Skip Frye Quiver in The Surfer’s Journal

Think of this less as a blog post and more of a public service announcement: there is an absolute must-read feature in the current issue of The Surfer’s Journal featuring Skip Frye’s personal quiver, and a detailed overview of his various shapes. The article covers just about every kind of board Frye has ever produced, from his days with Gordon & Smith to more recent designs. If you at all have a passing interest in surfboards, or you ever think to yourself “Why, yes, I would be interested in seeing the sickest quiver in the Western Hemisphere,” then go out and purchase an issue today.

Picture above via The Surfer’s Journal; photograph by Shawn Parkin (Shawn’s Instagram Account)

Harbour Surfboards Spherical Revolver

Greetings, Shredderz! I hope this post finds you all well. Today’s post features a surfboard I have long been fascinated with: the Harbour Spherical Revolver. The Spherical Revolver was invented in 1969, according to Harbour’s website. Harbour continues to produce the board today, at lengths ranging from 6’10” to 8″. While the Spherical Revolver has been updated since its genesis in the Transition Era, the board’s MO remains the same: it is intended as a shorter board for longboarders who still want paddling power, but are looking for something a little more maneuverable.

Rich Harbour is California surf royalty, and his vintage boards are very collectible. As is far too frequent when it comes to surfboards, though, it can be hard to find concrete information on prices and history. Even Harbour’s website doesn’t have any details on the history of the Spherical Revolver, other than its creation date. Stoked-n-Board, shockingly, doesn’t even mention the model by name.

Harbour Spherical Revolver Ad 1.jpg
Harbour Surfboards ad for the Spherical Revolver in Surfer Magazine (Vol. 10 Number 6, January 1969). Pic via Harbour Surfboards

As you can see in the advertisement above, the Spherical Revolver was based off an experimental design that was made in collaboration with Mark Martinson. (Side note: Harbour Surfboards has a webpage dedicated to their old ads and it is a must-visit.) Martinson was an early pro who won a bunch of surf contests in the 1960s, and was part of the Harbour Surfboards stable. Martinson continues to shape for Firewire Surfboards today, after stints working as both a commercial fisherman and then shaping for Robert August’s label.

Unfortunately, that is where the trail goes cold. I have no clear information on when the Spherical Revolver was produced, and what specific changes were made to the board between its introduction and its current iteration. It’s a shame, as while many Transition Era boards are derided as being impractical and tough to actually surf, the Spherical Revolver endures today. If you have more info, please drop me a line!

It’s not all bad news, though, as you can still find Spherical Revolvers that pop up for sale on Craigslist and eBay these days. There’s currently one up for grabs in San Diego, California on Cragislist. You can find a link to the board here. Pics below via the Craigslist posting.

The board is 8’1″ and the asking price is $650. I’m reluctant to weigh in on the price, as I have been unable to find any comparisons from boards sold at auction, etc. However, the board above was definitely produced in the late 1960s or so. The first thing you’ll recognize is the awesome, slightly psychedelic logo:

Harbour Spherical Revolver 8'1 7
Close up of the logo on the Craigslist board. Pic via the original listing.

Here’s a Hang Ten ad from Surfer Magazine in 1969 featuring Mark Martinson. You’ll notice he has a Spherical Revolver under his arm in the photo, and the logo is identical to the Craigslist board currently for sale.

Harbour Spherical Revolver Mark Martinson Hang Ten Ad
Mark Martinson for Hang Ten. Pic via Harbour Surfboards

One quick note about the board and its logo: in the close-up shot of the board’s logo, you’ll notice there is a small serial number written horizontally (#6670). Nowadays, Rich Harbour signs his hand-shaped boards very clearly. However, I believe this was not the case early on in Harbour’s history. There are other examples of Harbour hand-shaped boards with similar serial number formatting. Kagavi.com interviewed Harbour a few years ago and took a picture of a very collectible 1968 Trestle Special that was hanging from the rafters of the Harbour shop. The Trestle Special was shaped in 1968 and it has serial number #4032. In the case of the Spherical Revolver that is listed for sale, I do not know whether this board was shaped by Rich himself. The Trestle Special documented by Kagavi indicates that there are Harbour handshapes that do not have a signature, but have numbers written horizontally across the stringer.

Finally, the Spherical Revolver for sale on Craigslist comes with an original W.A.V.E. Set fin and the corresponding fin box. This is as clear a sign as any that the board was made in the 1960s, back when these Tom Morey-designed fin boxes were popular.

