Here at Shred Sledz we are unabashed fans of the Transition Era and all of its crazy designs. The shortboard revolution of the late 1960s was a time of unprecedented experimentation. One of my all-time favorite Transition Era boards is the Surfboards Hawaii V Bottom.
According to Stoked-n-Board, the Surfboards Hawaii V Bottom was produced between 1968 and 1971. S-n-B has record of four different logos that were made during this run. One of these boards recently popped up on Craigslist in San Diego for a mere $250! The fin box was busted, but that still strikes me as an incredible price for one of the more interesting v bottom boards.
I believe the model is technically considered the “Hawaii V”, as indicated by both the close-up of the logo to the left, as well as the copy in the advertisement posted above. (All pics of the board first appeared in the original Craigslist posting, which has since been taken down.)
I love how the Surfboards Hawaii V Bottom boards often have elegant, minimalist pinlines. The one pictured above is no exception, with beautiful resin work around what looks like a volan patch in the middle of the board, as well as in the signature angular tail block. The Surfboards Hawaii V Bottom pictured above also came with an original W.A.V.E. Set fin, another indication of its age.
Even though the Hawaii V is a coveted Transition Era shape, I still can’t find any reliable information on who actually designed the board. As always, if you have any ideas, please drop me a line! I love hearing from fellow Shredderz.
Sadly, an eagle eyed reader snapped up the board above before I had a chance to act. Stay tuned for another special v bottom board coming up tomorrow!
Alright, Shredderz: 2018 is a serious year, and we’re not holding back. Yeah, that’s right: first Sagas of Shred entry in the new year means a full-page advertisement for perhaps the single greatest cult surfboard brand of the 1980s: Christian Fletcher Surfboards.
Christian Fletcher is still revered as one of the most influential surfers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Along with brother Nathan Fletcher, Christian was tabbed as a scion of surfing’s first family, the infamous Hoffman-Fletcher clan. Fletcher, however, ran from the cheerful conformity of the Orange County pro surfing scene, thanks to the surf establishment’s open hostility towards Fletcher’s aerial-heavy surfing. Sadly, Fletcher’s rebellious nature didn’t stop just at pro surfing contests, and he has openly struggled with substance abuse throughout his career. Then again, we don’t require rebels to be perfect — we simply ask that they be interesting, and Christian Fletcher is nothing if not a fascinating figure. As always, Matt Warshaw and the peerless Encyclopedia of Surfing have summed up Fletcher’s career far better than I ever could, and I urge you to subscribe to EoS if you haven’t yet. One interesting thing to note is Warshaw mentions that Christian Fletcher Surfboards was founded in 1991. However, the Christian Fletcher Surfboards ad pictured above was definitely taken from a 1988 issue of Surfer Magazine. I’m not sure how long the Christian Fletcher Surfboards brand lasted, but these boards are extremely coveted today.
It’s also interesting to note that Fletcher had high-profile sponsorships with other surfboard brands; most notably Town & Country / T&C Surf Designs. I’ve never understood how Fletcher managed to start his own brand while simultaneously riding for T&C. He also rode for a couple of other famous Orange County shapers, such as Randy Sleigh, Chris McElroy and Steve Boysen, though I’m not sure if they were considered proper sponsors.
At the end of the day, though, much of the enduring appeal of Christian Fletcher Surfboards has to do with the man himself and that incredible logo. You’ll often see the Christian Fletcher Surfboards logo in full color, but I happen to love the starkness of the black and white version here. The graphic is a perfect summary of Fletcher as a person and a surfer — radical and impossible to ignore.
As always, tune in next Thursday for another installment of Sagas of Shred!
Greetings Shredderz, and I’d like to wish you a warm welcome to 2018! We’ve got plenty of big things in store for you this year, but we’re starting things off nice and gentle with a certified classic: a late 1960s Harbour single fin, shaped during the Transition Era.
The board pictured above is currently being offered for sale on eBay. You can find a link to the listing here. Photos above are via the eBay listing.
The Harbour single fin has a bunch of cool details. There are a few giveaways that point to the fact it was likely shaped in the late 1960s or maybe early 1970s, all of which are pretty common during the Transition Era. First, you’ll notice the Vari-set fin box (complete with a regrettably bent fin still in there). Second, if you click through to the listing, there are some pictures that show off a pronounced S Deck shape to the board.
The logo on the board has some fascinating details. You’ll notice that a lot of the measurements are actually written on the deck of the board. Note the measurements off-set to the right, and then a number that is located right beneath the main Harbour Surfboards logo. On more recent Rich Harbour boards, you’ll often see a signature located near the fin and on the bottom of the board. However, I have seen many older Harbour boards that feature a serial number on the deck near the stringer. The Harbour single fin pictured above, however, is a bit of an outlier in the sense that it has the measurements on the deck. This is an unusual touch that I haven’t seen much, if at all. The board also doesn’t seem to have a Rich Harbour signature anywhere on it, either. From what I can tell, this is not unusual.
