Steve O’Donnell began a lifelong obsession with surfing and surfboards in ‘kiddies corner’ at Freshwater Beach, Australia, when only eight years old. The red balsa ‘Pig’ he stood up on for the first time was a hand-me-down from older brother David, an already accomplished eleven year old local ‘Grommie’.
His shaping career started at Dale Surfboards in Brookvale in 1967 under the tutelage of owner Les Patterson and good friend and fellow surfer-shaper John Otton. He shaped several old style longboards before the designs took a radical change when Bob McTavish did a stint at Dale’s. They went through a rapid transition from V-bottom ‘Plastic Machines’ to down rail seven foot ‘Pocket Rockets’ by early 1969.
After Dale’s, Steve shaped at Peter Clarke’s Brookvale shop with Glynn Ritchie and Mitchel Rae, and then at McGrigor Surfboards with a large crew of early 70’s board builders under the watchful eye of legend Dee Why Surf Shop founder Ken ‘Geronimo’ Bevan. Then after a season with Harbord friend Kevin Platt in his Noosa Heads factory in the old Sunshine Beach post office did an early exploratory trip to Northern New Guinea.
In 1974 he moved to California to stay with brother Dave and landed a job at Gordon and Smith in San Diego. The next few years were spent alternating between shaping and helping David and his business partner’s road show Aussie surf movies in California, the Gulf and East Coasts of the U.S. and Hawaii.
In 1976 while working at Surfboards Kauai he shaped a 9’6” noserider for Aussie friend Bert to surf at small Hanalei Bay and Pine Trees. This re-kindled his interest in longboarding which was to prove valuable when it became popular again in the late 70’s to early 80’s.
After subsequent production shaping stints at Bennett’s, McGrigor (again), and Hot Buttered, Steve started producing custom longboards under his own O’Donnell label in the late 80’s.
Now well established as the ‘go to guy’ for noseriders and high performance contest longboards on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and backed by an expert team of craftsmen at Rhino Laminating in Manly Vale, Steve’s boards are a sought after addition to the quiver of a huge range of surfers.