Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest installment in Sagas of Shred, a series that looks back on surf culture artifacts from long ago. Today’s post features an advertisement for Town & Country and Ben Aipa’s reimagining of the latter’s infamous sting design.
Aipa, of course, invented the sting back in the 1970s. Top Hawaiian and visiting Australian pros could be seen surfing stings on Oahu during the decade, and today original Aipa stings are sought after by collectors. (Here’s a previous article about how to tell the difference between a genuine Ben Aipa-shaped sting and then the Surfing’s New Image stings, which were made in California with Aipa’s name, but were mostly made by ghost shapers.)
The advertisement pictured at the top of the page was originally printed in Surfer Magazine in February 1988 (Vol. 29, No. 2). By the late 1980s, Aipa, now working with Town & Country, had modified his sting design into a high performance thruster. The original sting was a single fin design that was frequently paired with a swallowtail. Like just about every other surfboard design, the sting’s popularity waned with the invention of the tri-fin thruster in the early 1980s, thanks to Simon Anderson.
I’m not sure how long Aipa and T&C produced these updated sting designs. They are not very commonplace today. I came across an Aipa / T&C 1980s sting about a year ago, before I realized what it was. You can see the original post here.
The 1980s Aipa / T&C stings have an interesting shape. Despite the otherwise standard high-performance shortboard setup, you’ll notice the wings are still pretty high up the board, just like in the original 1970s design.
The ad also features two fascinating Town & Country Surf Designs team riders. John Shimooka was a world tour fixture in the 1980s and 1990s. However, I was a bit stunned to see Nicky Wood present in the ad. Wood was a one-time Australian surf wunderkind — he still holds the record for the youngest male surfer to ever win a championship tour event, when he took the 1987 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach at the age of sixteen — only to disappear as quickly as he burst onto the scene. Given the ad ran sometime in either late 1987 or 1988, this must have been towards the tail end of Woods’ pro surfing career.
It’s cool to see how Aipa reimagined the sting more than a decade after its introduction. It’s even cooler that it was done alongside Town & Country, which was white hot in the 1980s, and is still going strong today.
Thanks for reading and tune in next Thursday for another episode of Sagas of Shred!
Greetings, Shredderz! I hope a weekend chock full of tasty waves is on the forecast. In the meantime, see below for a selection of some wonderful boards that have recently caught the eyes of the Shred Sledz editorial staff.
There’s actually a Harbour Trestle Special for sale on eBay right now. You can find the eBay board here. Unfortunately, the example that’s being sold isn’t in great condition, which is more or less expected, given the age of the board. The example above is super clean and it also has a great close-up shot of the fin. We’re big fans of Rich Harbour here at Shreddies, and we’re always on the lookout for a particularly cherry example of a Harbour Trestle Special!
I didn’t realize the iconic Larry Bertlemann twin fin board with the Pepsi spray job was also produced in Australia until I saw both posts above. LB’s legendary board is begging for a more in-depth feature. Stay tuned…
Hilarious Simon Anderson / Nectar Surfboards ad from back in the 1980s. According to the caption, the ad originally appeared in Australian Surfing Life magazine. I had always thought Nectar Surfboards had only distributed Anderson’s thrusters in the US, but I guess I was mistaken!
Now here’s something you don’t see every day: a Dick Brewer vintage sting surfboard. The board is currently for sale on Craigslist in New York (pics via the Craigslist posting), and you can find the listing here.
Dick Brewer sting shape. Look at that outline!
Bottom of the board
As you can see, this Brewer Sting has a dramatic outline. There are no dimensions listed on the board, but it looks pretty long — I would guess 7′ plus, but there’s no way of knowing for sure. The wings on the side of the board are placed fairly high up as well. I would describe this as a thumb tail, which is slightly unusual for Stings. You tend to see more swallowtails and pintails on Sting shapes. The triple stringer is another unusual touch.
The Craigslist poster claims the board was shaped in 1975, which sounds right to me. The first giveaway is the Sting design itself, which is an iconic seventies shape. Other details point to a similar date, such as the glass-on fin.
Dick Brewer vintage surfboards from this era usually have far more traditional outlines that you would expect from seventies single fins. See below for a classic example of a seventies Dick Brewer vintage board:
The Sting, of course, was invented by Ben Aipa, and is still one of the more recognizable designs from the seventies. I had never seen an example of a Sting shaped by Brewer, but a bit of online research reveals that Dick Brewer dabbled with Sting designs during this time. See below for a picture showing Brewer sitting next to a Sting that bears his plumeria logo.
The second board from the right has a clear — and pretty dramatic — Sting shape. Contrast it with the other boards in the picture, which sport the winged designs that Brewer was experimenting with in the seventies.
