With an area so rich in surfing history, it’s no surprise the connection between Burleigh Head’s and Hurley is so relevant. To delve deeper into this history, we recently sat down and interviewed two of surfing’s revolutionaries Paul ‘H’ Hallas alongside Catriona Noble-Hallas from Hot Stuff Surfboards and 1978 world surfing champ, Wayne “Rabbit’ Bartholomew.
The friendship between H & Rabbit began in the late 60’s early 70’s, hanging out and surfing Kirra and Burleigh Point alongside other influential surfers such as Gill Glover, Al Byrne, Keith Paull and Michael Peterson. When this group of guys weren’t dominating the line up, they could be found in the shaping bay. Gill Glover was a pioneer shaper at the time and made Rabbit a number of his first boards. “Gill and I had a really successful partnership when I won the 73 and 74 Queensland titles on his boards”.
A few years later in 1975, the surfboard revolution was taking off and after shaping for other board companies, H said “we should do this ourselves” and at that moment the Hot Stuff brand was born deriving its name from Mick Jagger’s Rolling Stone’s song ‘Hot Stuff’. Paul went on to approach Gill Glover on becoming the main shaper under the Hot Stuff label. H anticipated that this new partnership would eventually lead to them obtaining the local talent Rabbit, who’s style of wave-riding defined a generation.
Burleigh Heads had a major influence on Rabbit’s surfing and during the 70’s & 80’s he spent a lot of time surfing Burleigh. “H, Gill and I would be at Burleigh all the time. It was unbelievable, it was the best break. I even had guys down at Cooly consider me more a Burleigh guy” said Rabbit.
In 1977 things really changed for the Hot Stuff brand. Al Byrne’s joined the team and also began shaping boards under the flaming label. “We had Gill and Al at the same time, it was amazing” Paul said. For Rabbit it was the best of both worlds “I had the Gill Glover boards and Al Byrne boards and just rotating them as I went through tournaments”. Gill shaped the signature ‘Wayne Bartholomew Model’ and Al Byrne mastered the AB deep 6 channel bottom Hot Stuff surfboard. “They were the cutting edge boards” said Rabbit.
After winning a number of Australian event’s, Rabbit took off to compete on the world stage. To better travel from event to event and different surf breaks around the globe, he’d regularly stopover at Huntington Beach, California. “I’d basically spend the second half of the year there and then travel to France and other events from California” said Rabbit. Spending so much time in California, it wasn’t long until Bob Hurley and Rabbit crossed paths.
Before Bob began the Hurley Brand in 1999, he was a respected shaper and established his own surfboard company ‘Hurley Surfboards’ in 1978. According to Rabbit he just happened to be one of the best shapers in California. Just when Rabbit thought it couldn’t get any better, Bob Hurley collaborated with Hot Stuff in California shaping boards parallel with the Hurley surfboard brand. “I was one of the last to hold out on the single fin, and when Bob shaped me this magic twin fin I won three WCT events on it” Rabbit said. It was in 1978 Rabbit became a world champion.
Over 40 years later the cycle has completed itself with the transformation of the Hot Stuff store into Hurley’s first Australian brick-and-mortar store. And although Hot Stuff Surfboards has now launched online, you can still find Catriona regularly working within the new store. Paul said “if it had to go anywhere, it had to go to a family, and that’s exactly how it feels”.
Rabbit’s involvement is now seen in the role of global ambassador within the Hurley brand. Rabbit’s very own range has also been recently dropped in stores globally, including Hurley Burleigh. Summed up perfectly by Bob, “this retro-inspired capsule pays homage to an era- and a man- who revolutionised the sport of surfing”.
Hurley Burleigh now starts the next chapter of this story and is honoured to be a part of this amazing history.