Lightning Strikes: Vintage Lightning Bolt Surfboards Auction

Greetings, Shredderz! Today we’re going to cover the recently concluded Lightning Strikes auction. Put on by the folks at California Gold, Lightning Strikes focused specifically on Seventies Lightning Bolt Surfboards single fins.

I was curious about the auction for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Lightning Bolt is still likely the most famous surfboard label ever. The brand’s enduring popularity is remarkable. This isn’t exactly an original point of view, but Lightning Bolt is classic for all the right reasons. The brand boasts an iconic logo, an incredible roster of shapers and an equally talented team representing some of the most famous folks in surf history.

Secondly, I was also curious to see what kind of prices these Lightning Bolt surfboards would fetch. This is particularly true given that California Gold was experimenting with a new auction format for the first time, with a lineup exclusively made up of Lightning Bolt sticks, versus the usual, varied selection.

A lot of the boards ended up selling for less than the expected prices listed alongside each piece. I’m not sure why that’s the case. I think pricing surfboards is difficult, period. There is an incredible amount of variance between individual boards along numerous attributes: color, condition, dimensions, etc. Add to that fact that boards are somewhat illiquid — how many Bolts are publicly sold every year? — and you have a recipe for inconsistent pricing.

That said, while it’s interesting to talk prices, that’s not why we’re all here. At the end of the day the Lighting Strikes auction had a really nice collection of Seventies Bolts, covering a number of notable shapers. Below you can find some of my favorites. These aren’t necessarily the most well-known or most collectible boards, but the ones I thought were cool.

1978 7’6″ Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt Pintail Pipeliner – $20,000. (Est $8K – $10K)

Well, this one blew it out of the water! This wasn’t my favorite board, per se, but covering the auction without mentioning the sole Lopez in the lot would be like writing about the Chicago Bulls in the Nineties without mentioning the words “Michael Jordan.” What I really love about the listing is that they show the condition of the board before and after. You can also check out the super clear signature on the board, too. My general rule of thumb — which I do not claim is infallible — is that it’s a really Gerry hand shape when he signs his name on the stringer in call caps, just like the photo above. (Here’s another blog post on the topic.)

1975 8’2″ Hakman Parrish Single Fin – $4,200 (Est $6K – $8K)

This Tom Parrish-crafted missile was one of the two unrestored boards in the entire auction. The other was an original, gorgeous “California Bolt” shaped under license at the Hobie factory, by either Terry Martin or Mickey Munoz. I really don’t mind an older board that shows some of its age. The Hakman Parrish logo with the two palm trees is a favorite, and the details on this board are so killer, whether it’s the gorgeous original fin or the nice triple stringer setup. Apparently it’s unclear if the black resin pin lines were added after the fact, but count me among those who aren’t bothered at all by this.

1975 7’8″ Lightning Bolt Mike Diffenderfer Wing Pintail – $3,700 ($5K – $8K Est)

I’ve had a long fascination with Mike Diffenderfer‘s shapes. As is the case with the Gerry Lopez board above, you can see the before and after photos of the board’s restoration process. This is true of a number of boards listed for sale at the auction site, and I definitely recommend checking it out. Anyway, in my humble opinion there are few surfboard designs as beautiful and pure as the winged pintail single fin, and this Diffenderfer delivers in that regard.

Photo at the top of the page by John Durant

Moroccan Madness via Lightning Bolt and Rory Russell: Sagas of Shred

Alright, Shredderz, I don’t exactly get paid by the word here, so I’m going to make it snappy. As part of the Sagas of Shred series I post a different vintage surf ad every Thursday evening. One of the Sagas mainstays are Lightning Bolt ads from the Eighties, which were featured on the back cover of Surfer Magazine. Pictured here is the Lightning Bolt ad on the back cover of the February 1983 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 24, No 2). As you can see, the ad covers Rory Russell‘s travels throughout Morocco. It’s interesting to note that as of late 1982, by the time Simon Anderson had invented the thruster, Russell was still sticking to single fins. I love how each and every ad is a short, self-contained story. One of these days I’ll try and put up a monster post featuring all of the Lightning Bolt back cover ads, but in the meantime, this one should be enough to tide you over. And if you know where I can snag one of those amazing Team Bolt beach towels, definitely hit me up!

Social Media Roundup: Autumn Advancing

Greetings, Shredderz! By now you may know the drill: keep scrolling for some of my favorite surf and vintage surfboard-related Instagram posts in recent memory.