Harbour Spherical Revolver 8'1" 4.jpg
According to the seller, this is the original W.A.V.E. Set fin that came with the board. Pic via Craigslist

It’s too bad there isn’t a definitive history of the Spherical Revolver that is available to fans of Rich Harbour and his surfboards. In the meantime, check out the board that’s for sale listed here.

Vintage Channel Islands 80s Thruster (Perhaps a Shaun Tomson Merrick?)

Greetings, Shredderz! I hope your weekend will be chock full of tasty waves and even better company. Today’s post focuses on a board with some interesting bloodlines: a potential Shaun Tomson Merrick. Spoiler alert: it’s a sick board, but I am increasingly skeptical that it was shaped for Tomson. Nonetheless, this is as good an opportunity as any to take a closer look at the collaboration between Shaun Tomson and Channel Islands founder Al Merrick.

Tomson originally hails from South Africa, but he has taken up residence in the Santa Barbara area. Tomson and Channel Islands go way back. The Encyclopedia of Surfing claims Merrick began shaping boards for Tomson as far back as the late 1970s.

Shaun Tomson Merrick Twin Fin 1980.jpg
Shaun Tomson surfing the first-ever twin fin shaped for him by Al Merrick in 1980. Photographer unknown. Source: Shaun Tomson Twitter

The relationship between Shaun Tomson and Merrick continues to this day. 2011 saw the release of a Shaun Tomson Merrick collaboration model called “The Warp” that was designed for older surfers. Tomson tweeted about a new Warp-X model he had shaped for him before this year’s WSL J-Bay event (though it appears it was crafted by Al’s son Britt, who has taken the reins at Channel Islands).

The focus of today’s post is a sweet 1980s Channel Islands Al Merrick board that can currently be found for sale on Craigslist in Santa Barbara. You can find a link to the board here. (Pictures below via the Craigslist post.) The board bears the logo for defunct Instinct Surfwear, which Tomson founded and continued to ride for during the 1980s. In addition, according to the poster, the lams on the board are all beneath the glass, meaning that this board was created for a team rider.

The board also bears a clear Al Merrick signature, indicating it was hand-shaped by the man himself. (See here for an earlier post on how to identify boards that have been shaped by Al himself.)

Channel Islands Al Merrick Signature.jpg
Clear evidence of a Merrick hand shape — look at the unmistakable “Al / Fish” design above the stringer.

Now for the bad news: I can’t find any evidence that Tomson ever rode for Aleeda Wetsuits. In fact, the only photos I have been able to find show Tomson with O’Neill stickers on his boards. As mentioned earlier, the Aleeda and Instinct logo lams are beneath the glass, so this is not a sticker that was added after the fact. In conclusion, I think it’s possible the board pictured above is a Shaun Tomson Merrick, but I think it’s unlikely. If anyone has more definitive info, I’d love to know more.

Tomson also had his own line of surfboards, but I am not sure of the production dates for those boards. These boards were branded with Tomson’s name. There are a lot of other funky Tomson boards too, such as a co-branded Tomson / Surf Line Hawaii board, which you can see here.

Shaun Tomson Surfboards.jpg
The degree of difficulty on the old pastel boat shoes move goes way down when you have a world championship to your name. Shaun Tomson, looking dapper while showing off one of his surfboards. Pic via Vintage Surfboard Collector UK; photographer unknown.

Either way, the board in question is a great example of a genuine 1980s Channel Islands Al Merrick handshape. Not everyone loves the neon airbrush, but at the very least, it is what they might call era-appropriate. Check out the board here if you’re interested, and may the Gods of Shred smile upon your weekend!

Vintage Channel Islands Surfboards Ad from 1970s: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! I’d like to welcome you all — yes, all five of you — to a brand spankin’ new series: Sagas of Shred! If, like me, you enjoy the nostalgia from #throwbackthursday but find yourself endlessly confused by hashtag culture, then this is the right place for you. Sagas of Shred is a weekly series, posted every Thursday, that will highlight a small piece of surf culture from the days of old. Today’s post focuses on a vintage Channel Islands Surfboards ad from the 1970s, which you can see below:

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Vintage Channel Islands Surfboard ad from sometime in the 1970s. The ad originally appeared in Surfer Magazine

This is the first evidence I have seen that Channel Islands produced a sting design in large quantities during the 1970s. We featured a CI sting in an earlier post, but at the time I had assumed this was probably a one-off design. I have only seen a Channel Islands 70s sting for sale once before. I am guessing CI only produced a sting for a few years during the 70s. If you have one in your possession that you’d like to see featured here, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Creative Freedom & John Bradbury: A Shred Sledz Deep Dive

