The mid-1960s saw the introduction of heavy, big longboards. They were the most advanced surfboards available. You rode a giant heavy board if the waves were small. If the waves were big, you rode on a heavy board. These boards were not considered “big heavy longboards” back then but simply “longboards.” Surfboards.
Imagine paddling at Waimea Bay or Honolua Bay with the heaviest board we can build today. It’s a tremendous amount of water, and power to navigate, not to mention a large board. This might seem foolish today, but this is precisely what surfers did because of the limitations in surfboard design at the time.
Bob McTavish, an Australian shaper, knew there must be a way to harness this incredible power. Bob McTavish flew from Hawaii to California in January 1968. Pain is the catalyst for all significant innovations, and Bob’s recent surfing trip to Maui was the source of inspiration to create the first Rincon Tracker 7’10”.
McTavish’s design concept featured a cut-down length and a Greenough fin. He incorporated Brewer’s outline curves into his design concept. McTavish included Brewer’s outline curves in his design concept, featuring a Greenough Fin and a reduced length. – Liquid Salted Mag
McTavish 7’10 Rincon Tracker was widely regarded as the first “mid-length” board, even though it was a shortboard then. The entire industry quickly jumped on the trend of riding and shaping smaller and smaller panels.
In 1972, Jim Blears, David Nuuhiwa, and others competed in the Surfing World Championships held in San Diego, California, and won first and second place, respectively. They were riding twin-fin shortboards.
Shortboards are here and here to stay.
By the time I write this, it is Spring 2023. The equivalent timeline would be that the first 7’10 was formed in January 2019. And by then, the industry will have already moved on to shaping 6’0 twin-fin fishes. What a design advance in just a few years!
The mid-sized boards didn’t completely disappear, but they were viewed as a stepping-stone to move from traditional longboards into the realm of the fast and loose shorter surfboards. They quickly went out of style as everyone was looking at the shorties.
With all the design progress we’ve made in a short period, we should revisit this small portion of surfboard design to see what else we could collectively discover as a surf community.
The mid-length has been around since 2010. This is the oldest picture I could find of a mid-length in our archives.
If I recall correctly, this 7’4″ Joy was for our Japanese distributor.
The Joy is the basis of our entire mid-length line. The Lumberjack was the basis for many of our Noseriders & Longboards.
Since 2010, our experience and diversity of mid-length models have grown significantly.