It was during the 1950s, that longboard surfing took off and obtained a substantial amount of popularity as a sport and back then, the design and material of longboards was solid wood, typically balsa wood. This style of longboard was first introduced to the Australian surf scene by surfer Greg Noll who brought his Balsa Malibu board.
In 1956 legendary surfboard shaper Bill Wallace saw Noll surfing in a local comp and was blown away by how the board in the water they couldn't believe how a surfboard could ride across the wave and turn so easily. Bill set out to replicate that board, but at that time, you could not buy Balsa wood in Australia. So, he made it like the toothpicks from the '40s – hollow in the middle and chambered with Marine Ply. These boards would be known as the Okanui.
Bill Wallace: "Most people think the Okanui was a Hawaiian word, but I think Bluey Mayes came up with it. 'Oka' Meaning Aussie and 'Nui' meaning new, the new Aussie surfboard!"
Fast forward to 1978 and our founder Dick Ash was the tender age of 15 when he was inspired to create his first pair of cotton board shorts using his Mum's sewing machine and some old canvas mailbags from the Avalon post office.
The shorts were cut long, especially suited for sitting on the new-style Okanui surfboards. According to theories, boardies around in the early 1970s were made short, meaning your leg hairs would rip when sitting on a longboard waiting for waves. Once word got out about Dicks longboarders, he started making them for all of his surfing mates. He nicknamed them Okanuis, and it was then that the Okanui boardshorts became an icon in the history of Australian longboarding.
Since then, Okanui's became an essential clothing item for longboard surfers across the country. With iconic surfers such as Nat Young, Mark McGrath, Julian Wilson and Rod Brooks sporting a pair of Okanuis at surf comps across the globe, making a bold statement in their bright hibiscus print boardshorts.
As the Australian longboard scene continues to evolve, one thing that will never change is the love and need for the Okanui boardshorts. Okanui's are made to last, with comfort and style in mind.
Please take a look back at our Okanui boardshorts featured throughout the years in the Australian longboard scene.