Shredderz, I’m afraid I have reached the point of no return. I am speaking about the precise moment in time when one finds oneself flipping through an old issue of Surfer Magazine, and then stops short in order to take a closer look at an advertisement for a fin box system that has been defunct for about 30 years.
Pictured above is an ad for the old Star Systems fin box, which had its peak during the 1980s. I’m not sure why, but Star Systems fins — often called star fins, though this is not to be confused with Cheyne Horan’s design — predominantly appeared on twin fins from the late 1970s and 1980s. Nowadays Star Systems fins mainly infuriate collectors looking for replacement fins so they can ride their 80s twinnies. Star Systems pre-dated the invention of the thruster, but for some reason, they didn’t seem to stick around long enough to compete with the likes of FCS and co, when removable fins became standard on most shortboards. Star Systems was one of the first attempts to create what we now take for granted as the modern removable fin system, but it’s far from being a household name.
At some point, Star Systems was closely associated with Gordon & Smith Surfboards. I’m not sure if G&S purchased Star Systems, but you’ll often see 80s G&S boards sporting the funky fin boxes. The ad pictured above is from 1979. From the looks of the advertisement, Star Systems was a separate company from Gordon & Smith at least during its early days.
Finally, here’s a great video from The Fin Project that features Larry Allenson talking through some of the unique mechanics of the Star Systems fin setup:
Thanks again for reading Sagas of Shred! We’ll be back in a week with some more surf history odds and ends.
Greetings, Shredderz! By now loyal readers will know that the Shreditorial Staff has a fascination with the funky shapes produced during the Transition Era of the late 1960s. Today’s post features a particularly lovely board: the Gordon & Smith Hot Curl. As you can see in the photograph above, one of the G&S Hot Curl’s best features is an incredibly detailed floral graphic that appears on the deck.
The board pictured above is currently listed for sale on eBay with a starting price of $750. There is no reserve for the board, and given its impeccable condition, I would say this is a reasonable price (though auctions always tend to heat up towards the end). You can find a link to the board here. All pics above are via the eBay listing.
The G&S Hot Curl has an earlier iteration that was a more traditional noserider than the one pictured above. Stoked-n-Board is an incredible resource and I will sing its praises until the apocalypse, but their listing claims the Gordon & Smith Hot Curl measured in at lengths between 9’0″ and 9’5″. The board pictured above is 7’8″, and its outline, plus the W.A.V.E. Set fin box, clearly indicate that it was shaped during the late 1960s, by the time the shortboard revolution was in full swing.
I’m not sure whether or not the G&S Hot Curl is considered a proper displacement hull. The outline is similar to modern day hulls you’ll see, but I would hazard a guess and say that a real determination can’t be made without more detailed knowledge of the board’s bottom.
The floral logo doesn’t appear on all Gordon & Smith Hot Curl models, either. For example, here’s a beaut that appeared on a Jamboards thread that has the G&S Hot Curl logos and a similar shape, but not the crazy floral graphic from the example above. I do love the matching purple airbrush on the deck and the grape soda colored W.A.V.E. Set fin, though!
If you’re in the market for a beautiful G&S Hot Curl model, or merely in desperate need of some hipster surf street cred, check out the board on eBay here.
Greetings, Shredderz! Here to take you into the weekend is a celebration of one of California’s finest board builders, one Harry “Skip” Frye. Don’t forget to check out the latest issue of The Surfer’s Journal for a comprehensive look at Skip’s personal quiver. In the meantime, here are some social media selections showing off Skip’s shapes…
I wrote about this Skip Frye single fin when it was posted on Craigslist…and I’m still kicking myself for not buying it! This is the only Frye I have seen with a Select Surf Shop laminate, and it’s got a sick little wing pin outline to boot. I’m glad that it found a good home with Buggs, who runs Surfboard Line. The board has been fixed up and looks better than ever. Make sure you scroll through all the pictures!
Taylor Knox owes his long career to his powerful rail surfing. It’s difficult to imagine him laying these gliders into his patented spray-chucking carves, but if there’s anyone who can pull it off, it’s Taylor Knox! I’m just stoked to see this unexpected but rad union between two opposite ends of the famously varied spectrum that is San Diego surfing. Don’t hold your breath for Joel Tudor to bust out a high performance thruster, though…
This board is a bit of a mystery, but don’t skip over it because of the abstract picture! Skip Frye shaped this board for use at Jeffrey’s Bay, and it ended up being ridden by Derek Hynd (and I believe Tom Curren, too). You can read more about the board and the session in Andrew Kidman’s forthcoming Beyond Litmus book.
