Long before Quicksilver and Rip Curl became world famous brands,
Australia had a brand which grew from a kitchen on the Northern Beaches
of Sydney and look set to become one of the early stars of the then fledging
The Platt name should be a household name in the Australian surf industry
however it’s place has been slightly overlooked as the swells of time have
So what went wrong?
Kevin Platt was part of the crew who would give us the shortboard we
While history gives much of the credit to Bob McTavish and Nat Young,
the contribution Kevin Platt and his family made to the early Australian
Surf Industry is quite important.
Kevin “Platty” Platt was a war baby born in 1944. His parents Lance and
Gene were ballroom dancers as a hobby. Kevin was an only child and is
remembered to be close to Lance and Gene.
The ball started rolling when Gene Platt started making board shorts
at her Northern Beaches home in Sydney.
One has to remember there wasn’t much of a surf industry clothing wise
back then so it wasn’t long before Gene Platt was the go to person for
Getting your hands on a pair of Platts Boardshorts was a popular thing
at the time. Kevin attended university for a couple of years but stopped
when board shorts took off.
Setting up a surfshop on Pittwater Rd, Dee Why was very pioneering at
the time, with Kevin’s newly shaped boards and Genes clothing, meant
moving out of the kitchen and into the big time.
Bob McTavish was one who was close to Kevin, “Platty was quietly spoken
but with a wicked sense of humor. He loved the Goon Show and was
always mimicking the characters, a really fun guy to be around”.
Kevin was a brilliant surfer in he Phil Edwards mould and absolutely ripped
in Hawaii in the Winter of 1963. One of the classic movies starring Kevin
was the Bob Evans movie, “Midget goes Hawaii”. This film shows Platty
surfing with his hands low, feet close together and was one of the crew who
was a super clean trimmer.
Kevin began a career making surfboards and shaped at Keyos, doing classy
trimming boards just like Midget and Mick Dooley.
The lure of Noosa for it’s uncrowded waves and warmer waters meant Kevin
Platt migrated north to Sunshine Coast to shape at Hayden’s then Cords in 1966.
Those close to Platt, figured the move north to Noosa was a chance to cut the
apron string from his mother, Gene
It wasn’t long before Kevin Platt was out on his own and making Kevin Platt
If you see a board from the period of 1970 to 1974 and you will notice a few
things different to the boards of this era.
The boards moved away from the traditional rails which were more 50/50.
The rails on a Kevin Platt Surfboard had a harder bottom edge, the same as
the boards we ride today. Feel the rail of one of Kevin’s early boards and
he was on a track to the future.
The decks were flatter and the tails had more volume and resembled a rounded
square. They were truely ahead of their time.
Sadly the thought of her only son being so far away meant Gene would soon
sell the surf shop in Dee Why and follow her only son north, buying a house
at Sunshine Beach.
Gene and Lance opened a restaurant in North Noosa called “Salt & Pepper”
due to her love of cooking but according to McTavish it was the wrong type
of food for the time.
“You have to remember it was Noosa in the late 60’s. Gene was cooking slushy
food when we were all going Vegie. It didn’t do too well”.
Like many surfers of the era, the arrival of drugs contributed to the downfall
of Kevin Platt. This was a time where we lost a generation of great and talented
It’s no secret that Kevin loved getting high and was always willing to share a pill
or two, the concept of brotherhood flowed strong with Platty but this was a time
when the hippie era was slowly drawing to a close.
A friend of Kevins at the time and Noosa local Richard remembers,
“I was surfing at Noosa when Kevin asked me to come glass for him.
I needed to make a few dollars so thought why not.
I remember one time I was working and Kevin came past and had
a handful of purple pills. He offered me one but it wasn’t my thing”.
Even through this time Platty was making some cutting edge surfcraft.
Kevin Platt was soon to marry his first wife Suzie as McTavish explains,
“Suzie was Noosa’s local beauty and I’m talking the only local beauty. They
built a house together on the edge of the National Park. The house was
formerly a sawmill so the rooms were huge”.
Kevin soon sold the house and built another house at Sunshine. It may have
seemed a contradiction but Platty opened a health food store in Noosa and
all the time he was doing the dance with drugs.
