I haven't ridden my Old Mal for ages. And it was a little strange going up to Noosa for the Festival of Surfing and not competing in the Old Mals this year. To me there's something inherently beautiful about these period boards (I particularly like the boards right on the cusp before they went short). I love the way they embed themselves into the wave, how the water wraps around the bottom roll and soft rails, being sucked to and feeling the wave - moving at wave speed, and then rolling into and out of turns.
When I first rode my '67 Peter Clarke Stringerless, I distinctly recall trying to break trim and turn, leaning over and falling off the side while the board continued straight. That was my first lesson - humility. These boards command respect and surrender. You can't overpower them.
I've been riding a lot of other boards these days and having a ball, but for a while (probably 5-6 years) I rode my Old Mal all the time. Sometimes I see the Old Mal resting in the shed and feel a twinge of longing... seeing it always brings back fond memories. And when I do get a chance to paddle it out after a long break it feels like I'm being re-united with an old friend.