Quality at its core

Quality at its core
As most of you know, a quality surfboard has to be built from a quality core. Here at McTavish we have been using blanks from Burford Reinforced Plastics on the Gold Coast for over forty years, because we’ve always found the foam to be the best available. Stable, tough, with an absolute minimum of imperfections.

Forty years ago we were sourcing all our blanks out of Sydney - they'd show up in Byron Bay on the train. We'd roll into the Railway Station each Tuesday morning to load up for the week. When we got the word that surfboard maker Don Burford was moving from South Australia to Currumbin to blow foam, we were hesitant at first - Our previous supplier was the best in the game, been at it for 18 years already. Could Don match that? My business partner at the time, Warren Cornish, and I drove up and met Don when he only had two moulds working: a sweet 7’0”, and believe it or not, a wave ski mould! We grabbed some samples and returned to Byron to test them out. We made a sweet 6’10” Bluebird, the foam shaped well, and after glassing we surfed that board hard at Lennox. The deck held up well and there was minimal yellowing from harsh sunlight. We were sold!

We set up trading with Burford and have never stopped. His mould range multiplied fast into more shapes as surfing trends evolved. Wider, shorter, twin fins. Then thrusters, big gun blanks, then huge windsurfing blanks in the early 80's. The return of longboards required new moulds. Each mould is made of a steel frame with a very heavy concrete casting around it, hinged like a clam, with heating and cooling pipes run throughout. They each weigh a couple of tonnes and require serious fork lifts to move, and sturdy hydraulics to open those chunky concrete lids. After all, the expansion of the foam in the moulds is actually a slow-motion explosion, where liquids are turned to gasses, then frozen into shape by a heat-generating cross-linking and gelling of the resins. That "explosion" has to be contained, and in the early days we used just steel frames with thick fibreglass, and many moulds actually tore apart from the forces.
Don's foam has gained a huge quality reputation worldwide, and many touring pros wait till they get to Australia to get their quivers made from his blanks exclusively. Amazingly, we still today use the first 7’0” Burford mould - It's appropriately called the “Seven-O Don", and yes, we still make our Bluebirds out of it!

We still receive our Burford Foam shipment every Monday morning as we have for so many years, and working with Don, Darren, and the rest of the crew in their family business is always a pleasure!

Bob McTavish

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