California Gold Vintage Surf Auction: Barns, Rafters & Honey Holes

Greetings, Shredderz! Yes, it’s that time of year again. Scott Bass has some auction lots live for the latest installment of his long running California Gold surf auction, and I’m back to provide some commentary on boards I can’t afford. Bass’ auction is consistently the best selection of notable vintage boards for sale in one place, and there are always some gems worth a closer look. Anyway, keep reading for some thoughts on a few boards that stood out to me. You can view all of the auction lots here.

1967 Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight Personal Rider

For starters, this one just looks cool. Yes, the acid splash bottom is gonna make the headlines, but my god, check out that killer yellow pinline and the matching fin! The real selling point, of course, is the fact the board was one of Nuuhiwa’s personal sticks. Bing Copeland has an order book dating back to the 60s with details on when boards were made, where they were sold, and for whom they were shaped. As a result, there’s a ton of information available about the provenance of older Bings. While I have nothing against full glass of restorations, I love seeing all original boards, and this one is in pretty great shape considering its age. All in all, to me this is the single most interesting board in the entire auction.

Late 1940s Bob Simmons Balsa Single Fin

Bob Simmons is widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the history surfboard design. Simmons passed away in 1954 while surfing at Windansea, at only 35 years of age. Simmons’ so-called planing hull designs have enjoyed a resurgence lately, thanks to Richard Kenvin of Hydrodynamica, and the recently departed John Elwell. Hydrodynamica sells modern interpretations of Simmons’ design principles, and you can learn more about them here. For all of Simmons’ influence, you don’t really see a ton of his boards, making this a rare and cool piece of living history. I’m kind of shocked that no one has even thrown out a cheap bid on this thing, but maybe there’ll be a run up as the auction gets closer to closing.

1967 Hansen 50-50 Model

I haven’t featured a ton of Hansen boards on the blog, but it’s hard to resist this all original example. One thing to note is that the original Doyle fin was swapped out for an upgrade, but the original fin comes with the board. I’d love to take this thing for a spin. I absolutely cannot get enough of the multicolored stringer, either. This one is already sitting at $3K, at the top of the estimated price range, with eleven days of bidding left, so I don’t think I’m alone in eyeing this bad boy.

Closing Thoughts

First, here are some other boards that are worth mentioning. Dick Brewer features heavily throughout — there’s a balsa Surfboards Hawaii modern reissue; what I believe is a 1960s Surfboards Hawaii board restored by Randy Rarick; and a Bing Pipeliner. There were a lot of modern remakes of classic boards, such as this early 2000s Yater Apocalypse Now model, and a 2017 Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt Pipeliner, among others. Overall, I’d say this auction installment heavily features 60s boards. There are some cool odds and ends, too, my favorite of which being this trippy 1976 Steve Lis (whose logo is in the featured photo at the top of the page.)

The more I look at the various lots, the more I feel disconnected from the world of high end surfboard collecting. Please do not interpret this as a criticism of Bass and the good folks who put on the auction. As far as I’m concerned, their job is to put together a selection of boards that are likely to generate the most buzz and sell for the highest prices, and that is exactly what they do. Personally, I find myself gravitating towards reasonably priced vintage shapes that I don’t feel bad about riding and have some interesting history behind them. With a few exceptions, I’d rather have $5K to do some damage on Craigslist than spend on a super collectible board. But this speaks more to my preferences than anything else, and I can totally understand shelling out for a holy grail that you’ve been eyeing for years.

In any case, shout out to to everyone who helped put on the auction and round up another impressive selection of vintage boards. Don’t forget The Boardroom Show makes its long awaited return this weekend in San Diego on September 25 and 26 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. You can buy your tickets for the show here.

Further Reading More Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


2 comments

  1. David Doak says:

    I understand your feeling of disconnectedness from, as you put it, the world of high-end surfboard collecting. Folks who scour Craigslist for fun and know the cost of having boards professionally restored can see clearly that the prices being realized for a lot of the restored boards, in particular, aren’t rational. Ditto for the reproductions/tributes shaped by legends who are still accepting custom orders and interacting with customers. People who buy these boards at inflated auction prices also forego the experience of interacting personally with a legendary shaper and getting a custom shape or restoration. They miss out on the relationships, in other words, which for me are much of the fun of surfboard collecting. On a separate note, that balsa Simmons is among my favorites on the auction block, too. I suspect that the price will shoot up in the final hours of the auction, but if it doesn’t, maybe I’ll buy the board, have it professionally restored, and put it back in the water at beach breaks where it won’t get trashed. The David Nuuhiwa you’ve featured here is sick, too!

  2. David says:

    I understand your feeling of disconnectedness from, as you put it, the world of high-end surfboard collecting. Folks who scour Craigslist for fun and know the cost of having boards professionally restored can see clearly that the prices being realized for a lot of the restored boards, in particular, aren’t rational. Ditto for the reproductions/tributes shaped by legends who are still accepting custom orders and interacting with customers. People who buy these boards at inflated auction prices also forego the experience of interacting personally with a legendary shaper and getting a custom shape or restoration. They miss out on the relationships, in other words, which for me are much of the fun of surfboard collecting. On a separate note, that balsa Simmons is among my favorites on the auction block, too. I suspect that the price will shoot up in the final hours of the auction, but if it doesn’t, maybe I’ll buy the board, have it professionally restored, and put it back in the water at beach breaks where it won’t get trashed. The David Nuuhiwa you’ve featured here is sick, too!