Lightning Strikes: Vintage Lightning Bolt Surfboards Auction

Greetings, Shredderz! Today we’re going to cover the recently concluded Lightning Strikes auction. Put on by the folks at California Gold, Lightning Strikes focused specifically on Seventies Lightning Bolt Surfboards single fins.

I was curious about the auction for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Lightning Bolt is still likely the most famous surfboard label ever. The brand’s enduring popularity is remarkable. This isn’t exactly an original point of view, but Lightning Bolt is classic for all the right reasons. The brand boasts an iconic logo, an incredible roster of shapers and an equally talented team representing some of the most famous folks in surf history.

Secondly, I was also curious to see what kind of prices these Lightning Bolt surfboards would fetch. This is particularly true given that California Gold was experimenting with a new auction format for the first time, with a lineup exclusively made up of Lightning Bolt sticks, versus the usual, varied selection.

A lot of the boards ended up selling for less than the expected prices listed alongside each piece. I’m not sure why that’s the case. I think pricing surfboards is difficult, period. There is an incredible amount of variance between individual boards along numerous attributes: color, condition, dimensions, etc. Add to that fact that boards are somewhat illiquid — how many Bolts are publicly sold every year? — and you have a recipe for inconsistent pricing.

That said, while it’s interesting to talk prices, that’s not why we’re all here. At the end of the day the Lighting Strikes auction had a really nice collection of Seventies Bolts, covering a number of notable shapers. Below you can find some of my favorites. These aren’t necessarily the most well-known or most collectible boards, but the ones I thought were cool.

1978 7’6″ Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt Pintail Pipeliner – $20,000. (Est $8K – $10K)

Well, this one blew it out of the water! This wasn’t my favorite board, per se, but covering the auction without mentioning the sole Lopez in the lot would be like writing about the Chicago Bulls in the Nineties without mentioning the words “Michael Jordan.” What I really love about the listing is that they show the condition of the board before and after. You can also check out the super clear signature on the board, too. My general rule of thumb — which I do not claim is infallible — is that it’s a really Gerry hand shape when he signs his name on the stringer in call caps, just like the photo above. (Here’s another blog post on the topic.)

1975 8’2″ Hakman Parrish Single Fin – $4,200 (Est $6K – $8K)

This Tom Parrish-crafted missile was one of the two unrestored boards in the entire auction. The other was an original, gorgeous “California Bolt” shaped under license at the Hobie factory, by either Terry Martin or Mickey Munoz. I really don’t mind an older board that shows some of its age. The Hakman Parrish logo with the two palm trees is a favorite, and the details on this board are so killer, whether it’s the gorgeous original fin or the nice triple stringer setup. Apparently it’s unclear if the black resin pin lines were added after the fact, but count me among those who aren’t bothered at all by this.

1975 7’8″ Lightning Bolt Mike Diffenderfer Wing Pintail – $3,700 ($5K – $8K Est)

I’ve had a long fascination with Mike Diffenderfer‘s shapes. As is the case with the Gerry Lopez board above, you can see the before and after photos of the board’s restoration process. This is true of a number of boards listed for sale at the auction site, and I definitely recommend checking it out. Anyway, in my humble opinion there are few surfboard designs as beautiful and pure as the winged pintail single fin, and this Diffenderfer delivers in that regard.

Photo at the top of the page by John Durant

The Boardroom Show / California Gold Surf Auction 2019

Greetings, Shredderz! It’s that time of year again: the Boardroom Show is almost upon us. For those of you unfamiliar, the Boardroom Show is an annual event that showcases the surfboard manufacturing industry. Sadly, I won’t be in attendance this year, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the proceedings.

While there’s a ton of great stuff about the show — for starters, Wayne Lynch will be making an appearance — in this blog post I’ll simply cover my favorite boards from the accompanying California Gold Surf Auction. The auction closes in less than three days, so hop on it if you’re eyeing any of the pristine sleds that are up for grabs.

It’s interesting to note how the selection of boards has changed over time. In my write up of last year’s auction I noted the increasing popularity of Eighties neon / Echo Beach influenced designs. I think this year’s California Gold Surf Auction represents a bit of a return to the classics. There are a ton of Sixties longboards, some cool Transition Era shapes, and a host of cool Seventies single fins, and some newer stuff, too.

