British surf pioneers celebrate 50 years of success
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 11 July, 2013 : - - 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 homegrown surf company. The 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 company in the world. Not bad for a couple of barefoot sixties surfers from UK! As part of the 50th year celebrations Tiki will be showing our historic archive, displaying vintage boards and hopefully partying like it's 1963.
Author: Phil Bridges
Tags: Tiki Surf, Britain, History