Here’s an even better shot of Brewer holding a Sting design. I couldn’t find any info on when the photo was taken and by whom; if you have any details to share please let me know!
Aussie vintage surfboard purveyors Von Weirdos recently sold a Dick Brewer vintage Sting in excellent condition. The board is no longer for sale, but luckily there are still pictures up on the Von Weirdos site, along with a description of the board. You can find the link here and I have also included some of the pictures below.
The Von Weirdos Brewer Sting is listed at 6’3″ x 20″ x 2 1/2″. The Von Weirdos Sting looks considerably shorter than the Craigslist Sting at the top of the page. In addition, you’ll notice the wings are located much further towards the tail. The wing placement is particularly noticeable in other shots of the board.
Finally, I was able to find another example of a Dick Brewer sting, this time via French surfboard site Daniel’s Longboards. I have included the picture below. You can find the link to the original board posted on Daniel’s Longboards here.
Note the fluted wings, and how this creates miniature channels on the bottom. You can see the dimensions watermarked in the picture: 6’6″ x 21″ x 3 1/8″. The Daniel’s Longboard Sting and the Von Weirdos Sting seem to be very similar boards in a lot of ways, given the wing placement, the swallow tails, and the overall length and outline. Both boards look shorter and fatter than the Craigslist Sting.
The Dick Brewer vintage Sting for sale on Craigslist is going for $900. That’s pretty steep when considering the condition of the board. There’s also the small matter that there doesn’t appear to be a Brewer signature anywhere on the board. This doesn’t mean it’s not a Brewer hand shape, but it’s something to consider. On the other hand, Dick Brewer will always be considered one of the most influential shapers in history, and I believe his vintage boards will only become more collectible over the years. I have a personal soft spot for the Sting, and this is one of a handful of vintage Dick Brewer Stings I have seen, much less for sale. Even though this board is beaten up and on the expensive side, I’m hoping someone will buy it and get Randy Rarick to return it to its former glory.
How to describe the North Shore of Oahu, the famed strip of surf breaks that, at the start of every winter, becomes the beating heart of the entire surf world? Volcom dubbed the most famous piece of real estate in surfing “The Proving Grounds”, and while surfwear marketing is rarely inspired, this is a fitting name. Surfers have long made pilgrimages to the North Shore, and Aussie Terry Fitzgerald, AKA The Sultan of Speed, is no exception.
Fitzgerald’s first exposure to Hawaiian influence came during the world contest in 1970, held at Bells Beach. The Australians — Fitzgerald included — were riding equipment that was inferior to those of their Hawaiian counterparts. According to Fitzgerald, at the time of the contest he wasn’t particularly well-liked by his Australian peers. As a result, Fitzgerald ended up rooming in a hotel with Hawaiian surfers Ben Aipa and Paul Strauch. The experience left a lasting impression. “I got a whole new perspective out of that contest, and I connected with the network that was to become the foundation of my surfing life. …I was put in with Aipa and Strauch, and my mind was opened to the whole Hawaiian deal.”
The quote above can be found in “Accelerator”, an excellent Fitzgerald profile written by Phil Jarratt and published in The Surfer’s Journal. I cannot recommend the article enough; you can find a link to it here (article is free for TSJ subscribers, or $3.99 to download.)
Fitzgerald made his first trip to Hawaii in the spring of 1971. In Hawaii Fitzgerald met none other than Dick Brewer, one of the statesmen of Hawaiian surfing. “Accelerator” has a number of excellent details on how the two shapers’ partnership began to emerge. Brewer witnessed Fitzgerald surfing Rocky Rights and dubbed the young Australian the best surfer in the world. In the summer of that same year, Fitzgerald followed Brewer back to Kauai, where the two began to exchange ideas on surfboard design. Fitzgerald credits Brewer’s influence, but disputes the notion that he left Hawaii intent on aping Brewer.
“The boards I took to Hawaii in 1971 were very much Terry Fitzgerald creations. They were the boards that created my reputation, and they were made before I met Brewer. Basically, I’d taken the twin fin that Greg Hodges and I made, put a single fin on it and refined it along the lines of the boards that Russell Hughes and Dana Nicely were doing at Byron Bay. Dick’s genius was that he could look at what a TF or a Sam Hawk was doing and subtly integrate that into his own designs. He could pull together influences from a whole range of people in a way that worked. …By the end of 1971, I was in California making a real statement in foam, and I know I couldn’t have done that without the Brewer experience.”
