Vintage Bonzer Surfboard by the Campbell Brothers

Count the Shred Sledz staff among the numerous fans of the Campbell brothers’ bonzer surfboard design. And while we celebrate the bonzer in all its forms, whether it’s the early collaborations with Bing surfboards, Mike Eaton’s interpretations, or other renditions from great California craftsmen — nothing beats a vintage bonzer surfboard shaped by Malcolm and Duncan Campbell.

Pictured above is a vintage bonzer surfboard that I would guess was shaped sometime during the 1970s. This is a Campbell Brothers’ Russ Short Model, named after its famous test pilot, who cut a high performance swath across California lineups during the 1970s. I wrote up another vintage Russ Short Model a few weeks back, which you can check out here. The yellow Russ Short Model pictured above is currently for sale on Craigslist in Oxnard, near its ancestral home. Pics are via the listing, which you can find here.

Vintage Bonzer Surfboard Campbell Brothers
Close-up of the tail. Pic via Craigslist

As expected, the business end of this vintage bonzer surfboard features some beautiful curves. Sadly, the tail is a bit dinged up, but the board still has its lovely original paint job, and there just aren’t that many forty year-old boards in great condition, no matter what. The seller lists the serial number as #761, and as a result, dates the vintage bonzer surfboard to 1978. I can’t say for sure whether or not this is correct. If I had to guess, I would say the yellow board above is from a few years earlier than 1978. According to the Campbell Brothers’ website, Bonzer Vehicles got its start in 1975. Stoked-n-Board claims that the Bonzer Vehicles logo pictured on the board above was only in circulation between 1975 and 1978.

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Another example of the 1970s Bonzer Vehicles “UFO” logo. The board was featured during the Campbell Brothers “The Bonzer” exhibit at the Costa Mesa Conceptual Art Center last year, which was put on in collaboration with Alex Knost. Pic via RVCA

Speaking of which, I love that the board featured here has the old school Bonzer Vehicles “UFO” logo (not sure if this is the proper name for the logo, but that’s what I’m going with.) Sadly, the pictures from the listing aren’t high res enough to provide a clear closeup, but I’ve found one featured in an exhibit the Campbell brothers put on with Alex Knost in Costa Mesa last year. I love the addition of the completely un-ironic twin dolphin airbrush.

The seller is asking $950 for the vintage Bonzer surfboard pictured above, which I find a little steep. Prices aside, it is a beautiful surfboard, and at the very least, it’s worth checking out the listing for all the pics. You can see the board here.

Bing Sting: Bonzer Edition

Greetings, Shredderz! Here at Shred Sledz we like to geek out a little bit on the details of various vintage surfcraft, and today’s post features an interesting variant on a well-loved board. First, if you haven’t seen the previous posts on the famous Bing Bonzer, please check them out here. What’s not to love about Bing Bonzers? They boast serious pedigree from a number of angles, whether it’s Bing Copeland and his famous brand; the Campbell Brothers, who invented the bonzer well before the thruster was invented; and Mike Eaton, who shaped many bonzers on his own. And, if like me, you are a shallow person easily swayed by appearances, well, the Bing Bonzers happen to look very cool, from their clean lines to thoughtful touches like the Bonzer-branded side bites.

The Bing Bonzer pictured above has an interesting sting outline that I have never seen before. Every previous version of the Bing Bonzer I have seen has had a pretty straightforward 70s single fin-style outline, or something along the lines of an egg shape. Not only does the example above have wings, they are also located pretty far up on the board, much in the place where you would expect to find them on a classic Aipa sting, for example.

The board pictured above is currently being listed for sale on Craigslist in Austin, Texas. Pics in the post are via the listing, which you can find here. It measures in at a tidy 6’9″ x 20 3/4″ x 3″, and the asking price is (gulp) $680. Given the damage tot he board, what looks like an after-the-fact leash plug, and a some discoloration, I think this is expensive. But the Bing Bonzer does have some lovely resin pinlines — you can just barely make out that yellow pinline in the tail, not to mention the more obvious shapes on the deck — and price aside, it’s a wonderful example of one of my favorite boards of the 1970s.

Vintage 70s Campbell Brothers Bonzer

Greetings, Shredderz! Have we got a treat for you today. Longtime readers of this humble little blog may know that we’re big fans of the Campbell Brothers’ inimitable Bonzer design. Shred Sledz has previously featured a few vintage Bing Bonzer surfboards, which you’ll periodically see pop up for sale here and there. However, finding genuine vintage Campbell Brothers Bonzers is a bit more difficult. Is this because Bing simply had a larger production run during its early years? I can’t say for sure.