An overview and history of Creative Freedom and John Bradbury’s surfboards

Shred Sledz may have a silly name, but we’d like to think we’re (somewhat) serious about making an effort to help preserve surf culture. Then again, the blog’s name does have an ironic ‘z’ in it, so who can be sure? One thing is certain, though: Shred Sledz has a keen interest in examining lesser-known chapters of California’s rich surfing history, and in particular, the craftsmen who have helped make it all possible. One such underground shaper is Creative Freedom’s John Bradbury. Bradbury might not be a household name, partly due to his untimely passing in 1999. Nonetheless, Bradbury is still respected by some of the most famous board builders in the world. Among others, shapers like Al Merrick, Renny Yater, Marc Andreini, Wayne Rich and Bruce Fowler have all expressed admiration for Bradbury and his designs.

Bradbury was an early proponent of EPS / epoxy surfboards. In 1985 Pottz won a World Tour contest on a Bradbury design. The success of this collaboration led to Bradbury supplying boards to other top pros Cheyne Horan and Brad Gerlach.

Shaun Tomson Martin Potter Stubbies Contest.jpg
No Bradbury board here; just Martin Potter (center) celebrating a win at the 1983 Stubbies Surf Classic. You can see Shaun Tomson on his left. Pottz would surf a Bradbury epoxy design in a contest two years later and win, helping cement Bradbury’s status as a forward thinking shaper. Pic via Area561

More than three decades later, as companies like Firewire continue to incorporate alternate materials into their designs, Bradbury’s approach looks downright prescient.

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Epoxy EPS Board
Here’s an example of an early Bradbury epoxy board, made for Reef founder and surfboard collector extraordinaire Fernando Aguerre. Note the lack of a stringer. In addition, you can see there is no “Creative Freedom” branding anywhere — by the mid-1980s it appears Bradbury was shaping boards under his own name. Pic via 365 Surfboards

While Bradbury is rightfully known for his early forays into epoxy surfboards, this post will focus on the boards he made during the earlier parts of his career. The pictures of the boards in the post below came from a Shred Sledz reader who has been quietly collecting Bradbury’s designs over the years. (Side note: If you have any interesting boards or stories you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to reach out!)

 

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Board #1: “Double Logo” 7’10” x 19-1/8″ x 3″ Single Fin (Date Unknown)

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Double Logo Single Fin
Twice as nice: an early Creative Freedom John Bradbury logo. Stoked-n-Board lists this logo as having been produced during the 1960s; I’m not certain that’s the case. More on this below.

It’s unclear when this board was shaped. My guess is sometime during the 70s. The fin box looks like a Bahne Fins Unlimited box, which I believe were not popularized until the late 1960s. In addition, the outline looks similar to many of the single fin guns and mini-guns being made during this era. This logo was created by Michael Drury, who also did the updated version (see below).

 

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Board #2: “Compass Logo” 7’6″ x 20-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ Single Fin (Approx. 1969)

Stoked-n-Board continues to be one of the finest online resources on vintage surfboards. Predictably, S-n-B’s entry on Creative Freedom / John Bradbury is worth a read. However, after discussing the boards in this post with their owner, I’m not sure that the dates corresponding to the logos in S-n-B’s entry are correct. See below for an example of a Creative Freedom surfboard with a “compass logo”. Despite what is listed on Stoked-n-Board, the compass logo was actually the first logo ever designed for Creative Freedom. The board below is also numbered #199, which pegs it as a pretty early shape.

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Nautical Logo 1.jpg
Example of the “nautical logo.” The owner of this board believes this may have been the first-ever Creative Freedom logo. This board is also numbered #199, which would make it an earlier shape.

See below for more pictures of the board in question. Note the prominent S-Deck with the domed tail.

The tail in particular is pretty funky looking, as you can see in the pictures:

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Natutical Logo Board 1.jpg

And here’s a side shot, which gives you a clear idea of the S-Deck and the rocker.

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Natutical Logo Board 2
Look at the dramatic S-Deck and the low rocker in the nose.

Fountain of Youth Surfboards shaper Bruce Fowler graciously took some time to read this blog post and offer some additional information on the board above. There is no tail rocker present in the Compass Logo board, which was likely shaped in 1969. According to Fowler, the more modern designs of shapers like Dick Brewer, Mike Diffenderfer, and Mike Hynson forced the Santa Barbara crew to adapt. Brewer, Diff, and Hynson’s boards featured beak noses, full down rails, and natural rocker in the tail. These advancements were later incorporated into Bradbury, Yater, et al’s designs.

