This picture of a man in a suite wearing a bowler hat while holding a walking stick and smoking a cigar has got so many people wandering who it was and what he was doing. Well it is none other than Hollywood inventor. Joe invented this motorised surfboard about 13 years after the first original Australian design and this board definitely looked more promising. It was called the Motorboard. It never had the big steam looking engine on the back and it most certainly looked quite slick and cool. If ever a motorised surfboard was going to work and take off I would have thought this would be it.
I suppose Joe dressed up as a corporate banker and riding the board on Toluca Lake in 1948 just wasn’t the image that sold motorised boards. Joe should have maybe done the typical Hollywood thing and had a few bikini cladded babes riding the board or at least admiring him while he road the board. He forgot to give that message that goes with expensive toys that says “Buy this and you will appear super cool and so sexy. Your friends will like you more, your enemies will change there minds about you and all the chicks will want to date you. There were a couple of ladies in Bikinis on the day but Joe unfortunately made the mistake of thinking he looked better on the board. I personally have made similar foolish mistakes in the past by thinking I look cool on a board only to realise my audience thinks differently and always choses the bikini babe for some reason.
Like many great and crazy inventions the Motorboard as it was called was probably only a prototype and I assume never made it into production. What most people don’t know is that there were three boards on the lake on the day of testing but the photo of Joe seems to be the most popular. It would be nice if some of the modern day motorised surfboard manufacturers learnt from this and also never made it into production but unfortunately a lot of boards on the market today seemed to slip under the biggest waste of money radar. One thing is for sure though and some of these new motorised surfboards wont last long enough to appear in out history column but might just end up in a scam column instead.
I have seen video footage of this board in action and it actually seemed to run quite well on the lake. It doesn’t have the shape, line or rails for waves but it sure did move well on flat water. another interesting feature is that the walking stick that Joe holds was not for walking but was used to control a gearbox on the side of the board. When watching the video you can see its actually a gear stick and Joe uses it to control the speed. by adjusting a lever on the right hand side of the board. Sometimes it seems to get stuck and he appears to give it a kick. Towards the end of the video he has to get down on his knees to stop the board.
I think Joes production and advertising budget was pretty big as he had a few boards, couple models, professional camera man, loads of photos and even a video. We do testing of boards and make videos with less than this even in todays times so good for Joe. If I had to guess I would say that the rich Hollywood stars were not interested in surfing and that the surfers could not afford the board and were not interested in Hollywood tricks and gadgets. Well done to Joe though but it just goes to show that money will never guarauntee success and to be honest even money and what appears to be a great product can be useless in the wrong hands or at the wrong time.