Mini Simmons History Mystery

Bob Simmons

Who came up with the original Mini Simmons Surfboard design?

The archives of surf records says Bob Simmons—but Joe Bauguess has a different opinion.

Joe Bauguess, self proclaimed inventor of the very FIRST Mini Simmons, gives an interview about the history of the his original Mini Simmons shapes. I particularly like what he said here when describing his shaping process,

 “. . . my ideas about dropping the rails with a lot of hard edge in the tail section and using a Simmonsesque, rounded nose contour developing into a semi-severe single concave under the fore-mid-section that flows into a double-concave that is deep enough to form a slight vee through the tail section before coming to a flat edge. Speed and release are the theories behind this design . . . keeping some of Simmons’ “signature” touches intact, like the dished out deck in the nose area (originally designed to lighten the nose) and the flowing, “S”- curve deck line.”

He even uses the word Simmonsesque, which shows that he was influenced by the Bob Simmon’s original design. Joe goes on to explain how Mike Eaton further influenced his shaping and design process:

“Mike Eaton, who attended classes in Naval Architecture told me the formula for the most ideal and efficient planing hull was that its length is two and a half times its width, for example; 24″X 60″. The Mini-Sims I’m shaping nearly fit that template as they measure 23″X 66″ for 5′ 6″ board. The result is a board that paddles like a long board and has the maneuverability of a short board.

The way I see it was that Joe was influenced by many people and that he absorbed those influences and created the magical carpet ride called the Mini Simmons and I am very thankful for Joe’s contribution and innovation.

But dude, relax!

Look we are appreciate your design but you can’t expect the world to drop at your feet and say your name every time someone talks about the Mini Simmons. Yea, we all noticed that you trademarked the name Mini Simmons but trademarking something won’t gain you respect.

We will all respect you much more if you contribute possessively to the Mini Simmons design discussions and stoke instead of having lawyers chase down your respect for you.

Personally, I respect and honor what you have done for the design.

Isn’t that enough?

However, we must also give credit to Bob Simmons for his extraordinary insight in this new design.

Legendarysurfers.com has some great historical interviews and in the article about Bob Simmons they write:

“The new boards had unusual features. They were vastly lighter. The noses and tails were thin and featured hydrofoiled rails. They were wide and with wide, slightly pulled-in tails. The nose had an increased turn up with a camber and slight belly in them.” Simmons called these “hydrodynamic planing hulls.” He did not elaborate further, but it was obvious they combined elements never seen before. “A new profile emerged,” wrote Elwell. “The profile allowed the shedding of many pounds, immersing the tail for a better attack angle. The tails were wide and thin, giving quick lift for planing. The rail allowed for penetration into the eave and giving improved deflection, readily seen in early photographs.”

Bob Simmons worked for a garage door company and had access to all kinds of materials and tools (some Minis actually look like garage doors) and he experimented with all kinds of materials from plywood, styrofoam, and balsa to resin and fiberglass. Bob was a loner and rebel and this story from Greg Noll shows a little of that side of his character.

“One day, I ditched school and talked Simmons into taking me with him to Salt Creek. He didn’t like kids any more than he liked adults, but I also rode one of his boards, so he tolerated me. He’d go through long periods of silence, then he’d start quizzing me. ‘Why are you going to school? What are you going to do with your education? Why don’t you get out and do something with your life?’ He was provocative and he was smart. A real individual.”

“Why don’t you get out and do something with your life?”

I love the insight in that statement and I am stoked to know that the person who contributed to the Simmons design was also a big thinker.

Whatever the origins of the Mini Simmons shape, we sure love them and we hope you can use these inspirational innovators to create a Mini Simmons shape of your own.

Ultimately the board is not the name, it is the creative expression of each shaper that puts his hands on the foam or wood and that shape embodies the spirit of the sculptor.

Call it whatever you want—you can’t trademark the movement of the soul.

Now, some words from Joe.

Filmed by Matthew Roybal.

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