Code 75, 1975. It's funny the way things work. In the late Spring of 1974 I bought a board that looked uncannily like a gun version of the 5'3 but two feet longer. It came from Newport's newly opened Ocean Shores Surf Shop up narrow Coles Parade. I must have got a local's deal from owner Charlie Ryan, new in town from up the coast, because I sure didn't have much money. I got it to ride the Newport south end - The Pool. This wave as I'd learn the next year was similar to Bells depending on the bank. When a bit bigger it came with a ledge drop coming out of deep water with the bonus thick deep water wedge moving across from the gap in Newport Reef. The effect delivered an elevator effect. I went through a phase on this 'Toy Gun' as it was called of putting my arms high in the air on the drop to make it feel even later like The Big Dipper at Luna Park. No doubt looked stupid but felt great. Not that I knew it at the time but the takeoff was similar to baby Waimea. I learnt how to surf properly on this board - tapered tail, down rails, thick under the chest, beak nose, and a very thick fin. The great thing about any semi gun or gun is that, ride it long enough, and it gets to be an all rounder for any sized surf big or small. The other boards barely got a look in after getting the feel of putting a big board on the lip. It was built by John Haymes at North Avalon and glassed by Paul Holmes who'd go on to be Tracks Editor then Surfer Mag editor. Again, funny the way it goes - Paul would get me the staff writing gig at Surfer ten years later. After riding it for a season and taking out the first event of our newly formed club I figured there to be improvement enough to compete in the Northern Beaches eliminations for the NSW Titles. When I say "compete" I really mean have a go for a first time against much better surfers including some who'd been in the recent 2SM Coca Cola Bottlers Surfabout. Featuring riders from Manly to Palm Beach, a zone with arguably the greatest concentration of talent outside of Oahu not the least being the Narrabeen contingent, it was a ridiculously big step up. I paddled out at North Narra on the 7'4" for a first heat. The surf was lumpy and high tide and my board was way longer than the boards of the five other surfers including King of Narra and most radical surfer alive Col Smith. To be out there with him even if I had the klutz vest, black with a white stripe basically signifying no hoper, was to me as big as any surf moment could get. I came in a winner even though the result was a resounding last place. I mean, last by a long shot. I was so stoked to have been in the temporary company of Col. I remember looking over the judges sheets and saw the one 5th amongst my four other 6th placings. I went away with a sense of small victory despite thereabouts check. After the end of what I figured to be a short lived life as a contest surfer the 7'4" got me waves all over the peninsula with its paddling power and whenever older brother Rod took me to Whale Beach Wedge I got to experience seriously steep backhand sections and developed some decent pivot to my turns. Again, the dependability of the board allowed for improvement and I was happy with it for ages - but all that time was good thinking time and I got to plot course for something pretty wild.