There’s one other data point that supports the 1969 date for the compass logo board, and it comes from Kirk Putnam. Putnam posted a picture of a very similar looking compass logo Creative Freedom board, which Putnam dates to 1969 as well:

Reunited with my 1969 Creative Freedom , John Bradbury shaped 7'6" Pocket Rocket.

A post shared by @kirkputnam on

 

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Board #3: 1970s Single Fin 6’8″ x 19-1/8″ x 3-1/4″

At some point Bradbury tweaked his logo to include two surfers on the wave (maybe as a more accurate depiction of the crowds at Rincon?) The same collector owns a single fin sporting the two surfers logo.

Creative Freedom John Bradbury Two Surfers Logo.jpg
There’s now another surfer on the wave. Note the signature that has been added to the bottom as well.

I believe the logo with the two surfers is more recent than both the single surfer logo, as well as the nautical logo. The board bears many of the hallmarks of a traditional 1970s single fin. It has a beaked nose, a removable fin box, and beefy rails (3-1/4″!).

The 70s single fin also has a Bradbury signature on the board, addressed to Lewis. You can barely make out the “J. Bradbury” below.

Creative Freedom John Bradbury 1970s Single Fin Signature1
Example of a Creative Freedom surfboard with a John Bradbury signature on the stringer.

At some point, Bradbury appears to have ditched the Creative Freedom brand altogether. Stoked-n-Board estimates the switch happened in the 1980s, and Bradbury continued to use the new logo until his passing in 1999. Here is an example of the modern Bradbury logo, taken from a board that was listed for sale on Craigslist a few months ago:

Creative Freedom John Bradbury 1980s Thruster 7'6.jpg
Clean and colorful example of the modern logo that John Bradbury used from the 1980s until his passing.

Bradbury was also recognized by the Boardroom Show’s “Icons of Foam” series back in 2009. Marc Andreini turned in the winning tribute board. I believe Andreini’s tribute board is a thruster, but I’m not certain. I took this photo myself at the Boardroom Show in Santa Cruz last fall.

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Marc Andreini’s winning Icons of Foam tribute for John Bradbury. Pic from the author

Creative Freedom John Bradbury shapes continue to have a cult following, particularly in and around Bradbury’s hometown of Santa Barbara. While Bradbury’s career as a shaper might have been cut short by his untimely passing, there is no doubt about the extent of his contributions to the sport of surfing.

 

Many thanks to Jesse McNamara for much of the information in this post!

Photo at the top of the page taken by Matt George; via The Surfer’s Journal

Update 7/24: Post updated to include date on the compass logo board, and additional information regarding its shape. Michael Drury also credited with designing the surfer logo.

Trio of Skip Frye Vintage Surfboards

Greetings, Shredderz! We’ve got some more detailed posts in the hopper, so please stay tuned. And if you haven’t already, please check us out on Instagram. In the meantime, though, now is a good opportunity to feature three Skip Frye vintage sticks that are currently for sale on eBay, all being offered by the same seller. Based on some of the boards’ various details, it looks like all three of these Skip Frye vintage boards were shaped in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are some cool details on each board, which I have explained below.

Skip Frye Vintage Board #1: 9’1″ K Model “The Diamond Frye” Logo (Link)

This board has definitely seen some better days, but that’s understandable, if not outright required. Click through to the eBay link above for more pics, and you’ll be able to see some obvious places where repairs were made. Board measures 9’1″ and you can see it has a thruster setup with glassed on fins. Starting bid is $1200, which might be a bit on the steep side. Note “The Diamond Frye” logo. Stoked-n-Board lists “The Diamond Frye” logo as having been produced between 1986 and 1988. During those same years, S-n-B claims Frye’s boards were produced at the Diamond Factory in San Diego. That can’t be coincidental. As for the shape of the board itself, I believe it’s a K Model. There’s another picture of a Skip Frye K Model on Daniel’s Longboards, and the outline looks identical. I’m not certain on that, however. As always, drop me a line if you have more info on Frye’s boards, as there is nothing listed on his website.

