Seasons’s Greetingz! Nothing says holiday cheer more than a neon wetsuit and a vertical backhand attack. Actually, that’s not true at all. But I figure if you’re a regular Shred Sledz reader, there’s no better way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than with another Sagas of Shred entry. The 1980s Channel Islands Surfboards ad pictured above originally ran in a 1988 issue of Surfer Magazine. If you look closely you’ll see the surfer pictured in the ad is none other than South Bay pro surfer Ted Robinson. Robinson was recently inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfing Walk of Fame. For all you fans of 80s Channel Islands Surfboards — and I can’t imagine you’ve made it this far if you aren’t — stay tuned for a big post coming out before the end of the year. It will be worth the wait, I promise! I hope your holiday cups have runneth over with tasty waves and quality time with loved ones.
Al Merrick’s greatness is undeniable. What else is there to say about the guy who shaped boards for Shaun Tomson, Tom Curren and Kelly Slater, and forever changed high performance shortboards? As an added bonus, every interview with Merrick indicates that his talent was matched only by his graciousness and humility. I continue to be amazed that Merrick’s hand-shaped boards aren’t in higher demand. I wrote an earlier post about how to identify a genuine Al Merrick signature. The post focused on boards made between the 1980s and 2000s. Today’s post will feature Channel Islands surfboards made during the during the brand’s early years (1970s through early 1980s), some of which pre-date the brand’s now-famous hexagon logo. Continue reading below for an unnecessarily detailed journey into the boards from Al’s early years…
Channel Islands Mid 1970s Single Fin: Al Merrick Signature
This might be one of the coolest vintage Channel Islands boards I have ever seen. First, check out the Channel Islands ad above, which was taken sometime in the mid-1970s. You can see that none of the boards in the ad have the now-famous CI hexagon logo. Second, the swallow tail board with the fish airbrush is clearly visible in the center of the ad. The airbrush was done by Jack Meyer, who was a Santa Barbara legend in his own right. Miraculously, this board has survived, and it belongs to the owner of Pig Dog Surf Shop. You can find the original Facebook post about the board here, which has many more pictures and info. The second picture is a close-up of the stringer, where you can see an Al Merrick signature with his full name, in addition to longtime glasser Bob Haakenson. The fish design, which appears on so many of Al’s boards, has an outline, which is unlike any other example I have seen on a Channel Islands board.
Channel Islands Early 1970s Single Fin: Inconclusive Al Merrick Signature
Pictured above is a Channel Islands single fin that was dated to 1971. This board originally appeared for sale at Mollusk Surf Shop. It is currently for sale on SurfboardHoard.com (link here). There is an inscription on the stringer, and you can see a closeup here. It’s difficult to make out anything in the inscription other than the fish design, which is a near constant presence on CI boards. The verdict: it’s difficult to say whether this is a genuine Merrick handshape, given the lack of an identifiable signature.
Channel Islands Single Fin and 1980s Tri Plane Hull Twin Fin: Al Merrick Signature with Full Name
Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I found this picture. If it belongs to you, let me know so I can give credit where it is due! I believe the board above was made in the late 1970s or early 1980s. You can see the Channel Islands hexagon logo on the bottom. According to Stoked-n-Board, the hexagon logo wasn’t introduced until 1979. This board looks extremely similar to a Channel Islands Tri Plane Hull model I wrote about almost a year ago. There is a clear signature on the stringer that has Al’s full name. The serial number is #6106, compared to #5374 on the CI Tri Plane Hull. The glassed-on wooden fin is interesting: I haven’t seen any other CI boards with a similar fin setup.
Early 80's Tri Plane Hull Channel Islands Twinne hand shaped by Al Merrick. 6'1" x 20 3/4 x 3. Wing swallow tail ( around the birth of the Hurley RAB 1) The story about how Rabbit borrowing Tom Currens Twin Fin to form what was.. I have had the pleasure in continuing the story telling on this board in riding it in some Perfect flawless Ranch runners and blessed to have acquired it. Will cherish it and pass it on to generations to come . All original. @cisurfboards @travlee @curfuffle #triplane #channelislandssurfboards #buggscollection #surfboardcollector #surfboardline #vintagesurfboard #1980 #twinfin #tomcurren #builtforspeed
See above for an example of an early 1980s Channel Islands Tri Plane Hull twin fin that also bears Al’s signature with his full name, and not the “Fish / Al” combo that is common on later Merrick shapes. If you don’t follow Buggs on Instagram, you should! The serial number on this board is #6383, dating it a little after both of the single fins mentioned in the above paragraph.
Channel Islands Single Fins: “Stamped” Al Merrick Signature
Finally, we have some surfboards that I simply don’t know how to classify. The picture above comes from a late 1970s / early 1980s CI single fin that I wrote up earlier this year. The more I look at the signature above, the more I am convinced that this is simply a laminate. The “Shaped By” is obviously printed, and the signature is either printed or is in dark ink, unlike most of the examples above. Even though I believe the signature above is a laminate, I think it’s still possible the board was hand-shaped by Al. I’m just not sure.
