Greetings, Shredderz! It’s the Fourth of July, and as a patriotic American, I have to confess that I have better things to be doing right now than writing about vintage surf ads. Like having a few drinks before setting off a bunch of explosives in a completely unsupervised setting, for example. But stories don’t get much more American than Michael Tomson’s red hot heyday, followed by his more recent fall from grace. We wish Tomson nothing but the best. Regardless of how you feel about the man, there is no denying his branding genius. I’ve writtenbefore about Gotcha’s amazing ad campaigns on this blog. It’s interesting that Tomson features himself in this ad, which was originally published in the September 1980 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 21, No 9). My guess is the ad is from the early days of Gotcha, before it found its stride.
Thanks for reading, Happy Fourth of July to everyone, and we hope to see you again next Thursday with more Sagas of Shred!
Before “More Core”, Gotcha was apparently focused on keeping the beat. Sagas of Shred has featured some Gotcha ads before, including this classic, and for good reason. I still think Gotcha’s contributions to surf culture are criminally overlooked. (On a related note, here’s an incredible Stussy thruster that belonged to Gotcha founder Michael Tomson.) Sadly, the brand didn’t stick around much further past the Nineties, although even in its waning days it still counted Rob Machado and Andy Irons (through the More Core Division label) among its flag bearers. A lot about this Gotcha ad feels thirty years old — unless I’m mistaken and abstract neon bikinis are back in style — but the distinctive energy and creativity is palpable. I don’t mean to kick the surf industry when it’s down, but you compare this Gotcha ad to the recent and rather lifeless offerings from Billabong, Quiksilver et al, and the difference is stunning.
Gotcha also had the benefit of counting Martin “Pottz” Potter as its marquee rider. This ad was published in the May 1990 issue of Surfer Magazine, shortly after Potter captured the world championship. Pottz’s brand of raw aggression was a perfect match for Gotcha’s rebellious aesthetic, and I think it’s one of the great athlete / sponsor pairings in the recent history of the sport, joining partnerships like Slater and Quiksilver, Occy and Billabong, etc.
What can I say? This ad is so awesome. The photos, the clothes, the typeface…everything is perfect. Oh, and lest I forget, shout out to Dino Andino, father of Kolohe, who was also a staple throughout some of the better Gotcha marketing during the Eighties and early Nineties.
At some point Gotcha’s website had a vault featuring its old ad campaigns, but sadly it doesn’t look to be functional right now. This is a shame and I hope it gets restored, as there are a ton of gems in there.
Thanks for reading and visit next Thursday evening for more vintage surf ads, courtesy of Sagas of Shred!
Greetings, Shredderz! As we ease into the weekend I thought I’d share some videos I’ve been enjoying lately.
Well, you can’t watch the video above embedded in this blog, but it’s worth checking out on Vimeo. The Encyclopedia of Surfing has published the entirety of “Waterborn”, a 1987 surf movie from Gotcha, on their Vimeo page. Gotcha’s surf team was the stuff of legends — Pottz, Gerlach, Cheyne Horan, Brock Little, Derek Ho, I can keep going — and this is a cool video. It has some great footage of Pottz surfing some of his classic signature boards, including his Glenn Minami twin fin as well as some colorful T&C sticks, like the one pictured above.
More importantly, “Waterborn” was directed by Bill Delaney, who sadly passed away recently. Delaney directed the seminal Seventies surf movie “Free Ride”, and he will surely be missed.
Tristan Mausse AKA Fantastic Acid is one of my favorite follows on Instagram. Monsieur Mausse has also published a couple of cool books on surfboards, “Glass Shops” and “Surfboard Dynamics”, which you can find on his site. In this video Mausse and fellow shaper Jean Penninck of Naje Surfboards test some hand-shaped hulls in some fun and relaxed European winter surf.
Apropos of nothing, I have been enjoying South African Mikey February’s surfing lately. Most of the surfing in the clip is done on standard thrusters, but he’s just got great style.
Greetings, Shredderz! The board I’m writing up today is one of the coolest I have ever seen. By now some readers might know that Shawn Stussy is a favorite of this humble vintage surfboard blog. Stussy’s Eighties thrusters are likely his most popular shapes, and for good reason. But what makes this Shawn Stussy thruster special is the fact it was shaped for none other than Gotcha founder Michael Tomson.
First and foremost, a big shout out to Rob, who owns the board above, for sharing the photos you see in this post. He’s on Instagram here.
Anyway, back to the board in question. By now we all know Shawn Stussy’s legacy as a renowned surfboard shaper and an early streetwear pioneer. But early on, Michael Tomson looked to be on the exact same trajectory, having transitioned from a pro surfing career to founding Gotcha, which was one of the hottest labels in surfing during its heyday. It’s also worth noting that Tomson ripped.
As you can see from the Instagram post above, Stussy and Tomson’s history goes back to the early Eighties. This isn’t totally surprising, given Stussy’s Laguna Beach roots, which also was home to Gotcha’s offices.
