I’m usually not one to tell people how to live their lives, but in this case I’m willing to make an exception. The title says it all. If you’d rather not read the unhinged fan boy ramblings of a part-time blogger, then by all means, skip directly ahead to the beautiful pictures below. While I love the neon look of 80s surfboards in all its forms, there’s no denying that Shawn Stussy is on a different level. His boards still look futuristic a good thirty-plus years after they were shaped. Fluoro sprays might have been the dominant trend of the Echo Beach era, but it’s clear that Stussy was one of the people who defined the aesthetic, as opposed to hopping on the bandwagon. I’m simply in awe of these boards, whether it’s the bold strokes of the now-classic Stussy script logo, the double winged swallow tails, or, of course, the arresting graphics. There’s a reason why Stussy shortboards from the 80s command such high prices on the open market, and it’s not just nostalgia.
As a bonus, here’s a picture of Stussy alongside one of his creations for the Russell Surfboards label. I’ve featured a few sweet Stussy / Russell Surfboardsshapesin the past. The one below has them all beat. I’ve also never personally seen the orange box logo on a Russell shape. I’m wondering if it might have been restored, but either way, it is an absolutely stunning board.
Greetings, Shredderz! In honor of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, today we have an ad from a defunct surfboards label that, had it been founded in today’s day and age, surely would have been sued into oblivion. The vintage Olympic Surfboards ad posted above dates back to 1963, before the IOC transformed into a litigation machine that just so happened to put on a sporting event every couple of years. It’s also fitting that surfing will be featured as an Olympic sport for the first time ever in 2020. And as an American, I’m starting to become concerned that the hometown squad isn’t matching the Aussies’ very public push for gold.
During its brief existence, Olympic Surfboards was way more than just a way to capitalize on a popular trademark. According to Stoked-n-Board, Olympic Surfboards was based out of San Diego, and the brand existed from 1962 to 1968.
Mike Diffenderfer, whom you can see pictured in the ad, is still remembered as one of the greatest shapers in surf history. Bill Caster was another standout shaper, who sadly passed away in 1985. Caster’s boards are still prized among a segment of San Diego surfers. Surfy Surfy has spoken at length about Caster’s shapes, and if you go to the amazing Bird’s Surf Shed, you’ll see many of Bill Caster’s boards lining the well-stocked ceilings.
I couldn’t find any info about Bill David, Lonnie Woods, and Larry Woods, however. I’m guessing they were San Diego surf fixtures once upon a time, but my Googling didn’t turn up any interesting info. If you know more about these gentlemen, please do let me know!
As always, thanks for reading Sagas of Shred. We’ll be back next week with some more surf history.
My first ever surfboard — which is still in my possession, thank you — is an oversized Channel Islands thruster from the late 1990s. It still bears many relics from a time when the Momentum generation was the coolest thing since sliced bread, including an outdated On A Mission traction pad and what I thought at the time was a small, tastefully done Volcom sticker. I may not have realized it at the time, but buying that board planted the seeds for what has bloomed into a fascination with Channel Islands Surfboards as well as Al Merrick, the board making maestro behind the marque. Thus, today’s post particularly special, as it features a beautiful late 1970s vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull in pristine condition. The board featured here comes courtesy of Shred Sledz reader Kenny G, who was generous enough to share this stunning sled. Many thanks to Kenny G for spreading the stoke!
Alright, enough appetizers — let’s move onto the steak! As you can see, the vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull pictured above is clean and it is most certainly mean as well. Kenny bought the board in 1978 from the Channel Islands Surfboards store in Santa Barbara when he was a grom. Since then, the board has avoided any significant repairs, as you can see in the pictures. Señor G was also kind enough to provide dimensions: the board is 5’11-1/2″ x 19-3/4″ x 2-5/8″, and then 13-1/4″ in the nose, and 14-1/2″ in the tail.
Oh, and the hits just keep coming! There are a million details on this board, each more killer than the last. I love the super simple black pinline, and then the unusual Channel Islands laminates on the rails. The logo on the rails looks like the same font used in the Channel Islands logo on the “Tri Plane Hull” laminate on the bottom of the board, but with the words placed on a single line instead. It’s a logo placement you don’t see too often. The double wings in the tail are absolutely gorgeous, as well.
