Since day one, the Australian surfboard industry has generated a cast of characters who have nurtured our national obsession with the waves. But out of countless shaping bays and shopfronts, only a select few have had the good fortune - or maybe the self-promotion savvy - to become celebrated as figureheads of this noble trade. The inconvenient truth, though, is that Brookvale hasn’t necessarily been the centre of the universe all these years!
In fact, some of the original “old masters” are still plugging away in locations that haven’t yet become the stuff of legend. Some overdue recognition is finally coming their way.
Another quiet achiever is Queensland perennial, Lawrie Hohensee. An apprentice shipwright in Brisbane and a member of Southport Surf Club, Lawrie began building long hollow ply boards in 1955. There was no-one to learn from so he put his own surfing expertise and boat-builder skills to the task and quickly forged ahead.
Through the 1960s and ’70s, the Hohensee label could be seen under the feet of plenty of big names including Peter Drouyn,Paul and Rick Neilsen, Tony Dempsey, Doug Bell, Bob McTavish, Michael Petersen, Rabbit Bartholomew andNev Hyman. Pushing the boundaries with shorter and lighter boards kept the brand ahead of the competition.
The Hohensee presence couldn’t go ignored, with factories and shops over the years in Brisbane, Mermaid Beach, Miami, Kirra and Main Beach Southport. Lawrie has always been hands-on in the game; the Hohensee artwork recreated for the T-shirts was originally designed by Lawrie and his factory and shop workers. And Lawrie isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon: “I’m still making boards and surfing. It has been an exciting 60¾ years of practically every day non-stop making boards, enjoying the customers and reliving old experiences.”
It is with great pleasure that RST have Lawrie on board.
Words courtesy of John Brasen, Pacific Longboarder magazine.