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TIKI Celebrates 50 Years in Surfing

by on Tuesday 16th July, 2013   3444 Visits   Comments

Tiki International is a British surf company. In 2013 they celebrate 50 years in surfing.

Tiki’s co-founder Tim Heyland made his first surfboard in 1963, hewn from timber on the beaches of Brazil. Returning to UK, Tim joined forces with Dave Aldrich-Smith, setting up a pioneering surfboard production business first in South Wales before re-locating to North Devon in 1968. Tiki’s story is remarkable, woven from the threads of surf history and a part of the fabric of the surf industry in Britain. Tim Heyland was a pioneer. His upbringing took him around the world. A seeker of adventure, surfing offered Tim a new set of challenges. One of the first British surfers to challenge the waves of Hawaii’s North Shore, Tim’s early forays are peppered with stories and characters from the golden era of surf; surfing places like Sunset with Fred Hemmings and Paul Staunch or Makaha with Buffalo.

Dave Aldrich-Smith’s route into surfing is a tale in itself – while enjoying a work stay on a ranch in the mid-west America, Dave was drafted into the Vietnam War. Not wishing to fight for Uncle Sam in ‘63, Dave took the first Greyhound bus to California, hired a board and never looked back. Landing in Hermosa beach again in ’69 he was taken under the wing of Nick Mirandon (brother of Bear Mirandon on whom the character ‘The Bear’ in the film Big Wednesday is based) and shown around the shaping rooms of So Cal.

Back in Britain, they took their combined expertise and knowledge and got to work. Without any surrounding industry to supply blanks and materials, they made their own blanks and sourced their own fibreglass from builders merchants. With Dave’s contacts in California they were able to secure the licenses to produce the likes of Bing, G&S and Weber in the UK and before long were selling boards as fast as they could make them.

The stories that make up Tiki’s history, since 1963, could fill a book. A focal point for visiting surfers, the surfboard factory was always busy with colourful characters. Expanding into wetsuit production took Tiki export production to new heights and served to supply much of Europe’s fledgling surf industry.

Tiki remains the UK’s leading home grown surf company. Our team of surfers includes the one of the world’s best big wave surfers; Andrew Cotton, originally a local surfer from Croyde. Andrew was driving the jetski that towed Hawaiian Garrett McNamara into the world record largest wave ridden at 78ft in 2012. He has also received numerous XXL nominations and worldwide acclaim of his own accord.

Perhaps most remarkable in the age of globalisation and corporatisation of the surf world, Tiki is still owned and managed by Tim and Dave. We believe this makes Tiki one of the oldest, original surf companies in the world. Not bad for a couple of barefoot sixties surfers from UK!   

As part of our 50th year celebrations we will be showing our historic archive, displaying vintage boards and hopefully partying like it 1963.

Tim and Dave would like to thank the following for their input over the years:

Some other surfers that ‘made it happen’ in the really early days…..’60s and ‘70’s + a bit of ‘80’s

Credits go to:-
Nick Mirandon (usa), who Dave met in California in ‘69. A perfectionist and genious glasser and glosser. His efforts helped persuade Bing, Weber, G&S, and Waxmate to let Tiki open up the U.K and France with other brands, justifying a purpose built 10,000 sq ft manufacturing and distribution base in Braunton.  He worked with Tiki for 18 months to get the ball rolling.  There were few folk in S.Calif who didn’t know him. His son (they named him Croyde after the local beach) called in whilst visiting the u.k several years ago.

Keith Paul. 1968 world champion who shaped a while for Tiki in 1969.

Larry Gordon and Floyd Smith (usa), for advice and designs.

Dewey Weber,(usa) again for advice, designs and patience. Inspite of the ‘fame’ he’d mentioned that several times the Co. had nearly ‘gone’. When over there in ‘69, it had taken Dave 5 visits to get to see him for discussions.

Mike Eaton (usa) (One of a pair of Bing’s Shapers), gave Dave invaluable and friendly advice during and after the 1969-70 meetings. Tim served as a shaping apprenticeship under Mike. He later went on to make Sunshine boards when Bing closed down.

Barry Bennett, (aus) set Tiki on the path to independent quality blank production (Dion Foam)., making economic inroads in to most of the uk and some of the French industry.

Aussie Andy Houselander and Bill Faherty (calif)  both helped the tiki team win 1st prize in Porthtowan ’68.  Andy sanded for Tiki in ’68.

Ian (Porkie) Morcom , renowned for his Ford Consul with coffin handles glassed on the doors. Ian now has a garage business in Newquay and is a part time Coastguard/folk singer(according to the T.V. documentary that featured Newquay coastguards .  Ian helped Tiki in the early S.Wales days after working at the then famous Bilbo factory.

Merv Beard, Shaped for a while, later to start Chapter surfboards and now resides in a famous bay in S.Ireland

Clive Lewis and Al Brookes, glassed and polished, both went on to start ‘Windjammer’a surf shop in Braunton.

Al Brookes,  top glasser and laminator, was with Tiki before and after our move to N.Devon, later started Chapter surfboards along with Merv Beard who shaped 100s of faultless boards out of our somewhat crude blank moulds.

John Hall, (aus) shaper and master craftsman, with Tiki for 5 years and went on to make his own boards and windsurfers in the u.k. and then returned to Aus.

Al Neighbour, glasser , went on to making his own boards and now specialises in surf skis locally

Tim Jones, brilliant polishes, went on to Lanzarote forming his own surf school. He contacted us lately to keep up with news.

Al Atherton, an excellent craftsman at everything, went on to make his own boards locally under the Crystalite brand, now enjoying well earned retirement..

Dave White (aus) glasser, now has a very successful surfboard plant in Aus.

Randy Sleigh (Hawaii) magnificent shaper and was with us for the summer season

Dugga Warren (aus) both in the early days and even fairly recently, (later with wife and 2 kids), shaped both quality and quantity. Now in S. Aus with his own company. It took us almost a year to catch up glassing with his stockpile of fantastic shapes.

Andy Schollick who later went on to create Second Skin.

And last but certainly not least, the Sultan of Speed; Terry Fitzgerald, who breathed a breath of fresh air into the mid ‘80’s UK scene.  Tim and TF have beensurfing buddies for over 35 years. Terry’s sons, Joel and Kye Fitz have both carved their way to success, both being sponsored in Tiki wetsuits at one time.

Our apologies to the many others too numerous to mention, if you read this please get in touch again.
Tiki is indebted to all the above who added ‘hybrid vigour’ to most aspects of Tiki in the early days.

Contact Us:
Tiki International
www.tikisurf.co.uk
tiki@tikisurf.co.uk
+44 (0) 1271 812442

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