Can you believe the venerable Channel Islands brand has been around for fifty years?! It’s a bit hard to digest. Hint hint, there might be some cool Al Merrick boards coming up on the blog soon, so stay tuned for that.

How cool is David Nuuhiwa?! Definitely way cooler than me, and probably cooler than you, too (no offense). I’ve seen lots of pics of Nuuhiwa in some truly out there get ups, and I really dig this relatively conservative look in contrast. I wish I knew more about all of Nuuhiwa’s work with different surfboard labels, which the caption briefly covers.

Bob Hurley shaped for Lightning Bolt…who knew?! This thing is gorgeous, though. 1979 single fin with an incredible color combo and Bolt logo on the deck.

Donald Takayama was a member of the storied Jacobs Surfboards surf team before he made a name for himself as a shaper. I’m mostly used to seeing pictures of Takayama from when he was older, but it’s a blast to see some photos of him from his younger days.

Dave Rastovich with an Andreini edge board! Marc Andreini is one of my favorite shapers (in fact, I have a 9′ Serena sitting next to me as I type this entry), and Rasta likely needs no introduction. There’s a great Surfer’s Journal article on some George Greenough edge boards that Rastovich surfed at Cloudbreak. Stoked to see Andreini and Rastovich continuing to explore Greenough’s designs together.

Photo at the top of the page is David Nuuhiwa. Photographer unknown; source is David Nuuhiwa Surfboards page on Facebook.

Randy Rarick: North Shore Icon

Greetings, Shredderz! A few months ago I had the good fortune to visit Oahu. Even if you have so much as a passing interest in surfing, Hawaii, and the North Shore in particular, is Mecca. Every winter the storied seven mile stretch of coastline becomes the center of the sport, hosting countless pilgrimages from around the world. Even for someone like me, whose surfing ability is best described as limited, a visit to Oahu’s proving grounds is practically required. During my time in Hawaii I had the good fortune of spending part of an afternoon with North Shore fixture Randy Rarick. Rarick, who still rips Sunset Beach, owns one of the most varied and fascinating surfing resumes on the planet: a surfer, first and foremost; a shaper, with stints at both Surf Line Hawaii and Lightning Bolt; an event organizer, who served as the longtime contest director for the Triple Crown of Surfing; and perhaps the authority on vintage surfboards.

Rarick and his home break of Sunset Beach on Oahu’s North Shore, just steps from his house and shaping room.

Rarick is known for glass-off restorations of vintage boards. The process involves completely stripping off the fiberglass from a board and then re-glassing the shape. It is a long and laborious process that transforms beaters destined for the trash heap into showroom-worthy collectors’ items. If you have ever looked at recent high-end surfboard auctions, you have no doubt seen Rarick’s work. It’s also worth noting that Rarick pioneered the collector-focused surfboard auctions, although he has since passed the baton.

There are a range of opinions on the practice of full glass-off restorations — surfers are nothing if not opinionated — and at one extreme, the most vocal critics claim this can compromise the integrity of the board itself. Rarick has shared extensive thoughts on the subject, and for more on his perspective, I highly recommend this Surfer’s Journal profile. Many folks far more knowledgeable than me have weighed in on the subject, and while I personally love (and prefer) the slight imperfections of older boards, I simultaneously have a deep respect for the craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into a full glass-off restoration.

Rarick’s shaping room has probably seen more classic surfboards than any other place on earth. As you can see in the photo below, Rarick preserves laminates from boards he has restored. Each one of the laminates pinned to the walls represents a board that Rarick worked on.

Yes, that is eleven different Phil Edwards Honolulu laminates you see.

I love the practice of preserving the original laminates from these boards. If nothing else, it’s a great way to document the sheer number of notable surfboards that have passed through Rarick’s shaping room. When I picked up my jaw off the floor and told Rarick I couldn’t believe how many rare shapes he had restored, he casually mentioned that there had been even more laminates hanging up until someone had come through and purchased a bunch.

Rarick’s shaping room is small, and it’s hard to imagine a space with more surf history per square inch. And while there are plenty of reminders of all the boards Rarick has worked on in the past, I was just as interested in the projects that were currently under way. In the photo below you can see a unique wooden blank (second from top). The blank is actually crafted from wiliwili, also known as Hawaiian balsa, as part of a project with Tom Parrish, another renowned Hawaiian shaper and Lightning Bolt alumnus.

