The McTavish Noosa 66 is an icon of longboarding! Here’s my full review of one of the longest running log designs by McTavish surfboards
When it comes to longboarding, nothing throws it back to the old school quite like the McTavish Noosa 66 longboard – which has been in production since 1966!
I grabbed one from the McTavish factory in Byron Bay and have been putting it through its paces ever since, and it has been great fun to ride.
So if you’re toying with the idea of a new log, here’s my full review…
McTavish Noosa 66 Longboard Review – The Original & Classic!
An Absolute Classic
The McTavish Noosa ’66 is an absolute classic, an icon when it comes to the world of longboarding.
Refined on the then empty point breaks of Noosa by legendary shaper Bob McTavish and the “Involvement School” in the mid 1960s – hence the name – it was at the height of longboard design before the shortboard revolution kicked in a few years later.
The board design of the McTavish Noosa ’66, how it came about and the history behind it are well worth delving into to truly appreciate this board, so make sure you grab a copy of Bobs book “Stoked” and give it a read!
Who’s It Aimed At?
Personally I’d say the more experienced you are with longboards, the more you’ll get out of the Noosa 66, and ideally you’d want to be mid to high end intermediate and upwards, as there are certainly more beginner friendly longboards out there.
If you’ve already started cross stepping, then you’ll have a blast on this one.
The Noosa ’66 comes in a range of size from 9’0 through to 9’8, with the 9’6 model being the closest to the original length.
I actually ended up grabbing a 9’3 (an unclaimed custom, handshaped by Bob himself, which is a rare find!) and to be honest I can’t say I’d change it!
When it comes to the board breakdown, it has a super flat rocker profile, which makes it an absolute paddle machine, has 50/50, egg rails for heaps of stability for cross stepping and nose riding, combine with full rolled bottom so even at its size is transitions super smoothly
All of which combine to give the Noosa 66 a timeless, classic feel – straight out of the height of longboard era!
When it comes to fin setup, the McTavish Noosa ’66 is a dedicated single fin and if you really want to do it justice the McTavish GG fin is the ideal way to go, if you can find one!
Based on the original fin template from the original boards, it’s the perfect way to really get the true feel of this board.
If you can’t get your hands on the GG (and they’re not very common) then the McTavish Involvement fin is a solid choice and the one McTavish are currently teaming up with the Noosa 66.
I’ve got the Involvement in my one and it goes great – plenty of hold, but just enough pivot for smooth turns, winning!
Ideal Wave Conditions
When it comes to wave size, for me anything under head high is the sweet spot for the Noosa ’66 and you’ll have an absolute blast on it from shin high and up.
Point breaks are where this board really excels – and a long, reeling wall is what you’ll be wanting to really get the most out of this board.
…I’ve yet to take it for a paddle in Noosa, but no doubt I’ll be heading there soon for a throwback pilgrimage from Byron to the Sunny Coast with the ’66 in the back of my car!
When it comes to bigger conditions (head high and over) it’s capable, but will certainly need a higher level of skill to really keep it under control, so unless you’re a really experienced longboarder, under head high is going to be the go for the ’66, with the chest high and clean range being the optimum.
If you are chasing something you can surf in slightly bigger, punchier conditions as well, then the McTavish Rincon (the first stage of the evolution towards the shortboard) could be a solid shout too. Check out my full review here.
What’s It Like To Surf?
My first surf on the McTavish Noosa ’66 couldn’t have been any more perfect.
I parked up at The Pass in Byron Bay to find chest high, peeling lines running down the point, with only 4 other people out. If you know Byron, you’ll know that scoring a session with any less than 30 people is a rarity, let alone just 4 people!
My first two waves left me a feeling a little “what have I done”, but I quickly realised I needed to change my approach to the wave on this board.
As soon as I embraced the trimming, cruising, 60s style the board was designed for, everything clicked right into place and it became an absolute dream to ride.
Sitting in the top third of the wave, the rail hold is perfect for board walking and nose riding, although it’s not as forgiving as some of the other McTavish range (like the aptly named Noserider) when it comes to getting your toes on the nose – but line it up in the correct part of the pocket the Noosa ’66 feels solid underfoot.
Kick turns are the go with this board and a quick stomp on the tail to flick the nose upwards and redirect the board takes a little getting used to, but it certainly feels good!
2 hours later, 25 waves ridden, clocking up nearly 3km of wave length and an average wave length of over 200m and I dragged myself out of the water absolutely frothing!
Since then, it has been my go to for days at the points or smaller swell days and I can’t get enough of it!
The McTavish Noosa 66 – like the rest of the McTavish range – are premium quality boards, but come with a premium price point as well.
Pricing on the Noosa 66 start around AU$2,760, with the Involvement fins coming in around AU$170.
…and if you want Bob to handshape it, expect to pay about $1,500 for that, although this does then include a design consultation with the man himself.
The big question though – is it worth it?
Well having ridden mine for the last few months I can honestly say it’s one of my favourite surfboard purchases so yes, I’d say it is worth it.
If you don’t have the budget though – keep an eye out for the McTavish Garage Sales (usually around April each year) where you can grab yourself an absolute bargain, with longboard going for around $1,600!
Have you surfed the McTavish Noosa 66?
How did you find it?