Producer of the new Australian surfing movie Going Vertical, Robert Raymond (left), film-maker David Bradbury and shaper Bob McTavish get together to promote their new film.
Producer of the new Australian surfing movie Going Vertical, Robert Raymond (left), film-maker David Bradbury and shaper Bob McTavish get together to promote their new film. Jay Cronan

Film surfing the shortboard debate

A RADICAL new surfing film produced in Byron Bay is set to reignite the fierce trans-Pacific debate as to who started the modern short board revolution.

Directed by David Bradbury and narrated by Hollywood heartthrob Simon Baker – himself an accomplished surfer – the film, Going Vertical, is set for release later this month with its international premiere scheduled for March 24 in Sydney.

Contrary to surfing folklore perpetuated by Hawaiian and Californian interests, Going Vertical takes an irreverent swipe at the Yanks positing local legend Bob McTavish – with the help of ourfavourite local Yankee expat,George Greenough – as the Aussie shaper first to trial a short board when he cut nearly a metre off a long board in 1967.

McTavish then took prototypes to Hawaii and California sparking the short board phenomenon that changed surfing for ever.

He epitomised the essence of one of the first counter-cultural movements, stowing away on an ocean liner to Hawaii in 1963 at 17 years of age.

US authorities caught up with him a month later, but not before he was permanently bitten by the big wave bug.

He returned to Australia and settled in the Byron Shire where he and wife Lyn raised five kids.

McTavish has been on the cutting edge of surf board design ever since.

In 1992 he was voted the ‘greatest shaper of all time’ by his peers.

His 33-year-old son Ben continues the family tradition, shaping the bulk of McTavish boards today.

Producer Robert Raymond is remaining somewhat coy about the film’s conclusions but promises a wild ride as Going Vertical tells both sides of a compelling tale filmed in Australia, Hawaii and California.

Equally legendry US shaper, Dick Brewer, flies in from Hawaii next Tuesday to argue the US case and hit the promotion trail with McTavish, up and down the east coast.

The film will premiere in Byron Bay on April 21 at a star-studded event before travelling around the North Coast.



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