Shredderz, I can’t lie: it has been some time since I last offered up an entry of our Weekend Grab Bag series. But better late than never, right? Today we’ve got an eclectic group of vintage surfboards. Per Grab Bag rules, all boards must be currently listed for sale as of the time the post is published. Keep scrolling for more, starting with a sweet Wave Tools Jeff Parker Model.
You want logos? We’ve got you covered. Pictured above is an Echo Beach era Wave Tools thruster. To exactly no one’s surprise, the board is practically drowning in awesome, oversized laminates — how sick are the ones on the rails? — and a loud herringbone pattern paint job. Parker’s Jack of Spades personal logo is all time. I’m also intrigued by the outline. The pronounced wings make it look like a more aggressive predecessor to the bump squash tail thrusters that were popular in the Eighties. If I’m not mistaken, the board is only 5’2″, but that hasn’t put a damper on the bidding. As of the time the post was written, the board was already at $640, despite needing a decent amount of work. The photo at the top of the page features Parker on a different but similarly colorful Lance Collins design; photo is by Mike Moir.
Surfing’s New Image Aipa Sting by Rick Hamon (eBay)
I’ve long had a fascination with the stings Rick Hamon shaped under the SNI / Aipa label. The one you see above is a nice and clean example. I think the price is quite high, but hey, it’s a lovely board and the seller provided some great pics, too. The seller dates the board to 1974 and the board is 7’4″. Love the airbrush colors and the pin line.
Gordon & Smith Midget Farrelly Stringerless Model (eBay)
Last but not least we have a very cool G&S Midget Farrelly Stringerless Model in mostly original condition. Like the SNI / Aipa sting above, I think the price is on the high side, but it’s a very cool older board. I hesitate to even link to this older post I wrote, but it contains some decent info on the Farrelly’s various collaborations with Gordon & Smith. The board is 9’10”, and according to the seller it was likely shaped in either 1966 or 1967. I am guessing the G&S Midget Farrelly Stringerless Model was shaped right before the Transition Era took off. The seller believes it was likely shaped by either Mike Eaton or Skip Frye. Those are interesting theories for sure, but I don’t know enough about G&S history to weigh in one way or another.
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.
Skip Frye is undoubtedly one of the greatest living surfboard shapers in the world. Good luck if you’re looking to get your grubby mitts on one of his boards. He’s notoriously picky about choosing his clientele. This scarcity, combined with his sterling reputation, means that mere mortals like myself have to look on the second market for Frye’s boards. They command a premium and they disappear from Craigslist nearly instantaneously.
The board pictured here is an unusual example of a Frye shape with Gordon & Smith branding on it. It’s available on Craigslist in New Jersey – far from Frye’s homebase of San Diego – listed at a predictably steep $1200.
What’s interesting about this board is that it is NOT the famous Skip Frye signature model that G&S produced started in 1966. Island Trader Surf – a rad shop in Florida that sells some really nice vintage boards – has a picture of a G&S Frye signature model, and you can see the board is quite different than the one pictured above:
You’ll also notice that the Skip Frye models have a small but important distinction: beneath Skip Frye’s famous wings logo, you can see a small “model”, which denotes a signature model, as opposed to a board that Frye had shaped for the G&S label.
Frye left G&S in 1976 to start his own label, which he continues to shape under today. However, one thing I learned is that Frye actually returned to Gordon & Smith from 1981 to 1985. The seller on the Craigslist ad mentions that the board is from this era. It’s a cool find for sure.
The board measures 9′8″ and it’s got a neat pintail in the back. But c’mon, the real appeal is that it’s a Skip Frye board, and it’s actually for sale! You can check out the listing here.
Here at your humble service, doing the dirty work of Craigslist dumpster diving so all you have to do is fire up Shred Sledz for your fix of vintage surfboard goodness…
Anyway, let’s cut it with the back patting and get right to the chase. Found on Craigslist in San Diego – but seriously, don’t I have a nose for finding these guys? – is a 6′3″ single fin. The brand is Surfboards Australia / Gordon & Smith. The ever-helpful Stoked N Board shows a listing for Surfboards Australia / G&S here, but I couldn’t really find either of the logos on the Stoked N Board page to try and date the board. It looks like it could be vintage, and it looks like it’s in pretty good shape, too.