Clark Foam Ad from the 1960s: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to yet another installment of Sagas of Shred. Every Thursday we feature a different slice of surf history, and today’s entry sheds a light on one of the most accomplished businessmen the surf industry has ever seen: Gordon “Grubby” Clark, the founder and CEO of Clark Foam.

Clark Foam Promotional Photo Gordon "Grubby" Clark.jpg
Gordon “Grubby” Clark in an early Clark Foam promotional photo. Pic via Charlie Bunger’s Long Island Surfing Museum

Before its abrupt closing in 2005, Clark Foam was one of the most fearsome forces in the surfboard industry. There are endless stories about Clark’s ruthlessness. The Surfboard Project has an anecdote, via Joel Tudor, about how Donald Takayama’s first label went under after Clark Foam denied him blanks. Surfer Magazine recently ran a retrospective on the Clark Foam closing, which includes similar tales of strong-arm tactics.

In the early 1960s, though, Clark had yet to establish its dominance, and this ad, at least, makes an earnest appeal to quality and performance instead. I love the fact that just about every single big name surfboard brand at the time has their logos present: Yater, Bing, Ole, Hobie, Wardy, Hansen, and Con. Of that list, only Wardy no longer continues to produce boards (although Con is a completely different company, and Bing Copeland has ceded control to well-regarded shaper Matt Calvani.)

For a great article on the early years of Clark Foam, and how Grubby and Hobie Alter helped lay the groundwork for the modern surfboard industry, I recommend the “727 Laguna Canyon Road” feature in The Surfer’s Journal.

Hope you enjoyed this entry in Sagas of Shred, and tune in next Thursday for what comes next!

Vintage Donald Takayama Single Fin

Donald Takayama is a Shred Sledz favorite. Before his passing in 2012, Takayama struck up a memorable partnership with Joel Tudor. Takayama’s brand, Hawaiian Pro Designs, continues to produce boards from Takayama’s pioneering designs, but there’s no replacement for a board shaped by the man himself. Pictured below is a vintage Donald Takayama single fin.

The board is currently for sale Craigslist in San Diego. You can find a link to the board’s listing here. The seller is asking $499 for the board, and while that sounds steep, I think it might actually be justified.

The board pictured above has actually been written up before. Check out the Takayama post on The Surfboard Project (link here) that has some pictures of the same exact board from the last time it was sold. Even better, The Surfboard Project was able to get Tudor to chime in with some great context.

According to Tudor, the Donald Takayama single fin pictured above was shaped in either 1969 or 1970. During 1968 Takayama was still shaping boards under the Surfboards Hawaii label. You’ll note the board above doesn’t have any logos for Hawaiian Pro Designs, which was Takayama’s second brand. Tudor goes on to give some great back story about how Takayama’s first label went out of business after being blackballed from receiving blanks from Clark Foam! Anyway, I urge you to check out the link on The Surfboard Project.

The board above doesn’t seem to have a signature or any serial numbers written on the stringer, both of which are very common on later-era Takayama boards. It’s begging to be fixed up a bit and restored to some of its former glory. Maybe I’m crazy, but $500 doesn’t sound that nuts for such a unique board.

You can check out the Craigslist posting for the board here.

Wave Tools Lance Collins

Hope all you Shredderz are enjoying the Holidayz. Apologiez (okay, I get it, the z joke is getting old now) for the slowdown in post scheduling, but I’m back in the saddle.

Today’s offering is just a quick hit. Up for grabz (last one, I promise) near Torrance is a Lance Collins / Wave Tools twin fin that was recently posted to Craigslist.

I’m not sure what the exact year of the board is, but I would guess sometime in the late 80s at the earliest. The board looks like it’s a bit later than the neon machines made at the height of Wave Tools’ prominence. As always, the Clark Foam icon indicates that, at the very least, the board pre-dates Clark Foam’s 2005 shutdown. Here’s an example of an earlier Wave Tools Twin Fin, taken from the wonderful Board Collector website.

Photo courtesy BoardCollector.com

Speaking of which, I love the huge Clark Foam logo, as garish as it might be. (Then again, Shred Sledz has never been a blog devoted to subtlety in surfcraft design). The “Twin Fin” logo, with the yellow text and the fin outlines, is also one I haven’t seen before. I’m dying to know what’s on the signatures at the bottom of the board, near the left fin. You can always contact the Craigslist seller and see for yourself.

Check out the board here.

Daytona

Here at Shred Sledz HQ, we’re big fans of history. For whatever reason, there are few things I enjoy more than learning about old surfboards and then organizing and presenting all the information I come across. (I humbly submit the recent post on the original Hobie Phil Edwards model, which I think might be the best work Shred Sledz has produced to date).

Just as often, though, Shred Sledz is nothing more than stumbling across a surfboard and thinking “dang, that is cool.”

Such is the case with the board pictured here, which can be found on Craigslist in Rhode Island.

The board is from Daytona Beach Surf Shop, which looks to be an old Florida-based surfboard label. The only information I could find was on the reliably excellent Stoked-n-Board site.

This board looks like it’s from the 60s, though I can’t tell if it’s a pop-out or not. It appears to be in excellent and all-original condition.

There are a few things I love about this board. One, how cool are those stripes? They’re subtle but enough to give the board some nice old school flair. Two, the glass on red fin is a nice touch. And last, but certainly not least, I love the old school logo, complete with the little “Clark Foam” insignia at the bottom of the triangle.

The seller is asking $950, which is a decent chunk of change, considering the label isn’t particularly famous. But it is in great condition, and shoot, it just looks beautiful. And every once in a while, looking cool is all that matters (for surfboards, anyway).

Check out the board here.