Yater Abalone Surfboard

Greetings, Shredderz! Pictured here is a beautiful Reynolds Yater single fin that features some eye-catching abalone and mother-of-pearl accents. The board is currently listed for sale on Craigslist, and you can see the listing here.

According to the seller, the Yater surfboard is a single fin and it measures in at 6’10”. You can also see the gorgeous resin pin line work on the deck that complements the insane inlays.

Regardless of whether or not it’s your particular cup of tea, there’s no denying the long hours and skilled craftsmanship that went into producing this stick.

The seller claims the surfboard is a collaboration between Kevin Ancell and Reynolds Yater. However, I have my doubts.

First of all, I’d like to be clear: to me, this is about researching the history behind a beautiful surfboard, nothing more, nothing less. It’s also worth mentioning that while I don’t think the Craigslist board was created alongside Kevin Ancell, I could very well be wrong. And even in the case that my guess turns out to be correct, the last thing I want is for this post to be interpreted as a critique of the seller.

First, Yater appears to have made many surfboards with abalone and mother-of-pearl inlays. (Confession: I’m not 100% sure which one is which in the Craigslist board; I’m pretty sure the inner deck patch is mother-of-pearl, and the area closer to the rails is abalone.) For example, see below for a photo I snapped a few years ago when I visited Bob Haakenson’s glassing room. Haak does the glassing for Renny Yater, and he has made more than a few Yater boards featuring some abalone details.

Separately, Renny Yater and artist Kevin Ancell collaborated on a few different projects. Many, if not all, of the collaborations between the two involved surfboards that had elaborate abalone, mother-of-pearl, and scallop shell inlays. The pair debuted a collection called “Water Columns” at the now-defunct Klapper Gallery in Los Angeles. Someone was kind enough to reprint the press announcement from Yater and Ancell’s show on a Swaylocks thread.

One Yater / Ancell collaboration consisted of a few different boards with various surf spot names written on them. You can see the “Rincon” example below (only fitting, given Renny’s Santa Barbara roots). The board below was featured on the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center website a few years back as part of a larger Yater exhibit.

More recently, see here for a Yater / Ancell pintail gun that was sold at the 2018 California Gold Surf Auction. According to the auction listing, only six Yater / Ancell pintail guns were ever made, and Yater owns two of them. I tend to put a lot of faith in the California Gold descriptions, given the high quality of the boards that are sourced for the show.

One thing I have noticed about the Yater and Ancell boards is that they seem to be signed by both the shaper and the artist. See below for a closeup of the logo from a Yater / Ancell board, which was originally posted to Surf-n-Wear Beach House’s Yelp page. Surf-n-Wear, of course, is the legendary Santa Barbara shop that probably sells more Yaters than anybody else.

I also found another example of a Yater / Ancell board, this time via Surf-n-Wear’s Instagram account. I have embedded the post below. You can see that the board below also has the dual signatures.

This brings me back to the original Craigslist Yater. The seller has provided a close up photo of the logo, and there doesn’t appear to be an Ancell signature anywhere.

For all I know, it’s possible that Renny and Ancell collaborated on boards that weren’t signed by both men. But considering that every other example I’ve seen has dual signatures, I think it’s likely that if the Craigslist board were a collaboration board, it would have Ancell’s name somewhere on it. I also keep returning to the fact the California Gold listing claims only six Yater / Ancell pintail guns were ever created, and two still belong to Yater. Based off these points, I can’t help but think that the board that’s listed for sale on Craigslist was likely created without Ancell’s involvement.

You can check out the Yater abalone board on Craigslist here. As always, if you have any ideas about the origins of the board, please do drop me a line, as I always love learning more about surfboards and the people who make them.

Logo at the top of the page via California Gold