Town & Country 1980s Aipa Sting Ad: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest installment in Sagas of Shred, a series that looks back on surf culture artifacts from long ago. Today’s post features an advertisement for Town & Country and Ben Aipa’s reimagining of the latter’s infamous sting design.

Aipa, of course, invented the sting back in the 1970s. Top Hawaiian and visiting Australian pros could be seen surfing stings on Oahu during the decade, and today original Aipa stings are sought after by collectors. (Here’s a previous article about how to tell the difference between a genuine Ben Aipa-shaped sting and then the Surfing’s New Image stings, which were made in California with Aipa’s name, but were mostly made by ghost shapers.)

The advertisement pictured at the top of the page was originally printed in Surfer Magazine in February 1988 (Vol. 29, No. 2). By the late 1980s, Aipa, now working with Town & Country, had modified his sting design into a high performance thruster. The original sting was a single fin design that was frequently paired with a swallowtail. Like just about every other surfboard design, the sting’s popularity waned with the invention of the tri-fin thruster in the early 1980s, thanks to Simon Anderson.

I’m not sure how long Aipa and T&C produced these updated sting designs. They are not very commonplace today. I came across an Aipa / T&C 1980s sting about a year ago, before I realized what it was. You can see the original post here.

T&C Aipa Sting 1.jpg
1980s Town & Country Aipa Sting. This is a thruster, and very different from the original sting design, but a very cool shape nonetheless!

The 1980s Aipa / T&C stings have an interesting shape. Despite the otherwise standard high-performance shortboard setup, you’ll notice the wings are still pretty high up the board, just like in the original 1970s design.

The ad also features two fascinating Town & Country Surf Designs team riders. John Shimooka was a world tour fixture in the 1980s and 1990s. However, I was a bit stunned to see Nicky Wood present in the ad. Wood was a one-time Australian surf wunderkind — he still holds the record for the youngest male surfer to ever win a championship tour event, when he took the 1987 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach at the age of sixteen — only to disappear as quickly as he burst onto the scene. Given the ad ran sometime in either late 1987 or 1988, this must have been towards the tail end of Woods’ pro surfing career.

It’s cool to see how Aipa reimagined the sting more than a decade after its introduction. It’s even cooler that it was done alongside Town & Country, which was white hot in the 1980s, and is still going strong today.

Thanks for reading and tune in next Thursday for another episode of Sagas of Shred!

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