Greetings, Shredderz! Apologies for the slowdown in posting frequency. Shred Sledz is back with a vengeance, though, featuring a Skip FryeGordon & Smith single fin for sale in central California, available on Craigslist. You can find a link to the board here. Pics of the board can be found below (photos taken via the Craigslist post).
Check out the listing for some details on the origins of the board. The seller contacted Bird Huffman, surfboard aficionado extraordinaire and owner of San Diego’s Bird’s Surf Shed, and got some more info. Bird estimates the single fin pictured above likely dates to sometime between 1973 and 1973, and it was possibly shaped for team rider Steve McCullum. Bird also mentions the diamond tail as being unusual for a Frye design, and speculates that it could have been made at the request of Gary Keating or Tim Lynch. It should also be noted the board is a project, and it would require some more work to get it ship shape, hence the relatively modest $450 price tag.
I also find it interesting that the Gordon & Smith laminate on the board above is the classic red and black version of G&S’ famed bowtie logo. All the Frye / G&S boards from the 1960s I have seen feature monochrome black & white Gordon & Smith bowtie logos, like this one below:
Here’s another example of a Skip Frye / Gordon & Smith logo, which does not have the bowtie at all.
Anyway, I don’t know if the red bowtie version is a rare logo; but it is one I have never personally seen before. As always, if you have more info, please chime in below!
Finally, here’s a bonus shot of Skip Frye from 1966 toting an interesting-looking Gordon & Smith shape. To the left is none other than Mike Hynson. Pic courtesy excellent New York surf shop Pilgrim Surf + Supply.
Greetings, Shredderz! I hope the stoke levels are high and climbing for each and every one of you. First and foremost, you may recognize a slight name change to our Peabody Award-winning series (Editor’s Note: definitely not), the Shred Sledz Weekend Grab Bag. We’re dropping the “Weekend” part of the moniker, given the fact our editorial staff moves with all the speed of a line at the DMV on a sunny Saturday. It shall henceforth be known as the Shred Sledz Grab Bag. New name, same collection of cool sticks. Anyway: onto the good stuff.
This thing was originally posted a few days ago, and then posted again without that lovely Rainbow Fin you can see in the third pic. Luckily, Shred Sledz goes to great lengths to preserve any evidence of rad surfboards online. Board is listed at $350 (without the fin, though!), which I think is quite fair given the board. Shrosbree is a favorite of surfboard aficionado Joel Tudor, which means he’s good enough for me! Check out the board at the link above.
Surfboards Hawaii Semi-Gun by Mike Slingerland (Facebook)
This surfboard is unlikely to win any awards for political correctness any time soon. (Check the cartoon in the third pic, alongside the “Charlie Don’t Surf” lam). Questionable laminates aside, though, it is a beautiful example of a later-era Surfboards Hawaii semi-gun that looks to be in awesome condition. Love the colors alongside the stringer and the beautiful, era-correct Rainbow Fin, too. Original post seems to have been taken down, but I linked to an earlier one in the title above.
Can’t say this thing hasn’t seen better days. But shout out to the seller for being as up front as possible, going as far to recount a story about how the board flew off his roof rack while going 70 mph! There’s something sad about seeing someone sell a cherished board, but then again, it’s also an opportunity to score a funky little transitional shape for under $200 ($195, to be exact).
Cool little transitional shape for sale in Florida. G&S has a little info on this board on their own website. The Magic was invented towards the end of the summer in 1968. It was largely invented by Dennis Benadum, but apparently none other than Skip Frye also chipped in with the board’s design! See below for a picture of the original ad for the board, published sometime in the late 1960s, I believe. Seller is asking $500.
Shred Sledz is (proudly) made in California. And given HQ’s location in the Golden State (AKA my living room), it’s no surprise that the blog focuses primarily on American and Hawaiian surfboard shapers. Today I’m excited to lend a little more Aussie influence to this modest seppo-centric blog. We’ll be exploring the history and contributions of one of Australia’s earliest surf stars: none other than the late, great Bernard “Midget” Farrelly. In particular, today’s post focuses on a rare surfboard model: a collaboration between Midget Farrelly and Gordon & Smith, the famed San Diego-based US board maker.
