Ole Surfboards Phil Edwards Model: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to another installment of Sagas of Shred. Today’s post focuses on an old ad for Ole Surfboards. Ole is the namesake and brain child of Bob Olson. This is a blog that likes to celebrate history, but Olson is truly old school. For starters, the man is in his mid-eighties, and I believe he continues to shape to this day! Check out Ole Surfboards page on Facebook here.

Olson got his start in Orange County. For a quick bit of background on the man, I recommend this article in the Orange County Register, which was written by none other than Corky Carroll. Olson not only shaped Corky’s third ever surfboard…he was also a wood shop teacher at Shawn Stussy’s high school, and went on to become a shaping mentor to Stussy. (Since we are big Stussy fans here at Shred Sledz, here’s another bit of trivia: Jeff Timpone glassed Olson’s boards at some point, and Timpone and Stussy shaped together at Russell Surfboards during The Brotherhood days.)

guy on the right is responsible for my second shaping job ever, and by far the most formative… Mr. Bob Olson was my wood shop teacher at high school and also my employer in the tenth grade… the summer after ninth grade I worked at Chuck Dent shaping up in Costa Mesa behind bay cities glassing… Bob would bring his blanks there for glassing throughout that summer… he would see me there and say hey, aren't you that kid from wood shop?… what you doing here?… what, your shaping boards for Chuck out there in the back?… I am like yeah, figuring it out… so I go back to school in the fall and have woodshop again… I get my license and he offers me a job with this new thing called " work experience"… after fourth period I drive to sunset beach, open his old gas station turned surf shop and rough out boards till he got there after all his seven periods that were required of him… he would critic the work I did, offer tips, finish off a few together, doing our thing… all good… his brand was OLE and he has been around since kinda the beginning… at the end of my junior year he packs up and moves to Lahaina and has been there since… big shout to the guy that saw something in me and let me mow some foam and figure it out… big hug BOB, I wish to thank you…

A post shared by shawn stüssy (@shawnstussy) on

OLE in front of his shaping room, Lahaina, Maui… late seventies, maybe 1977… #olesurfboards

A post shared by shawn stüssy (@shawnstussy) on

Olson’s shaping career is worthy of a post of its own. However, for today I’ll simply zero in on one fascinating little detail in the advertisement. You’ll notice in the bottom right the ad says “Phil Edwards Model now available.” The ad at the top of the page was published in Surfer Magazine in 1963 (Aug. – Sep. 1963, Vol. 4 No. 4). I have personally never seen a Ole Surfboards Phil Edwards Model, and I imagine these must be incredibly rare. Google searches don’t turn up any info, either. I’m not sure how the timing of Ole’s Phil Edwards Model lines up with its far more famous counterpart, which was Edwards’ famous signature model for Hobie Surfboards.

Phil Edwards for Bob Ole Olson
Photo of Phil Edwards that Phil signed for Ole. Apparently this is hanging up in Ole’s current shop in Lahaina, Maui. Pic via Composite Corner / Fiberglass Hawaii

I was able to find evidence of a friendship between Olson and Edwards, including the photo above, which is apparently hanging in Ole’s shaping room on Maui. In addition, it was Phil Edwards who recommended Olson for the International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame back in 2009.

If you have any info on the Ole Surfboards Phil Edwards model, please let me know!

Mike Diffenderfer for Inter-Island Surf Shop: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz, and welcome to another installment of Sagas of Shred! Today’s post comes from another back issue of Surfer Magazine (Aug. – Sep. 1963, Vol. 4 No. 4). It’s an ad for Inter-Island Surf Shop. Inter-Island was home to a number of well-known surfers as both team riders and shapers. Two things stand out about this advertisement: first is the fact that at this point in time, all of Inter-Island’s boards were being shaped by Mike Diffenderfer. What struck me is how young Diff was at the time of the advertisement: in 1963, Diffenderfer was only 26 years old! The ad also has a helpful list of team riders at the time. Some of the names stand out — Fred Hemmings, Barry Kanaiaupuni, et al — and for others I’m drawing a blank. As curious as I am, I almost prefer the mystery around “Toku” and “Soyo”, whoever those fine people may be.