And in case you were starting to worry that this board didn’t have enough good things going for it already, why yes, it also has a pristine original Rainbow Fin. Do your best not to drool all over your keyboard while reading this post.
Kenny provided a close up photo of the board’s tail. The photo above is a wonderful illustration of the namesake of the vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull. In the picture above you can clearly see the double concave in the tail, which is one of the critical elements of Merrick’s pioneering tri plane hull design.
Kenny’s vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull has a signature from the man himself. I wrote two earlier posts dissecting Merrick’s signatures on various Channel Islands surfboards, which you can find here and here. The board is clearly numbered #6044. I featured #6106 in one of the earlier Al Merrick signature breakdowns, and the appearances of both boards suggest that they were shaped within short time periods of one another during the late 1970s.
Once again, many thanks to Kenny for sharing his incredible vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull and the story behind the board. I know we’re not supposed to play favorites here, but this is one of the coolest boards I have had the pleasure of writing up on this blog. As always, if you have a board you’d like to see featured here, please drop me a line or slide in those Instagram DMs.
Pictured above is a vintage bonzer surfboard that I would guess was shaped sometime during the 1970s. This is a Campbell Brothers’ Russ Short Model, named after its famous test pilot, who cut a high performance swath across California lineups during the 1970s. I wrote up another vintage Russ Short Model a few weeks back, which you can check out here. The yellow Russ Short Model pictured above is currently for sale on Craigslist in Oxnard, near its ancestral home. Pics are via the listing, which you can find here.
As expected, the business end of this vintage bonzer surfboard features some beautiful curves. Sadly, the tail is a bit dinged up, but the board still has its lovely original paint job, and there just aren’t that many forty year-old boards in great condition, no matter what. The seller lists the serial number as #761, and as a result, dates the vintage bonzer surfboard to 1978. I can’t say for sure whether or not this is correct. If I had to guess, I would say the yellow board above is from a few years earlier than 1978. According to the Campbell Brothers’ website, Bonzer Vehicles got its start in 1975. Stoked-n-Board claims that the Bonzer Vehicles logo pictured on the board above was only in circulation between 1975 and 1978.
Speaking of which, I love that the board featured here has the old school Bonzer Vehicles “UFO” logo (not sure if this is the proper name for the logo, but that’s what I’m going with.) Sadly, the pictures from the listing aren’t high res enough to provide a clear closeup, but I’ve found one featured in an exhibit the Campbell brothers put on with Alex Knost in Costa Mesa last year. I love the addition of the completely un-ironic twin dolphin airbrush.
The seller is asking $950 for the vintage Bonzer surfboard pictured above, which I find a little steep. Prices aside, it is a beautiful surfboard, and at the very least, it’s worth checking out the listing for all the pics. You can see the board here.
Greetings, Shredderz! It’s another Thursday, which means another small but satisfying dose of surf culture from years past. Pictured above is a vintage Donald Takayama ad that originally appeared in Surfer Magazine in 1979. What’s interesting to me is the fact the ad is for board Takayama shaped under his own name, as opposed to his Hawaiian Pro Designs label. I’ve never been able to figure out when exactly HPD was founded — Stoked-n-Board claims 1965, but I’ve read late 1970s elsewhere — or how exactly HPD came to be. Larry Bertlemann was also involved in Hawaiian Pro Designs at some point.
The Takayama ad above features a young Joey Buran, who would famously go on to become the first Californian to win the prestigious Pipe Masters contest. Buran won the Pipe Masters in 1984, meaning this ad came out a full five years before his Hawaiian victory.
Standard Store, a rad Japanese surf shop, claims the above board is an example of a Donald Takayama Joey Buran model. I’m not so convinced, but I’m not ready to make a judgment either way. I have personally never heard of a Joey Buran signature model, and to me, the Takayama above looks like any number of twin fins that Takayama shaped during the late 1970s / early 1980s. In any case, the board above does not have any Hawaiian Pro Designs branding.
I haven’t been able to find any other pictures of Joey Buran surfing Takayama boards. If you know of any, or if you’re sitting on a secret stash of vintage surf pictures, then please do get in touch!
