Surfboard museum in WA one of largest private collections on display

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Wayne Winchester has dozens of surfboards on display at his gallery on WA’s south coast. (ABC Great Southern: John Dobson)

Veteran surfer Wayne Winchester knows the surreal beauty of standing aloft a longboard and gliding on a perfect break.

He also know the adrenaline rush of battling the wild sea to ride a monster wave, a leg rope tethering him to his trusty board like a lifeline to safety.

Now, on Western Australia’s south coast, he’s sharing his memories — and an extraordinary collection of surf memorabilia, including 80 boards — in a new museum celebrating the history of surf culture. 

The Evolution of the Surfboard is possibly Australia’s largest publicly displayed private collection.

Gathered over 40 years by Mr Winchester, a surfboard shaper, the collection is on show at his Youngs Siding gallery, near Denmark.

“These boards are all owned by my wife and I — it’s a family collection which is unique with museums and surf galleries around Australia and the world,” Mr Winchester said.

Among the 80 boards on show is a striking orange one designed by world-renowned shaper Gerry “Mr Pipeline” Lopez and longboards from the 1950s.

“The hand-shaped single fin from 1975 has significant historical value and monetary value, it’s just a gorgeous looking board,” he said.

The collection details the beginning of surfing in the Pacific islands and follows the changes in board design and innovation from the 1950s to today’s boards, including those used to surf one of Australia’s monster breaks, The Right near Walpole.

Mr Winchester said it was difficult to choose his favourite from the collection, but nominated a locally made board as the one he treasured most.

“There’s one in particular called The Mexican,” he said.

“It’s not particularly valuable — it was made by an unknown shaper in Perth in the 1970s and has the most beautiful airbrush on it.

“It evokes memories of surfing and imagery of the ’70s.”

Obvious changes in style throughout the decades are reflected in the boards.

“Each era has its own unique identity. In the exhibition we’ve tried to capture that,” he said.

“In the 1970s the logos are very unique looking and then in the ’80s it reflects the clothes with fluoros, if the boards had a hairdo they’d have big hair.”

The collection also includes skateboards, which have become intrinsically linked with surfing, and traces the evolution of surfers over the past 40 years. 

“In the ’60s surfers were running amok, breaking away from the surf life saving movement and running up and down the coast,” he said.

“In the ’70s, they were the dropouts of society and in the ’80s they became squeaky clean professionals.

“Now everyone is doing it, but it’s still the fundamental vibe of surfing, the magical feeling of just gliding on a wave — it’s a beautiful thing.

“But it’s not all about riding the wave, it’s the journey to get there, it’s the involvement of your mates and partners … it’s the whole thing that goes with it.”

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