Greetings, Shredderz! Today we have for you a very cool example of perhaps the single most coveted surfboard of all time: a Lightning BoltGerry Lopez single fin, most likely shaped by the master himself.
First, a little bit of background: Lightning Bolt might have been the single biggest surfboard brand of the Seventies, but tracking down authentic Bolts can be a bit of a headache. For starters, Bolt’s logo was copied off endlessly, and it appeared on numerous surfboards that had absolutely nothing to do with the Hawaiian label.
But even when dealing with genuine Lightning Bolt surfboards, it’s not always clear which ones were shaped by Lopez. I wrote an earlier post on the subject of Lightning Bolt Gerry Lopez boards that featured some so-called “California Bolts”: genuine Lightning Bolts bearing signatures with Gerry’s name, but produced in California and shaped by Terry Martin and Mickey Munoz. (I also covered the topic in another blog post, which you can find here.)
So you can imagine my surprise when I saw an intriguing little Lightning Bolt board pop up for sale on Craigslist in Hawaii. The board is no longer listed for sale, but I saved the photos, which you can see here.
First, as you can see in the photos, the Lightning Bolt Gerry Lopez board is far from mint condition. But it does have a number of unusual touches, starting from the circle around the famous Bolt logo laminate.
It also has a pretty upright glass on fin, which you can see in the photos above. I also can’t help but notice the diamond tail. Most of the Lightning Bolt Seventies single fins I have seen have pintails, with the occasional swallow tail mixed in. I have seen a few examples of Lightning Bolt single fins with diamond tails, but they are much narrower than the Craigslist board pictured above.
The outline on the Lightning Bolt Gerry Lopez board featured here is reminiscent of the boards Lopez produced with Hansen during the Transition Era of the late Sixties. All of the factors above lead me to believe that the Craigslist Bolt was shaped in the early part of the Seventies.
What really struck me about the board, though, was the presence of an obvious Gerry Lopez signature. As I mentioned in my previous post about the California Bolts, hand shaped Lightning Bolt Gerry Lopez boards are signed on the blank beneath the glass. Moreover, I have noticed that Lopez’s signature is often written in all caps, instead of the script you’ll see on California Bolts and newer repros. (Many thanks to Randy Rarick, who first passed on this tip.)
To no one’s surprise, Buggs Arico‘s Surfboard Line site has a few excellent examples of hand-signed Lightning Bolt Gerry Lopez boards. I have reproduced the signatures here, which originally appeared on Surfboardline.com. Please check out Buggs’ site if you haven’t already!
You’ll notice the red and yellow boards have very similar examples to the Craigslist Bolt. All of the signatures feature “LOPEZ” written on the stringer in all caps, in what looks to be beneath the glass. One small difference with the Craigslist board is the tilde over the O, which I have personally never seen before. In conclusion, I think the Lightning Bolt board posted to Craigslist was a rare example of a Bolt that was hand-shaped by Gerry himself.
The Craigslist Bolt was actually listed for a mere $700, which I think is an absolute steal. The listing stayed up for a few days but I have no idea who eventually made off with the board. If you’re the lucky owner, give me a shout!
An in-depth overview of the Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Model surfboard produced during the Transition Era of the late 1960s
Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s post is Part II of our exploration of one of surfing’s most influential but still somehow underground surfboard labels: Rick Surfboards. If you missed Part I, which covers Rick noseriders and pre-Transition Era models, please check it out here. The initial version of the Barry Kanaiaupuni Model, produced starting in 1966, was a noserider. Rick Surfboards BK Model longboards continue to command high prices; one recently sold at the California Gold vintage surf auction for $2,450.
In 1967, with the Transition Era underway, Rick Surfboards released a shorter surfboard made for the steep, challenging conditions of Hawaii’s North Shore, and, of course, its namesake’s radical surfing. The end result was the Barry Kanaiaupuni Pintail model.
The canvas for Kanaiaupuni’s new equipment — I’ve seen his Transition Era boards referred to as both pocket rockets and mini-guns — was big wave spot Sunset Beach. Barry K’s exploits at Sunset resulted in some iconic surf photographs, including shots from famed photographers Art Brewer and Jeff Divine.
Barry Kanaiaupuni’s Early Shaping Days
From what I can tell, the longboard version of the Barry Kanaiaupuni Model was produced only during 1966 and 1967. I believe sometime in 1967 Rick Surfboards began producing the Pintail version of the BK Model. Stoked-n-Board claims the BK Pintail was produced until 1982. I find this unlikely for two reasons. First, just about every BK Pintail I have seen has a distinct Transition Era outline, which would have been outdated for the 1970s, much less the early 1980s. Second, Barry Kanaiaupuni started shaping for other brands during the early 1970s.