But if you’re a fan of vintage Campbell Brothers Bonzer surfboards, today’s your lucky day, because there’s currently one that’s listed for sale in San Diego. All pics in the post are via the listing. You can find a link to the board here.

Vintage 70s Campbell Brothers Bonzer 1Vintage 70s Campbell Brothers Bonzer 2

First, the Craigslist post indicates that the board is the Campbell Brothers’ famous Russ Short model. Russ Short was one of the Campbell Brothers’ finest test pilots back in the mid- to late-1970s, and the design continues to be produced today. Check out this earlier post featuring a picture of Mr. Short. There’s no specific date listed with the board, but the poster claims it’s from the mid-1970s, which seems right. I say this based on a few factors: first, the vintage Rainbow Fin, and more tellingly, the eyehole screw (I’m not sure if this is the right term, so please correct me if that’s wrong) holding it in. Second, you’ll notice the board has a dramatic double concave in the tail.

Vintage 70s Campbell Brothers Bonzer 3

Vintage 70s Campbell Brothers Bonzer 4
Love those tail contours. There is something immensely satisfying about the lines of these old Bonzer surfboards, between the round arcs of the concave bottom and then the sharp, straight angles of the side bites.

I’m not certain, but anecdotally I would say that while Mike Eaton continued to build boards with pronounced double concave designs, the Campbell Brothers Bonzers mellowed out on this in a bit. The fine folks at Surfy Surfy have a picture of a modern Campbell Brothers Russ Short, and as you can see, the tail design has mellowed out over the years.

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Classic Campbell Brothers Bonzer Vehicles logo. I also love the cobalt blue of the logo, especially when paired with that gorgeous 70s Rainbow Fin that comes with the board.

The board is 7’4″ and the seller is asking $550. As always, I’m a little undecided on the price. On one hand, the board has been used a bit, and it by no means is in impeccable condition. On the other, you simply don’t find 70s Campbell Brothers Russ Short Bonzers very often, and $550 for a rideable piece of history strikes me as a fair deal. Anyway, I suppose that isn’t for me to decide. If you’re interested, check out the board here.

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (Nov 28)

Greetings, Shredderz! It has been a while since the last installment of our Social Media Roundup series, but I’m afraid there’s too much heat on Instagram not to share here. I don’t get paid by the word around these parts, so start scrolling for some recent selections:

Zephyr is an iconic brand that played an instrumental role in shaping surf and skate culture as we know it today. The picture above features Skip Engblom — cinephiles may recognize the name as the character played by Heath Ledger in “Lords of Dogtown” — artist CR Stecyk III, and shaper Jeff Ho, looking as fresh as can be in their finest seventies regalia. Engblom’s short shorts, windbreaker and OG Budweiser beer can ensemble is an absolutely killer look. And don’t miss those two gorgeous Zephyr single fins in the middle, too!

If you missed our post last week on a Dave Parmenter board made for Tom Carroll, you can check it out here. The Instagram post above, however, proves that TC has an open mind when it comes to equipment. It’s so rad to see Carroll putting a Liddle hull through its paces.

First, if you don’t follow Duncan Campbell on Instagram, you must. Not only is Duncan the co-creator of the Bonzer, but he frequently shares photos and tidbits from his long history of the board. Pictured above is Craig Fineman, a well-regarded skate and surf photographer who sadly passed away in 2003, posing alongside an early Bonzer creation. (Also see our earlier post on Russ Short, which features quotes taken from a Surfer feature Fineman wrote and photographed.)

Over the past few weeks I seemed to find Mike Purpus boards all over the place, and during my research I stumbled across this amazing example of a Hot Lips single fin. I’m guessing the board was shaped during the 1970s. Note the rad little Clark Foam laminate near the tail on the deck of the board. This Instagram didn’t fit with any of the previous posts I wrote about Mike Purpus and Hot Lips, but it’s too beautiful not to share somewhere!