Befitting Gotcha’s raw, in your face style, Tomson was one of the most outrageous characters on the surf scene at the time. Sadly, Tomson’s hard charging lifestyle has lost a considerable amount of its romance, given Gotcha’s eventual fade and a string of drug arrests that occurred well into middle age.
I love the fact this surfboard was not only shaped by Stussy, but also created for a true character who happened to be a world class surfer. And even if you don’t care about Tomson’s colorful history, well, at the end of the day, the board is still a Stussy thruster, with all the details and flourishes that make his boards so collectible.
Of course, the board wouldn’t be complete without a Gotcha logo — beneath the glass, naturally. You can also see an additional Stussy signature on the deck right above the tail.
What really gets me going are the awesome hand drawn logos found on the Stussy thruster. The planer laminate is one I don’t believe I have seen on any other Stussy boards. And how cool is that Stussy Team laminate?! That must have been the ultimate Eighties surfing street cred accessory. I love the touch of having the logo on the glass on fins, too — I wish more shapers did this nowadays.
You might be wondering what kind of psycho writes five hundred plus words about an Eighties surfboard. Well, I regret nothing, because this Stussy thruster shaped for Michael Tomson is an absolute gem. Thanks again to Rob for generously sharing the pics of the board — you can follow him on Instagram here.
Greetings, Shredderz! As I’m sure many of you already know, next weekend sees this year’s version of The Boardroom Show, hosted at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. 2018’s Icons of Foam Honoree is none other than Marc Andreini, an all-around classy dude and tremendous shaper. The Boardroom Show is also home to the California Gold Surf Auction, which, in my mind, is the premier vintage surfboard auction. As always, the CA Gold auction has a curated selection of some the usual suspects — names like Dora, Noll, Brewer, et cetera. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see a significant number of boards from the late 1970s and 1980s. This is nothing new, of course — 80s Town & Country boards command pretty ridiculous prices any time they pop up on eBay — but I wonder if it isn’t a sign of a larger shift in tastes as older collectors age out. And as an incorrigible fluoro enthusiast, I thought I would take the time to highlight some of my favorite boards from the auction. Keep reading for some selections…
Stussy Thruster for Michael Tomson of Gotcha (Link)
Oh man, this board is killer. Michael Tomson, cousin of Shaun, founded Gotcha clothing. Stussy even designed an early Gotcha typeface that was used prominently during the 80s. This thruster has all the little touches I love about Stussy’s boards, including some nifty hand-drawn graphics. I love the little planer design, and the Gotcha shark logo on the deck is an awesome throwback to the brand’s heyday. Make sure you hit the link above for a shot of the sick Stussy Team logos on the fins. I also wrote up this board when it popped up at the Vintage Surfboard Collectors Club swap meet a few months back.
I can’t think of a better representation of Echo Beach than this incredible board. The board was shaped in 1980, and the auction estimate is between $2,500 and $3,000. There are so many details to love about this board, whether it’s the branded glass-on fins, the huge Lance Collins laminates, or, of course, the inimitable airbrush. The board has been restored, which I find slightly odd given the visible ding on the bottom right above the fins, but I’m not going to quibble. This Wave Tools twinny is ridiculous in all the right ways.
My initial guess was that this stunner was shaped in the 1980s, but it turns out it’s from 1978. Then again, it feels a little silly to focus so much on dates given the timeless — and bitchin’ — checkerboard graphic on the deck. This T&C single fin has also been restored. And while I prefer my boards all-original, this is a stunning example of a classic Hawaiian single fin.
Alright, this technically isn’t an 80s board, either, but given how sweet the board is, I am willing to make an exception. Like the other Glenn Minami example above, the board has been restored, hence its impeccable condition. I can’t get enough of the color scheme, and I really dig the old school Town & Country logos on both boards. I think it’s interesting how Glenn Minami’s name appears in a sans serif font on the sting, and then in a script font on the checkerboard single fin above. The sting is also dated to 1978.
Greetings, Shredderz! If you’re currently wondering whether or not this humble little vintage surfboard blog took a sudden left turn, let me assure you that is not the case. Shred Sledz remains as dedicated as ever to our mission of shedding light on the great surfboards and craftsmen of yesteryear. But let’s face it: this 1980s Gotcha ad is simply too funny not to post.
Throw in a pair of acid wash jeans and the ad hits every single cliche about bad fashion in the 1980s. More importantly…what on earth is going on? Is the painting on the left supposed to be coming to life? Why is the other guy just staring off in the distance? Sadly, seeing as how this is a family friendly blog, I think there are many questions that will have to go unanswered. And if you haven’t noticed, that’s Pottz who’s getting his tank top stretched out. Not sure how they coerced him into doing this photo shoot. I imagine the ad was originally intended to be edgy and provocative, but with three decades worth of perspective behind us, the entire thing is silly. I say that affectionately, though: no matter what, I will always have a soft spot for the weird and colorful creations that the surf industry produced during the eighties.
Fun fact: the Gotcha logo that appears in the ad was actually designed by Shawn Stussy.