Dick Van Straalen
Dick Van Straalen is a classic shaper and surfer from Australia's Gold Coast. He's been hunting dredging sand bottom tubes since the good old days and has always experimented with surfboard shapes and designs.
Dick Van Straalen started shaping surfboards in 1956, after the USA Lifeguard Team visited Avalon Beach in 56’. Greg Noll and Tom Zahn inspired a new generation of surfers with their latest equipment. Dick started working for Bill Wallace Surfboards glueing up blanks and then moved to Shane and Dale Surfboards at Brookvale; a suburb in Sydney which attracted manufacturers in the surfboard industry in the early 60’s. He experimented in early backyard models at his hometown of Avalon Beach a popular surfing break on the northern beaches of Sydney.
A move north in 1968 to Burleigh Heads, Queensland, saw a succession of surfboard labels Country Spaceships by the Boys, Whitelight Projections, Eighth Wing Slalom, Spirit of the Sea and Out of the Blue. During these years Dick worked on ideas and projects with many notable surfers: Kevin (The Head) Brennan, Russell Hughes, Ted Spencer, Andrew McKinnon, John (JC) Charlton, Joe Engel, Thornton Fallander, Peter Harris, Peter Townend, Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew. He also worked closely with Hawaiian surfers Michael Ho, Mark Foo, Bobby Owen and Corky Carrol.
Meeting surfing enigma Dave Rastovich renewed Dick’s enthusiasm for shaping performance surfboards. He's worked on refining hollow carbon fibre boards and fin configurations with test pilot Dave Rastovich for the past few years and together they've been making some cool shapes which push the definition of a modern surfboard.
Having mellowed a little he now shapes under “Handcrafted by Dick Van Straalen”. Recent years have seen the rise of the “Classic Waterman” Racing Malibu Surfboards. Dick’s interest in paddle boarding racing was fuelled by lifeguard Mick Dibetta and champion paddle boarder Jamie Mitchell. The results are highly successful and these paddleboards are being ridden champion Iron men and women around the world.
Dick is a master craftsman of custom made Balsa Surfboards manufactured using the finest South American Balsa laminated over Styrofoam core for strength and lightness. Dick has a passion and vision in such a way as to create a unique life or spirit for each craft. He has masterfully created many surfcraft from balsa malibu’s, fishes, multi art coloured quads, and single fins. No two are alike and for the astute buyer or rider, they will bring a special joy that belongs to those who know and love the force that can be found in the sea. He is more than a shaper; DVS is a pioneer for sustainable surfboard manufacturing. He was the operator of the first Australian surf school and the inventor of the Coolite surfcraft, a great surfer and a gentleman.
He has been a huge contributor to the development of surfing worldwide and as Dick would say “It is simply about having fun”.