3: GLIDE SLIDE
In the early days of Knee Ski, Hulst asked Murphy to find another water skier to help with promotions. Murphy chose fellow skier John Taylor who was ready to go to work right away.6 But bringing John on board was jumping the gun. Murphy was still at work shaping the original test boards at Herbie Fletcher’s surfboard shop.
After a short stay with the Knee Ski Team, Taylor couldn’t wait. He decided to go on his own to try and cash in on the new sport. According to Murphy: “Taylor took one of my rejected designs at Knee Ski and used it to make the mold for the Glide Slide. I glassed the original receipt right into the board, so I know it was mine. Fortunately it was one of my rejects, and the design wasn’t that good. The teardrop shape of the board caused too much drag. That’s why we used another shape.”
Glide Slide was the First Foam Filled Board; But the Pin-Tail Design was Unstable
Regardless of how Taylor may have gotten his design, he did make a big contribution to kneeboarding. He saw the problems with the high costs and intensive labor at Knee Ski, so he searched for a new manufacturing method. First he tried making the boards using the blow molding process and they were plastic, but hollow. These first boards cracked and filled with water. To alleviate the problem his hollow plastic shells were injected with expanding closed-cell foam. This revolutionary process slashed costs and allowed the boards to be mass-produced.
Glide Slide exhibited their new product in 1973 at boat shows and water ski events. Andy Remy (later of Tunnel Board and early competitions) was brought on as a design team member. Danny Churchill, world record holder in barefoot drag racing, became a national endorser that same year.[i] Glide Slide ran its first magazine ads in 1974, offering boards for just $69.95.[ii] [iii] Initially the water ski community was not very receptive to the new product. With Taylor’s persistence, promotional abilities, and water ski background, the new way to ride found a foothold of popularity, selling around 7,000 boards in the U.S.[iv] Unfortunately Glide Slide faltered when the widespread economic downturn of the 1974 gas crunch devastated the watersports industry. Both Knee Ski and Glide Slide were out of business.[iv]
Glide Slide’s First Ad Featuring John Taylor, 1974
[i] “Special Advertising Section,” WaterSki Magazine, Aug, 1997, 86.
[ii] “Glide Slide Ad,” The Water Skier, Feb-Mar, 1974, 39.
[iii] “Glide Slide Ad,” The Water Skier, June-July, 1974, 15.
[iv] Terrence Dorner, “On Your Knees: Kneeboarding,” Spray’s WaterSki, July, 1983, 47-48.
Images (used with permission)
Cover: “Adventures in Water Skiing: Part 2, Kneeboarding,” photo Rick Doyle, 1994
“Glide Slide – pin tail,” World Water Skiing, June, 1984, 46.
“Glide Slide Ad – Taylor,” The Water Skier, Feb-Mar 1974, 39.
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