La Jolla Surf Systems: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! It’s Thursday again, which means we’re serving up some red hot scans of old surf ads as part of the Sagas of Shred series. Today we’ve got an unlikely all star cast in an ad for La Jolla Surf Systems. The ad originally appeared in the February 1983 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 24, No 2). I assume La Jolla Surf Systems was an old San Diego surf shop, but that’s about all I know. What’s really interesting is the collection of shapers featured in the ad (and one notable craftsman who apparently didn’t make it to the shoot on time). The ad features the late Bill Caster, whose boards are still coveted among a selection of San Diego locals; Gary McNabb, of Nectar Surfboards fame; Tim Bessell, who is still shaping today; Eric “Bird” Huffman, founder of Bird’s Surf Shed; and of course, a young Shawn Stussy. If you look closely at the bottom right of the ad you’ll see a gorgeous-looking Stussy twin fin with purple rails and some wings in the tail. I’m a little intrigued by Stussy’s inclusion, as I believe he is the only non-San Diego local in the names listd above. While the ad mentions that La Jolla Surf Systems has Skip Frye boards in stock, if you look below Bird’s photo you’ll see “Skip Frye — gone fishing.” To me this suggests Skip was originally supposed to take part in the shoot, but that’s just a guess. Thirty six plus years after the ad was shot, I can’t even imagine the sheer luxury of walking into a surf shop and seeing a bunch of Skips on the racks, to say nothing of the Stussy boards! If you read this blog you know that my bread and butter is poking fun at the ridiculousness of Eighties art direction, but I’m still too starstruck by all the shapers in the ad to come up with anything halfway decent.

Mahalo for reading and don’t be afraid to come back next Thursday for more Sagas of Shred!

Challenger Surfboards Micro Platypus

The Transition Era of surfboard design was a time period marked by widespread experimentation. Oftentimes, these unorthodox approaches could extend beyond just the design of a surfboard. Pictured below is a Challenger Surfboards Micro Platypus Model. The board is listed for sale on Craigslist in San Diego, currently going for $600. Pics are via the Craigslist post, and you can find a link to the board here.

I can’t say the Micro Platypus has the elegance of, say, a Yater nose rider from the same era, but it has an irresistible, freewheeling charm to it. I love the name and the logo, for starters. The board also appears to be in great condition, especially when considering its age. According to Stoked-n-Board, the Micro Platypus was only produced in 1969.

However, the poster lists the Micro Platypus as measuring in at 7’6″, and Stoked-n-Board only has record of Micro Platypus models at either 7’2″ or sub 7′. This is the first and only Micro Platypus I have ever seen, so it’s difficult to say. As always, please drop me a line if you have more info about the board!

There are a bunch of neat design details here as well. Check out everything that’s going on in the nose:

Challenger Surfboards Micro Platypus 1969 7'6 2
Look at those rails! Appears as if there is something of a hull-esque belly in the front, too. Pic via Craigslist

The board comes with an original W.A.V.E. Set fin, which is always a nice touch.

Challenger Surfboards Micro Platypus 1969 7'6 6
W.A.V.E. Set fin, as designed by Tom Morey. Pic via Craigslist

Island Trader Surf Shop has an example of an original Challenger Platypus on their website. You can find a link to that board here. Based on both sets of pics, it’s difficult to compare the outlines of Island Trader’s Challenger Platypus with the Micro Platypus pictured above. However, here’s a shot of the original Platypus logo. Note that there’s no “Micro” above the Platypus logo, and the addition of the “by Challenger Surfboards” script below.

Challenger Surfboards Platypus
Original Challenger Surfboards Platypus logo. Pic via Island Trader Surf Shop

Unfortunately, it’s hard to say who may have shaped the Micro Platypus pictured at the top of the page. Island Trader’s original Platypus was shaped by Bobby Thomas, and there’s a Swaylocks thread that indicates Thomas shaped a bunch of these boards. Apparently, Billy Caster — who later founded Caster Surfboards — also churned out some boards for Challenger at this time as well.

The Challenger Surfboards Micro Platypus is going for $600, and you can find the Craigslist posting for the board here.

Caster Single Fin

Greetings, Shredderz! I’d love nothing more than to put you on to another 70s single fin, brought to you by a California shaper.

Pictured here is a 7′2″ Caster single, apparently shaped in the late 1970s, that is up for grabs on Craigslist in San Diego. It looks to be in pretty good shape beneath the wax job, and the poster claims the board hasn’t even seen the water in about 30 years or so. I’ve also included a picture of the fin, which is stunning. It looks like there’s a wood inlay on the fin, which is a beautiful touch.

According to Stoked-n-Board, Caster boards were produced in sunny San Diego from 1965 to 1981. Sadly, Billy himself passed away in 1985. Caster is a longtime favorite of wonderful San Diego-based Surfy Surfy. JP St Pierre, the owner of Surfy Surfy, notes how his father was best friends with Caster back in the day. Surfy Surfy’s blog features these beautiful boards whenever he comes across them, and I highly recommend checking out their archives.

As a side note, Caster’s brother in law was none other than Hank Warner, a well-regarded shaper who spent a long time making boards for Gordon & Smith.

Anyway, if you’re interested in this board, you can check it out here. It’s currently being offered for $450 – not cheap, but hey, it’s always free to look at the pics.