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Billy Tolhurst



"I attempted to make my first board during the summer of 1964, made out of solid timber. It was really crude, all square and no rocker, but we had some fun with it that Christmas holiday. In 1967 John Blanch came back from a trip round Australia and told me he was going to make me a surfboard- that led to me hanging around and becoming the fin maker as we learnt to design and build surfboards. Boards were changing so quickly that there was no wrong method, it was all new.

When Paul Joske came up to learn off John Blanch, I moved into a corner of my Dad's shed and shaped for customers under my own name with Johnny Murray from Sawtell Laminating. This was in 1968 when I was 15, Blanchy was shaping at DALE’S in Sydney by the end of this year- went round and saw him while in Sydney for the National Schoolboy Titles. Bob Cooper came in 1969, and I shaped with him when he opened his shop and factory in Coffs Harbour in November of 1969. The first board sold out of the shop was one of my custom Blacksheep, and I am still making Blacksheep today.

When I finished school in 1971 I worked in surveying, and later Civil earthworks projects, shaping at night and on weekends as my second job. In 1972 I injured my shoulder in a surfing accident and couldn't paddle properly. I got back on a longboard and have had one in my quiver ever since.

When I went to Canberra in 1974 to finish my surveying studies, I travelled to Kiama on weekends to shape at Mike Davis’ factory. Mike had been at Coopers with us when he first moved to Australia. I stayed on with Mike after graduation until the summer of ‘78 when I returned home and worked with Ron "Duck" Goddard under his Summercloud label.

I returned to Civil Engineering works in the family earthmoving business in 1983, shaping for Duck nights and weekends, and left for far north Queensland in the winter of 1985. After a bit, I came back to surfboards with Les Purcell at Maroochydore making longboards and sailboards. Then in August 1988, I moved back home for some big civil projects and did my shaping at Brett Monro's Prana factory, Duck was there too. By 1992 the earthmoving business was finished up and I started building surfboards under my own name again, just until I got another proper job. (Still waiting.)

Harley Ingleby has been getting my boards since he was about 12 and since 2007 has been making design changes to my standard designs, these are the boards labeled as the Harley Ingleby Series. - Billy Tolhurst

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