As always, tune in next Thursday for the next Sagas of Shred, and another blast from surfing’s storied past!

Vintage Harbour Surfboards Ad: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest installment of Sagas of Shred, where we take a peek back at surf history. Today’s entry is short and sweet: nothing more to see here than an old Harbour Surfboards ad from an old issue of Surfer Magazine (Dec. – Jan. 1963 / 1964, Vol. 4 No. 6). There are only a few more days to catch the Harbour Surfboards exhibit at the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center, so hurry up and head over before October 7th, when it all ends.

Questionable Moments in Surf Advertising History: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! If you’re currently wondering whether or not this humble little vintage surfboard blog took a sudden left turn, let me assure you that is not the case. Shred Sledz remains as dedicated as ever to our mission of shedding light on the great surfboards and craftsmen of yesteryear. But let’s face it: this 1980s Gotcha ad is simply too funny not to post.

Throw in a pair of acid wash jeans and the ad hits every single cliche about bad fashion in the 1980s. More importantly…what on earth is going on? Is the painting on the left supposed to be coming to life? Why is the other guy just staring off in the distance? Sadly, seeing as how this is a family friendly blog, I think there are many questions that will have to go unanswered. And if you haven’t noticed, that’s Pottz who’s getting his tank top stretched out. Not sure how they coerced him into doing this photo shoot. I imagine the ad was originally intended to be edgy and provocative, but with three decades worth of perspective behind us, the entire thing is silly. I say that affectionately, though: no matter what, I will always have a soft spot for the weird and colorful creations that the surf industry produced during the eighties.

Fun fact: the Gotcha logo that appears in the ad was actually designed by Shawn Stussy.

As always, tune in next Thursday for the next installment of Sagas of Shred!

Vintage Con Surfboards Ad: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the best part of your Thursday: another blast from the past, courtesy of Shred Sledz’s “Sagas of Shred” series. Today we’re featuring a vintage Con Surfboards ad that originally ran in the Dec / January 1963 issue of Surfer Magazine (Volume 4, Number 6). Con Surfboards, of course, is a Shred Sledz favorite, thanks to the timeless design of the logo and the brand’s Southern California pedigree.

The interesting thing about this vintage Con Surfboards ad is the team lineup. To be honest, I didn’t recognize a lot of these names at first glance. I can’t find any information on Jim Joto. Tak Kawahara helped pioneer surfing in his ancestral Japan, for which he earned the title as the “Father of Japanese Surfing.” Later on Kawahara founded CHP and helped distribute Town & Country Surfboards on the West Coast, according to this Swaylocks thread. Ernie Tanaka became a well-known shaper in his own right, and later helped put out some Paul Strauch signature models. Bill Cleary sadly passed away in 2002; but before then he made a career as a well-known surf journalist. I could only find references to Gary and Roy Seaman in random discussion threads online. From what I understand, the Seaman brothers were early Con Surfboards shapers. Finally, Corny Cole became a well-known animator, even winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film!

There also happens to be a vintage Con Surfboards Competition Model that is currently on sale on Craigslist in Los Angeles. You can find a link to the board here. It hurts me to post this one. In an ideal world, the board would be the newest member of the Shred Sledz Signature Collection. Sadly, blogging about vintage sticks — yes, even Con Competition surfboards — isn’t quite as lucrative as I had been led to believe!

Con Competition Surfboards
Close up of the logo on the Con Surfboards Competition Model. Pic via Craigslist

The poster claims the board is all original, and it is in lovely condition. There are a few tiny dings here and there, and the seller hopefully provided close-up pictures of the areas that do need a little attention. The board measures in at 9’4″ x 22″ x ~3″ and the asking price is $1500. The price seems quite fair, and I have seen similar vintage Con Surfboards models go for similar prices before.

There are a few different variants of Con Competition surfboards, including the Wing Nose, about which I wrote an earlier post here. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to the design elements that differentiate the standard Competition Model from the Wing Nose. (Also note that the Con Surfboards Competition Wing Nose was produced in East Coast and West Coast versions.) However, all of the Competition Wing Nose models I have seen also have a small Wing Nose laminate on the bottom of the board. This is true of the earlier post I wrote, not to mention another Con Competition Wing Nose Model that appeared on a Swaylocks thread.