For example, see the board pictured directly above. It is an odd combo: it has a signature that is an obvious laminate, but it also has a clear Al hand signature on the stringer. I believe the board above was likely made during the early 1980s, right before the thruster took off, but I’m not certain.
How can one tell whether or not a board was shaped by Al Merrick? Well, I hate to even say this, but it depends. There are many examples of early Channel Islands Surfboards that do not have a clear Al Merrick signature, but were still shaped well before the brand shifted to mass production of its designs. I suppose it’s possible that Merrick employed ghost shapers, but I can’t say for sure. One trend is also clear: during CI’s early days, Merrick had a habit of signing his board with his full name, before transitioning to the “Al / fish” combo during the 80s and the subsequent years of his career. If you have additional information, please let me know!
See “How to Tell if Al Merrick Shaped Your Channel Islands Surfboard” here.
Picture at the top of the post by Jimmy Metyko. Pic via The Surfer’s Journal
Greetings, Shredderz! I’d like to welcome you all — yes, all five of you — to a brand spankin’ new series: Sagas of Shred! If, like me, you enjoy the nostalgia from #throwbackthursday but find yourself endlessly confused by hashtag culture, then this is the right place for you. Sagas of Shred is a weekly series, posted every Thursday, that will highlight a small piece of surf culture from the days of old. Today’s post focuses on a vintage Channel Islands Surfboards ad from the 1970s, which you can see below:
This is the first evidence I have seen that Channel Islands produced a sting design in large quantities during the 1970s. We featured a CI sting in an earlier post, but at the time I had assumed this was probably a one-off design. I have only seen a Channel Islands 70s sting for sale once before. I am guessing CI only produced a sting for a few years during the 70s. If you have one in your possession that you’d like to see featured here, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
If you’re sick of reading about Al Merrick and Channel Islands surfboards on Shred Sledz, I’ve got terrible news: it’s not about to stop any time soon. Without any further ado, here is an interesting vintage Channel Islands surfboard I have come across recently.
The board pictured above was originally posted to Craigslist in San Diego (link here). The asking price is $500, and even then you can see that considerable repairs have been made. The seller had the deck to the board completely refinished, as you can see in the pictures.
I can’t believe I’m typing this, but the board looks to be a Channel Islands interpretation of a classic sting design. It must be from the early days of the storied CI brand, given that the sting was invented in the 1970s. In the last picture you can also see the super old school Bob Haakenson logo. Haakenson is a long-time Santa Barbara based glasser who did a ton of work for Channel Islands. See below for an example of a classic Haakenson logo.
I found an excellent entry from Fiberglass Hawaii’s blog that features an in-depth interview with Haakenson and some cool trivia (did you know Haakenson came up with Surfboards Hawaii’s storied “Model A” while he was one of their team riders?) Link to the blog post can be found here. In the blog post, Haakenson claims that he started glassing for Al Merrick and Channel Islands in 1973, after returning from a stint in Hawaii. Therefore I’d guess the funky CI sting at the top of the post has to be sometime from the mid-70s or later.
The Fiberglass Hawaii post also includes an incredible picture from Channel Islands Surfboards’ early days. I am fully comfortable with saying that I would do some truly reprehensible things to get my hands on the boards in the photo, which can be seen below. Note the red board in the front row, which looks to be a similar riff on a sting outline, albeit with an extra set of wings before the tail.
The board pictured at the top of the page has a pretty rare logo, as well. Here’s another pic of the same logo, but from a different board, that shows the design a little more clearly. Note that this logo does not appear on Stoked-n-Board’s entry for Channel Islands.
There’s a more common variant of this pill-shaped logo, which includes a landscape and some sailboats. See below for the version taken from Stanley’s Surf Logos. Note that in the pill logo above, it reads “Santa Barbara – Ventura”, whereas in the sailboat logo below, the order is reversed (“Ventura – Santa Barbara”).
Anyway, I think my Channel Islands obsession is starting to veer into uncomfortable territory, even when considering that I maintain a vintage surfboard blog in my free time.
If you’re interested in checking out the Channel Island sting, the Craigslist listing is found here.
(This is part I of a series. For Part II, click here). There’s no debate about it: Al Merrick is one of the most influential surfboard shapers of all time. And in less than a month, Merrick will be honored at the most excellent Boardroom Show in Del Mar, California, as part of its Icons of Foam series.
Merrick founded Channel Islands Surfboards, which I believe is the single largest surfboard producer in the world today. Al’s son, Britt, has continued to put CI boards underneath the feet of the world’s top pros.
But if you’re a surfboard collector in search of the genuine article, there are a few helpful ways to identify whether or not a CI board was actually shaped by Al, or if it’s one of the far more plentiful production versions that can be found in surf shops around the globe. There are a few vintage boards currently for sale online that I will be featuring below, to illustrate the variety of options available to would-be CI collectors.
