Greetings, Shredderz! For tonight’s entry in Sagas of Shred we’ve got something quick but undeniable: an early Eighties Lightning Bolt ad featuring none other than Rory Russell posing with a quiver of his own boards. I actually posted a Lightning Bolt Rory Russell twin fin on Instagram earlier today. I really love the distinctive graphics on Rory’s Bolt boards, which include dual angled bolts on the deck and some color. Russell, also affectionately known as “Dog”, was an early mainstay on the Lightning Bolt roster. It’s too bad the Lightning Bolt Rory Russell ad above doesn’t showcase the tails and fins on the boards, but it’s still a doozy.
Thanks for reading and check back in next Thursday evening for more vintage surf ads on Sagas of Shred!
Greetings, Shredderz! For many of you it’s a three day weekend, which means even more time to consider making an ill-advised surfboard purchase. If your money is really burning a hole in your pocket, keep reading for some ideas on where to spend your hard earned cash.
I really dig the outline on this Gordon & Smith surfboard. It measures in at a generous 7’8″. I also love the double blue pinline around the rails. Not sure how you would describe this, exactly, as it’s a good deal bigger than you might expect for a standard single fin. It almost looks like an oversized fish, but there’s only one fin. The seller is asking $430, which I think is pretty fair.
To me, Surf Line Hawaii is something of an unsung surfboard brand, considering the incredible lineup of shapers that mowed foam under the label. (For more on Surf Line Hawaii, you can check out the Deep Dive I wrote here.) Here’s a gorgeous Ryan Dotson shaped Seventies single fin that’s currently listed for sale. I can’t tell if the board was restored at some point, but either way, it’s gorgeous. Check out the cool glass on fin, too.
I have no idea whether or not the board pictured above is a genuine Lightning Bolt. Bolt is probably the single most ripped off surfboard brand ever. During the Seventies people pumped out tons of boards with the iconic logo that had absolutely nothing to do with the Hawaiian label. A few people on Instagram suspect that it might have been shaped by Tom Eberly. I can’t say one way or another whether that’s likely, but I love the detail of the Bolts on the rails.
Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s post features a classic board: what looks to be an original Seventies Lightning Bolt single fin. This board comes to Shred Sledz courtesy of a reader, who emailed me the photos. Many thanks for the submission (and a reminder that if you have any cool boards to share, I’m always interested, whether it’s by email or DMs on Instagram).
You can click on any of the above photos to zoom in. As you can see, this vintage Bolt is still in beautiful condition. I love what appears to be a grey resin tint on the exterior, and the glassed on fin gives some beautiful pop against the neutral color of the board.
The downside to Lightning Bolt’s status as the surfing brand of the Seventies meant its logo was shamelessly ripped off during this time. It’s common to see boards shaped during the Seventies bearing the signature Bolt logo that had absolutely nothing to do with the brand. As a result, it can be a bit tricky to identify so-called “authentic” Lightning Bolt boards.
Before we go in-depth on the grey board, let’s discuss a quick note on the inconsistent nature of Lightning Bolt logos. There is a huge variation in the number of different logos on vintage Bolts, even when looking strictly at authentic examples. See below for two examples:
The yellow board on the left is a Rory Russell board; the blue board on the right was shaped by Tom Parrish. (Note: I’m not 100% sure that both of these boards are vintage.) The proportions in the respective Bolt logos are completely different. I would consider both of these boards genuine, given the signatures, and as you can see below, these two logos are also very different from the two-tone shadow effect on the grey Bolt single fin.
What’s really interesting about the grey board is the small “akoni” text that appears beneath the Bolt. This is almost certainly Roy Stamm’s handwriting. I have seen Roy Stamm mentioned as an original Lightning Bolt shaper during the Seventies. The other data point I have is a certified authentic Terry Fitzgerald-shaped board for Lightning Bolt, which was glassed by Roy Stamm. You can find a link to the Fitz-shaped Bolt here.
I was able to find another example of a Roy Stamm signature, which you can see on the blue board above and to the right. The orange and yellow board is Roy Stamm’s handwritten Lightning Bolt text from the Terry Fitzgerald board, which was certified by Fitz himself. The blue board was shaped by Wayne Santos, I believe, and likely glassed by Stamm. This leads me to believe the grey Lightning Bolt single fin that was sent in by a reader was at least glassed by Stamm, and possibly shaped by him, too. Therefore I believe the grey Lightning Bolt was shaped in Hawaii during the Seventies, but I can’t say for sure who the shaper was.
