When it comes to surfboards, I love the bold-faced names as much as anyone else. Who wouldn’t to add a Skip Frye to their collection? What is there not to like about a Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt? The list goes on and on. And while I enjoy the classics, I also have a soft spot for the so-called underground shapers of the sport. One reason why I began writing this blog is the fact I often found it so difficult to find reliable information about certain shapers. Take for example someone like Chuck Vinson, the late, distinguished Santa Cruz shaper. I would periodically see Vinson’s name pop up in places that would signal his impact — Marc Andreini’s Instagram feed, or an obscure Surfing Heritage blog post — and yet it was impossible to find any examples of Vinson’s boards anywhere online. One of the more enjoyable parts about writing this blog is finding unusual boards and then featuring them so that they can be discovered by others. Which brings us to the subject of today’s blog post, yet another craftsman with Santa Cruz roots: Mark Angell.
Angell currently resides on the North Shore of Kauai, after a stint in Maui, and he first cut his teeth in Northern California. Angell’s Hawaii resume alone is unreal, with stops at Lightning Bolt, Surf Line Hawaii, and Dick Brewer Surfboards, just to name a few! One of Angell’s California contemporaries was none other than Doug Haut, whom I recently saw described as Santa Cruz’s answer to Renny Yater. (I want to say this might have been from Andreini’s excellent book “The Gift”, but don’t quote me!) Haut has stayed in Santa Cruz, where remains a local fixture to this day.
Pictured above is a Seventies Mark Angell single fin that was shaped under the Haut Surfboards label. The board is in far from perfect condition — if you look closely you can see a bit of water damage around the tail, and there looks to be at least a few dings on the bottom — but it also looks to be mostly intact. The board above was recently sold on Craigslist in Northern California for an absolute steal. As I write this post I’m mostly kicking myself for not picking up the board and having it fixed up.
While the board’s outline and glass-on fin scream Seventies single fin, this is also confirmed via Mark Angell’s signature on the stringer. It looks like the board was shaped in 1978. It’s interesting to see the combination of both Angell and Haut logos. On one hand, this is completely unsurprising given both men’s mutual roots in Santa Cruz. On the other, I have only seen one other Haut / Mark Angell surfboard, which was sold at the California Gold Vintage Surf Auction in 2013. Sadly, there’s no link to the board still available, but if you have a copy of the catalog from the 2013 auction, the Haut / Mark Angell gun was Lot #128.
Anyway, add this beautiful Mark Angell single fin to the long list of boards I wish I could have pounced on when I first saw them on sale. In the meantime I’ll keep an eye peeled for another example. And if you find yourself in the position where you now have to have your own Angell shape, the man is still shaping boards, and you can find his website here.