Channel Islands Board #1: 6’1″ Vintage 1980s Channel Islands Thruster (eBay)
This is a classic 1980s Channel Islands thruster with great neon lams, and nice vintage touches like the glass on fins and then the logos along the rails. You’ll also notice a slight bump in the tail, which is a common template for CI’s 80s boards. I love these boards, and my personal opinion is that they are only going to become more collectible over time. The asking price for this board is $200, which might be a little pricey considering the condition, but isn’t outrageous. Link to the board is here.
However, Board #1 is not an Al Merrick hand shape. See below for a picture of the signature, which does not have Al’s name next to the distinctive fish icon:
Continue reading to see some examples of genuine Merrick hand shapes…
I’ve written about Christian Fletcher before, and I will never, ever get sick of his old logo, which manages to be both an act of visual rebellion as well as a time capsule for the day glo SoCal surf scene of the 1980s and 1990s. This is an interesting example of a Fletcher board, as apparently it was shaped by pioneering Aussie shaper Nev Hyman, who founded what would later become Firewire Surfboards. The other Fletcher boards I’ve seen have been signed by California shapers like Randy Sleigh and Chris McElroy. This board was posted to the excellent Vintage Surfboard Collectors group on Facebook; click through the link for the rest.
Via Vintage Surfboard Collectors (Note: it’s a closed group, so you’ll have to request access).
Finally, here’s a bonus shot of Fletcher — pre-tattoos! — and a McElroy shape.
Ryan Lovelace is a talented shaper based in Santa Barbara. He posted this picture below recently, which shows an early George Greenough sailboard with an edge board design. Edge boards have come into vogue lately, thanks to shapers like Marc Andreini (Andreini), Manny Caro (Mandala), and Scott Anderson (Anderson).
SB time capsule :: one of the earliest uses of carbon fiber and epoxy in surfboard construction, a personal sailboard of George Greenough's. Easy to see the progression in his work from velo to triplane/edge spoons and into a search for extreme speeds on sail boards. This one decently early on, with a clear lineage in design between his spoons and high speed sailboards. We can put this one on the list of things I thought I'd never have in the back of my car. Big thank you to Guerdon and Charlie for their time and for sharing their stories with me ✌🏻
Speaking of neon boards from the 80s and 90s, I’ll never, ever get sick of old Channel Islands boards. This guy on Instagram posts a bunch of sweet boards, and he has a collection of vintage Merricks that makes me sick with envy. Check out his feed for more.
Thanks @mums7873 for putting me onto another white CI. Just what I needed! Probably shoulda scraped the stomp pad glue and cleaned it up for the pics but first we gotta wax her up and see how she goes @thevintagesurfboard @roberthelphand . #vintagesurfboard #channelislands #channelislandssurfboards #cifever #80sneon #80s #almerrick #lajollasurfsystems #lajolla #malibu #balconyview #dayglow #surf #surfer #surfing #santabarbara #santabarbarasurf #californiaboard #arisboards
Longtime Donald Takayama team rider and collaborator Joel Tudor posted this old Takayama ad.
Greetings, Shredderz! As always, here’s a collection of some rad boards that have popped up on the radar lately. Today’s post has a heavy 80s flavor to it, so if you’ve got a thing for neon, stick around and start scrolling.
Stussy Shortboard on Craigslist (San Diego)
If you don’t have a soft spot for 80s Stussy surfboards, then this is NOT the blog for you. This one has a bunch of sun damage, and the $1K price is steep, for sure, but these boards simply aren’t that easy to come by. This one has some rad artwork, and a very clear hand signature you can see in the picture above. I’d be very curious to see what this board ends up going for.
Schroff Blaster on eBay (Texas)
The 80s parade continues! This board is in excellent condition. Part of the reason why it has held its color so well is that it was apparently sprayed white. The poster claims this is one of the first 700 boards Peter Schroff shaped. I’m curious about that, given that Schroff used a standard script logo before the black and white grid logo seen above. In any case, it’s a beautiful board, and while bidding is low (<$70 now), I think you’ll see this one climb by the time the auction ends in four days.
This one is SO close to being an exemplary collectors board. First of all, you can see that it is an Al Merrick handshape – check the clear “Al / Fish” combo signature on the listing. It also has such great logos and branding, like the “Channel Islands” script running down both rails, and then a nice “Quad Design” logo on the bottom. But you can also see where repairs were made to the board, and the nose looks blunted as a result. It’s not necessarily a terrible deal at $200, either, but man, this could have been added to the Shred Sledz Signature Collection with just a few tweaks.
Takayama Funshape Thruster on Craigslist (San Diego)
This is kind of a funky Takayama board. I’m not sure what model it is, exactly, which is part of the mystery. And check out the logo on the bottom, which is not one you see every day. If you click through to the listing you can see that it has DT’s signature in pencil on the blank itself, meaning it’s not one of the newer boards where his signature has just been stamped on. Board is listed at $890.