up surfer in the 1950s but began switching between kneeboarding and an air inflated mattress in 1961; according to Greenough, these gave him a heightened sense of speed that came from a lowered body position. The famous 'spoon' board was created in 1961, "a blunt-nosed balsa kneeboard, 5 feet long and 23 inches wide, with a dished-out midsection and tail that slimmed down to a mere half-inch thickness." He replaced the normal fin of the day, a massive 10 inch protrusion, with a smaller (almost by a third) flexible swept-back model he had copied from the shape of the rear dorsal fin of a tuna. This design had the effect of reducing drag and increasing the handling capabilities of the board; the new surfboard fin, which Greenough called a "high aspect ratio fin", was an elegantly functional piece of equipment, but took around three years to become popular.[6]

In 1964 Greenough traveled to Australia, where he showed the local surfers his wave riding style of sharp bottom turns and deep barrel rides. He influenced Nat Young, who used Greenough's fin design and won the 1966 world surfing championships in San Diego, California, thus ushering in an era in surfing history in which the Australians emerged as a dominant force.[7] Young described Greenough as "The greatest surfer in the world today,"[8] After this first visit to Australia, Greenough shaped a board which he explained as the next step in the progression of surfing, "a fish moves when he swims… so why not make a whole board that moves when it's on a wave?" The board he created had multiple layers of fiberglass shaped like the old balsa kneeboards he rode, a glued on ridge of polyurethane foam on top of the deck near the rails and nose with the back end of the board made entirely of fiberglass; the final piece to the board was his signature "flex-fin". The board was so small and light that it was not very good to ride in small surf; only in big surf did the board reveal its performance abilities and allow Greenough to maneuver on waves with more power and speed than with previous designs—"Greenough was riding like a visitor from ten years in surfing's future. He cranked out bottom turns where his board tilted up almost 90 degrees…" In 1966 Greenough made his second board which he nicknamed the 'velo' for velocity.

Movies[edit]

Greenough has made multiple films in his career; he would swim out into the surf with fins and take pictures looking out from the inside of the barrel. This "barrel-vision" was regarded as a major progression in surf photography.[9] His film, The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun, was shot using a massive 28 pound camera with a water-proof housing strapped onto his shoulder which he used to show the inside of a wave. His film was considered so inspiring by surfers that entire audiences of them would yell and shout for the duration of the movie. The film caught the attention of a new band called Pink Floyd who donated music for the loosely biographical following film, Crystal Voyager, which Greenough wrote and narrated; Pink Floyd also used the film as a backdrop for their concerts.[10]

Coca-Cola used some of Greenough's videos of wave barrels in a television advertisement in 1975. Part of Crystal Voyager was shot at ten times normal speed, creating a continuous flow of intensely detailed images of water droplets hitting the lens, all moving in dance-like synchronization with the motion of the wave.[11] Greenough has worked in recent decades on Dolphin Glide, an experimental underwater photo series which captures images of dolphins riding waves, using a special ski he invented.[12][13] Greenough is also featured in an early scene in Bruce Brown's surf film The Endless Summer.

Boats[edit]

While tinkering with board designs, Greenough also experimented in boat hull design. While filming Dolphin Glide he had made a jet-ski type watercraft which he used as a platform for filming. His second variation, known as a GARC (Greenough Advanced Rescue Craft), was a product of this experimenting. The GARC was based on a rescue boat hull designed by Greenough, and is currently manufactured by MAPC (Maritime Applied Physics Corporation), which holds the patents for the craft.[14] The jet-ski look-alike is a more rugged and stable version that can be launched in the waves or by an aircraft. The development of the open transom and the stern tongue make it possible for rescues without having to actually lift the person in trouble out of the water. The GARC holds four people and will be used by the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and National Guard.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History Of Surfing Innovation Part 5 - Disrupt Surfing". Disrupt Surfing. Archived from the original on 2016-02-20. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  2. ^ Warshaw, M. (2010). The History of Surfing Book (pp. 239-242). Chronicle Books.
  3. ^ Warshaw, M. (2010). The History of Surfing Book (pp. 239-242). Chronicle Books.
  4. ^ Westwick, P., Neushul P. (2013). The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing Book (pp. 137-138). Crown.
  5. ^ Warshaw, M. (2010). The History of Surfing Book (pp. 239-242). Chronicle Books.
  6. ^ Warshaw, M. (2010). The History of Surfing Book (pp. 239-242). Chronicle Books.
  7. ^ Westwick, P., Neushul P. (2013). The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing Book (pp. 137-138). Crown.
  8. ^ Westwick, P., Neushul P. (2013). The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing Book (pp. 137-138). Crown.
  9. ^ Warshaw, M. (2010). The History of Surfing Book (pp. 239-242). Chronicle Books.
  10. ^ Boyd, D., Divine, J., Pezman, S.(2014). Legends of Surfing: The Greatest Surfriders from Duke Kahanamoku to Kelly Slater (pp. 49-50). MVP Books.
  11. ^ Edwards, A., Skinner, J., Gilbert, K. (2003). Some Like it Hot: The Beach as a Cultural Dimension Book. (Sport, Culture & Society ed., Vol. 3, pp. 139-140). Meyer & Meyer Verlag.
  12. ^ Steve Pezman (2000). "Dolphin Glide with George Greenough". The Surfer's Journal. 4 (2): 42. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  13. ^ fbo.gov, internet
  14. ^ "MAPC page on GARC development".

Bibliography[edit]

  • Warshaw, M. (2010). The History of Surfing Book (pp. 239–242). Chronicle Books.
  • Westwick, P., Neushul P. (2013). The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing Book (pp. 137–138). Crown.
  • Boyd, D., Divine, J., Pezman, S.(2014). Legends of Surfing: The Greatest Surfriders from Duke Kahanamoku to Kelly Slater (pp. 49–50). MVP Books.
  • Edwards, A., Skinner, J., Gilbert, K. (2003). Some Like it Hot: The Beach as a Cultural Dimension Book. (Sport, Culture & Society ed., Vol. 3, pp. 139–140). Meyer & Meyer Verlag.

External links[edit]