Farrelly won the inaugural World Surfing Championship in 1964. The event was held at Manly Beach, located in Farrelly’s hometown of Sydney. A few years later, Farrelly was an active contributor to the experimental surfboard designs of the Transition Era.
To this day there remains a heated debate over the origins of the vee bottom surfboard design. Bob McTavish, another Australian surfer and shaper, is widely credited with having invented the design in 1967. Farrelly, on the other hand, claims that he was the inventor of the vee bottom. He offers the picture below as proof. Farrelly claims the white board in the picture below was about 8′ x 22″ – a good deal shorter than the boards being ridden by his contemporaries – and that the picture was taken in 1967 at the Windansea vs. Australia contest in Palm Beach. Farrelly contends that McTavish did not even glimpse a vee bottom board until November of 1967, which later inspired McTavish to do his own take on the design. The Encyclopedia of Surfing, on the other hand, credits McTavish with having begun work on the vee bottom in March of 1967. McTavish says he was shaping vee bottoms at the Keyo factory in mid-1967. If you want to read more about Midget’s side of the story, I recommend going to his website. Sadly, Midget passed away last year from stomach cancer.
While the origin of the vee bottom may be contested, I think we can all agree on one thing: transition boards – and vee bottoms in particular – are very, very cool.
Pictured at the top of this post is a Midget Farrelly / Gordon & Smith design that is currently up for sale on Craigslist in Monterey, California. It’s 7′10″ in length, but no other dimensions are offered up. The price is $1200 – steep, but this is a rare surfboard, and it looks to be in good condition, other than an obvious repair on the nose. I have included more pics below:
Gordon & Smith agreed to distribute Farrelly’s boards in the United States, and this is a clear example of the partnership. In the very first picture you can see the logo reads “Farrelly by Gordon and Smith Surfboards USA”.
However, it’s unclear to me exactly what model this is. Gordon & Smith – it’s interesting to note that the logo on the board reads “Gordon and Smith”, and doesn’t contain the customary ampersand – produced a Midget Farrelly Stringerless model. Stoked-n-Board has the Farrelly Stringerless model as having been produced between 1967 and 1969, which means it pre-dates the creation of the vee bottom. Here’s an example of a G&S Farrelly Stringerless model, and you can see that it is longer and more of a traditional longboard shape than the board listed at the top. It’s listed at 9′6″, and Surf Research actually dates the board to 1966, a full year earlier than Stoked-n-Board. Either way, it’s clear that the board below is a different model from the one at the top of the post – it’s longer, it has a fuller nose, and it has a different logo.
And here’s an old print ad for the G&S Farrelly Stringerless model. Note that this is clearly more of a standard longboard / noserider design – pre-Transition Era, I’m guessing. Note that this version of the logo has numbering. I’ve seen Stringerless logos without numbers.
G&S has another old ad up on their website, which shows the Farrelly Stringerless design alongside a Skip Frye and a Mike Hynson design.
In conclusion, I don’t believe the board at the top of this post is a G&S Farrelly Stringerless model. Instead, I think it’s a slightly later G&S Farrelly V Bottom. See the ad below, taken from G&S’ website. If you look closely you can see the second board from the left is called the “Midget Farrelly V Bottom” model. I believe this is the same model as the board at the top of the post. And while the Farrelly V Bottom does not have a stringer, it should not be confused with the Farrelly Stringerless model, which is a longer board.
This board below – which I found floating around on Pinterest – looks like an exact match to the one at the top of the page. It has similar deck patches, logo placement, and of course the overall outline. The picture below also gives a better idea of the vee in the tail, which is of course one of the defining characteristics of the board.
The board for sale can be found here on Craigslist (Update: Link has been removed). The seller also looks to be getting rid of some other gems, including a Morey Pope Tracker and a mystery David Nuuhiwa model. None of the boards are cheap, but they look well cared for. I’m wondering if these weren’t all at some point part of a larger collection in the Monterey area that was sold off a few years ago.
Finally, while we are on the topic of Australian surfing luminaries, I cannot recommend surfresearch.com.au enough. This article on 1967 and the creation of the vee bottom is incredibly thorough and detailed, and a real treat for anyone who’s interested in the topic. The same can be said for surfresearch.com.au’s entry for Farrelly himself, which is a fitting tribute for a true legend of the sport.