On Sunday, the man who has done more than anyone alive for surfboard design is visiting the Museum of British Surfing in Braunton, North Devon. He is generally accredited with inventing the thruster in the early 80s which revolutionised surfboard design – turning slippery but fast twinnies into grippy but fast tri-fins. While the tri-fin was around before, he tweaked the design into the all-conquering board most surfers use today.
As a design, it has never been bettered. The partial return to single fins, twinnies, quads and even quins are – in my view – an attempt to either get back to a pre-thruster way of surfing or to refine the thruster design.
The only other innovation of such significance in surfing technology in recent times is probably the leash, and no-one is really certain who invented it. An equivalent design guru in the non-surfing world could be Sir Jonathan Ive – the Apple designer behind the iMac, iPod and iPad. He took pre-existing technology and changed its design to change the way we use computers and he got a knighthood for it. As a citizen of the Commonwealth, Simon Anderson, deserves similar acknowledgement and accolade.
So if you’re in the North Devon area on Sunday, get down to the Museum between 2pm and 4pm to pay your respects.