Surf Line Hawaii: Shred Sledz Deep Dive

Greetings, Shredderz, and welcome to the latest Shred Sledz Deep Dive! Today’s Deep Dive features a venerable Hawaiian surf brand that has long deserved a closer look: Surf Line Hawaii. Before I get into the history, though, let’s skip right to the good stuff: pictures of awesome surfboards.

First up is a single fin shaped by none other than respected Hawaiian shaper Dennis Pang. Pang got his start at Surf Line Hawaii in 1976, before moving on to some of the most recognizable Hawaiian brands, like Lightning Bolt, Town & Country, and Local Motion. The board below was originally listed on eBay (pics originally found on the eBay post).

This thing is clean and mean. I love the black & white color scheme and the pinlines, with just a touch of color on the logos on both rails. I was a bit stunned when the board didn’t sell for $450, considering that another Surf Line board by Dennis Pang sold for $1800 ten years ago!

Surf Line Hawaii History

Surf Line Hawaii began as a surf shop on Oahu. It was founded by Dave Rochlen, and I believe Fred Swartz as well. By the time the shortboard revolution started in earnest, the shop began to put out boards under its own label.

I was blown away when I saw all the well-regarded shapers who passed through Surf Line over the years. According to Stoked-n-Board, Ben Aipa, Randy Rarick, Tom Parrish and Michel Junod, in addition to the aforementioned Dennis Pang, all shaped for Surf Line at some point!

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Aipa for Surf Line Hawaii. Board was made for Tony Moniz in 1981. Tony is a former pro and father to Josh and Seth, two up-and-coming Hawaiian pros in their own right. Pic taken from Boardcollector.com

However, I was even more shocked when I found out that Lightning Bolt’s famed core group — Gerry Lopez, Reno Abellira and Barry Kanaiaupuni — were all early Surf Line shapers. Lopez actually spent some time working in Surf Line’s offices on the business side.

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Gerry Lopez working at his “first real job” in the Surf Line Hawaii offices on Oahu, 1972. Picture via Gerry’s personal website.

Here is a great Surfer Magazine interview with Tom Parrish that expands on how a bunch of Surf Line employees broke away to found Lightning Bolt. Bolt was founded by Lopez and Jack Shipley, the latter being Surf Line’s top salesman at the time. Shortly thereafter, Reno, Barry and co followed Lopez and Shipley out the door. It’s really saying something when it’s hard to find space to mention Dick Brewer‘s involvement with Surf Line, as well!

Surf Line Hawaii Surfboards

The board pictured below was shaped by Barry Kanaiaupuni. It was sold at the Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction in 2007, where it went for a mere $1,000 (anyone have a time machine handy?) Pics were taken from the auction site (original link here). I love everything about this board: the listing calls the bottom a “root beer” color, the purple fin pops, and I love the logo, with its clean lines and two-tone color job.

After Lopez left to found Lightning Bolt, Buddy Dumphy took the lead on shaping boards at Surf Line. Lopez writes about Dumphy in his memoir “Surf Is Where You Find It”. Patagonia’s website has a great excerpt from Lopez’s memoir, “Surf is Where You Find It”, where Lopez describes his early friendship with Dumphy and their early experiences riding new surfboard designs.

I’m fascinated by Dumphy’s boards. While they seem to be coveted by a segment of collectors, Dumphy shapes don’t seem to generate the same excitement as those from shapers like Barry K, Reno, and of course Gerry himself. Still, Lopez’s respect for Dumphy speaks volumes about his abilities as a shaper. Sadly, Dumphy passed away as the result of a car accident sometime in the 1990s.

The single coolest Dumphy board I was able to find online was posted by HolySmoke.jp. I have no clue if the board is for sale but that airbrush is absolutely killer!

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The 70s were a great decade for surfboard airbrushes…

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Here’s another Dumphy single fin, which was also sold at the Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction in 2007. I love the plumeria logo on the deck. It looks like this thing was shaped in the 70s for some serious North Shore surf. Pics taken from the original auction listing.