Vintage Con Surfboards Competition Model Fin.jpg
Con Competition surfboards boast some interesting original fins. See below for a more in-depth description. Pic via Craigslist

The other interesting detail is the fin on the board. Once again I refer you to the Swaylocks thread I mentioned earlier. The fin exists somewhere between being a glass-on fin and a swappable fin box design. Some (and perhaps all, I’m not sure) Con Competition surfboards made during the 1960s featured fins that were fitted into routed boxes on the stringer, and then glassed over without completely covering the fin.

You can check out the Con Surfboards Competition Model for sale on Craigslist here.


Clark Foam Ad from the 1960s: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to yet another installment of Sagas of Shred. Every Thursday we feature a different slice of surf history, and today’s entry sheds a light on one of the most accomplished businessmen the surf industry has ever seen: Gordon “Grubby” Clark, the founder and CEO of Clark Foam.

Clark Foam Promotional Photo Gordon "Grubby" Clark.jpg
Gordon “Grubby” Clark in an early Clark Foam promotional photo. Pic via Charlie Bunger’s Long Island Surfing Museum

Before its abrupt closing in 2005, Clark Foam was one of the most fearsome forces in the surfboard industry. There are endless stories about Clark’s ruthlessness. The Surfboard Project has an anecdote, via Joel Tudor, about how Donald Takayama’s first label went under after Clark Foam denied him blanks. Surfer Magazine recently ran a retrospective on the Clark Foam closing, which includes similar tales of strong-arm tactics.

In the early 1960s, though, Clark had yet to establish its dominance, and this ad, at least, makes an earnest appeal to quality and performance instead. I love the fact that just about every single big name surfboard brand at the time has their logos present: Yater, Bing, Ole, Hobie, Wardy, Hansen, and Con. Of that list, only Wardy no longer continues to produce boards (although Con is a completely different company, and Bing Copeland has ceded control to well-regarded shaper Matt Calvani.)

For a great article on the early years of Clark Foam, and how Grubby and Hobie Alter helped lay the groundwork for the modern surfboard industry, I recommend the “727 Laguna Canyon Road” feature in The Surfer’s Journal.

Hope you enjoyed this entry in Sagas of Shred, and tune in next Thursday for what comes next!

Unity Surfboards Ad: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s Sagas of Shred post focuses on a South Bay brand of yesteryear: Unity Surfboards. There isn’t much info to be found on Unity, other than the requisite Stoked-n-Board entry. Unity Surfboards was the brainchild of Pat Reardon, who later shaped under his own name. According to Easy Reader News, as of March of this year, Reardon continues to shape boards for South Bay surfers.

The Unity Surfboards ad pictured above apparently ran in 1977. This makes sense, given the ad features a distinctive Sting shape. Here at Shred Sledz HQ, there are few boards more beloved than the Sting design. And while Aipa’s Stings will forever be held in high regard, I get a big kick out of seeing Sting interpretations from other shapers, whether that’s Con Surfboards or even Al Merrick and Channel Islands.

Unity Surfboards dubbed their design the “Sting-It.” You’ll also notice in the ad that Unity refers to the Sting-It as a stinger. The debate over Sting or stinger rages on; I have heard that it’s the former, and until someone can prove otherwise, I’ll continue to refer to them as Stings.

There also happen to be two separate Unity Sting-Its that are listed for sale. The first board is can be found on Craigslist in San Pedro, not far from Unity’s Hermosa Beach stomping grounds. You can find that Sting-It here. It’s listed at 6’8″, and it’s not in perfect condition, though it certainly looks rideable. (There’s also another Unity Surfboards single fin on Craigslist in Orange County, which you can find here.)

The board pictured above is currently listed on eBay. There’s no mention of Unity on the eBay listing, but it’s quite clear from the pictures. Pics via the eBay listing, which you can find here. The asking price for the eBay Sting-It is $600, which seems a bit steep. Nonetheless, it’s a great example of a classic 1970s design (even though a part of me cringes at the black leash plug that seems to have been added after the fact).