A unique and rare surfboard has been added to our collection thanks to a generous donation from Kevin and Josie O’Neil of Vero Beach. Kevin made the discovery while doing some work for a neighbor. It was tucked behind some lumber in the garage and when he asked her about it, she said he could have it. According to the family, it has been in their possession for decades and originally belonged to a family member, Thomas Cobb. Cobb was born in 1918 so we estimate the surfboard is from the late 1920s to early 1930s. The board is made from Cyprus wood which was a common type of lumber in Florida. Cyprus is durable and resistant to rot from moisture which accounts for the exceptionally good condition of the board.
The dimensions are 6 feet long. 24 inches at the widest point and 18 inches at the tail. In an article that appeared in the St Augustine Register newspaper from 1915 –
“Preston Floyd has started the fashion in surf boards At Assembly Beach (now called Anastasia Beach-ed.) and he has been deriving so much pleasure from this Pacific Island pastime that many others have expressed a desire to possess one of these simple craft. The board is seven feet long, 24 inches wide at one end, tapering to 18 inches at the other extremity. Mr. Floyd uses a cypress board, shaped for him at the railway carpenter shops.”
As you can see, the descriptions from the newspaper article are almost identical. The earliest mention of surfing in Florida goes back to 1909. You can learn more on our website here- (Very) Early Florida Surfing History – Florida Surf Museum. This board is now on display at the museum. Be sure to stop by and see this piece of Florida surfing history.