Vintage Olympic Surfboards Ad: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! In honor of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, today we have an ad from a defunct surfboards label that, had it been founded in today’s day and age, surely would have been sued into oblivion. The vintage Olympic Surfboards ad posted above dates back to 1963, before the IOC transformed into a litigation machine that just so happened to put on a sporting event every couple of years. It’s also fitting that surfing will be featured as an Olympic sport for the first time ever in 2020. And as an American, I’m starting to become concerned that the hometown squad isn’t matching the Aussies’ very public push for gold.

During its brief existence, Olympic Surfboards was way more than just a way to capitalize on a popular trademark. According to Stoked-n-Board, Olympic Surfboards was based out of San Diego, and the brand existed from 1962 to 1968.

Mike Diffenderfer, whom you can see pictured in the ad, is still remembered as one of the greatest shapers in surf history. Bill Caster was another standout shaper, who sadly passed away in 1985. Caster’s boards are still prized among a segment of San Diego surfers. Surfy Surfy has spoken at length about Caster’s shapes, and if you go to the amazing Bird’s Surf Shed, you’ll see many of Bill Caster’s boards lining the well-stocked ceilings.

Phil Castagnola founded San Diego-based Select Surf Shop (which employed a young Bird Huffman), and was also known for amassing a collection of vintage surfboards. One of the sickest boards I have ever written about is this incredible Skip Frye single fin shaped for Select Surf Shop, which I still kick myself for not buying on the spot.

I couldn’t find any info about Bill David, Lonnie Woods, and Larry Woods, however. I’m guessing they were San Diego surf fixtures once upon a time, but my Googling didn’t turn up any interesting info. If you know more about these gentlemen, please do let me know!

As always, thanks for reading Sagas of Shred. We’ll be back next week with some more surf history.

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.