Ken Bradshaw: Big Wave Charger & Surfboard Shaper

Ken Bradshaw North Shore

The subject of today’s post is noted big wave surfer Ken Bradshaw. Before we get to the pictures of a cool Ken Bradshaw surfboard or two, it’s worth filling in some detail on the man himself. Bradshaw was a respected presence in some of the heaviest lineups on Oahu’s North Shore throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. His fame, however, reached another level in 1998, during the height of the tow-in craze, when Bradshaw allegedly surfed the biggest wave ever during the infamous Condition Black swell that winter. There’s an excellent Surfline feature on the session which you can find here.

Amazingly, there are no photos of Bradshaw’s infamous ride that day, although eyewitnesses seem to agree that it was absolutely insane. You know it’s serious when the wave pictured below, taken from the same session, was NOT the biggest one surfed that day.

Screenshot 2017-04-26 22.05.09
Ken Bradshaw at Outer Log Cabins, Winter 1998. Photo by Brian “Hank” Stephens, via

Bradshaw had been shaping surfboards for a good twenty years before the infamous Condition Black session in 1998. Despite hailing from Texas, Bradshaw quickly became a fixture in Hawaii, and started shaping for Lightning Bolt before striking out on his own in 1978. If you want to read more about Bradshaw, the Encyclopedia of Surfing has a typically excellent entry, which you can find here.

It seems like Bradshaw doesn’t shape as much as he used to — something that I haven’t been able to confirm — but every once in a while you will see some of his older boards for sale. Two Ken Bradshaw surfboards are currently up for sale.

The first board, pictured above, is currently up for sale on eBay. You can find a link to the board here. This thing is in absolutely immaculate condition, and you can see in the last picture that there is a clear signature on the stringer as well. Few things warm my heart quite like the glow of a neon airbrush, and this gem checks all the boxes. I love the design of the “B” logo, and the flames are too good! I don’t think I could keep a straight face if I were to order a flame airbrush on my next board.

As of the time this post was written, there are still three days left in the auction, and the price is $405. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this thing sell for a lot more by the time bidding closes.

Check out the board on eBay here.

Hit the jump for another classic Bradshaw shape…

The second board that’s currently for sale can be found on Craigslist in Santa Barbara. The link to the board can be found here.

The second board is a little more subdued, if you’re not into making statements out in the lineup. Still, it’s got the classic “B” front and center, and I love the gradient “Bradshaw” logos along the rails. The second board measures in at 7’1″ x 19.5″ x 2.75″: perfect for bigger waves. The poster claims that it’s from sometime in the mid-1980s, which matches up given the glass on fins and the Sundek logo.

One curious thing I’ve noticed about the second board is that it does not have a signature. The only inscription on the stringer is a number. I’ve posted the picture below.

Serial number from Bradshaw 7’1″ thruster. Pic via Craigslist.

This exact same board has been posted on a few years ago (link here). It’s always cool to see boards make the rounds again. Like Damion at Boardcollector, I’m starting to think that the second board is one that Bradshaw shaped for himself and actually rode.

First, you’ll notice the Sundek logo near the nose of the board. Bradshaw was sponsored by Sundek during the eighties, and they had some pretty classic ads. I found these on the website of Italian graphic designer Elisabetta Fanfani, who must have designed the ad campaign. Check out her site here for some more classic 80s surf imagery!


Here’s another example of a Bradshaw board, via Ari Kreisler. Like the 7’1″ step up above, Ari’s board has the Sundek logo, and it doesn’t have a signature. Ari claims that the board below was a personal Bradshaw board that he purchased at auction. This fits Damion’s theory that the 7’1″ step up was a board Bradshaw shaped for himself.


As a bonus, here’s another Ken Bradshaw surfboard Kreisler shared on Instagram. This thing is in exceptional condition! I love the double logos on the bottom, and the rainbow gradients along the rails are so sick!

The poster for the 7’1″ Craigslist board is asking $675. That is steep, for sure, but the fact it may be a personal Bradshaw rider means that it’s something additional to consider. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the post, and as always, Happy Shredding!

Featured Photo at top of post by Brian Bielmann.


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