There are few things more uncomfortable than watching an established older brand clumsily try to adopt a recent and unfamiliar trend. It’s the branding equivalent of a middle-aged guy rocking a pair of fancy jeans with embroidery on the back pockets. (I love Harbour Surfboards, but their 80s logo redesign is not my favorite.) Like any rule, though, there are exceptions. Surfboards Hawaii Mike Slingerland surfboards stand out as the rare example of a venerable old surfboard that managed an elegant transition into producing “modern” shortboards.
There are two Surfboards Hawaii Mike Slingerland shortboards currently up for sale on Craigslist, courtesy of Shred Sledz favorite “Jeff in LA”. I know nothing about Jeff except that he sells a lot of reasonably priced vintage boards on Craigslist, oftentimes with interesting SoCal pedigree. You can see his seller page here. The first board, pictured above, is an 80s 6′ quad fin, and the listing can be found here. Maybe my fondness for these board betrays my love of 80s surf graphics above all else, but I think this thing is so cool.
The second Surfboards Hawaii Mike Slingerland board is a 6’6″ thruster (really a 2+1…or if you want to get technical, a 1+2), and the board can be found here. The “red logo” board has a bunch of Slingerland trademarks, including channels on the bottom with a complementary airbrush, and then a cool fan logo I had never seen before. Neither of the boards is expensive, either: $240 and $225 for the quad fin and the “red logo” thruster, respectively. These aren’t in mint condition, but I think a watertight board without any major surgery for under $250 isn’t too shabby.
Sadly, there is very little written online about the history of Surfboards Hawaii. Founded by Dick Brewer, Surfboards Hawaii produced some of the most elegant longboards of the 1960s. At some point, Mike Slingerland began to shape for the brand. My guess is that was sometime in the 1970s, and he stayed on at least through the 1980s. You don’t see a ton of Surfboards Hawaii examples from the 70s and the 80s, and of the ones I glimpse, many of them have Slingerland’s name attached. Most recently, Slingerland has been shaping boards for San Diego surf shop Surfy Surfy, and I believe he currently lives in San Diego.
The Surfboards Hawaii Mike Slingerland boards could not be more different from their prececessors. And while the Slingerland examples are a far cry from the noseriders and subtle logos of the 1960s, they are undeniably rad in their own distinct way.