Aloha, Shredderz! This entry is being written from beautiful Hawaii. More on that later! In the meantime, enjoy a selection of some recent social media posts from the wonderful world of vintage surfboards.
I’ve posted many of Jimmy Metyko’s photos, and as long as he keeps publishing great ones, I don’t see any reason to stop! Metyko’s photographs documented the Santa Barbara surf scene during Tom Curren’s rise, and the results are amazing. Here’s a shot of Al Merrick posing alongside two of his creations. This must have been sometime during the early to mid Eighties, given the thruster and the twin fin, and I like how the photo gives a clear idea of the rocker on both shapes.
Here’s a great photo of Herbie Fletcher taken by the late, great Larry “Flame” Moore. I love that Fletcher is putting one of his surfboards on a rail. There’s also some great trivia, which I had never realized before: Fletcher means arrow maker, hence the arrow logo on Herbie’s shapes!
Here’s a killer shot of Carl Ekstrom taken by Jon Foster. I was actually shocked when I read the caption — I just assumed this photo was far more recent than forty three years ago! Ekstrom is widely credited with inventing the asymmetrical surfboard back in the Sixties. Most recently Ekstrom has been collaborating with Ryan Burch. I’d love to know the back story behind the board featured in Foster’s photo! The photo at the top of the page features Carl Ekstrom posing next to one of his asymmetrical designs in the Sixties, and was originally found on the San Diego Reader website.
Greetings, Shredderz! The weekend is almost over, and right before the buzzer we’ve got another installment of the Weekend Grab Bag. Keep reading for a selection of cool vintage surfboards that are listed for sale online.
Channel Islands Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull Twin Fin (eBay)
I absolutely love vintage Channel Islands surfboards. Considering it’s probably the most famous modern surfboard label of all time, I’d expect to see more vintage CI sticks pop up. As you can see the board was shaped by Al Merrick himself — see here for an earlier blog post I wrote on the subject of Merrick hand shapes. The CI Tri Plane Hull twin fin measures in at 5’10” x 20 1/2″ x 2 5/8″. I think the board is way overpriced considering the condition — click through to the link to see close ups of the damage — but it’s still a cool stick.
I’m tempted to snap up this one myself! Here’s a lovely 7’2″ Donald Takayama Flo Egg with a thruster setup. I can see this board being a versatile and fun every day rider. The seller is asking $700 for the board. You can clearly see that Takayama signed the board in pencil on the stringer. The newer Takayama boards that are produced nowadays have an image of Donald’s signature, indicating that this one was shaped by the man himself, though it’s unclear to me whether or not he used shaping machines for his later boards. Either way, for $700 I think this is very nicely priced.
Local Motion Pat Rawson Thruster with Pottz Airbrush (eBay)
I absolutely love this board, which was shaped by Hawaiian master Pat Rawson for the Local Motion label. The airbrush on the vintage surfboard you see above is an unmistakable tribute to Martin Potter’s iconic artwork. Sadly, as much as I love the board — and the colors and Rawson’s pedigree are unimpeachable — it’s priced in the stratosphere. I love the different colored glass on fins, too.
Thanks for checking out the Weekend Grab Bag and tune in for some more goodies later this week!
Alright, Shredderz: it’s time I come clean. The board featured below is one of my absolute favorites since I have started writing this blog. First and foremost, as some of you might know, I am a card carrying Airbrush Aficionado, with a healthy appreciation for all and any spray jobs — the more outrageous the better. The board featured here has an absolutely killer Jack Meyer airbrush (RIP). Meyer, who was born in New Jersey before making his way out to Santa Barbara, made a name for himself as one of the best known airbrush artists before his untimely passing in 2007. Second, the board featured in this post is a vintage Channel Islands Surfboards single fin. CI might be one of the world’s largest surfboard brands, but I am continually surprised that its vintage boards aren’t in higher demand. (Shred Sledz has written a lotabout vintageChannel Islands boards in the past.) Anyway, the board below is the best of both worlds: it’s a 1975 Channel Islands single fin, complete with an amazing Jack Meyer artwork on the bottom. Many thanks to KC, who purchased the board and was kind enough to take the awesome photos you see here.
The Channel Islands single fin pictured above measures in at approximately 7’2″ x 20.5″ x 3″. As you can see in the photos, the surfboard features an incredible and intricate Jack Meyer airbrush on the bottom, with Jesus standing over a surf spot. The spot is Government Point at the west end of Cojo Bay, located in the infamous Hollister Ranch. The fact the airbrush is an ode to the Ranch isn’t surprising when considering both Channel Islands’ and Jack Meyer’s Santa Barbara ties.
The board features an original Channel Islands Surfboards logo — no iconic hexagon design to be found here — and a mysterious reference to Pepper Adcock.
There also a subtle, light purple pin line on the bottom of the board, which I think is the perfect minimalist complement to the detail-packed Jack Meyer airbrush.
I believe the board is not an Al Merrick hand shape. There is no Al signature on the stringer, just a serial number next to the fish outline, which is a staple of Channel Islands boards even today.
I was actually able to find a very similar looking board on Instagram, which you can see below. Sadly, this is the best quality picture was I able to find. If anyone has any ideas on the whereabouts of the other Jesus board, please do let me know!