The seller is asking $500, which I do not find outrageous. The bent fin is a shame, but the fin box itself looks like it’s in sturdy condition. I happen to love the classic coke bottle color, and otherwise the board is pretty clean. Check out the link here.
A Channel Islands Tom Curren Al Merrick shaped personal rider!
Season’s Greetingz! I hope each and every one of you is having a great holiday season. 2017 has been a wonderful year for Shred Sledz, and as we draw things to a close, we have a truly special board brought to you by one of our earliest readers. When it comes to high performance shortboard shapes, Al Merrick is a man without peer. Thanks to Merrick’s collaborations with not one, but two of the all-time greats, the Channel Islands steward is the closest thing to Phil Jackson that surfing has to offer, minus the Zen Master’s disastrous third act at Madison Square Garden (can you tell this blog is written by a Knicks fan?). Even if Al Merrick had only worked with Kelly Slater, the eleven world titles won on Channel Islands boards would have been enough to reserve a spot on the Mount Rushmore of surfboard shapers. But years before Kelly even qualified for the tour, Merrick was the Obi Wan to Tom Curren’s Luke Skywalker, providing the sage advice and cutting-edge shapes that helped propel the young Californian to three world titles and a legacy as one of the most influential surfers of all time.
Channel Islands Tom Curren Model
Simon Anderson invented the thruster in 1980 and won the prestigious Pipe Masters the next year, putting to doubt any lingering questions about the validity of his new tri-fin design. And while Anderson invented the thruster, one can argue that Tom Curren is the surfer who best defined high performance surfing during the 1980s — aided, of course, by a quiver of Al Merrick-shaped Channel Islands sleds.
Channel Islands capitalized on Curren’s competitive prowess by releasing a number of Tom Curren signature models. The Red Beauty is a replica of the board that Curren surfed in the 1984 OP Pro held at Huntington Beach. The Red Beauty takes its name from its airbrushed rails, as seen below.
Many consider Channel Islands Surfboards’ Black Beauty model the definitive Tom Curren Al Merrick shape. The Black Beauty model is still sold today. Black Beauty is the nickname for the board that Curren surfed on the way to his maiden world title in the 1985 / 1986 season, so named for black airbrushed rails. Most famously, Curren rode the board to victory in a semi-final heat against nemesis Mark Occhilupo in the 1986 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, which is regarded as one of the finest heats in competitive surfing.
At some point during the 1980s or 1990s, Channel Islands released a branded Tom Curren model. There are a few different variants of the Channel Islands Tom Curren model, as I have seen examples of the board with channels on the bottom, and some without. From what I can tell, though, all of the Channel Islands Tom Curren models have a bump squash tail and a thruster setup. I suspect the Channel Islands Tom Curren models were mass-produced, but I’m not certain. (See here for a quick rundown on how to identify Al Merrick hand-shaped boards.) Pictured below is a killer example of a Channel Islands Tom Curren model that was originally sold on usedsurf.co.jp.
Tom Curren Al Merrick Contest Board
The real reason behind this post is the emergence of a truly special board: an honest-to-goodness Tom Curren Al Merrick hand shape. First, a quick bit of background on pro boards. Pro surfers go through surfboards faster than Kobayashi mows down a pack of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Sponsored surfers receive dozens of boards a year, then ruthlessly whittle down their quivers to a handful of magic sticks that will be counted on to perform during high pressure contest situations. Surfboards made for pro surfers boast high performance but super light glass jobs, and as a result, most boards that achieve keeper status are surfed until disintegration. Generally speaking, whenever pro boards pop up for sale, looking brand new and sporting recognizable arrays of laminates, it’s because they weren’t part of the regular rotation. This isn’t to pooh pooh any of these boards — they are still awesome! — but the point is that it’s rare to find boards that belonged to pro surfers that also were surfed on a regular basis.
The board you see pictured above, however, is the real deal: a board shaped by Al Merrick and surfed by Tom Curren. This board is currently owned by Matt Johnson, an early Shred Sledz reader (thanks Matt!), who originally posted the board to the Vintage Surfboard Collectors group on Facebook. You’ll notice the laminates reflect Curren’s sponsors at the time — Ocean Pacific, Rip Curl wetsuits (ah, the innocent days when pros had separate clothing and wetsuit sponsors!), Channel Islands / Al Merrick, and The Surf. The spray job along the rails is a Tom Curren staple, including on his Red and Black Beauty surfboards. The Tom Curren Al Merrick personal rider above has a bump squash tail, which you can see in the third picture, and a glass job from Santa Barbara glasser extraordinaire Bob Haakenson.
You’ll also notice that the stringer bears Al’s distinctive “fish” signature, along with measurements. The board is pretty narrow, measuring 18.75″ at its widest point, and the rails clock in at 2.75″.