These were tough times and a divorce from Suzie saw Kevin on the move and
out of Noosa. Kevin later descended into alcoholism and spent most of his time
drinking with his Dad Lance at Cabarita Sports Club. Sadly this saw the money
he had made, disappear into the bottle.
Rehab would be next in the journey of Kevin Platt but a lapse back to the bottle
saw him slowly dying of alcohol poisoning.
“After Kevin got re-married I lost contact with him but I heard that he once caught his
wife cheating so he backed a concrete truck up to the bedroom window and filled it up”.
Sadly for Kevin his Father Lance died then Gene followed. Many who knew her
from the early days were sad that she had became bitter and grumpy. The funerals
were simple and reportedly attend by few, however Gene could easily be remembered
as a pioneer in Australian surfing, much like Isobel Latham.
Bob McTavish, one who was there with Platty through the early years, through to
the Noosa years sums it all up.
Kevin was a kind and intelligent man, experimental in surfboard design and a
thoughtful person but he had an addictive personality. I feel like he spent his life
trying to escape Gene. I love and miss him, our good mate Platty”.
Writers Note: Many thanks to the great Bob McTavish for his honest
and thoughtful memories of Kevin, Gene and Lance Platt. Thanks to
Richard for his memories of working with Kevin at Noosa. Kevin doesn’t
receive the credit he deserves for what he and his family contributed
to what would become a multi billion dollar industry. In researching
this article is it clear, if you knew Kevin, you loved him like a brother.
I had a great pair of brown platts boardshorts, I was a member of The Lawrie Hohensee Surf Team, Laurie had big surf shop on Gold Coast opposite Miami High School, he would kitt you out in platts boardshorts, ripcurl wetsuits etc. & then get reimburse of those companies for sponsorship… Great days great gear.
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hi all me & my mate ron took off from coolangatta on boxing day 1972 rolled into noosa mid arvo 1st site of the laguna bay topof the hill at the pub seeing a perfect peak set 10′ plus at the river mouth i wanted another board & picked up a 2nd hand platt for $25 we thought we’d be there for a week or so for that swell ende up being there 4 & a half mths surfing nearly everyday with cyclone after another forming out to sea we rented a house in noosaville for $ 13 a week including elec what a magic time to be a surfer when the swell finally stopped getting into the points we headed back to cooly which ended up another time never to b repeated all the point sand was gone in cooly but the PEAK out in front of where the second groin would be built pumped mick peterson tom peterson me & RON JUMPED OFF GREENMOUNT POINT TO GET TO THE PEAK which was a conservative 10 -12″ we thought we would be the 1st out there but another legend KEITH PAUL was already out & that peak bank was there for 18 mths i could write more about the next cpl of yrs in cooly with pumping waves when the points sand came back i feel very priveliged to be there as a surfer
I knew Kevin from 1964 he came to Noosa and camped in the Woods with Midge Farrelly and others ,I cannot remember ,lovely chap …..I saw him from time to time over the years and was sad to see the slow decline he married a local girl Sue Davies ( whilst beautiful there were lots of lovelies those days Bob McTavish ) I remember the health food shop in Sunshine Beach as well ,I remarried in the early eighties and worked in a pharmacy in Kingscliff NSW and knew Mr and Mrs Platt (and saw Kevin again that was a shock ) very very sad to see the family as I knew changed so much
I still have a pair of 1965 Platt boadshorts. Red Hawaiian Hibiscus pattern with black trim. Lost enough weight this year and can fit into them again.
Would you want to sell them back to the family?
Really conflicted Micah. At 71 I’m not likely to wear them again and yet I have kept them so long. As I appreciate my family and their possessions passed down to me, I can see that these might mean more to your family. Unfortunately I leave for Europe next Wednesday and wont return till 1st February. Drop me a line at email@example.com and we can organize to meet in Feb.
I have the privilege of owning and surfing two of Kevin’s boards shaped at sunshine beach by Michael cundith around 1973, they are 6’7″ diamond tail and 7’0″ pintail, the boards are wonderfully balanced in outline, rocker, foil and fin templates, they paddle well and on the waves of noosa they feel right at home. Aloha, Jacob Stuth.
I received a pair of custom platt trunks and a 7ft midget bolsa wood reshaped surfboard 1962 for 7th birthday, when life started, haha.