Surf shop exhibition rides wave of memories

SURF shop owner Roy Lee had his optimism rewarded over the weekend when people came from far and wide to see his Wood and Glass exhibition of surfing memorabilia.

‘‘It’s been fantastic,’’ Lee said of an event that was  a celebration of the surfing culture, and partly an attraction to draw people back into the Newcastle CBD.

And as veteran surfboard shapers Bob ‘‘Kenno’’ Kennerson of Crescent Head and Bob Brown of Forster pointed out, it was also a tribute to the skill of handmade surfboards at a time when cheap Chinese models are making it harder and harder for Aussie shapers to make a living.

Lee said people came in their droves to see legendary shaper Barry Bennett, who at 81 was still in the business and who spent most of Saturday holding forth with tales of surfing’s storied past.

Yesterday, the two Bobs – Kennerson, 69, and Brown, 65 – told of the passion they still had for surfing, even if recovery from hip-replacement surgery made it harder for Kenno to get in the water.

They talked the finer points of board design with a steady stream of interested onlookers.

And there were dozens and dozens of boards on display at Pacific Dreams, Darby Street, over the weekend, from stubby-ended long-boards to streamlined Pipeliners and surreal shaping experiments, drawing young visitors and old into their mystery.

Surfing memorabilia has become big business in recent years, and old boards that were once left under houses or consigned to rubbish heaps have been transformed into collectors’ pieces, many of them worth thousands of dollars each.

But for Kennerson and Brown, it’s the act of surfing that remains the important thing.

 ‘‘... I love the way it’s now coming down through the generations,’’ Brown said.

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