The final aspect about the grey Bolt is the “akoni” text. I have no idea what this means. As always, if you have any ideas, please let me know!
Many thanks to the reader who submitted the photos of this beautiful Lightning Bolt single fin!
First of all, I’d like to say that I find this Eighties Japanese Lightning Bolt ad deeply offensive. As a new dad with a long-standing aversion to non-surfing related exercise, I feel body shamed by the presence of these very fit gentlemen.
In all seriousness, I love this ad. It ran on the back cover of the September 1982 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol. 23 No. 9). For a good chunk of the Eighties, the Lightning Bolt brand staked out the primo real estate on the back cover of Surfer Magazine. The end result was a pretty inspired set of ads. You can rest assured I’ll continue to post more of them here!
You’ll notice the bottom right hand corner of the ad reads “For translation go to page 26.” I have copied and pasted the translated text below:
A PURE SOURCE AROUND THE WORLD
The Lightning Bolt Team came to life in the early 70’s on Hawaii’s North Shore, energized by the challenge of Pipeline’s massive tubes and by each individual’s drive to create more progressive surfing equipment to tap that energy source. The resulting combination of dynamic surfers and ideas added up to more than the sum of its parts…and the known limits of wave riding were greatly expanded.
In the ongoing tradition of that first Pipeline crew, Team Bolt Japan joins our honored group of international surfers; each one a proud contribution to the constantly expanding energy of the whole.
That’s what Team Bolt is all about.
There’s something really rad about the Eighties Japanese Lightning Bolt ad featured above, whether it’s the Japanese text — always cooler if you don’t know what it says — or the simple color scheme. Many might say that Lightning Bolt’s glory days were squarely in the Seventies, defined by Gerry Lopez’s effortless styling at Pipeline, but I’m rather partial to this version of the brand, too.
As always, check back in next Thursday night for Sagas of Shred, where we’ll be sharing more bitchin’ vintage surf ads.
Greetings, Shredderz! Today we have a quick update from eBay on an interesting and collectible surfboard: a stunning Lightning Bolt Rory Russell model. What immediately catches my eye is the fact this board is a single fin. I’ve written up two previous Lightning Bolt Rory Russell models, both of whichwere twin fins. I don’t have any info on how many single fins were made compared to twin fins, but maybe there’s a Shred Sledz Deep Dive to be written on the subject of Russell’s signature model.
The board pictured above recently sold on eBay for a cool $2,400 — technically $2300 and change, plus a nominal shipping fee. All photos are via the original eBay listing, which you can find here. I’m not totally surprised by the price. However, I think there are some interesting aspects to consider. First, $2,400 is pretty rarefied air for surfboards. Second, I am a little taken aback that someone ponied up this kind of cash for a Lightning Bolt that isn’t a classic Seventies single fin, a la Gerry Lopez and company. My guess is the Lightning Bolt Rory Russell single fin was shaped in the early Eighties, judging by the outline of the board and the graphics, including the logo you can see at the top of the page.
That said, it’s not hard to see why the board commanded a high price. It looks all original, and while there are some small dings here and there, including some open spots on the tail, it’s in otherwise incredible shape. It also goes without saying that the airbrush is killer, and if there’s one thing you should know about Shred Sledz, it’s that we are certified Airbrush Aficionados (TM).
Finally, I’m not sure who shaped the board. My guess is that the Lightning Bolt Rory Russell model was mass produced somewhere in the continental US, likely by ghost shapers outside of Bolt’s original roster.
Once again, you can check out the eBay listing for the board here.
Here at Shred Sledz we are firm believers that Renny Yater can do no wrong. While Yater’s noseriders and his single fins are among his most classic shapes, I also love his more unusual boards, like the hull pictured above. Check out this write up of a Yater single fin that sold recently.
I am fascinated by the Bonzer and all its various iterations, but the holy trinity has to be the Campbell Brothers, who created the shape; the BingBonzer; and Mike Eaton’s take on the multi-finned design. The concave on this Mike Eaton bonzer is a trip — it almost looks like there’s a small hump near the center fin. Gotta love the airbrush on the rails (forget who the name of the artist is, but you’ll often see similar designs on Eaton’s boards).
Echo Beach era Wave Tools boards are all pretty outrageous, but this one just might take the cake. The warped checkerboard on one side and then the red and pink stripes on the other is completely excessive…and perfect. You know I’m a sucker for branded fins and oversized Clark Foam lams. This Wave Tools Lance Collins twin fin ticks every checkbox on the list.
