Vintage Bonzer Surfboards at Wi-5 Premier

Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s post is a bit bittersweet. On one hand, we have the premier of “Wi-5”, a short film collaboration between Taylor Knox and the Campbell Brothers, who famously invented the Bonzer surfboard design. The premier brought out some of surfing’s biggest stars, and it was also an impromptu exhibit for some wonderful examples of vintage Bonzer surfboards. On the other, the film’s premier doubled as a charity benefit for Leeanne Ericson, who was attacked by a shark while swimming off San Onofre. Ms. Ericson faces some pretty hefty medical bills as a result. I urge you to check out her GoFundMe campaign here. Shout out to Taylor Knox, Mick Fanning, and everyone else who helped raise money for the good cause!

The Hi-5 premier was chock full of acts of charity AND some rad vintage Bonzer surfboards. See above for an Instagram post from Buggs of Surfboard Line fame. You’ll see some incredible vintage Bonzers flanking Duncan Campbell in the center. I took the descriptions from an Instagram Live broadcast that Buggs streamed during the event, where he got Duncan Campbell to provide some details about the boards.

The yellow board on the far left was shaped in 1973 / 1974 and was designed for the Hawaiian winter, hence the Lightning Bolt laminate. However, I don’t think it’s an “official” Bolt in any way. There’s also a Bing logo affixed to the yellow board. The orange board, second from left, was shaped in 1975 / 1976 and it was made in the Campbell brothers’ stomping grounds of Oxnard, California. The center board was one of the two main Bonzers ridden by Taylor Knox in the film.

The multi-colored board located third from right was shaped in 1977, and apparently it is one of only two similar Bonzers that were made. The multi-colored board is particularly interesting because of its Australian influence. In the video, which is no longer viewable, Duncan Campbell shows off the channel bottom of the multi-colored Bonzer and mentions that it was informed by the designs of Col Smith and Jim Pollard, who were shaping for Shane sub-label Fluid Foils at the time. Pollard in particular is known for being an early proponent of channel bottom boards. Andrew Kidman has a great interview with Al Byrne detailing Pollard’s early contributions to the design.

Col Smith Hawaii Boards 1977 via CrowsGarage.com
Col Smith showing off one of his Jim Pollard-shaped Fluid Foils. The photo was taken shortly before Smith left for Hawaii in 1977, where he turned heads with his surfing. Pic via the excellent entry on Crow’s Garage, which is a must-read!
Shane Surfboards Fluid Foils from BoardCollector.com.jpg
Fluid Foils logo detailing Jim Pollard and Col Smith (look at the bottom right). You can also see the logo on Col Smith’s board at the far left in the photo above. Photo via Boardcollector.com

I wish I had more pictures of the multi-colored Bonzer to share; sadly, the only ones I can find are also from the event. Still, in the photo below, you can see some more of the deep channels on the board. You’ll notice the channels on the multi-colored vintage Bonzer travel up most of the length of the board, very similar to the board Col Smith is holding in the photo above. My guess is that the multi-colored board was shaped in 1977, shortly after a Hawaiian encounter between the Campbell brothers and Col Smith.

The black twin fin shown second from right is another rare Bonzer, given that it has a comparatively pedestrian fin setup. The board was shaped in 1978, according to Buggs’ video. It is the only example of a twin fin Bonzer I have ever seen.

The final board, pictured on the far right in both Instagram posts, is also a trip. It is a collaboration between Hawaiian surfboard label Local Motion and the Campbell Brothers. I believe this board belongs to Buggs now. Once upon a time it was ridden by Hawaiian fixture Tony Moniz, whose children are now well-regarded pros in their own right.

I was able to find earlier pictures of the Local Motion Bonzer on an old site belonging to Kristopher Tom, who currently runs The Vintage Surfboard. You can find the original pictures here.

Last but not least, you can contribute to Leeanne Ericson’s medical fund here.

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