Parrish posted a different wiliwili board on his Instagram, which I have embedded below.

During my visit Rarick was in the midst of restoring an Inter-Island Surf Shop Hydro Gun shaped by John Kelly. The board would later appear at the California Gold Vintage Surf Auction.

Inter-Island Surf Shop John Kelly Hydro Gun, stripped down to the foam

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Kelly’s Hydro Gun is the insane Scorpion tail, which you can see below.

Close up of the scorpion tail on the John Kelly Hydro Gun

It was really cool to see the board as a bare blank, midway through the restoration process. I don’t have any photos of what the Hydro Gun looked like before the restoration, but the auction listing has some great shots of the finished product.

Rarick was incredibly generous with both his time as well as the vast amounts of knowledge he has accumulated over the decades. Speaking with Rarick was also a reminder of the importance of learning surf history by meeting the people who helped make it. There are times when I chafe at surfing’s fondness for oral tradition, mostly because it can make research so difficult. And while I am a proud advocate of putting as much surf history online as possible, my time with Rarick underscored the fact that it’s so much more informative and rewarding to speak to people in person, especially when those conversations take place steps from storied Sunset Beach. Thanks again to Randy Rarick for sharing his time and making this modest blog post possible.

Photo at the top of the page by Lance Trout; Randy Rarick, Sunset Beach, 1978.

[UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Barry Kanaiaupuni as Reno Abellira. The caption has been updated. Sorry for the mistake and thanks to everyone who helpfully pointed it out.)

Lightning Bolt Board Meeting: Sagas of Shred

Here’s a great vintage Lightning Bolt ad from 1980 that originally appeared in Surfer Magazine. I love the corporate goals laid out in the ad (“Surf your brains out! Get tubed!”). Thanks for reading and check back in next Thursday evening for more vintage surf ads.

Lightning Bolt at the Bu: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sagas of Shred, it is a series on the blog in which I feature a scan of a different vintage surf ad every Thursday night. If, like me, you live in California, this time of year means it’s time for south swells. And of all the spots in the world that light up during a proper south swell, I don’t think there are any more famous than Malibu. This ad is an old Lightning Bolt ad that originally ran in Surfer Magazine in the early Eighties (February 1982, Vol 23 No 2, to be exact.) During this time Lightning Bolt ads commonly graced the back cover of Surfer Magazine, and there are some real gems from their run. This Lightning Bolt ad features Mark Richards, Margo Oberg (the subject of a recent Sagas of Shred entry), and I believe Buzzy Kerbox. Instead of going the standard graphic design route, the ad itself has been spray painted on the infamous wall at Malibu. I’m not sure why they went with the “Boo” spelling over “Bu”, but I’m not a local there. The only thing I know for a fact about LA’s most famous right hand point break is you should never, ever drop in on Allen Sarlo AKA Wave Killer.

Mahalo for reading and we’ll be back next Thursday with more Sagas of Shred!

Hawaiian Single Fins: Quivers of Distinction

Greetings, Shredderz! Today we have something short but very, very sweet. We have a new series here on the blog titled Quivers of Distinction. As the title suggests, this series will highlight notable quivers. (Friendly reminder to get in touch if you’ve got some boards you’d like to share!)

This lineup of Hawaiian single fins belongs to an anonymous collector in Southern California. As you can see in the photo above, he’s got impeccable taste in boards. From left to right (based on the top picture; order is reversed in the shot showing the bottom of boards)

  • 4’10” Hawaiian Island Creations channel bottom single fin, shaped by Cino Magallanes;
  • 5’9″ Lightning Bolt single fin shaped by Tom Eberly;
  • 6’4″ Local Motion swallow tail, Kailua laminate, shaper unknown (unclear if the Buttons logo sticker was added afterwards)
  • 5’9″ Local Motion (yellow board), Kaiula laminate, Dane Kealoha-inspired airbrush, shaper also unknown
  • 5’8″ T&C Surf single fin shaped by Glenn Minami

Needless to say, this is a really killer lineup of boards, brought to you by some of the finest Hawaiian craftsmen in recent history. I’m a little blown away by the 4’10” HIC / Cino single fin. Part of me wonders if this wasn’t originally created as a kneeboard. Either way I have never seen anything like it. The two Local Motion boards and the T&C / Minami single fin are incredible, too. I can’t decide between those three as my favorite. And of course, it goes without saying that any Tom Eberly Lightning Bolt board is worth any surfboard enthusiast’s time, too! Overall, this is an insanely deep lineup of vintage sticks. I love that the owner has taken the time to see that all of these single fins have been outfitted with era appropriate fins, too.