 

I was able to find a few Dumphy boards currently for sale online. There’s one currently for sale at New Jersey’s Brighton Beach Surf Shop, and it’s only listed at $450. Link to the board can be found here. I think it’s underpriced, considering the history of both the brand and Dumphy, but then again, the Pang board at the top of the page failed to clear the same $450 mark.

Surfboardhoard.com has a different Dumphy Surf Line Hawaii single fin for sale, but they don’t list the price. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s north of $450. You can find that board here.

Surf Line Hawaii has such a rich history and a deep stable of shapers, it makes it hard to spotlight just a few boards! Standard Store / UsedSurf.jp are selling two other 70s single fins. Note that because the boards are in Japan, the prices are much higher. But they illustrate the wide variety of cool logos that Surf Line employed throughout the years. Boards can be found here and here (pictures below taken from Usedsurf.jp). The boards are credited to Steve Wilson / Welson (guessing the difference is a translation issue), but I couldn’t find any evidence of a shaper by that name. If anyone has some details, let me know!

 

Finally, no Surf Line Hawaii post would be complete without a mention of Randy Rarick. In addition to organizing the Triple Crown of Surfing, putting on auctions like the aforementioned Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction, Rarick restores old surfboards. There is currently a Surf Line Hawaii board for sale on eBay that Rarick restored. The board is not a Rarick shape, but rather, it was made in 1971 by Ryan Dotson. You can find a link to the board here, and I have included some pictures below as well. (Pictures are from the eBay listing.)

Surf Line Hawaii: Odds and Ends

Believe it or not, I haven’t even covered all of the Surf Line Hawaii shapers, like Rick Irons and Sparky Scheufele! If nothing else, that speaks to the incredibly deep collection of shapers that passed through the brand over the years. Sadly, Surf Line Hawaii no longer seems to be in business. It seems as if they stopped producing surfboards long ago (I would guess sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, but that is just a guess), and a Yelp listing indicates that Surf Line’s Honolulu retail location has closed, too.

Nonetheless, Surf Line Hawaii played a prominent role in the Hawaiian surf scene, and remains one of the most impressive collections of shaping talent ever.

I hope you enjoyed this Deep Dive! If you have any pictures of any Surf Line boards you would like to share, or any comments at all, please reach out via the Contact section. Thank you for reading, and may your stoke levels remain high and rising!

Featured Image at top from @aipasurf on Instagram. Original link to photo here.

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (May 8)

Greetings, Shredderz! Hope your stoke levels are high and rising. Here’s a smattering of rad surfboards I’ve seen pop up on social media over the past week or so.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that you can’t go wrong posting pictures of vintage Lightning Bolt boards. And sure, the thing has a bit of water damage, but I much prefer old boards with some character than a lot of the full-blown restoration jobs that prioritize aesthetics over preservation. But I digress. No matter where your preferences might lie, Gerry Lopez was and will always be the man.

 

Another proven fact: there is no such thing as too much neon. This here is a selection of some primo Echo Beach vehicles, courtesy Lance Collins of Wave Tools, and Peter Schroff of Schroff Surfboards. Love the Team lams on the Wave Tools boards to the right.

Click “Continue Reading” below for some more selections…

Continue reading “Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (May 8)”

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (April 30)

Greetings, Shredderz! Hope you are all having fantastic weekends. Without any further ado, here’s a selection of social media posts that have recently caught my eye.

Christian Fletcher’s signature model is the coolest. Raddest. Most-shredding-est. Choose whatever superlative you prefer; I just can’t get enough of these things.

