Apocalypse Wow: Yater Single Fin

Good morning, Shredderz! Today’s post will cover the one and only Reynolds “Renny” Yater, a Santa Barbara fixture and one of the better known shapers in California history.

If you’re a film buff with a great eye for detail, first of all I’d like to say I have no idea how you ended up here, but I’m glad you haven’t left yet. Secondly, I’d add that you might recognize Yater from his cameo in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, the surf-obsessed madman played by Robert Duvall, wields a Yater board in the movie’s iconic surfing scene. The board sports a pretty bitchin’ custom paint job, too:

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When Kilgore isn’t shouting “Charlie don’t surf” and clearing lineups in the Mekong Delta, he can be seen sporting a Yater t-shirt:

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Reynolds Yater, for the uninitiated, is a legendary California surfboard shaper who got his start in the 1950s. Yater might be in his eighties now, but he continues to shape boards under the Yater Surfboards brand today. If you haven’t already, you ought to read his Encyclopedia of Surfing entry, which contains this awesome pic of Yater at the Hollister Ranch:

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Photo via Encyclopedia of Surfing; photo by John Severson

Yater is best known for his longboard shapes. He invented the Yater Spoon in 1965, which was an incredibly modern noseriding shape for its time. Yater is probably best known for his longboards, but as you can see at the top of the post, you can currently find one of his shortboards for sale on Craigslist, in Petaluma. The board pictured at the top of this post was shaped sometime during the seventies. There are two pieces of evidence that point to this fact. First is the logo, which is a more stripped down design than the classic “Santa Barbara Surf Shop” Yater logo, which I’ve reproduced below. Stoked-n-Board’s comprehensive entry for Yater Surfboards matches the logo in the first pic to boards shaped in the 1970s.

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Photo via Stanley’s Surfboard Logos

The second giveaway is the rainbow fin, which looks to be in excellent condition. The same can be said for the entire board, which looks pretty great considering it was originally shaped almost 50 years ago. I can’t spot any obvious telltale signs of the board having been restored, but take that with a grain of salt.

Yater’s best known shortboard shape is the Pocket Rocket model, which was designed during the transitional era of the late sixties and early seventies. According to the Yater Surfboards website, “From 1969-72, [Yater] produced the Pocket Rocket, a surfboard designed with Hawaiian surfing in mind, riding the crest of the short board era.” I’m not sure whether or not the board at the top of this post would be considered a proper Pocket Rocket, but my early guess is no. Here are some pics of a recent Pocket Rocket reproduction (shaped by Yater), and you can see the outline is far more pulled in and narrow. In addition, it’s missing the wings you can find in the tail of the board at the top of this post.

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In addition, here’s an example of a 1969 Pocket Rocket that recently went up for auction. You’ll see in the second pic that the auction board has a glassed-on fin, versus the fin box in the board at the top of this post.

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Photos via California Surf Auction

Finally, here’s a third example of a vintage Pocket Rocket, which was sold in 2001 at Randy Rarick’s Hawaiian Island Vintage Surf Auction. I can’t find any information on the closing price, but as you can see in the pictures below, the board has the same narrow outline as the other examples.

Photos via Hawaiian Island Vintage Surf Auction

Regarding the board at the top of this post, even if it’s not a traditional Pocket Rocket design, it’s still a fantastic example of an early Yater shortboard. It looks like it’s in fantastic condition, too. There is no price listed on Craigslist, but the seller says he is accepting offers. You can find the board for sale here.

As a bonus, the good folks at Pilgrim Surf + Supply published a great interview with Yater where he reminisces on his career and his influences. Check it out here if you’re interested.

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