Long before Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong became world famous brands, Australia had a brand that originated on the kitchen table on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

 

 

By Crankin’ Surf / Craig Tonks

The Platt name should be a household name in the Australian surf industry; however, its place has been overlooked as the swells of time have rolled by.
Kevin Platt was part of the crew who would give us the short board we know today. While history gives much of the credit to Bob McTavish and Nat Young, the contribution Kevin Platt and his family made to the early Australian Surf Industry is quite important.

The ball started rolling when Jean Platt started making board shorts at her Northern Beaches home in Sydney. One has to remember there wasn’t much of a surf industry clothing wise back then, so it wasn’t long before Jean Platt was the go to person for surf wear. Getting your hands on a pair of Platts Boardshorts was a popular thing at the time. Kevin attended university for a couple of years but stopped when board shorts took off.  Setting up a surf shop on Pittwater Rd, Dee Why was very pioneering at the time, with Kevin’s newly shaped boards and Jean’s clothing, meant moving out of the kitchen and into the big time.

Bob McTavish was one who was close to Kevin, “Platty was quietly spoken but with a wicked sense of humour. He loved the Goon Show and was always mimicking the characters, a really fun guy to be around”.

Kevin was a brilliant surfer in The Phil Edwards mould and absolutely ripped in Hawaii in the Winter of 1963. One of the classic movies starring Kevin was the Bob Evans movie, “Midget goes Hawaii”. This film shows ‘Platty’ surfing with his hands low, feet close together. He was one of the crew who was a super clean trimmer. Kevin began a career making surfboards and shaped at KEYO’S, doing classy trimming boards just like Midget and Mick Dooley. The lure of Noosa, its uncrowded waves and warmer waters saw Kevin Platt migrate north to The Sunshine Coast to shape at Hayden’s then Cords in 1966. However, it wasn’t long before Kevin Platt was out on his own and making Kevin Platt Surfboards. If you see a board from the period of 1970 to 1974 and you will notice a few things different to other boards of this era. They moved away from the traditional rails that were more 50/50. The rails on a Kevin Platt Surfboard had a harder bottom edge, the same as the boards we ride today. Feel the rail of one of Kevin’s early boards and he was on a track to the future.

The decks were flatter and the tails had more volume and resembled a rounded square. They were truly ahead of their time. Like many surfers of the era, the arrival of drugs contributed to the downfall of Kevin Platt. This was a time where we lost a generation of great and talented surfers. It’s no secret that Kevin loved getting high and was always willing to share a pill or two; the concept of brotherhood flowed strong with Platty but this was a time when the hippie era was slowly drawing to a close. Even through this time, Platty was making some cutting edge surf craft. Kevin later descended into alcoholism and spent most of his time drinking at Cabarita Sports Club. Sadly, this saw the money he had made, disappear into the bottle. Rehab would be next in the journey of Kevin Platt but a lapse back to the bottle saw him slowly dying of alcohol poisoning. Bob McTavish, one who was there with Platty through the early years, through to the Noosa years sums it all up: “Kevin was a kind and intelligent man, experimental in surfboard design and a thoughtful person, but he had an addictive personality. I feel like he spent his life trying to escape Gene. I love and miss him, our good mate Platty”.

If you knew Kevin, you loved him like a brother. Kevin doesn’t receive the credit he deserves for what he and his family contributed to what would become a multi-billion dollar industry.