Don Allcroft was born in Hamersmith, London in 1945 and emigrated to Australia at the age of 17. On arrival in Oz, Don's family settled in Blackrock and his love for the ocean began. His first board was a Tony Olsen 11’ plywood model.
Over the next few years Don would frequent Torquay and in his early 20’s he began to surf and turn up at Fred Pykes factory to watch the master craftsman at work. This was a regular occurrence and one day Fred offered Don a job. For the next 3 years he learned the skills of glassing, fin construction and shaping. You could say it was a true apprenticeship.
In 1971 Brian Singer and Doug “Claw’ Warbrick approached Don to be in charge of surfboard production at the old RipCurl Bakery. This was very successful and Don stayed there for 7 years. In the down times, Don frequented Indonesia and he remembers the days when it was a two hour walk to Ulu’s and Padang in thick bush. His fondest memories are of surfing Padang in the 70’s with two guys out and 8-10’.
Times were changing rapidly and in 1978 Klemm-Bell surfboards moved to Torquay and Don moved across for a short time. Don’s greatest influences in his early career were Terry Fitzgerald and Barry Kanaiaupuni (BK).
Byron Bay was calling so Don moved to commence a 2 year association with Pacific Foam Systems where he shaped designs under license from Reno Abellira, Mark Richards and BK. His good friend John Pawson bought some boards back from Hawaii where board shapes were changing rapidly. It was in Byron Bay that Don used his skills to experiment with concave especially behind the fin and well before tail lift. He was shaping for many locals and his boards became prominent and ridden by champions Peter Drouyn and Pete Townend.
Self employment beckoned after 2 years in Byron and Don moved back to Torquay to commence his own brand, Sunbird Surf Designs. The factory was behind Fred Pyke’s and he rented a shaping bay from Beachcrew and Jim Pollock. Before long, the country was calling and in 1997 Don moved to set up a more permanent place at a farm in the beautiful town of Bellbrae, close to his home break Winkipop.
Over the next decade Don produced short boards, semi guns and guns for the local establishment and his boards were renowned for having smooth clean lines well suited to the West coasts big winter swells.
Today Don is still shaping and it’s not hard to find him when the swell is on and the wind is offshore. He will be at his home break Winkipop. But if by chance you don’t see him, don’t worry. He will be looking out the eye of the barrel enjoying the view. Photo of Don surfing at Winki by Steve Ryan