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Sleeveless jumper worn by surfers in 1950s

Date: 1990s
Overall: 585 x 450 mm, 5 mm, 0.26 kg
Display Dimensions: 640 x 470 mm
Medium: Wool
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Joe Sweeney
Object Name: Jumper
Object No: 00030894
Place Manufactured:Victoria

User Terms

    This Torquay football club sleeveless jumper is a replica of the type of outfit worn by Bells surfers, such as Joe Sweeney, in the 1950s and early 1960s before wetsuits were readily available. Removing the sleeves made paddling easier.
    SignificanceThis sleeveless jumper is representative of changes in the development of surfwear since the late 1950s. It is a rare example of the type of outfit worn in surfing prior to the introduction of wetsuits.
    HistoryJoe Sweeney is a member of Torquay surf lifesaving club, champion surf swimmer, long and short board rider and one of the early surfers at Bells Beach. He also competed in the 1956 Olympics in Greco Roman wrestling. In 1960 Sweeney obtained permission from the Shire Engineer of Barrabool Shire to upgrade the old Cobb and Co road from Geelong to Anglesea and extend it further into the Bells area. The work cost Joe 32 pounds ($64) which he raised by charging 30 other enthusiasts an "exit" fee as they left the inaugural surf contest at Bells Beach in January 1961. This was the first surf board rally held in Victoria. Peter Troy and Vic Tantau were judges and Terry Wall won the inaugural event. The success of this contest soon spread and the next contest was held at Easter 1963 and has remained an annual event. In the 1950s and 60s before wetsuits were commonly worn surfers used jumpers and football jerseys to help combat the cold conditions on Victoria's surf coast.

    Wetsuits were developed in the 1950s, and were first made out of foam rubber neoprene that did not have any form of backing material. In order to stabilise the suits and stop them from easily tearing apart, a layer of nylon was applied to the inside of the neoprene. The more colourful suits of the 1970s were a result of the introduction of double-backed neoprene, where neoprene was set in between two protective outer layers. The external layer meant that designers were now able to incorporate decorative colours, logos and patterns into the suits.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Torquay Football Club sleeveless jumper

    Web title: Sleeveless jumper worn by surfers in 1950s

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