Vintage Al Merrick Surfboard

Greetings, Shredderz! The weekend might be coming to a close but we’ve still got some heat for you before Monday rolls around. Yes, what you see here is a gorgeous vintage Al Merrick surfboard. Even better, the board has a beautiful airbrush courtesy of artist Bernie Tsao, and some other cool bells and whistles. 2019 marks the 50th year of Channel Islands Surfboards, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that incredible milestone than with a genuine Merrick hand shaped vintage stick. Many thanks to Shred Sledz reader Hanh, who was kind enough to pass along the photos you see here.

Make sure you click the photos above to enlarge. The absolutely killer vintage Al Merrick surfboard you see above measures in at 6’3″ x 20 1/4″ x 2 3/4″. It has double wings that end in a round tail, and a cool channel bottom that is accented by a killer airbrush. I love any and all vintage Channel Islands boards, but I have a particular soft spot for the single fins and the twins, which seem to be a bit more unusual. According to the board’s current owner, the board was shaped in 1983. The CI hexagon logo on the deck is a sticker, so I don’t think it’s an accurate representation of the CI logos during this era. By contrast, check out the CI hexagon logo on the bottom, which is a simple and uniform grey.

The airbrush, as you can plainly see, is ridiculous. I love the way it follows the contours of the channel bottom. You don’t see a ton of vintage Channel Islands with elaborate artwork, but I love everything that’s going on here. The airbrush was done by a gentleman by the name of Bernie Tsao. The board’s owner tells me that Bernie got his start making boards with David Pu’u, and did stints with folks like Bob Haakenson before moving to Kauai, where he lives today. By now you may also know that I’m a sucker for old school fins, and this vintage Al Merrick surfboard certainly does not disappoint in that department.

I’m intrigued by the channel bottom on this vintage Al Merrick surfboard. There’s another Eighties CI with a similar bottom that can be found on the excellent Vintage Surfboard Collectors Facebook Group. In addition, the board featured in this post looks similar to an earlier Channel Islands Surfboards Tri Plane Hull single fin I wrote up. Buggs has also featured a cool CI twin fin on his Instagram with a very similar looking bottom.

Last but certainly not least, you know I had to go deep on the Al Merrick signature. The board clearly has Al’s hand-written signature, versus the simple fish design that can be found on many stock CI boards, which were shaped by production shapers. It also has a “Shaped & Designed by Al Merrick” laminate, which you don’t see a ton. For more on identifying Al’s signatures, check out these earlier blog posts here and here. I’m not sure when exactly Channel Islands started using shaping machines to assist in their production. CI’s use of production shapers, however, goes back to at the least the Seventies, when folks like Bob Krause were producing boards for the venerable label.

Thanks again to Hanh for providing the pics of this sweet vintage Al Merrick surfboard, and I hope you enjoyed checking out this stick!

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