Oftentimes, dating a board can be inexact, at best. Luckily, there is a whole bunch of photographic evidence with the Tom Curren Al Merrick board pictured above. The board was surfed in the summer of 1988, and likely made around the same timeframe. Unlike many pro boards, Curren actually did work with this bad boy! In fact, Tom Curren surfed the Al Merrick shape to victory in the 1988 Marui Japan Open, held at Habushiura Beach on Niijima Island, over Gary Elkerton. For the next stop on the 1988 / 1999 ASP Tour, the Gotcha Pro at Sandy Beach on the South Shore of Oahu, Curren took a second-place finish, losing to Derek Ho in the finals. See below for some pictures from a 1988 issue of Surfer Magazine:
You can clearly see the board is the same Tom Curren Al Merrick shape featured here, from the fade to black airbrush on the rails to the placement of the logos. The pictures on the left are from the 1988 Gotcha Pro — note the sleeveless pink singlet on Curren in both pictures. (And need we even point out that Derek Ho’s two-tone stonewash boardshorts are incredible?) The picture on the right is Curren surfing during the 1988 Marui Japan Open.
So why did Curren ditch a board that propelled him to first and second place finishes to begin the 1988 / 1989 ASP season? Your guess is as good as mine. But given Curren’s reputation for mysteriousness and gentle unpredictability, it’s only fitting that he would turn his back on a magic contest-winning board. Either way, it’s a thrill to document such a special surfboard that represents the Curren / Merrick pairing, one of the few duos that truly can lay claim to having changed the sport of surfing.
As always, I cannot thank you, my readerz, enough for your support. Looking forward to sharing some more stoke in the New Year.
Seasons’s Greetingz! Nothing says holiday cheer more than a neon wetsuit and a vertical backhand attack. Actually, that’s not true at all. But I figure if you’re a regular Shred Sledz reader, there’s no better way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than with another Sagas of Shred entry. The 1980s Channel Islands Surfboards ad pictured above originally ran in a 1988 issue of Surfer Magazine. If you look closely you’ll see the surfer pictured in the ad is none other than South Bay pro surfer Ted Robinson. Robinson was recently inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfing Walk of Fame. For all you fans of 80s Channel Islands Surfboards — and I can’t imagine you’ve made it this far if you aren’t — stay tuned for a big post coming out before the end of the year. It will be worth the wait, I promise! I hope your holiday cups have runneth over with tasty waves and quality time with loved ones.
Vintage Russell single fin that may or may not be shaped by Shawn Stussy
Greetings, Shredderz! If you’re visiting because you’re on the prowl for last-minute holiday gifts for your favorite blogger, well, look no further. A beautiful Russell single fin is currently up for sale on Craigslist in Huntington Beach. You can find a link to the board here.
As you can see, the Russell single fin pictured above is in impeccable condition. The board boasts some pretty primo details as well. The triple stringer setup is a classy touch, and check out those beautiful wooden nose and tail blocks.
However, the detail that drew the most interest is the hand-drawn graphic on the deck of the board. I have included a close-up picture of the graphic to the left. I love the styling of the graphic, which is whimsical, but small enough so that it doesn’t detract from the clean lines of the board.
This, of course, leads to the inevitable follow-up question of whether or not the Russell single fin was shaped by Stussy himself. I have spoken with the seller and there are no signatures anywhere on the board. The graphic in question is completely unlike any other Russell Surfboards logo I have ever seen (you can see some other Russell logos on Stoked-n-Board’s site.) In conclusion, I have no way of definitively knowing whether or not Stussy played a hand in shaping the board.
Either way, the Russell single fin pictured above is a unique shape. At 7’8″ it’s not exactly an option for everyday surf. And in the very likely the case the board has nothing to do with Stussy, it’s still a super clean example of a shape from a great Seventies California label, to say nothing of the craftsmanship that went into the wooden details! Check out the board here.
Look, no one loves Eighties and Nineties surf culture more than me. Admittedly, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of competition for that dubious distinction, but I want to make this clear before I start poking fun at the T&C Surf Designs ad featured above. And now that the necessary caveats are out of the way…my goodness, is this ad hilarious or what. Matt Archbold rips, but he doesn’t strike me as the most enthusiastic model. The pose in the middle makes me crack up every time I see it. It looks like someone pushed Archy from behind and then captured his confused expression halfway through the fall. I also can’t say the whole “Surf ‘Til It Hurts” tagline resonates with me too much. I’m in my mid-thirties and I work a desk job, the pain is a given any time I paddle out, thank you very much.
But who am I kidding? I genuinely love this stuff, even if I do like to have a little fun with it.For those of us that came of age in the Eighties and Nineties, T&C Surf Designs will always be a brand inextricably linked with radical surfing and edgy designs. (And yes, I would still rock one of those sweatshirts today!) And how rad is that backside air that Archy is boosting towards the right hand side of the frame? I’ve always thought Archy had incredible style, dating back to late Nineties MCD ads that showcased his tattoos and his wicked backhand vertical attack.
For those of you who are into the classier side of T&C’s history, check out last week’s Sagas of Shred entry. As for me, I always prefer my surf history with just a splash of neon.
That’s it for this week’s Sagas of Shred entry. As always, tune in next Thursday for another dose of vintage surf culture.