 

Vintage Russ Short Bonzer: Sagas of Shred

Who doesn’t love a good bonzer? The Campbell Brothers’ revolutionary multi-fin design (which preceded Simon Anderson’s thruster by a good decade) endures today. Moreover, the bonzer exists not as a glorified prop for Instagram surf hipsters, but as a high-performance design ridden by some of the finest schralpers on the planet. Malcolm and Duncan Campbell are still shaping boards more than four decades since inventing the bonzer. One of the Campbell Brothers’ more popular models is the Russ Short bonzer. I never gave much thought to the name of the Russ Short bonzer until recently, when I discovered that Short was actually one of California’s best surfers during the 1970s, and the board had been named after him. I found a profile of Russ Short in an old issue of Surfer Magazine (September 1979, Vol. 20, No. 9), and was immediately struck by the picture you see at the top of the page. The photo was taken by the late Craig Fineman, who also wrote the accompanying article.

Check out the Russ Short bonzer he’s toting in the picture above. You can see the dramatic double concave in the tail and the distinct angle of the bonzer side fins. I don’t know if the board is considered a proper Russ Short bonzer model, which the Campbell Brothers continue to produce to this day. The Surfer Magazine article delves a bit into Russ’ long-time collaboration with the Campbells. Apparently, Russ was in Malcolm and Duncan’s orbit when the very first bonzers were invented. I’ve excerpted relevant text from Fineman’s profile below:

“It wasn’t long after to move to Ventura County that [Short’s] relationship with the Campbell brothers commenced. He put in many years as the leading test pilot for Bonzer Vehicles. He saw it all, from the first garage models to manufacturing arrangements with Weber and finally Bing. He was constantly involved in the design progression from early hand-shaped, hand-glassed Bonzers, to today’s sophisticated Bonzer Light Vehicle. It proved to be a valid and lucrative association, as Russ managed to gain quite a bit of media coverage, and in so doing sold a lot of surfboards.”

While Short is known for piloting Campbell Brothers surfboards, the article also makes mention of Russ’ collaboration with another shaper named Mike Perry. This must have taken place in the late 1970s, given the article was published in 1979. Stoked-n-Board has a listing for Mike Perry, but it was the first I had ever heard of him. I have no idea whether this collaboration endured. If you have more info on the boards Mike Perry made for Russ Short, please let me know!

The Russ Short bonzer is a fantastic example of the magic that can happen when a talented surfer gets the right boards beneath his feet. I love Short’s surfing in the video above, which must have seemed practically alien when it happened forty years ago!

Hope you enjoyed this installment of Sagas of Shred, and as always, tune in next Thursday for another glimpse into surfing’s weird and wonderful past.

 

Foiled: Mystery Bing Single Fin

Greetings, Shredderz! Today we have a very interesting example from one of the all-time great American surfboard brands: Bing Surfboards. Pictured below is a vintage Bing single fin that is currently for sale on Craigslist in Orange County, California. You can find a link to the board here. Pics below are via the listing.

A few things about the board stand out. First, the board looks fantastic. The seller claims the Bing single fin pictured above was shaped in 1981. If so — and I have no reason to dispute the date — the board is in great condition for its age. It’s also hard to miss the detailed airbrush on the bottom. If you look closely at the left-most picture, you’ll notice the airbrush extends to the rails, too. In fact, the airbrush on the rails looks like a more subtle version of the signature look of Mike Eaton Bonzers.

Eaton Bonzer 6'7" 1.jpg
Classic example of a Mike Eaton Bonzer. Check out the detailed airbrush on the rails, which is very similar to the design on the Bing single fin above. Pic via eBay

Eaton, of course, famously shaped under the Bing label for many years. Stoked-n-Board claims Eaton was shaping for Bing between 1965 and 2001, and given the airbrush design, I think it’s very possible the board pictured above was made by Eaton. That said, the listing does not mention an Eaton signature anywhere, nor is one visible in any of the pictures.

The other interesting thing about the Bing single fin pictured above is the phoenix logo on the bottom of the board.

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Close up shot of the phoenix logo found on the bottom of the vintage Bing single fin. And how about that paint job?! Pic via Craigslist

The Bing single fin above is interesting because it is the only time I have ever seen the Bing phoenix logo appear on a board that was not a Bing Australian Foil or a Maui Foil model. When I initially saw the board for sale, I figured it was an Australian Foil that I had simply never seen before. However, every other Australian Foil and Maui Foil I have seen has also had a script laminate with the model name. I do not believe the Bing single fin at the top of the page is an Australian or Maui Foil model.

