Jackson Surfboards was founded in 1957 by Brian 'Jacko' Jackson in Caringbah NSW. After years of discovering surf and exploring the east coast of Australia, Brian and some of his friends decided manufacturing surfboards would be the ultimate compliment to a lifestyle immersed in surfing and the beach. Today, Dave Mattison and Jim Parkinson carry on the Jackson tradition and are proud to be associated with five decades of dedication and still provide quality performance surfing equipment for both expert and novice surfers.
Brian "Jacko" Jackson sold the business to Dave Mattison and Jim Parkinson 16 years ago. Brian is now living in Crescent Head. He is still very much a part of the business and occasionally visits to see how things are going and offering advice. Jacko will always be Jackson Surfboard’s and a very integral part of the business.
Jim Parkinson has been working and shaping at Jacksons since 1974 and the last 13 years has been glassing the boards as well. Jim prides himself in quality shaping and glassing and giving the customers time to discuss their specific needs in the design of their boards. Jim rides both short boards and longboards.
Dave Mattison has been working at Jackson since 1974, but worked as a casual prior to 1974. Dave is renowned around Sydney for his expertise in restorations and repairing boards and takes great pride in the work he does. Dave also does the sprays on the boards. He started when it was all single fins.
Here is a great interview with Jim Parkinson by Gus Goozee.
We surfers love to talk about the good old days and we love to listen to the nostalgic stories of yesteryear. Vintage boards and other old school paraphernalia are now highly collectable and we find the old footage and images of uncrowded waves irresistible. Jim Parkinson from Jackson Surfboards has seen many waves ridden in many ways and he understands that embracing this change is what being a surfboard designer is all about.
When did you start shaping Jim?
I was about 15 or 16.
And are you 21 now or how long ago was that?
I’m afraid I’m in my sixties. We used to get boards from a local guy when I was going to school and I just wanted to start making them for myself. I started by stripping boards back and remaking them. I joined the local board riders and started making a few boards for those guys and when I was about 23, my brother and I went around the world on a surf trip in 1973. At the beginning of ‘74 when we came home Froggy Byrne had left Jacko’s, so I went down and applied for the job and was lucky enough to get it.
So where did your world trip take you?
We went over to Europe, down through France and Morocco before coming back up to the UK. We went to the States and stayed with some people in California that we’d travelled with in Europe before stopping in Hawaii on the way home. We had some awesome surf everywhere we went.
Well, we surfed at Mundaka when there was nothing there. I don’t think I’d recognise the place now. There weren’t a lot of guys surfing back then. We had it six to eight feet for a couple of days and there was hardly anyone in the water, maybe only four or five guys out at the most. We got some great waves down in Morocco around Kenitra. There’s a river mouth there and there’s a break wall going out. When the swell got up it would come inside and break in the river. We could see this right hander breaking on the other side of the river so we paddled across to it and were dodging the big tankers and all sorts of obstacles on the river. It was worth it though, because the wave was absolutely awesome and completely empty.
Then we went to Hawaii and surfed Sunset pretty big. Back then we could get up early in the morning and there would be hardly anybody out. You’d be doing a lot of swimming though, because that was before leg ropes. Actually they were just starting to come in. The two American guys we were travelling with were experimenting with leg ropes, but it was actually more dangerous to wear them at the time. They made them out of occy straps, so the board would come back at you a hundred miles an hour and almost knock your head off.
And then you came back and started with Brian Jackson? Is he still around?
Yes, he’s living the life up at Crescent Head. Dave Mattison and I bought Jackson Surfboards about 16 years ago. Jacko started the company in 57 and he moved into our current location in 1961, so we have been making boards for 57 years. It was such a well known brand and Brian was renowned for the quality of his product and the great boards that he did over the years.
Do you have customers ordering traditional shapes from back in the day?
We never really stopped making longboards through all those years. When the whole shortboard era started surfers still came to us for mals so we kept making those as well. That side of the business never really died. When the shortboards came in they packed up all the moulds so we had to use slabs of foam as there weren’t any long board blanks available. They were pretty thick and chunky and took a lot of work.We do a lot of restorations too; well Dave does all of the restorations. It’s a very time consuming job and an art form in itself really. He tries to restore them without too much change to the original board you know what I mean. He keeps the originality there and there is a lot of work in that. We’re a bit too busy through the summer, so in the winter time we try and do all the restoes because there’s less on.
What part of making surfboards have you most enjoyed over the years?
Both Dave and I enjoy all the processes of making boards. It’s not just the shaping, but the glassing and everything else. We’ve always taken great pride in our work, so we always deliver a great product and keep the customer at the forefront to ensure they’re happy with our boards. Hopefully they see that. We’ve evolved with the customised market and it’s changed naturally as everything does. The changes have been immense. We started when it was all single fins and have been through it all up to what we we’re riding today. Every change is exciting, it’s continually changing, even today people are tweaking little things and wanting the little hybrid shapes and different designs. Hopefully it will continue to change and continue to be exciting. - Gus Goozée
I made a trip to the Jackson Surfboards factory a few years back and honestly it blew me away. The history in the place was just oozing out. Right down to the hard core shaping and glassing bays, the foam dust, the old resin colour pots to the modern showroom showcasing their beautiful watercraft. After more than 50 years in the business the Jackson crew retired.
The good news is that the brand lives on.
Jim Parkinson, his wife Chris and Dave Mattison had worked tirelessly in the shop for countless years and it was time to step away from the 7 day a week business. As a keen short, fun board and long board surfer and Jackson customer Rod Eagles was saddened to think that such great traditions could be lost. He convinced his good friend Richard Beattie to work on a new project- keep the Jackson name alive! After some coercion over a few beers he agreed and the next exciting chapter of Jackson Surfboards was born.
Richard and Rod are now part of the Jackson family and it is their mission to keep the business alive and thriving. Luckily for them legend Shaper Jimmy Parkinson continues to shape their Custom surfboards. The core team riders Jordan Widenstrom, Ian Spencer and Rod Menzies all agreed to stay riding for them and with their assistance they look forward to tweaking the current designs and introducing new designs in the future.
Quality and service- Richard and Rod are pumped to now own such a historic surfboard brand. They are making surfboards and have never been so happy! What’s not to love about a brand new board, it’s a majestic piece of equipment that is designed to bring joy and happiness to its new owner. Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Online Shop and call anytime to discuss surfboards- they love to talk boards!