Leave it to Luis Real to come through with an amazing Mike Diffenderfer shaped Lightning Bolt single fin! The board has been “semi-restored”, and while I prefer the character of all-original boards, there’s no denying the pedigree or radness of this stick.
The post above is not a surfboard, per se, but it’s safe to say that surf culture as we know it would not exist without John Severson’s influence. The late, great Severson is best known as the creator of Surfer Magazine, but he was also an artist and a filmmaker. I’ve really been digging the graphic design on various Severson creations — things like posters and lobby cards for his early films — and I love that someone unearthed a clean copy of an old Super 8 movie he made. The packaging is amazing!
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!
Greetings, Shredderz! Today we have a board that comes courtesy of another reader. Shout out to Dan for sharing the stoke of this incredible Chuck Vinson shape (you can check him out on Instagram here). I’ve written about Chuck Vinson before. The earlier post I wrote featured a Vinson-shaped single fin that was produced under his own name. Vinson also produced boards for Lightning Bolt during its heyday of the mid-1970s, when Bolt was not just the most famous surfboard label in the world, but the surfboard brand, period. Dan had this Chuck Vinson Lightning Bolt single fin shaped for him during the 1970s. Apparently Dan had Vinson shape him three boards, and this one remains.
As you can see, Dan’s Chuck Vinson Lightning Bolt has all the classic lines you would expect of a 70s single fin crafted to tackle powerful Hawaiian surf. Sadly, Lightning Bolt’s well-documented struggles with intellectual property meant that their signature logo was copied throughout the decade, but the board pictured above is the real deal.
By far my favorite detail about the Chuck Vinson Lightning Bolt is the glass on fin, which is partially made out of wood.
Wooden fins seem to have fallen out of favor recently — I’m not sure why, as you’ll still see the occasional glass on fiberglass examples — but it’s not for a lack of aesthetics!
I have actually seen another example of a Vinson board with a similar wooden fin. The example below was taken from a board Vinson made under the Santa Cruz label.
Many thanks to Dan for sharing the photos of his incredible Chuck Vinson Lightning Bolt single fin. RIP to Mr Vinson, who sadly passed away last year. Thank you for reading, and if you have any other Chuck Vinson boards you’d like to share, please do get in touch.
First, allow me to beg for forgiveness regarding the bad pun in the title of the post. I’d promise not to do it again, but I don’t want to waste whatever little credibility I have left!
More to the point, there is a fascinating example of a Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt board that is currently for sale on eBay. I have posted pictures of the board below (pics are via the eBay listing).
While a genuine Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt board from the 1970s is a holy grail for many surfboard collectors, there’s one catch: it’s often difficult to establish the provenance of true Lopez handshapes. For example, there are the California Bolts, which, as their name suggests, were produced on the West Coast and not in Hawaii. The California Bolts often bear a Danny Brawner-designed laminate meant to approximate Lopez’s signature. The California Bolts were mostly shaped by Mickey Munoz and Terry Martin.
In addition, I have heard from Randy Rarick, who is the authority on all things relating to Hawaiian surfboards and their creators, that Lopez only signed the blanks of his handshapes — never on top of the glass.
Still, I am a bit confused, given that there are some distinct qualities about the Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt being sold on eBay, that matches up with some other boards that were recently sold at auction.
As you can see in the pictures above, “A Pure Source” has been written on either side of the Lightning Bolt laminate. You can also see a Gerry Lopez signature off to the far right in the second picture. Back in the 1970s, “A Pure Source” was the marketing slogan for Lightning Bolt. Based on Rarick’s guidelines — the fact the eBay board has a Lopez signature on top of the glass, and not the blank itself — one might say the board is not a handshape.
And yet there were two boards sold at recent US Vintage Surf Auctions that were advertised as Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolts.
Board #1: 1975 Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt #180, Sold at USVSA (Link)
The first USVSA board, pictured above, has the exact same signature formatting as the eBay board at the top of the page: you have “A Pure Source” written across the Bolt laminate, and then a Lopez signature off to the right, signed on the glass itself. The USVSA website dates the board to 1975, and it claims that it is a Lopez handshape. In addition, the USVSA site claims the Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt is numbered #180.
Board #2: 1977 Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt #404, Sold at USVSA (Link)
Are we noticing a pattern yet? Same “A Pure Source” logo and handwritten signature in the exact same placement as the other two boards featured in the post. USVSA dates this board to 1977. This time, there’s a closeup of the serial number. The board is #404, which is stamped on the stringer. USVSA board #2 has a wedge stringer, which is an unusual touch.
