Eighties Ben Aipa T&C Thruster

Greetings, Shredderz! First and foremost, I hope all of you are safe and sound amid all the COVID-19 insanity that is currently going on. Luckily surfing doesn’t seem to be off the menu for most of us. And for some lockdown-approved reading material, we’ve got a particularly cool stick: an Eighties T&C Surf Designs thruster shaped by Ben Aipa. (For more Aipa goodness, check out this “Da Fang” model I wrote up.) This board is courtesy of a collector who prefers to remain anonymous, and all else I can say is that it’s located safe and sound somewhere north of Los Angeles. Oh, and it’s definitely not for sale, but hey, at least you can ogle some pics.

The Ben Aipa-shaped T&C thruster measures in at 6’0″ x 19 1/2″ x 2 1/2″. The board was shaped in the Eighties — I’d guess mid- to late-Eighties, to be more specific.

Collectors go absolutely nuts over Eighties T&C boards with the signature neon airbrushes, and it’s not hard to see why. These boards arguably helped define the entire aesthetic of the decade, along with the Echo Beach scene in Southern California. (Not sure if Stussy is considered Echo Beach — I’m thinking no, given he was in Laguna, not Newport — but he obviously has to be included as part of any discussion, and I personally think Stussy boards are the standard for over the top Eighties design.) That said I’m always partial to the Eighties T&C boards shaped by Ben Aipa. This one has a clear signature, which you can see below.

If you look at the deck of the board, you can see a trio of screenprinted graphics. I’m not sure who the surfer is supposed to be. It looks like Dane Kealoha. As always, if you have more info let me know. And if you’re in the market for an Aipa-shaped T&C board, there’s a sick twin fin currently for sale on eBay.

Another example of a cool Aipa-shaped T&C thruster. Not sure who did the airbrush on this one.

While the T&C brand and the look of its Eighties boards are widely known, the actual artists who airbrushed the boards often fly under the radar. I think it’s important to give credit to the folks who helped build these boards and create the stunning visuals that still connect with people a good three decades later. According to Mark Townsend, who worked on many T&C boards during the Eighties, the artwork on the Ben Aipa / T&C shape featured here was done by Gavin Hasegawa. Hasegawa also painted Pottz’s infamous Saint board, which is probably the single most famous airbrush of all time. I believe Hasegawa continues to airbrush boards, based out of Monstah Glass in Hawaii. Hasegawa has kept things in the Aipa family, as he now does artwork on Akila Aipa’s boards.

Thanks again to the collector who sent me pics, and I hope you enjoyed checking out this gorgeous Eighties Ben Aipa Town & Country thruster!

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