Mahalo to the owner for the rad pics! Hopefully we’ll have some more killer quiver shots in the near future as well.

The Boardroom Show / California Gold Surf Auction 2019

Greetings, Shredderz! It’s that time of year again: the Boardroom Show is almost upon us. For those of you unfamiliar, the Boardroom Show is an annual event that showcases the surfboard manufacturing industry. Sadly, I won’t be in attendance this year, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the proceedings.

While there’s a ton of great stuff about the show — for starters, Wayne Lynch will be making an appearance — in this blog post I’ll simply cover my favorite boards from the accompanying California Gold Surf Auction. The auction closes in less than three days, so hop on it if you’re eyeing any of the pristine sleds that are up for grabs.

It’s interesting to note how the selection of boards has changed over time. In my write up of last year’s auction I noted the increasing popularity of Eighties neon / Echo Beach influenced designs. I think this year’s California Gold Surf Auction represents a bit of a return to the classics. There are a ton of Sixties longboards, some cool Transition Era shapes, and a host of cool Seventies single fins, and some newer stuff, too.

You can learn more about the Boardroom Show here, and see here for a full list of the boards listed at auction. All photos in this post are via the Boardroom Show’s website. Keep reading below for a brief summary of my personal favorites from the 2019 California Gold Surf Auction:

Terry Fitzgerald Hot Buttered Winged Pin (Link)

If you forced me to choose a favorite board from the auction, I think this would be it. I think Fitz’s boards are still a bit underrated here in the States, and this one has it all. How about that rainbow stringer? The airbrush on the bottom is killer, and the unmistakable, sleek Seventies outline is gorgeous. You can read my post on an unusual Fitz-shaped Lightning Bolt here.

Rick Rasmussen Seventies Single Fin (Link)

As a native New Yorker, I will always think of Rick Rasmussen as the gold standard for Empire State surfing. (Apologies to Balaram Stack, who is another favorite.) Here’s an absolutely stunning Rick Rasmussen single fin that’s listed for sale. The board pictured above is in much better condition than a previous Rasmussen surfboard I wrote up earlier this year. Click the photos to enlarge and get a shot of the black pin line on the deck.

Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight Fabric Inlay (Link)

The Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight is special enough on its own, but this example has the rare and gorgeous floral fabric inlay. I love the color of fabric pattern, especially in contrast with the fin. I have nothing against boards that have been fully restored, but I prefer them all original, imperfections and all. If anything, I dig the natural look of the slight discoloration on the deck.

Tom Parrish Lightning Bolt (Link)

Here’s another gorgeous Hawaiian heat seeking missile. Lightning Bolt is a classic for a reason. The board is all original, and for my money, I think it’s one of the prettiest sticks in the entire auction lineup. Check out that subtle double pin line, and the creamsicle colorway — complete with matching glass on fin — won’t ever go out of style. Parrish, of course, is a legendary shaper and one of the Lightning Bolt OGs. He’s still making boards today, so hit him up!

Miscellaneous / Final Thoughts

In no particular order, here are some other boards that I thought were really rad:

I realize some of my picks are a little unorthodox, but I like what I like, and that tends to skew more towards the Seventies and Eighties. No matter what, though, if you’re interested in surfboards, you can’t go wrong by giving the auction lots a closer look. Check out the California Gold Surf Auction site here and if you’re in San Diego, the Boardroom Show is well worth your time.

The Lady is A Champ: Margo Oberg for Lightning Bolt

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest installment of Sagas of Shred, the series that brings new vintage surf ads every single Thursday. Here we have an old Lightning Bolt ad featuring none other than Margo Oberg. Oberg’s entire Encyclopedia of Surfing entry is well worth the read. Not only was she a trailblazer on the women’s pro surfing scene, Oberg also won her first world title at the age of fifteen! Anyway, check out the article. The ad you see above ran in the June 1982 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol 23, No 6). Oberg was not yet thirty when this ad ran, and yet she was already a surf fixture.

Thanks for reading and we hope to see you next week for more Sagas of Shred!

Lightning Bolt Rory Russell Ad: Sagas of Shred

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!