Al started shaping in 1966 at Peter Clarke Surfboards. Keith Paull was his mentor.
In 1969 Al went to South Africa chasing the waves of Endless Summer. Al was there for 6 months and shaped boards for MOD Surfboards in Durban. The first Durban 500 Surf Contest was held in 1969. It was won by Gavin Rudolph and Alan came 3rd. Al met Midget while in Durban. Midget asked Al to come and see him when he got back to Australia.
At the end of 1969/70 Al worked for a season shaping for Midget at Brookvale. At the end of the season Al left and headed to Tasmania to make boards in Hobart with Bruce Channon, (who was the finish coater at Midgets at the time). They ended up hooking up with local board makers in Hobart, Turn Surfboards. They were there for a few months.
In April 1970 Al left Tasmania and headed to the Bells for the contest. He met Nat Young and Nat asked Alan to work for him making Nat Young Surf Designs in Brookvale. Al made the boards from start to finish. Five a week at Keyo’s factory.A lot of work and the boards were Nats’s design, around the 6 foot mark with square/rounded pod and had 40 layers of 10oz glassed fins with a heavy foil.
In 1970/71 after working with Nat, Al went back to Cronulla area and while shaping for Baron Surfboards in Taren Point he was offered a job shaping for Bob Davies in Auckland, New Zealand, off he went again. He returned to Australia after the summer season in NZ where he did a surf trip up the East Coast ending up at Alexander Headlands where his mate Rooster (Haydens shaper at the time) organized Al to shape some for Hayden .
On returning to Brookvale, he shaped a few for McCoy who had opened a factory in an old house next door to Scott Dillon Surfboards and also did some shaping for Shane Surfboards. Then it was a season at Hutchison Surfboards and then Bennett Surfboards. In 1972/73 Al returned to Ulladulla and had his own business, Alan Blyth Handcrafted Surfboards. Al returned to South Africa for a while and made a few boards under his own name in Durban.
Upon returning to Australia he went to G & S Surfboards where he stayed shaping until hooking up with John Lewis at Shady Mountain, Crescent Head in 1977. Shady Mountain Shooters were produced over the next few years by the boys, then John went into building and Al continued on his own for a while.
In 1981, the little factory in the valley closed, however Al still made his own boards at different friends establishments, he still shapes himself one when the need arises, but this is not as frequent these days.
John worked at the original G&S factory at Tarenpoint in 1967. Terry Hamell bought the franchise of Floyd Smith who returned to America. I started sweeping the floors and then progressed to Head Glasser. I worked with Dave Wilson, who was my mentor. At the time John Moanie and Bob Hanson were the shapers. We made 40 boards a week. I worked there until 1970.
In 1970 he went on an around the world surfing trip. On returning to Australia in 1971 he worked back at G&S part time for a short period. He then moved to Port Macquarie and started making Lewis Surfboards in a small industrial area.
In 1973 he and his wife Coral moved to Crescent Head. To begin with he made Lewis Surfboards in a garage and not soon after worked at Shane Surfboards with Bob Kennerson making pop outs for the Sydney market. During this time he was building a house at the bottom of Dulconghi Mountain and a shed where he started making Shady Mountain Shooters, the year was 1974.
The name Shady Mountain Shooters derived from an experience. He was sitting on a log in the paddock taking a rest from chopping wood below Dulconghi Mountain. The sun was setting and shining on the opposite mountain and the shadows came across the valley and the shed. He was thinking of the name Shady Mountain Surfboards, but it was a bit tame. The boards of this era were down the line surfing and he then came up with the name Shady Mountain Shooters.
John travelled to Sydney once a month and sold the boards to various surf shops. On one of these trips he ran into Alan Blyth at G&S. From this encounter, Al decided to move to Crescent Head to shape with John, the partnership was formed in 1977. Their boards were known for their high quality.
The boards were made in the shed, they would hand wet and dry them in the dam nearby. It was great fun in winter, not! They drew a wage of $60 each per week from the business. They sold Shady Mountain Shooters up and down the coast as well as many custom orders.
In 1979, John decided to take a break from the surfboard industry and try building. Al took over the business on his own. Over the years, Al has kept making surfboards for family, friends and himself. Al and John decided free surfing was the way they wanted to go. They were so fortunate to be part of the evolving surfboard industry in Australia.