Stab Magazine | Stab Recommends: McTavish, a Fine Brand With A Hell Of A Story

'Vacation Presented By Monster Energy' Drops 5pm on Thurs, March 30 (PT)


Stab Recommends: McTavish, a Fine Brand With A Hell Of A Story

Worth the price of admission for the Stowaway yarn alone.

style // May 3, 2020
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

I fell in love with the stories before I fell in love with surfing.

I’ve only realised it in hindsight, but the tales of travel, perfect waves, strange cultures and certified left of centre behaviour caught my attention long before the feeling of zipping along waves captured it. And it was the old guard; Lynch and Young, Ted Spencer, The Witzigs, Alby Falzon… I worshiped these guys for the adventure and the counter culture I discovered in old Tracks mags, books, and on pirated DVDs from Bali. There was a certain…outlawish…tint to their character which was most appealing to an impressionable mind, and Bob McTavish was certainly amongst them.

stab mag mctavish 3

What I really loved about McTavish and his ilk was how incidental it all seemed, if the tales are to believed. The story of the scruffy layabout McTavish (who’d previously been living in his car and eating loaves of bread stuffed with bananas for sustenance) stowing away on the boat to Hawaii for the adventure of a lifetime only be caught, sent home, then having to fine-tune his shaping to pay the wager, morphing into one of the most influential and prolific shapers of the modern age is bound to be part fantasy, but who cares? Folklore is by definition a mixture of fact and legend, and that’s why they’re so important. 

stab mag mctavish

McTavish, the man and the company, had the good sense to set themselves up in the Byron Shire before the great exodus reached its peak, and so are nicely set to capitalise on a prim position in Byron’s sought after industrial zone. They’ve got a handsome showroom and cafe, and they’re about much more than just boards, although the crafts that come out of the factory are still some of the most beautiful and desirable bits of foam around. McTavish 2020 features a full range of apparel, and unsurprisingly, like the boards, it’s simple, aesthetically pleasing, and designed with specific tasks in hand. Easy on the gimmicks, and rich in quality.

Hinterland Flannel Shirt

Winter means flannos, and unsurprisingly McTavish turn out some nice tartan. You’d imagine that a brand founded by a guy who pretty much pioneered the concept of standing around the campfire after a surf in a flanno would know the constructs of a successful fuzzy shirt, and the Hinterland is a fine example.  

Arcadia Cords

A pair of cords named after and styled on a John Witzig photo? Now that’s the type of romantic surf dorkery that I can get down with. The photo of a couple of long hairs skipping across a northern rivers stream is burned into the retinas of surfers the world over, and it’s not a bad mental image to pop up every time you pull on a pair of soft and familiar dacks.

Bay Boardshorts

Dark navy and white conjures sailors, dark skin, outside tables with checked table cloths, chilled beer or wine, hors d’oeuvres… man this isolation causes the mind to wander. Anyway, apart from prompting great romance, navy also looks wonderful on a pair of trunks, as the Bay shorts attest. Perfect in length and shade for the surfer who likes to jump between crafts.


Planer Tee

The graphic tee has tripped up more than a few heritage brands, but in our humble opinion this is a good one. Love the Barry McGee vibes and that the phone number checks out.

South Coast Hoodie

Hoods are the perfect transitional garment, perfectly situated between bed and the outside world. Which fits nicely into the Bunker range, McTavish’s take on COVID-19 wear. It’s based around comfort and not really leaving the house, but really who doesn’t love high-quality, comfortable basics?

Couldn’t browse the McTavish racks without landing on a beautiful surfcraft, and in a handsome rack the Tracker reigns supreme. Nothing like getting in early and standing ready for the curl to unfold, especially if the rest of the pack’s falling from the sky on thrusters and praying their fins catch. Negotiating the third dimension on a piece of genuine surfing history is only proven to enhance the experience. 

We highly recommend a trip to McTavish, whatever it is you’re after.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Rio Waida Has Been Surfing Onshore, Oversized Bells Alone

...and he might not go home all year.

Mar 29, 2023


John Florence Releases Long-Form Piece On The 243km Great Ocean Squiggle

Tourism Victoria going, ‘he just did our job for us’.

Mar 29, 2023


Japanese Rice Farmer Enjoys Frightening Sumatran West Bowls

Kaito Ohashi is on his best behavior.

Mar 28, 2023

Extended Cut: Luke + Eddie

"Now when you watch a regular surf meet its like grinding your teeth… when's the…

Mar 28, 2023


Diamond Tail = Diamond Hands?

We'll explain everything in the Rusty D-Min Joyride.

Mar 27, 2023

Behold Australia’s Nine & NZ’s Two Challenger Series Qualifiers*

May the Southern Cross smile upon you at Snapper.

Mar 27, 2023

An Unordinary Life Structured Around A Tidal Bore

Long Read: The life and times of Pete Beachy.

Mar 26, 2023


Watch: ‘Haiku’

Scenes From a Remote Reality, by Vans & Karina Rozunko

Mar 25, 2023

Sun Room: The Overnight Success Of A Young Surf Band

What's it like touring the world and living off of McDonald's?

Mar 25, 2023

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 6

An instructional manual for the modern professional surfer

Mar 23, 2023


Caity Simmers — Extreme Competitive Surf Vlogger

Cool is chemical.

Mar 23, 2023

Globe Pulls Out Of The Apparel Game

…and, Taj Burrow and Dion Agius are now looking for new main sponsors.

Mar 22, 2023

Owen Wright Announces Retirement From Competitive And Heavy-Water Surfing

But will surf final CT event at Bells.

Mar 22, 2023


Fancy An Ale, Some Good Music, And A Bunch Of Tubes?

Ballet's minimalist full-length will satiate your needs.

Mar 22, 2023

João Chianca Spent Seven Years On The QS Without A Sponsor

And look where he is now.

Mar 22, 2023

Take Stab’s 2023 Audience Survey, Win A 3-Board Quiver

Stab towels and Premium subscriptions also up or grabs.

Mar 21, 2023

Jessi Miley Dyer On The New Challenger Series Schedule And More

Did you know that you could miss the mid-year cut and still theoretically win the…

Mar 20, 2023


Don’t Miss The Last Wave Of The First 2023 SEOTY Entry

Jacob Willcox's ‘Into Dust’ just set the bar.

Mar 20, 2023