Greetings, Shredderz! By now, longtime readers of the blog might know that I have a huge soft spot for vintage California surf brands, like Rick Surfboards, the eponymous label of the late Rick Stoner; Zephyr, Jeff Ho’s legendary Dogtown marque; John Bradury’s Creative Freedom label, and Hot Lips, just to name a few. For all the richness of California’s surf history, I remain baffled that more people haven’t taken an interest in lesser-known labels and shapers. One brand whose underground status I find particularly baffling is Natural Progression. I hate to be so shallow, but LA-based Natural Progression boasts one of the all-time great logos from the 1970s. (Can you tell where Aviator Nation might have gotten their steez?) You’ll see a Natural Progression surfboard pop up on eBay and Craigslist here and there, but from what I can tell, these boards aren’t quite as collectible as other 1970s shapes. That’s a shame, because Natural Progression not only boasts a legit roster of shapers — including Scott Anderson and Owl Chapman — but the brand just seems pretty dang cool, too.
If you are in the market for a Natural Progression surfboard, there are two examples currently for sale on Craigslist right now.
The first board, pictured above, is a beautiful jade-colored 1970s single fin that is listed for sale on Craigslist near Ventura, California. You can find the original listing here. It’s hard to ascertain the exact condition of the board. I don’t see any major issues, but there is no fin, and it looks like there are some dings here and there that may require some work. Still, at $375, my first reaction is to say this is pretty reasonably priced (as always, though, you can never know for sure until you see the board in person). I love the color of the board, the pinline work, and of course, the contrast between Natural Progression’s incredible rainbow logo and the rest of the deck.
The other Natural Progression surfboard for sale on Craigslist can be found in San Diego. You can find the listing here. I love the little details on this board, as well, beginning with the wings in the tail, the swallowtail design, and the triple stringer. What really struck me about the swallowtail Natural Progression single fin was a closeup shot of the signature. I believe that the blue Natural Progression surfboard pictured above was likely shaped by Phil Becker, who is famous for being one of the most prolific shapers in California history.
The picture to the above left is taken from the blue swallowtail Natural Progression surfboard; the signature on the top right was taken from a 1970s Rick single fin. The signatures look identical, from the bullet points bracketing the text, to the “76-xxx” number scheme. In fact, it looks like both boards were shaped during 1976. I’m not sure why Phil Becker would not have signed the Natural Progression surfboard. Stoked-n-Board confirms that Becker shaped for Natural Progression from 1972 to 1978.
The Phil Becker Natural Progression board is being offered at $275, which seems like a great deal. Note, however, that there is a decent chunk of the swallowtail that has been replaced, although the listing is quite clear about the repair.
There are some cool examples of Natural Progression boards floating around online. However, I will note that Buggs, the famous collector behind Surfboardline.com, has a feature on Natural Progression, which is a pretty good stamp of approval. Boardcollector.com has a pristine twin fin that is absolutely worth the click, too.