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.

Vintage 70s Campbell Brothers Bonzer 5.jpg
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.

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.

 

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!
Shane Surfboards Fluid Foils from BoardCollector.com.jpg
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.

Vintage Bing Bonzer Duo

Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s post brings you a pair of vintage Bing Bonzer boards that are currently for sale on Craigslist. I wrote up another Bing Bonzer earlier this month — check out that post here. Without any further ado, here are the boards:

Vintage Bing Bonzer #1: 7’1″ with Diamond Tail (For Sale on Craigslist Ventura)

Pics above are via the Craigslist posting. The yellow vintage Bing Bonzer pictured above is in pretty good condition considering it’s 40+ years old. Still, you can see some obvious spots on the deck where repairs were made. The deck has some sun damage, but now we’re just nitpicking. The glass-on side bite fins are remarkably well preserved, and I just love the Bonzer logo! The last shot gives a great close-up of the concave in the tail. The seller is asking $800 for this board.

Vintage Bing Bonzer #2: Dimensions Unknown (For Sale on Craigslist Orange County)

Pics above via the Craigslist posting. Sadly, no dimensions are provided, but the board is very similar to the first vintage Bing Bonzer featured in this post. It’s nice to see a slightly different color combination, too: Board #2 has a green Bonzer logo on the side bite fins, and then a red Bing logo on the deck.

Vintage Bing Bonzer 4.jpg
Close-up shot of the tail. Pic via Craigslist.

One thing that stands out about Board #2 is the different fin. Board #1’s fin looks like it is plastic, whereas Board #2 could be fiberglass. It’s difficult for me to say without looking at each board in person. If anyone has info on the original fins that came with vintage Bing Bonzer surfboards, let me know! This board is listed at $500, which seems like a great price for a Bing Bonzer in great condition.

It’s unclear to me who shaped each of these boards. The vintage Bing Bonzer I wrote up earlier bore Mike Eaton signatures (which were not pictured in the post). Both of the Bonzers above do not have any markings that I could discern.

Finally, you can see that both boards have standard Bing logos on the decks. At some point, however, Bing produced a combination Bing Bonzer logo. I have included one below. Stoked-n-Board offers up some clues for dating the boards above, via the logo designs. According to S-n-B’s excellent Bing entry, the non-Bonzer variant of the logo was produced starting in 1970. S-n-B claims the Bing Bonzer logo,  pictured directly below, was used beginning in 1972. By that math, both vintage Bing Bonzers above were likely produced between 1970 and 1972. This is by no means definitive, but that’s the best I could come up with.

Vintage Bing Bonzer Logo
Here is a version of the Bing Bonzer logo that was reportedly used starting in 1972. Note that both boards featured above have the standard Bing logo with no reference to the Bonzer.

Check out Board #1 here, and Board #2 can be found here.

Bing Bonzer by Mike Eaton

Pictured below is a Bing Bonzer shaped by Mike Eaton that is currently for sale on Craigslist in Orange County. You can find a link to the board here. The Bonzer was invented by the Campbell Brothers in the late 1960s / early 1970s in Ventura, California. Their website has an excellent overview of the history of the design. The design, which predated the thruster by almost a decade, endures today. The board above, however, harkens back to the original days of the Bonzer, when it was first released in collaboration with Bing Surfboards.

Mike Eaton was one of the head shapers at Bing during the early 1970s, and he continued to shape Bonzers even after leaving the label. The Bing Bonzer pictured above measures in at 6’9″, and it looks like it’s in great condition. Check out the last shot for the close up of the branded Bonzer side bites. I can’t decide if the 70s themed color scheme is ridiculous in a good way, or, as the New York Times put it, harkens to “the decade that taste seemed to forget.”

The real star of the show is the tail of the board. Check out the Bonzer branding on the side bite fins. It looks like the board has its original fin, which isn’t always a guarantee when dealing with boards from the 1970s. Note the bolt located behind the fin, which has a loop around it holding the string that is attached. This indicates that the board was likely shaped before the leash became popularized. Take a look at the two pictures above for a nice close-up of the dramatic double concave in the tail. Later on, when Eaton shaped Bonzers under his own name, he continued to produce boards with extremely deep concaves.

Eaton Bonzer Bottom The Board Source.jpg
Example of another Eaton Bonzer tail. Look at the scooped out double concaves. Pic via The Board Source
Mike Eaton Bonzer Explanation.JPG
Mike Eaton’s handwritten explanation on the hydrodynamics of the Bonzer design. All I know is if it’s good enough for Taylor Knox, it’s good enough for me! Pic via Eaton Surfboards

The seller is asking $700 for the board. You can find a link to the board here. I am a bit torn on the price. First, it’s not every day you find a genuine Bing Bonzer in good condition. That said, a first generation 6’10” Bing Bonzer failed to sell at the 2013 California Vintage Surf Auction. Estimates for that board ranged from $300 – $600, which seems low to me.

Sadly, as I mentioned in a previous post, it appears that Mike Eaton suffered a serious stroke in 2015. See this page for updates on his condition, but it has not been changed since December 2015. Mike, if you are reading this, thank you for your contributions to surfboard history, and we wish you nothing but the best!

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (May 8)

Greetings, Shredderz! Hope your stoke levels are high and rising. Here’s a smattering of rad surfboards I’ve seen pop up on social media over the past week or so.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that you can’t go wrong posting pictures of vintage Lightning Bolt boards. And sure, the thing has a bit of water damage, but I much prefer old boards with some character than a lot of the full-blown restoration jobs that prioritize aesthetics over preservation. But I digress. No matter where your preferences might lie, Gerry Lopez was and will always be the man.

 

Another proven fact: there is no such thing as too much neon. This here is a selection of some primo Echo Beach vehicles, courtesy Lance Collins of Wave Tools, and Peter Schroff of Schroff Surfboards. Love the Team lams on the Wave Tools boards to the right.

Click “Continue Reading” below for some more selections…

Continue reading “Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (May 8)”

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (4/8)

Greetings, Shredderz! Hope your weekend has started off in style. As always, see below for some selections from the wonderful world of social media.

Shaped by Alan Byrne by hand for Sam to ride Pipe. 10'4".

A post shared by Andrew Kidman The Windy Hills (@andrewkidman) on

Allan Byrne, the force behind Byrning Spears, tragically passed away a few years ago as the result of a motorcycle accident in Bali. His legacy as the world’s pre-eminent shaper of channel bottom boards remains, though, as shown in this Instagram post by Andrew Kidman. The board in the post is an absolute beast, measuring at 10’4″ and designed to tame Pipeline. The surfer is underground Aussie charger Sam Yoon, who was written up in a nice Surfer profile that can be found here.

Continue reading “Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (4/8)”