Greetings, Shredderz! Today we’ve got a rare vintage stick courtesy of a reader named Adam. Adam is the bassist in a band named Iration. You can check out Iration’s music here, and you can also follow Adam on Instagram. The board featured here is a Seventies Channel Islands Surfboards single fin, shaped by none other than the legendary Al Merrick. As a side note, I’m surprised there isn’t more of a cult following around Al’s older shapes. I just don’t get the feeling collectors geek out on Channel Islands the way they do about, say, Skip Frye boards. It’s puzzling, given Al’s incredible resume, but I could be wrong. That said, I personally get a thrill any time a notable vintage Al Merrick surfboard shows up, and the one in this post is definitely no exception. Thanks again to Adam for supplying the pics of this special board!
The vintage Channel Islands single fin is a far cry from the high performance thrusters that have since made the CI brand famous, although I’m sure it was a bleeding edge shape back in its day. I don’t have dimensions handy, but I have to imagine the board was shaped for big days at Rincon.
Apologies in advance for some truly offensive photo editing below. What I am not sorry about, though, is the fact the photos give you a great sense of the board’s racy, gun-like outline. Check out the wings in the tail. I’m not sure exactly what you might call them, but the wings are small, pushed quite far back, and culminate in a sharp pintail.
Overall the board is in good shape. I fear the leash plug was probably added after the fact, and you can see some discoloration and some snackles on the bottom. I like a mint condition board as much as the next guy, but this is one handsome board. I don’t associate Channel Islands with colorful resin tins, but this board appears to be an exception.
Some of you have no doubt noticed the board doesn’t have Channel Islands’ distinctive triple hexagon logo. Vintage CIs that pre-date the hexagon logo aren’t unheard of, but they aren’t super common, either. For example, here’s a killer vintage CI single fin with a next level Jack Meyer airbrush, which I believe was shaped in 1975. I also featured a Seventies CI ad a while back. I can only assume the ad pre-dates the creation of the hexagon logo, too.
Setting aside the hexagon design, the logo on the Channel Islands single fin is unlike any other I have seen. It has some elements taken from other early CI logos, but other than that, it’s almost unrecognizable. See below for an example of a different early CI logo.
You can see both logos showcase sailboats against a mountain range in the background. The logo from the board featured in this post has a lot more going on, starting with some active volcanoes (not Santa Barbara, as far as I can tell), a mysterious woman, and a lot of wheat.
Per the recommendation of a friend, I reached out to Kirk Putnam, who worked for Channel Islands back in the day. Putnam believes the board was a custom order for a gentleman named Frank Morales, and the logo was a custom order. I’m told the logo is a take on the artwork for a pasta brand, which I was unable to find. This explains the wheat (but not the volcanoes, which still confuse me). I guess back in the day ordering a custom board was enough to give you creative license with the Channel Islands logo, which must have been a nice perk.
Last but not least, there’s the question of whether or not the board was shaped by Al Merrick himself. I’ve written two previous posts on how to identify boards that were shaped by Al. For a lot of earlier shapes like this one it can be difficult to say. With later boards (Eighties and onward), Al had a tendency to sign “Al” next to a fish icon, generally around the stringer. The board from this post is unusual in that it doesn’t have a full signature, but rather simply a fish drawn on the stringer.
Putnam also told me this Channel Islands single fin is almost certainly shaped by Al, as it was made early enough in the brand’s history when there were no other production shapers at the label.
Thanks again to Adam for sharing the pics of this unique vintage Channel Islands single fin. As always, if you have one yourself, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.