Otherwise, check in next Thursday for another installment of Sagas of Shred.
Greetings, Shredderz! Today we’ll be examining an awesome surfboard that crosses over a few different standouts from surf history: a Donald Takayama David Nuuhiwa Noserider shaped in the 1980s, under Takayama’s legendary Hawaiian Pro Designs label.
Nuuhiwa and Takayama’s relationship goes way back. Nuuhiwa has mentioned Takayama as one of his early influences. Later on the two men were stablemates on Bing’s legendary surf team in the 1960s, and both Takayama and Nuuhiwa had signature Bing boards to call their own. Bing’s David Nuuhiwa Noseriding Model was produced during this time, and it remains coveted among longboard collectors. Takayama played a critical role in developing both of Nuuhiwa’s Bing models, which were the aforementioned Noseriding Model and the subsequent Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight Model.
The board pictured above is a Hawaiian Pro Designs Donald Takayama David Nuuhiwa Noserider (now take a breath), and it is currently available on Craigslist in Norfolk, Virginia, of all places. Pics in the post are via the listing.
The David Nuuhiwa laminate is an unusual one, and I have only seen it on a handful of Takayama boards before. On the other hand, I have seen a ton of Hawaiian Pro Designs / Takayama boards with “Noserider” logos, one of which you can see below. You’ll notice there is no mention of Nuuhiwa’s name.
I’m not sure to what extent the Takayama David Nuuhiwa Noserider is a variant of the Bing David Nuuhiwa Noseriding Model or the Bing Nuuhiwa Lightweight Model. Given the two men’s history with the Bing brand, however, I would be surprised if the HPD board pictured here didn’t at least contain some of the DNA from Nuuhiwa’s earlier Bing models.
The board that is being listed for sale also has something of an interesting history, according to the seller. He claims he was given the board as a Christmas gift from his wife around 1985. The mid Eighties represented longboarding’s dark years, as the surf world’s attention had turned to high performance shortboard thrusters. In the Nineties, noseriding underwent a resurgence, thanks in no small part to the likes of Takayama and his star pupil Joel Tudor. To complete the cycle, Tudor’s surfboard brand has also produced a Nuuhiwa-esque noserider model. In any case, the board featured in this post pre-dates Takayama’s resurgence in popularity by about a decade or so, which is a cool little touch.
As you can see in the pictures, the Takayama David Nuuhiwa Noserider is in impeccable condition. It looks completely new, despite being over thirty years old at this point. The seller is asking $1,600, and while I wouldn’t say this is cheap, it’s not insane, either. If you’re interested in the board, check it out on Craigslist here.
If, like me, you are a mere mortal in pursuit of a Skip Frye board, the secondary market will have to do. Frye’s shapes are probably the most coveted surfboards in the world, and unless you personally know the man, you’re not going to be able to put in the order. Frye’s customers are a satisfied bunch, meaning that on the rare occasions when his boards do hit the market, they are snapped up almost immediately. When I recently spotted a vintage Skip Frye single fin pop up on eBay, I was curious to see where the dust would settle.
The board pictured to the left is the vintage Skip Frye shape in question. According to the seller, the board was made sometime during the 1970s, although I can’t personally confirm this date. I also don’t have an idea of what model this might be. Last year The Surfer’s Journal ran a definitive overview of Skip’s quiver and the various models he makes, but your guesses are as good as mine. The vintage Skip Frye board is a single fin, although it’s missing the original fin.
The final closing price for the vintage Skip Frye board pictured to the left was $1300 (including a likely $200 shipping charge, as the board was located in Florida). My first reaction is to say that it’s a decent price. Granted, I love vintage boards, but Skip’s boards are impossible to find, and vintage examples are rarer still.
That said, there’s also a case to say that $1300 (or likely $1500, when it is all said and done) is a lot of money for a board with some visible heel dents and a couple of discoloration spots. I don’t think this is an outrageous stance. But maybe my indecisiveness is a sign that the price is right on the money.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Skip’s boards continue to increase in value. For more pics of the vintage Skip Frye single fin, including a close-up of the signature hand drawn wings on the bottom, check out the original eBay auction here.