The Encyclopedia of Surfing tells us Kanaiaupuni began his shaping career at Rick Surfboards, followed by stints at Country Surfboards, Surf Line Hawaii, and then Lightning Bolt. This sequence makes me think Rick Surfboards ceased production on the BK Pintail well before 1982. There are many examples of boards shaped by Kanaiaupuni for other brands well before 1982: Surfboard Hoard has a Chuck Dent brand shaped by BK dated to 1969; I have seen a BK Surf Line Hawaii board dated to 1971; and Surfing Cowboys has a Lightning Bolt BK board supposedly made in 1972. Based on this evidence, I believe the Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Model was produced from 1967 until the early 1970s, at the latest.
Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Model Pintail: Gun
Pictured above is an unusual example of the Rick Surfboards BK Pintail. Although dimensions for the board are not listed on the post, you can see the board has a traditional big wave gun shape. Compare this to all the examples below, which are shorter and have fuller noses paired with long, drawn out pintails. Nor is the pintail gun above a noserider, a la the board featured in the first post. The logo is interesting, too. It is the only example I have seen that reads “Barry Kanaiaupuni Model Pintail.” All the other versions in this post read either “Barry Kanaiaupuni Model” or “Barry Kanaiaupuni Pintail.” The board has been fully restored by Randy Rarick. The restoration makes me think it’s possible the logo is not all-original. See below for a pic comparing the length of the board to a Hobie Dick Brewer Model. I couldn’t find dimensions for the gun, but it looks considerably longer than all the other BK Pintails featured in this post.
Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Model: 7’1″, 1967, Serial No. 442 (Non-Pintail Logo)
Pictured above is another Barry Kanaiaupuni Pintail oddity. Pics are via the USVSA. As you can see, the board is clearly a Pintail version of the Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Model. However, it does not have a Pintail logo. The Rick Surfboards laminate is in the original font, too. Note the board is numbered #442 on the stringer; more on this later.
Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Pintail (Various)
This section focuses on “standard” versions of the Rick Surfboards BK Pintail. I define these boards as follows: they possess a Transition Era outline, with a full nose and dramatic, pulled-in pintail; and the logos bear the updated Rick Surfboards font and the “Pintail” text (versus boards that simply read “Barry Kanaiaupuni Model”).
A number of the standard Rick BK Pintails have been sold at auction recently. The picture above is from a board that sold at the Vintage Surf Auction in 2015. The Rick BK Pintail above is dated to 1967, and it has the serial #368. No dimensions are listed for #368. One thing that throws me for a loop is the ordering of the serial numbers. #442, the board with the blue fin that appeared earlier in the post, does not have the updated font on the Rick Surfboards logo, nor does it have the Pintail text. The numbering indicates #442 was made after #368, but the logo suggests otherwise.
Buggs, the proprietor of Surfboardline.com, has a number of awesome Rick BK Pintails, which he has featured on his website and Instagram. The board above appears on Surfboardline.com. No serial number is listed for what I’ll call “Buggs’ Board.” I think it’s very possible Buggs’ Board and #368 are one and the same, but I can’t be sure without seeing pictures of the fin on #368. Buggs’ Board is all-original and it measures in at 8′ x 22″ x 2-1/2″, compared to #442, which comes in at 7’1″.
Pictured above is a 1967 Rick BK Pintail with an era-appropriate acid splash paint job. The board was sold at a USVSA event close to ten years ago. Pics are via the auction listing, which you can find here. The Acid Splash board measures in at 7’10”. Other than the rad airbrush, it looks quite similar to the other Rick BK Pintails listed above, from the silhouette down to the W.A.V.E. Set fin box.
Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Pintail with Glass-On Fin
The board above comes courtesy of French surfboard site Surf-Longboard.com, and it is currently being offered for sale at €1,000. You can find a link to the board here. The French Board measures in at 7’4″. It has a very similar outline and length to the other Rick BK Pintails posted above.
The thing that stands out about the French Board is its glass-on fin. This is the only example I have seen without a W.A.V.E. Set fin box. The French Board also has some nice pin lines, reminiscent to #442.
There are a few Instagram posts that show off the details of the tail on the French Board. I assume this is true of the other Rick BK Pintails as well, but it’s difficult to say without any close-up pics.
Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Pintail with Signature
The yellow board shown above is the only Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Model I have seen that looks like it was signed by BK himself. The board was previously posted for sale on SurfnHula.com. You can find the link here. I don’t know whether or not this is a genuine BK signature. I have seen a variety of boards signed by BK, and his signature seems to vary.
Like the gun at the top of the post, the Triple Stringer board has two additional stringers. It’s interesting the note the Triple Stringer board has been labeled a “Pocket Rocket.” The Triple Stringer’s dimensions are 7’9″ x 20-1/2″, putting it line with the other standard Rick BK Pintails featured here.
There you have it — every single Rick Surfboards Barry Kanaiaupuni Model Pintail I have ever laid eyes on. I’m still bursting with questions: did BK shape all of these, or did Rick Surfboards use a ghost shaper? (I’m leaning towards the latter). What were the exact years during which the Rick BK Pintails were produced? How to explain the varying lengths of the boards — were they offered in different pre-set sizes? And, perhaps most importantly, are these boards every bit as cool as they look? As always, if you have any additional information or pics about the wonderful Rick Barry Kanaiaupuni Model, please give me a shout!
Check out the earlier post in the Rick Surfboards Deep Dive series here. Coming soon is Part III, in which we will delve into the beautiful single fins Rick Surfboards produced during the 1970s.
Photo Credit at the top of the page: Barry Kanaiaupuni surfing Sunset Beach, 1969. Photo by the peerless Art Brewer.
How to describe the North Shore of Oahu, the famed strip of surf breaks that, at the start of every winter, becomes the beating heart of the entire surf world? Volcom dubbed the most famous piece of real estate in surfing “The Proving Grounds”, and while surfwear marketing is rarely inspired, this is a fitting name. Surfers have long made pilgrimages to the North Shore, and Aussie Terry Fitzgerald, AKA The Sultan of Speed, is no exception.
Fitzgerald’s first exposure to Hawaiian influence came during the world contest in 1970, held at Bells Beach. The Australians — Fitzgerald included — were riding equipment that was inferior to those of their Hawaiian counterparts. According to Fitzgerald, at the time of the contest he wasn’t particularly well-liked by his Australian peers. As a result, Fitzgerald ended up rooming in a hotel with Hawaiian surfers Ben Aipa and Paul Strauch. The experience left a lasting impression. “I got a whole new perspective out of that contest, and I connected with the network that was to become the foundation of my surfing life. …I was put in with Aipa and Strauch, and my mind was opened to the whole Hawaiian deal.”
The quote above can be found in “Accelerator”, an excellent Fitzgerald profile written by Phil Jarratt and published in The Surfer’s Journal. I cannot recommend the article enough; you can find a link to it here (article is free for TSJ subscribers, or $3.99 to download.)
Fitzgerald made his first trip to Hawaii in the spring of 1971. In Hawaii Fitzgerald met none other than Dick Brewer, one of the statesmen of Hawaiian surfing. “Accelerator” has a number of excellent details on how the two shapers’ partnership began to emerge. Brewer witnessed Fitzgerald surfing Rocky Rights and dubbed the young Australian the best surfer in the world. In the summer of that same year, Fitzgerald followed Brewer back to Kauai, where the two began to exchange ideas on surfboard design. Fitzgerald credits Brewer’s influence, but disputes the notion that he left Hawaii intent on aping Brewer.
“The boards I took to Hawaii in 1971 were very much Terry Fitzgerald creations. They were the boards that created my reputation, and they were made before I met Brewer. Basically, I’d taken the twin fin that Greg Hodges and I made, put a single fin on it and refined it along the lines of the boards that Russell Hughes and Dana Nicely were doing at Byron Bay. Dick’s genius was that he could look at what a TF or a Sam Hawk was doing and subtly integrate that into his own designs. He could pull together influences from a whole range of people in a way that worked. …By the end of 1971, I was in California making a real statement in foam, and I know I couldn’t have done that without the Brewer experience.”
Shortly after returning to his native Australia, Fitzgerald opened up his own shop and began selling his shapes under the Hot Buttered label. Even the name Hot Buttered has its origins in Fitzgerald’s Hawaii experiences: during the winter of 1971, Fitzgerald and Hawaiian surfer Owl Chapman had been listening to Isaac Hayes’ album “Hot Buttered Soul”, and the name stuck.
A few years later, Fitzgerald’s Hawaiian experience would come full circle.