Bing Australian Foil Logo.jpg
Clean example of a Bing Australian Foil logo. You’ll notice the phoenix design is the same

Furthermore, the “eye” Bing Surfboards logo is off-set on the Foil Models to make room for the script laminates. On the Bing single fin at the top of the page, though, the Bing Surfboards “eye” logo is centered beneath the phoenix laminate.

Does the presence of the phoenix logo on a non-Foil Bing single fin mean anything special? Honestly, I doubt it. But I always love examples of unusual vintage surfboards, and the Bing single fin above certainly seems to fit the bill. It’s being offered for sale on Craigslist and the price is $550. If you’re interested, you can check out the board here.

Vintage Bonzer Surfboards at Wi-5 Premier

Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s post is a bit bittersweet. On one hand, we have the premier of “Wi-5”, a short film collaboration between Taylor Knox and the Campbell Brothers, who famously invented the Bonzer surfboard design. The premier brought out some of surfing’s biggest stars, and it was also an impromptu exhibit for some wonderful examples of vintage Bonzer surfboards. On the other, the film’s premier doubled as a charity benefit for Leeanne Ericson, who was attacked by a shark while swimming off San Onofre. Ms. Ericson faces some pretty hefty medical bills as a result. I urge you to check out her GoFundMe campaign here. Shout out to Taylor Knox, Mick Fanning, and everyone else who helped raise money for the good cause!

The Hi-5 premier was chock full of acts of charity AND some rad vintage Bonzer surfboards. See above for an Instagram post from Buggs of Surfboard Line fame. You’ll see some incredible vintage Bonzers flanking Duncan Campbell in the center. I took the descriptions from an Instagram Live broadcast that Buggs streamed during the event, where he got Duncan Campbell to provide some details about the boards.

The yellow board on the far left was shaped in 1973 / 1974 and was designed for the Hawaiian winter, hence the Lightning Bolt laminate. However, I don’t think it’s an “official” Bolt in any way. There’s also a Bing logo affixed to the yellow board. The orange board, second from left, was shaped in 1975 / 1976 and it was made in the Campbell brothers’ stomping grounds of Oxnard, California. The center board was one of the two main Bonzers ridden by Taylor Knox in the film.

The multi-colored board located third from right was shaped in 1977, and apparently it is one of only two similar Bonzers that were made. The multi-colored board is particularly interesting because of its Australian influence. In the video, which is no longer viewable, Duncan Campbell shows off the channel bottom of the multi-colored Bonzer and mentions that it was informed by the designs of Col Smith and Jim Pollard, who were shaping for Shane sub-label Fluid Foils at the time. Pollard in particular is known for being an early proponent of channel bottom boards. Andrew Kidman has a great interview with Al Byrne detailing Pollard’s early contributions to the design.

Col Smith Hawaii Boards 1977 via CrowsGarage.com
Col Smith showing off one of his Jim Pollard-shaped Fluid Foils. The photo was taken shortly before Smith left for Hawaii in 1977, where he turned heads with his surfing. Pic via the excellent entry on Crow’s Garage, which is a must-read!
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Fluid Foils logo detailing Jim Pollard and Col Smith (look at the bottom right). You can also see the logo on Col Smith’s board at the far left in the photo above. Photo via Boardcollector.com

I wish I had more pictures of the multi-colored Bonzer to share; sadly, the only ones I can find are also from the event. Still, in the photo below, you can see some more of the deep channels on the board. You’ll notice the channels on the multi-colored vintage Bonzer travel up most of the length of the board, very similar to the board Col Smith is holding in the photo above. My guess is that the multi-colored board was shaped in 1977, shortly after a Hawaiian encounter between the Campbell brothers and Col Smith.

The black twin fin shown second from right is another rare Bonzer, given that it has a comparatively pedestrian fin setup. The board was shaped in 1978, according to Buggs’ video. It is the only example of a twin fin Bonzer I have ever seen.

The final board, pictured on the far right in both Instagram posts, is also a trip. It is a collaboration between Hawaiian surfboard label Local Motion and the Campbell Brothers. I believe this board belongs to Buggs now. Once upon a time it was ridden by Hawaiian fixture Tony Moniz, whose children are now well-regarded pros in their own right.

I was able to find earlier pictures of the Local Motion Bonzer on an old site belonging to Kristopher Tom, who currently runs The Vintage Surfboard. You can find the original pictures here.

Last but not least, you can contribute to Leeanne Ericson’s medical fund here.