Greetings, Shredderz! Happy Father’s Day to you and yours. Speaking of fathers, here’s a board from Herbie Fletcher, dad to Nathan and Christian, grandfather to pro skater Greyson, and husband to wife Dibi. I’ve written about the Fletcher clan many times before, including some cool old Astrodeck ads. Herbie is something of a renaissance man: he invented the surfboard traction pad; he is an artist who has collaborated with Julian Schnabel; and helped pioneer the modern surf video. But given Shred Sledz is primarily a blog about vintage surfboards, it’s only natural that we would focus on Herbie’s accomplishments as a shaper.
I covered this in an earlier post, but for the longest time I didn’t grasp the significance of Fletcher’s famous arrow logo. Fletcher, as it turns out, means arrow maker. Herbie talks about the personal significance of the arrow on his website, which adds some gravitas to his logo choice, beyond the fact it happens to look cool. One of Fletcher’s most famous surfboard designs is his square nose noserider. Sadly, I can’t find any interviews or first hand material online about the origins of Herbie Fletcher’s square nose surfboard. All I can tell you is that Herbie has shaped and ridden square nose boards for years. According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, Fletcher founded his eponymous surfboard label in 1976. During the Seventies and Eighties, when the rest of the surf scene had fully embraced the shortboard, Fletcher was one of the few advocates for longboards and the art of noseriding. I imagine his square nose boards were shaped for better noseriding — or, at least, more convenient toe placement — but I can’t say for sure.
There’s currently an intriguing Herbie Fletcher square nose surfboard for sale on Craigslist. As you see in the photo above, it’s a doozy. When I first saw the ad, I assumed the board was a longboard. In fact, it turns out the board measures in at a tidy 7’2″.
On an aesthetic level, I’m a sucker for any surfboard with wings. There’s something so cool about the curves, particularly when they’re slightly fluted, as the wings on this board seem to be. There is an undeniable visual flair to the square nose Herbie Fletcher board pictured here. You don’t have to know about surfboards to take one look at the outline and go “wow, that thing looks awesome.” And, if you’re like me and you like to geek out on laminates and placement, I think the two small arrow logos right near the wings are a killer, subtle touch.
At first, I was surprised to see that the square nose board was only 7’2″. But a little bit of digging — particularly on Dibi Fletcher’s Instagram — revealed some very similar Herbie Fletcher boards.
As you can see in the Instagram post immediately above, Dibi describes a board called the “Killer Model”, which is a mini version of Herbie’s square nose longboard. The Killer Model in the photo above measures in at 6’10”, putting it in the same ballpark as the yellow Craigslist board featured in this post. Herbie shaped the Killer Model for himself in order to navigate the barrels at V Land on Oahu’s North Shore. There’s no mention of the Star Wars airbrush, but it’s awesome. Dibi describes the Killer Model mini square nose as a sting running into a pintail. I believe that the yellow Craigslist board is almost certainly a Herbie Fletcher Killer Model, too.
I’m not sure whether the yellow Fletcher surfboard was shaped by Herbie. Fletcher, like countless other surfboard labels, employed in house shapers. (See here for a Herbie Fletcher longboard that I think was shaped by Tim Stamps, but it’s clearly signed by someone other than Fletcher himself.) I also can’t say whether the Craigslist board was one of Herbie’s personal boards. That said, I would not be surprised to learn that the yellow board belonged to Herbie at some point, given that he clearly surfed other boards with the same outline and almost identical dimensions.
Finally, here’s a quick note about the price. The seller has listed the yellow Herbie Fletcher square nose surfboard for $1,895. On one hand, I think this is expensive, especially when considering the condition of the board. Apologies to the seller, who was kind enough to link to my original post on Herbie’s square nose surfboard on the Craigslist listing, but that’s my take. On the other hand, if the board is indeed a Herbie Fletcher personal rider, that would obviously change the math a bit. But I have no way of proving it one way or another.
At the end of the day, I don’t care too much whether the board was shaped by Herbie or if it belonged to him. Of course, all else being equal, I’d rather those things be the case. But it’s a distinctive vintage surfboard from one of the surf world’s all time characters, and to me, that’s always worth noting.
You can find the Craigslist listing here. All photos of the board in this post are via the listing.
Photo at the top of the page via Terry Snyder; I believe the photographer is Mike Blabac.
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