 

Skip Vintage Board #2: 7’9″ Thruster (Link)

This board seems like the best bargain of the bunch. First, it’s in superior condition to the K Model pictured above, with only a $200 difference in starting price (opening bid is $1400). As far as I can see, no major fixes have been made. The 7’9″ board also has beautiful wooden glassed on fins. They might be Larry Gephart fins, but I can’t be certain. In the last picture you can see an “S.D.” written on the stringer, followed by a number that looks like “19”. Unfortunately, the number is obscured by the fiberglass leash loop. Once again, Stoked-n-Board comes through in the clutch. S.D. does not stand for San Diego, but rather Skip and Donna (Donna being Skip’s wife). The S.D. written on the stringer started in 1990 and continued in 2000. If it is in fact number 19, that pegs the board as having been shaped in 1990. It makes sense that the various boards being listed by this seller were all shaped around the same time.

 

Skip Frye Vintage Board #3: 7’7″ Thruster (Link)

The last board is another thruster, this time with a neat green paint job, and a multi-colored Skip Frye wings logo. The 7’7″ green board is very similar in shape to the 7’9″ thruster. One interesting little touch on the 7’7″ green board is a doubled up version of Skip’s signature hand drawn wings design, located on the stringer right near the fins. This is a pretty unusual touch that I haven’t spotted before. See the second picture above for a closeup. This board has also been signed “S.D. 63″ (I didn’t include the pic, but click through the link above to see). This would squarely date the board in 1990, according to Stoked-n-Board’s very thorough records. The 7’7” green board is also being offered at a starting bid of $1200.

Skip Frye vintage boards don’t always pop up for sale, and when they do, it can often be a little tricky figuring out when they were made. Seeing this trio for sale sheds some light on what Frye’s boards were like during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The prices might be ambitious, especially if these are just starting bids, but I never pass up an opportunity to window shop when it comes to Skip Frye’s creations.

Shred Sledz Presents: July 17 Grab Bag

Greetings, Shredderz! It’s been a while since I put one of these together. What better way to stave off the slow and inexorable encroachment of the work week than by perusing some of the cooler vintage sticks to go on sale over the past few days? Here’s a little selection of boards that have caught my eye recently:

Town & Country Single Fin by Dennis Pang (eBay)

T&C boards have become incredibly collectible over the past few years. This is especially true of 80s T&C boards with outrageous spray jobs. Given the board above is a bit earlier than the most famous T&C models, I’m a little surprised that it seems to be commanding a premium with five days left to go in bidding, as the price is already north of $350. It’s also surprisingly small, clocking in at a cozy 5’9″. As an added bonus, the board was shaped by Dennis Pang (see here for an earlier post about his work for Surf Line Hawaii.)

 

Rick Hamon Surfing’s New Image Aipa Sting & 80s Single Fin (eBay & Craigslist)

I’ve written before about how to distinguish whether or not an Aipa sting has been shaped by the man himself. And while I think it’s useful to know whether or not a board is an Aipa hand shape, let’s not forget that there are plenty of other non-Aipa shaped boards that are still awesome. Pictured above is a Rick Hamon-shaped Aipa sting, under the Surfing’s New Image label, that recently sold on eBay. Asking price was $600 but the listing makes it seem as if someone came in with a higher offer. Hamon is a well-renowned shaper in his own right who can currently be found mowing foam at Rusty Surfboards.

The second board in today’s Rick Hamon doubleheader is a Surfing’s New Image 80s single fin that can be found on Craigslist in Charleston. The seller is asking $475. The board looks like it’s in absolutely beautiful condition. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but hey, some covers just happen to be way more beautiful than others. The board has an interesting shape, too. It looks like Hamon’s take on the famous McCoy Lazor Zap model. I’ve reproduced a picture of one below, courtesy of excellent online vintage surf purveyor Von Weirdos.

McCoy Lazor Zap Von Weirdos.jpg
A real McCoy Lazor Zap. Note the similarities between this board and the Rick Hamon single fin above, from the geometric paint job down to the super wide swallow tail. Pic via Von Weirdos

 

Choice Surfboards Steve Lis Fish (Craigslist and Craigslist)

We’ve got two separate Choice Surfboards / Steve Lis fish here, both of which are linked in the header above. The blue quad fin on the left is 5’8″; the twin fin on the right with the wooden keels doesn’t have any dimensions listed. There’s no price on the blue board, and the twin fin is going for $1K. I’m not sure what to make of these Choice / Lis fish boards. As I wrote earlier, I’ve heard these Choice / Lis models are not shaped by Lis, but rather, made from a template he designed. If anyone has any additional info, please drop me a line!