It should also be noted that both USVSA boards have fin boxes. Rarick also tells me that the vast majority of Lopez handshapes made in Hawaii had glass-on fins.
In conclusion, I’m confused about how to explain this curious trio of Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt surfboards. Based on Rarick’s context, I do not believe any of these three boards are Lopez handshapes. As a refresher, none are signed beneath the glass, and at least two have fin boxes (it’s unclear with the eBay board whether or not the fin is glassed on.)
Second, both USVSA boards commanded relatively low prices at their respective auctions. Board #1 sold for $2,700 and board #2 went for $2,400. Compare this to a 1972 Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt (with a glass-on fin, and a unique “signature”, which is a whole different story) sold at USVSA for $4,225, which you can find here.
I guess I can’t figure out why Lopez would go through the trouble of hand signing these boards with “A Pure Source” and a signature on the deck if he didn’t shape them himself. As always, if you have any information, please let me know! If there’s one thing I enjoy more than making bad jokes in blog post titles, it’s hearing from readers.
Hawaii is, and will always be, the center of the surfing world. Even as globalization pushes surfing into new and interesting corners, like retro longboarding’s unlikely resurgence in Indonesia, Hawaii is not only the birthplace of surfing, but the very place where much of its history continues to be made.
The 1970s were a particularly fertile and fascinating time in surfing’s development. It was during this decade that Australians descended upon the North Shore of Oahu, raising eyebrows with their brash surfing and matching attitudes. While the “Bustin’ Down the Door” episode has rightfully earned its spot in surfing history, the arrival of top Australian pros on Hawaiian shores had another side effect: many fruitful collaborations between Aussies and their Hawaiian counterparts.
I wrote an earlier post about a board Terry Fitzgerald shaped for Dick Brewer, which you can find here. Mark Richards is another example of an Australian surfer / designer who found inspiration in the Hawaiian boards of the 1970s. MR still counts Ben Aipa and Dick Brewer among his influences. MR has written some greatposts on the subject, and he continues to produce his version of an Aipa sting today! And if you prefer the reverse commute, Von Weirdos has a Hot Buttered surfboard shaped by Owl Chapman.
Today’s post, however, covers another Terry Fitzgerald board: a rare example of a Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt collaboration. The story behind the board comes courtesy of Gavin Scott, an Australian collector with a special interest in what he calls the “Aussie / Hawaiian cross-pollination.” During the early 1970s, Lightning Bolt founders Gerry Lopez and Jack Shipley invited Fitzgerald to do some shaping for the brand while he was spending the winter on the North Shore. Fitzgerald already had Hot Buttered up and running, but the way Fitz tells it, he took on the gig shaping for Lightning Bolt for some money on the side and to refine his designs. The board below is one of but four boards Fitzgerald shaped for his initial run at the Lightning Bolt shop.
The Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt board is filled with all kinds of beautiful details. I’m particularly drawn to the precise double-winged pintail and the striking white pin line on the bottom of the board:
The Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt board also has some interesting laminates. On the deck you can see the famous Bolt laminate. The bottom, though, has a Lightning Bolt logo that I have personally never seen before. The board’s owner tells me that the text Lightning Bolt logo along the stringer is something that Roy Stamm did with many of the boards he glassed.
After purchasing the board, Gavin was able to get a certificate of authenticity from Terry Fitzgerald that details the board’s history. I have included a photo below:
As you can see in the certificate of authenticity, the board was shaped in Hawaii in 1973. I love how TF goes through the various influences that informed the board’s final design, including a nod to Barry Kanaiaupuni’s radical stylings at Sunset Beach. The board truly is a product of Hawaiian and Australian influences, spanning Fitzgerald’s experiences from Narrabeen to Sunset. I love how comprehensive the certificate is, going as far as to credit Roy Stamm with the lovely glass job.
Randy Rarick also played a part in this board making its way back to Australia. Rarick was kind enough to share some back story on the board. Apparently Rarick found the Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt on the West Side of Oahu and then turned it over to a friend. Eventually the board made its way to Gavin Scott, its current owner. Scott was responsible for getting the certificate of authenticity and the back story from Terry Fitzgerald. Many thanks to Gavin for making this post possible! You can also check out Gavin’s activity on the Vintage Surfboard Collectors Group on Facebook, where he is kind enough to share more of his incredible collection.