The board pictured above is an incredible piece of surfing history that serves as a document for the cultural exchange between TF and Dick Brewer. It is a Hot Buttered single fin, shaped in either 1975 or 1976, that Terry Fitzgerald made for Dick Brewer. The board belongs to Mark Loh of Beach Beat, who kindly contributed the photos to this post.
The winged pintail setup is a hallmark of Fitzgerald’s designs from the Seventies. The board above measures in at 6’5″, and it is a single fin. According to Loh, the board has had some small repairs, but otherwise completely original. The board is in excellent shape considering its age, not to mention that swallowtails and wings are notoriously prone to damage.
One of the most classic logos in Australian surf history!
TF’s signature indicating the board was a gift for Dick Brewer
You can see Fitzgerald’s signature on the board. It clearly reads “T.F. Hawaii for Dick 6’5”. However, the board’s owner went one step further, and contacted Fitzgerald directly. Fitzgerald was able to issue a certificate of authenticity and provide some more details on the board itself.
Fitzgerald provides great insight on the various elements that went into the board’s design. It’s amazing to hear that despite the time spent together, Fitzgerald had never actually ridden one of Brewer’s boards! Finally, Fitzgerald notes the board was glassed by Jack Reeves and sanded by Tom Hawk (brother of the aforementioned Chris).
This is an amazing board, and Fitzgerald’s certificate is a wonderful source for some first-hand information. Finally, check out the original post featuring the board on Vintage Surfboard Collectors (Facebook). As you can see, I’m not the only person who was stoked about this find!
Thanks to Mark Loh for sharing the pictures and the story.
First, the good news: there is an Aipa sting for sale on eBay, whose pictures I have included here. The board is in decent shape, and right now the current bid is a tidy $82.01.
Before I go get to the bad news, I’d like to give some background on Ben Aipa, who has made more than a few appearances on Shred Sledz. This is the first Shred Sledz post featuring a board that Aipa made under his own name.
The sting is Aipa’s claim to fame. The board pictured above is a classic example. You’ll see the wings extremely high up the board – well above the fin box – with a single fin setup in the back. Aipa’s stings frequently boast swallowtails, as well.
Aipa’s sting design (sometimes referred to as the stinger) is most associated with iconic Hawaiian surfers Buttons Kaluhiokalani and Larry Bertlemann. Here’s a picture of Aipa (on the left) with Buttons, in front of a spread of Aipa-shaped stings that would be worth a pretty penny today.
And as a bonus, here’s another Aipa board, this time under the careful stewardship of legendary Aussie surfer / shaper Mark Richards, likely also taken sometime in the 1970s. Look at how far back MR has the fin!
So, back to what we were saying: there’s an Aipa for sale on eBay, it’s only $80 bucks or so, and it’s Aipa’s signature design. What’s not to like, right?
Well, fellow Shredderz, listen closely, because this is a lesson that I originally learned through a bit of bitter experience myself. If you look at the board for sale on eBay, you’ll notice that there is a small “Surfing’s New Image” script beneath the Aipa logo. I’ve included a close up here:
The sad fact is, the “Surfing’s New Image” boards were NOT shaped by Aipa. Rather, Aipa licensed his name to the “Surfing’s New Image” brand, and these boards were all shaped in California (not Hawaii, where Aipa is based) by a variety of different shapers, including Mike Slingerland, Rick Hamon, and apparently even Donald Takayama. This information was confirmed to me via an email with none other than Randy Rarick, the Don Dada of Hawaiian surfboard design.
I happened to make this rookie mistake, and I now am the proud owner of two VERY weathered SNI / Aipa stings that serve as a cautionary tale. (The caution is two-fold: make sure what you’re buying is legit, and NEVER tell your fiancee how much you spent on the boards.) See below for two examples: the first is unsigned (likely shaped by Slingerland, but who knows), and the second has a clear Hamon signature and serial number.
Photos courtesy of the Shred Sledz Signature Collection ™
You’ll see a lot of stings online with the SNI branding. I won’t tell you to steer clear of these boards completely, as they are still genuine, rad 70s shapes. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that these are on par with real handmade Aipa boards.
Aipa has signed many of his boards, and you can see below for an example of a clearly identifiable Aipa signature, taken from a late 90s thruster he shaped.
However, it’s also worth noting that Aipa seems to have shaped some boards, at least back in the 70s, that didn’t have his signatures. Here’s an example of Larry Bertlemann with an Aipa (note the “Wave Crest Hawaii” branding beneath Aipa’s name) that doesn’t appear to have a visible signature anywhere on the deck. (It also has a pintail instead of the standard swallowtail design, which is an interesting touch.)