Vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull

My first ever surfboard — which is still in my possession, thank you — is an oversized Channel Islands thruster from the late 1990s. It still bears many relics from a time when the Momentum generation was the coolest thing since sliced bread, including an outdated On A Mission traction pad and what I thought at the time was a small, tastefully done Volcom sticker. I may not have realized it at the time, but buying that board planted the seeds for what has bloomed into a fascination with Channel Islands Surfboards as well as Al Merrick, the board making maestro behind the marque. Thus, today’s post particularly special, as it features a beautiful late 1970s vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull in pristine condition. The board featured here comes courtesy of Shred Sledz reader Kenny G, who was generous enough to share this stunning sled. Many thanks to Kenny G for spreading the stoke!

Vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane HullVintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull 1

Alright, enough appetizers — let’s move onto the steak! As you can see, the vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull pictured above is clean and it is most certainly mean as well. Kenny bought the board in 1978 from the Channel Islands Surfboards store in Santa Barbara when he was a grom. Since then, the board has avoided any significant repairs, as you can see in the pictures. Señor G was also kind enough to provide dimensions: the board is 5’11-1/2″ x 19-3/4″ x 2-5/8″, and then 13-1/4″ in the nose, and 14-1/2″ in the tail.

Vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull Tail 1
Close up of the tail. I love the black pinline work!

Oh, and the hits just keep coming! There are a million details on this board, each more killer than the last. I love the super simple black pinline, and then the unusual Channel Islands laminates on the rails. The logo on the rails looks like the same font used in the Channel Islands logo on the “Tri Plane Hull” laminate on the bottom of the board, but with the words placed on a single line instead. It’s a logo placement you don’t see too often. The double wings in the tail are absolutely gorgeous, as well.

Vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull Tail Closeup
Double wing pintail with a gorgeous example of an original 70s Rainbow Fin in a classic shave ice colorway

And in case you were starting to worry that this board didn’t have enough good things going for it already, why yes, it also has a pristine original Rainbow Fin. Do your best not to drool all over your keyboard while reading this post.

Vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull Bottom
Close up photo of the double concave in the tail, a hallmark of Al Merrick’s Tri Plane Hull design
Kenny provided a close up photo of the board’s tail. The photo above is a wonderful illustration of the namesake of the vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull. In the picture above you can clearly see the double concave in the tail, which is one of the critical elements of Merrick’s pioneering tri plane hull design.
Vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull Signature 1
Merrick’s most recognizable signature is the “fish / Al” design that you’ll see on many of his later boards. However, the “Shaped by Al Merrick” signature is common on many early Channel Islands surfboards from the Seventies
Kenny’s vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull has a signature from the man himself. I wrote two earlier posts dissecting Merrick’s signatures on various Channel Islands surfboards, which you can find here and here. The board is clearly numbered #6044. I featured #6106 in one of the earlier Al Merrick signature breakdowns, and the appearances of both boards suggest that they were shaped within short time periods of one another during the late 1970s.
Once again, many thanks to Kenny for sharing his incredible vintage Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull and the story behind the board. I know we’re not supposed to play favorites here, but this is one of the coolest boards I have had the pleasure of writing up on this blog. As always, if you have a board you’d like to see featured here, please drop me a line or slide in those Instagram DMs.

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