My uncle Fred Henneberry was a very famous boxer back in the 40’s. My dad was also a very good sportsman, this I feel led to my future in the sport I came to love.
This page is dedicated in an attempt to illustrate how difficult is was and still is today, to be recognised as one of the top ranks of surfing. John Henneberry may not be a name that springs to mind when talking about the legends of yesterday, however Johns story expresses how his surfing was up there with the best, but never quite got the headlines it took to become a household name. There are so many out there with a similar story. The difference with John’s life is that he still dedicated his life to surfing, but in the manufacturing side. He may not be a household name in the surfing arena, but no one can deny he certainly has made his mark in the behind the scenes of surfing’s masters of glassing!
I have asked John just to write a short biography of his life. Maybe I could have picked one of the better known people in the industry, but none I think, with such a great battle throughout and with such dedication to the sport he loved. So many surfers who have been up there with the best, but have just but as they say, who remembers who came second or third? Some of us wish we could have done better than fifth? It takes great skill and sometimes a very large ego and positivity, to become number one, but who would dare to say that in derisive way. It is just what it takes if you want to get there.
Today there are many coaches, surf schools and sports clinics that with this kind of backing in the seventies, who knows we might have had different legends today. This is even more of an insight into the legends we do have, as they had no coaches or if they did they weren’t much older than themselves. They did it on their own, which is more of an achievement.
John was glassing at Terry Fitzgerald’s Hot Buttered factory, so he was up with the best even in the factory. hot Buttered was well known for quality boards and are still sought after today, in the Vintage collector circles. These behind the scene masters of the craft have been left out of most of our surfing history, and I think this needs to be rectified. I hope with this short story, others will come forward with a story of their own, so we can let others understand what it takes to be a such an integral part of our surfing history. Most of us know the names of the shapers, but who can tell me who glassed for these well known names??
My uncle Fred said” If your dad had stuck to one sport he could have been more famous than me” When I was in kindergarten a boxing gym fronted my mother and asked her if they could train me to box, her reply was “Over my dead body”
As you can understand sport was a very big part of my family life. I participated in many sports and did well. I first stood on a surfboard when I was 13 years old. I got so excited, every other sport was put aside and I made surfing my life.
I was brought up in Manly and bought my first new board back in 1963 from Barry Bennetts , shaped by Wayne Burton. Remember Watching Midget win the 1964 World Titles. As time went on I went from Mid Steyne boardriders to Manly Pacific. At that time I became good friends with Nat Young and after that Nat introduced me to a well known shaper surfer Frank Williams, who to this day is my closest friend. Frank introduced me to North Narrabeen Boardriders which was my main club for many years.
While I was there I met Ric Chan who became a good friend and had a lot of faith in my surfing. I was lucky enough to get an Australian surfing rating. Can’t remember exactly for how long or, or the rating, too long ago to remember.
I was also in Bob Evans movie called ‘ TRACKS’. Ric did two articles on me in a Californian magazine called ‘ international SURFING ‘.
You must understand when Ric came along I was overlooked by many of my peers and judges. As Ric had so much faith in me at that time he left for Adelaide and Perth, never to see him again. All efforts over the years to try to contact him I finally found Ric on Facebook and was able to reconnect.
Must also mention I was a Process Camera Operator in the printing trade. After getting my indentured papers I went on to do different jobs so could be close to Narrabeen to surf. At that time Terry Fitzgerald asked me to glass for him as he was opening a board shop called Hot Buttered surfboards. This was around 1971.
About two years ago after working for Terry Fitz, I met a beautiful girl named Gail and she ended up being my wife. At that time I was more interested in surfing with my mates and being with Gail.
Gail and I moved to Byron Bay in 1980 and this is where my two beautiful daughters Starsha & Joni were born.
I have been glassing Donald Takayama’s, Hawaiian design surfboards for well over 14 years now, North Coast Surfboards in Byron Bay. Donald became a very close friend of mine and unfortunately he passed away back 2012. RIP Donald and you are sadly missed.
I have been very fortunate to have been a friend, played surfed and glassed for some of the best surfers in the world. The list is too long to mention.
That’s another story!
There are so many behind the scenes masters of glassing, sanding, polishers, artists etc even specialist fin makers, that none of us have ever heard their names, let alone their history. If you know of someone, that deserves his story to be told, send me an email and I will attempt to include them. firstname.lastname@example.org