Last but not least, the story behind the board is equally interesting. Somehow the board found its way to a pawn shop in South Dakota. The then-owner took the board to Orange County this summer while on his way to the Long Beach Motorcycle Swap Meet, and decided to throw the board on Craigslist. The rest, as they say, is history. I am also delighted to report that the board has found its way back to Jack Meyer’s family, in no small part thanks to KC’s efforts.
What can I say? You’re probably better off skipping the text in this post and just looking at the photos, because Meyer’s artwork says far more about this special stick than whatever description I might be able to muster. More than anything else I am stoked that the Channel Islands single fin in this post is with the Meyer family, where it will no doubt be properly appreciated and cared for.
Thanks to KC for sharing the pics and the story behind the board and I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I liked writing it!
Note: Post updated to correct the name of the spot in the airbrush to Government Point, and not Cojo Point
Greetings, Shredderz! Today we’re featuring a board from a label I haven’t written about for some time, but one that remains an all time favorite: Channel Islands Surfboards. CI is the label of Al Merrick, one of the most influential shapers of all time, thanks to collaborations with at least three surfers who are immediately recognizable on a one-name basis: Curren, Slater and Tomson. My first ever surfboard was Nineties Channel Islands thruster, and ever since then, I’ve had a soft spot for the brand. Of course, this being a vintage surfboard blog, I love older CI boards, and you can imagine my delight when someone reached out with some photos of a beautiful Channel Islands Surfboards Tri Plane Hull.
Click on either of the photos above to enlarge. Many thanks to Ryan, who shared the photos and story behind this sled. You can clearly see the double concave in the bottom (see the photo on the right). The double concave is one of the defining elements of Merrick’s Tri Plane Hull. Surfline recently ran an interview with Merrick in which he described the history and mechanics of the Tri Plane Hull design:
“Early on, the Tri Plane Hull was a big part of what I was doing. I started doing it in single fins. Actually, it was a take off on a Greenough bottom—not exactly like it, but a take off from it. I started using it on single fins then twin fins, and then on the thrusters. There was a lot of concave and curve about four inches from the rail, and then there was a double concave that went down between the fins. It was about lift and drive, giving it that extra punch, extra speed because [the concave] would straighten out the rocker through the center with the double concave. A bit of rocker through the tail, there was the vee back there so you had lift on either side. As you went side-to-side you’d get a little lift out of it, channeling the water between the fins. The Tri Plane was probably the most effective in the twin fins, but I used it in the Thrusters too. It was pretty popular with the guys and it gave the boards a lot more punch out of the bottom turn, and gave more drive to the board. It was probably a little easier [to ride] edge-to-edge—instead of having total concave across the bottom there was a lot of release on the edge of the board.”
Although I had never realized the Tri Plane Hull owed its history to Greenough, I can’t say I’m totally surprised, given Greenough’s near endless contributions to modern surfboard design. After a little digging I was able to find an example of a Sky Surfboards twin fin shaped by Michael Cundith. According to Von Weirdos, the Sky twin fin’s tri plane hull bottom was designed by Cundith, George Greenough and Chris Brock in the late Seventies. You can clearly see the resemblance between the Sky board and the Channel Islands Tri Plane Hull above.
I’m still a bit taken aback by the dramatic double concave bottom in Ryan’s board, pictured at the top of the page. I’ve seen a few other CI Tri Plane Hulls and they seem to have much subtler concave bottoms. However, it’s hard to tell just by looking at photos, and unfortunately I haven’t seen any of these boards from this post in person.
Ryan’s Channel Islands Surfboards Tri Plane Hull doesn’t have the classic “Al / Fish” icon as part of the signature, but I feel pretty comfortable declaring his board an Al Merrick hand shape. One note about the dates and the numbering: Ryan’s board is numbered #6653. The Tri Plane Hull I posted about on Instagram, which you can see further up in the post, is numbered #6044 and was apparently shaped in 1978. I’d roughly peg Ryan’s board as having been shaped in the late Seventies or maybe the early Eighties — assuming Merrick numbered his boards in order during this era.
Finally, Ryan’s board clocks in at 6’5″ x 20″ x 3″. Thanks again for sharing pics of this awesome piece of Santa Barbara surfing history, and if any of you Shredderz have some gems you’d like to see written up, you know where to find me!
Before we start, I’d like to make one thing clear: this might be a free country, but Shred Sledz is a blog that will not tolerate any slander of Tom Curren whatsoever. This is non-negotiable.
That said…I’d like to know who at OP in the Eighties thought it would be a good idea to cast Curren as a would-be heartthrob for these advertisements. Again, in case the previous paragraph wasn’t clear, the blame is being laid squarely at the feet of the once-ubiquitous surf brand, and not with the most stylish regular foot of all time.
But this is marketing malpractice! Why is the picture of Curren gazing off into the distance approximately eight times the size of him ripping on a signature Channel Islands Al Merrick stick?
And while I’d like to be outraged by the Ocean Pacific ad featured above…at the end of the day, I can’t bring myself to truly dislike it, no matter how ridiculous the photoshoot might be. In fact, if anyone knows where I could find a version of the shirt Curren is rocking in the ad, I’d definitely be interested (though I don’t think I’m capable of actually pulling it off).
As a palate cleanser, please enjoy Tom Curren’s first-ever wave he rode at Jeffreys Bay. Curren famously refused to visit South Africa for years, due to his objections to Apartheid. This footage was shot by the legendary Sonny Miller. Fast forward to the 1:43 mark to see some truly virtuoso level surfing:
As always, thank you for reading, and check back next Thursday for more Sagas of Shred.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.