You can learn more about the Boardroom Show here, and see here for a full list of the boards listed at auction. All photos in this post are via the Boardroom Show’s website. Keep reading below for a brief summary of my personal favorites from the 2019 California Gold Surf Auction:

Terry Fitzgerald Hot Buttered Winged Pin (Link)

If you forced me to choose a favorite board from the auction, I think this would be it. I think Fitz’s boards are still a bit underrated here in the States, and this one has it all. How about that rainbow stringer? The airbrush on the bottom is killer, and the unmistakable, sleek Seventies outline is gorgeous. You can read my post on an unusual Fitz-shaped Lightning Bolt here.

Rick Rasmussen Seventies Single Fin (Link)

As a native New Yorker, I will always think of Rick Rasmussen as the gold standard for Empire State surfing. (Apologies to Balaram Stack, who is another favorite.) Here’s an absolutely stunning Rick Rasmussen single fin that’s listed for sale. The board pictured above is in much better condition than a previous Rasmussen surfboard I wrote up earlier this year. Click the photos to enlarge and get a shot of the black pin line on the deck.

Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight Fabric Inlay (Link)

The Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight is special enough on its own, but this example has the rare and gorgeous floral fabric inlay. I love the color of fabric pattern, especially in contrast with the fin. I have nothing against boards that have been fully restored, but I prefer them all original, imperfections and all. If anything, I dig the natural look of the slight discoloration on the deck.

Tom Parrish Lightning Bolt (Link)

Here’s another gorgeous Hawaiian heat seeking missile. Lightning Bolt is a classic for a reason. The board is all original, and for my money, I think it’s one of the prettiest sticks in the entire auction lineup. Check out that subtle double pin line, and the creamsicle colorway — complete with matching glass on fin — won’t ever go out of style. Parrish, of course, is a legendary shaper and one of the Lightning Bolt OGs. He’s still making boards today, so hit him up!

Miscellaneous / Final Thoughts

In no particular order, here are some other boards that I thought were really rad:

I realize some of my picks are a little unorthodox, but I like what I like, and that tends to skew more towards the Seventies and Eighties. No matter what, though, if you’re interested in surfboards, you can’t go wrong by giving the auction lots a closer look. Check out the California Gold Surf Auction site here and if you’re in San Diego, the Boardroom Show is well worth your time.

All That Glitters: California Gold Vintage Surf Auction

This is it, folks…the big Kahuna.

The 2017 California Gold Surf Auction is underway. Lots begin closing later this week, on May 7, and as the auction enters the home stretch, I figure now is a good time to take a closer look at some of the boards being offered.

First, a little context: the California Gold Surf Auction is put on by Scott Bass, who runs the excellent Boardroom Show surfboard expo, and can be heard on both his Down the Line podcast, as well as the Surf Splendor podcast (both of which I recommend).

More importantly, the auction benefits the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center. If you’re at all interested in surf history — and if you’re not, I’d love to know how you ended up here, of all places — the SHCC is worthy of your support. Personally, I love the SHCC’s Stoked-n-Board resource, which is an online directory of just about every surfboard brand ever. Bottom line: not only are you buying some rad sticks, you’re also supporting an organization that does some great work in preserving history and spreading stoke.

Alright, I’m going to step off my soapbox and play the hits. Here are some of the rad boards on offer.

Renny Yater Personal Rider: 7’4″ Single Fin (Link Here)

I’ll let the auction organizers say it: “in our eyes the coolest board in the auction.” Who am I to disagree? Yater shaped, glassed, and finished this board…and then probably ripped perfect Rincon with it, too. One cool detail for fellow board nerds: you’ll see a number on the stringer with a small Y above it. Apparently this is how Yater signed some of his personal boards (versus the more common “R. Yater” signature and numbering you see on his later designs). The board was shaped in 1976. I’m not sure if this is considered a proper Pocket Rocket or not. There is no reserve and right now the highest bid is $800. That is an unbelievably low price, though I suspect bidding will probably heat up towards the end of the auction. You can see more pics on the auction site, which you can find here.

Hit “Continue Reading” below to see more selections from the auction…

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