Shortly after returning to his native Australia, Fitzgerald opened up his own shop and began selling his shapes under the Hot Buttered label. Even the name Hot Buttered has its origins in Fitzgerald’s Hawaii experiences: during the winter of 1971, Fitzgerald and Hawaiian surfer Owl Chapman had been listening to Isaac Hayes’ album “Hot Buttered Soul”, and the name stuck.
A few years later, Fitzgerald’s Hawaiian experience would come full circle.
The board pictured above is an incredible piece of surfing history that serves as a document for the cultural exchange between TF and Dick Brewer. It is a Hot Buttered single fin, shaped in either 1975 or 1976, that Terry Fitzgerald made for Dick Brewer. The board belongs to Mark Loh of Beach Beat, who kindly contributed the photos to this post.
The winged pintail setup is a hallmark of Fitzgerald’s designs from the Seventies. The board above measures in at 6’5″, and it is a single fin. According to Loh, the board has had some small repairs, but otherwise completely original. The board is in excellent shape considering its age, not to mention that swallowtails and wings are notoriously prone to damage.
One of the most classic logos in Australian surf history!
TF’s signature indicating the board was a gift for Dick Brewer
You can see Fitzgerald’s signature on the board. It clearly reads “T.F. Hawaii for Dick 6’5”. However, the board’s owner went one step further, and contacted Fitzgerald directly. Fitzgerald was able to issue a certificate of authenticity and provide some more details on the board itself.
Fitzgerald provides great insight on the various elements that went into the board’s design. It’s amazing to hear that despite the time spent together, Fitzgerald had never actually ridden one of Brewer’s boards! Finally, Fitzgerald notes the board was glassed by Jack Reeves and sanded by Tom Hawk (brother of the aforementioned Chris).
This is an amazing board, and Fitzgerald’s certificate is a wonderful source for some first-hand information. Finally, check out the original post featuring the board on Vintage Surfboard Collectors (Facebook). As you can see, I’m not the only person who was stoked about this find!
Thanks to Mark Loh for sharing the pictures and the story.
Greetings, Shredderz, and welcome to the latest Shred Sledz Deep Dive! Today’s Deep Dive features a venerable Hawaiian surf brand that has long deserved a closer look: Surf Line Hawaii. Before I get into the history, though, let’s skip right to the good stuff: pictures of awesome surfboards.
First up is a single fin shaped by none other than respected Hawaiian shaper Dennis Pang. Pang got his start at Surf Line Hawaii in 1976, before moving on to some of the most recognizable Hawaiian brands, like Lightning Bolt, Town & Country, and Local Motion. The board below was originally listed on eBay (pics originally found on the eBay post).
Love the clean pinlines! Pic via eBay
A little wear and tear on the bottom, but otherwise very good condition
Clean, clean, clean!
This thing is clean and mean. I love the black & white color scheme and the pinlines, with just a touch of color on the logos on both rails. I was a bit stunned when the board didn’t sell for $450, considering that another Surf Line board by Dennis Pang sold for $1800 ten years ago!
Surf Line Hawaii History
Surf Line Hawaii began as a surf shop on Oahu. It was founded by Dave Rochlen, and I believe Fred Swartz as well. By the time the shortboard revolution started in earnest, the shop began to put out boards under its own label.
I was blown away when I saw all the well-regarded shapers who passed through Surf Line over the years. According to Stoked-n-Board, Ben Aipa, Randy Rarick, Tom Parrish and Michel Junod, in addition to the aforementioned Dennis Pang, all shaped for Surf Line at some point!
However, I was even more shocked when I found out that Lightning Bolt’s famed core group — Gerry Lopez, Reno Abellira and Barry Kanaiaupuni — were all early Surf Line shapers. Lopez actually spent some time working in Surf Line’s offices on the business side.
Here is a great Surfer Magazine interview with Tom Parrish that expands on how a bunch of Surf Line employees broke away to found Lightning Bolt. Bolt was founded by Lopez and Jack Shipley, the latter being Surf Line’s top salesman at the time. Shortly thereafter, Reno, Barry and co followed Lopez and Shipley out the door. It’s really saying something when it’s hard to find space to mention Dick Brewer‘s involvement with Surf Line, as well!
Surf Line Hawaii Surfboards
The board pictured below was shaped by Barry Kanaiaupuni. It was sold at the Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction in 2007, where it went for a mere $1,000 (anyone have a time machine handy?) Pics were taken from the auction site (original link here). I love everything about this board: the listing calls the bottom a “root beer” color, the purple fin pops, and I love the logo, with its clean lines and two-tone color job.
After Lopez left to found Lightning Bolt, Buddy Dumphy took the lead on shaping boards at Surf Line. Lopez writes about Dumphy in his memoir “Surf Is Where You Find It”. Patagonia’s website has a great excerpt from Lopez’s memoir, “Surf is Where You Find It”, where Lopez describes his early friendship with Dumphy and their early experiences riding new surfboard designs.
