John Henneberry, was a force to be reckoned with in any surfing contest, If you drew John in your heat, you knew you had to surf at your very best to get through, as John always gave it his all, in everything he did. He was one of those guys that at his best, beat the big name surfers. John has many titles to his credit, and was usually in the finals.
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??
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 but I think it was around number 8 in Aus.
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.Thats another story. This was around 1971.
I am today still glassing surfboards in Byron Bay
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