Lightning Bolt and Tom Eberly

You can’t have a vintage surfboard blog without talking about the ne plus ultra of old school surfboard labels. Yup, you guessed it – Lightning Bolt, baby! What is there to say about the marque that hasn’t already been said? I know I’ve used the word “iconic” in previous posts, but now that I’m writing about the Bolt, I kind of wish I could have that back. Lightning Bolt is what many of us associate with old school surfing, consciously or not. Gerry Lopez surfing at Pipeline on big fast single-fins, doing his thing…

To any surfboard collector, Lightning Bolt is also about a brand that has almost buckled under the weight of its significance. There are many more imitators than there are the real deal, which is a shame. Is it the Shelby Cobra of surfboards – an instantly recognizable silhouette whose insides likely do not live up to the infamy of the design?

Anyway, enough with the philosophizing. What we have here is a Bolt, alright, although it isn’t the Gerry Lopez hand shape that most of us dream of finding at a random garage sale for $50 and smile. It’s shaped by Tom Eberly, one of the many shapers to have passed through the halls of Lightning Bolt. Eberly is certainly a well-regarded shaper in his own right, and one of the few to have shaped the boards in Hawaii, where the brand was born. Stoked N Board – I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again, this is a must-read resource if you’re at all interested in surfboards – lists Eberly as having shaped for the label between 1970 and 1986, so the board is likely somewhere in that range. The Clark Foam logo at the tail is a nice little touch, given that the legendary blank supplier went from near-monopoly to total disappearance faster than any other company in the history of the surf industry.

It’s available on Craigslist in Orange County, and the price is a predictably whopping $1200. Sadly, I’m better at waxing nostalgic about surfboards shaped before I was born than assessing fair prices, but my first stab is to say this isn’t completely insane for a good condition board from one of the better known Bolt shapers. It also comes with a nice-looking rainbow fin, as you can see in the last post.

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