I’m fascinated by Dumphy’s boards. While they seem to be coveted by a segment of collectors, Dumphy shapes don’t seem to generate the same excitement as those from shapers like Barry K, Reno, and of course Gerry himself. Still, Lopez’s respect for Dumphy speaks volumes about his abilities as a shaper. Sadly, Dumphy passed away as the result of a car accident sometime in the 1990s.
The single coolest Dumphy board I was able to find online was posted by HolySmoke.jp. I have no clue if the board is for sale but that airbrush is absolutely killer!
Here’s another Dumphy single fin, which was also sold at the Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction in 2007. I love the plumeria logo on the deck. It looks like this thing was shaped in the 70s for some serious North Shore surf. Pics taken from the original auction listing.
I was able to find a few Dumphy boards currently for sale online. There’s one currently for sale at New Jersey’s Brighton Beach Surf Shop, and it’s only listed at $450. Link to the board can be found here. I think it’s underpriced, considering the history of both the brand and Dumphy, but then again, the Pang board at the top of the page failed to clear the same $450 mark.
Surfboardhoard.com has a different Dumphy Surf Line Hawaii single fin for sale, but they don’t list the price. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s north of $450. You can find that board here.
Surf Line Hawaii has such a rich history and a deep stable of shapers, it makes it hard to spotlight just a few boards! Standard Store / UsedSurf.jp are selling two other 70s single fins. Note that because the boards are in Japan, the prices are much higher. But they illustrate the wide variety of cool logos that Surf Line employed throughout the years. Boards can be found here and here (pictures below taken from Usedsurf.jp). The boards are credited to Steve Wilson / Welson (guessing the difference is a translation issue), but I couldn’t find any evidence of a shaper by that name. If anyone has some details, let me know!
Pics taken from UsedSurf.jp: http://www.usedsurf.jp/surfboards/vintage/USV10152.php
Pics taken from UsedSurf.jp: http://www.usedsurf.jp/surfboards/upload/images/USV10374_01.jpg
Finally, no Surf Line Hawaii post would be complete without a mention of Randy Rarick. In addition to organizing the Triple Crown of Surfing, putting on auctions like the aforementioned Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction, Rarick restores old surfboards. There is currently a Surf Line Hawaii board for sale on eBay that Rarick restored. The board is not a Rarick shape, but rather, it was made in 1971 by Ryan Dotson. You can find a link to the board here, and I have included some pictures below as well. (Pictures are from the eBay listing.)
Surf Line Hawaii: Odds and Ends
Believe it or not, I haven’t even covered all of the Surf Line Hawaii shapers, like Rick Irons and Sparky Scheufele! If nothing else, that speaks to the incredibly deep collection of shapers that passed through the brand over the years. Sadly, Surf Line Hawaii no longer seems to be in business. It seems as if they stopped producing surfboards long ago (I would guess sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, but that is just a guess), and a Yelp listing indicates that Surf Line’s Honolulu retail location has closed, too.
Nonetheless, Surf Line Hawaii played a prominent role in the Hawaiian surf scene, and remains one of the most impressive collections of shaping talent ever.
I hope you enjoyed this Deep Dive! If you have any pictures of any Surf Line boards you would like to share, or any comments at all, please reach out via the Contact section. Thank you for reading, and may your stoke levels remain high and rising!
Featured Image at top from @aipasurf on Instagram. Original link to photo here.
Sadly, there are no bargains to be had here. Seller is asking $2250 out the gate for this Aipa / Surfing’s New Image sting. Shout out to the seller for being clear about the fact this board was shaped by Rick Hamon, and not Ben Aipa himself (see here for an earlier Shred Sledz screed on the topic.) I have never seen that stringer setup before, and the airbrush on the bottom speaks for itself! Deck isn’t perfect but that’s like pointing out a small dent on a gullwing Mercedes. Check out the board here.
Hit the jump below for some more boards, including another Aipa, and some transitional goodness..
I’ve been writing about Morey Pope a bit lately, and here’s an incredible find from Buggs, who has one of the dopest surfboard collections known to mankind, and runs SurfboardLine in his free time. This is a balsa Morey Pope board from what looks to be 1966 — see the comments for some more knowledgeable people chiming in with info on this beaut.
Joel Tudor has been posting a lot of quality vintage content on his Instagram lately. This is a picture of Renny Yater. I’d guess late 1950s or early 1960s, but don’t quote me on that. Either way, it is one classic picture of one classic dude (and posted by another!)