Hit the “Continue Reading” link below for some more vintage surfboard goodness…

Continue reading “Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (April 30)”

Mr Pipeline: Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt

Happy Monday to all you faithful Shredderz out there! I hope this week brings you a non-stop procession of tasty waves and interesting surf craft. I figure there is no better way to start the week than with the holy matrimony of Lightning Bolt Surfboards and Hawaiian legend Gerry Lopez. The Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt is perhaps the most famous vintage surfboard of all time, and for good reason. If the name Gerry Lopez rings a bell, it’s because you may recognize him from his role as Schwarzenegger’s sidekick Subotai in “Conan the Barbarian.”

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Gerry Lopez has one of the all-time greatest appearances by a pro surfer on film, guest starring as Subotai in “Conan the Barbarian.” Lopez is the mayor emeritus of Pipeline; his co-star in the film would go on to a decent political career himself.

Actually, that’s nobody’s first impression of Mr. Lopez, but it is an irresistible piece of surfing trivia. All jokes aside, surfing legends don’t get any larger than Gerry. For goodness sake, the dude’s nickname is Gerry “Mr. Pipeline” Lopez! Given his impeccable style, it’s a miracle they haven’t re-named the spot after Gerry himself:

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Gerry Lopez, styling at Pipe. It doesn’t get any better than this! Check out the Lightning Bolt board beneath his feet. Photo by Jeff Divine.
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Lopez at Pipeline in 1975. Photographer unknown; pic via Lightning Bolt
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Lopez (left) at the Hang Ten American Pro at Sunset Beach in 1974. Photo by Jeff Divine; pic via Encyclopedia of Surfing 

First, some background on the man and the marque. Lopez, along with business partner Jack Shipley, founded Lightning Bolt in 1970. (For more extensive background, see the Encyclopedia of Surfing’s entry on Lightning Bolt.) Lighting Bolt started with an unorthodox business model that was more akin to a collective than a real brand. According to the EoS, Bolt initially did not have a centralized factory where all of the production took place, and instead a variety of shapers – including Lopez and other notables like Reno Abellira, Tom Parrish, Tom Eberly, and Barry Kanaiaupuni – shaped at home and then brought their wares into the Lightning Bolt store, where the boards were sold to the public.

Lightning Bolt was ubiquitous during the 1970s, and even today it remains at the forefront of surfing’s consciousness. Unfortunately, Lightning Bolt’s history can also be read as a cautionary tale about the perils of poor brand management. Other brands and shapers shamelessly borrowed the distinctive logo, slapping it on boards that had nothing to do with Lightning Bolt.

Even “official” Lightning Bolt surfboards have a mixed history. Take, for example, the green and yellow board pictured above. The board was originally posted for sale on Craigslist in Los Angeles, where it was advertised as a Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt surfboard. And as you can see in the second picture, there’s a clear “Gerry Lopez” laminate bearing the man’s name himself. So far so good, right?

Unfortunately, the board at the top of this post was unlikely to have been shaped by Gerry himself.

According to Randy Rarick, boards that bear the “Gerry Lopez” laminate – not to be confused with a signature – are “California Bolts” that were licensed to a variety of different businessmen around the world, including a factory in the San Diego area. Two shapers involved in the production of the California Bolts were Terry Martin and Mickey Munoz. For more context on California Bolts and the licensing of the Bolt name there is some good info on Boardcollector.com. Martin and Munoz are extremely well-respected, and for good reason; but there is a big difference between a Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt and all the rest.

So, what does a genuine Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt look like, then?

Here’s an example of a 1970s Lopez board that was sold at the recent California Vintage Surf Auction. Note: this board has been restored. But it does contain a clear Lopez signature on the stringer, which at the very least is meant to refer to how these original Lopez boards would have looked:

Image via Surfer Magazine Forums

Surfboardline.com has an incredible selection of Lightning Bolt boards, where you can compare boards that have the Lopez laminate, like the green and yellow board above, versus boards where you can clearly see Lopez’s hand drawn signature beneath the glass. For an example of the latter, see the picture below:

Pic via Surfboardline.com

In summary, Lopez seemed to sign many of the boards he hand-shaped. And those that he did sign, he did under the glass, in all capital letters along the stringer. Lightning Bolt surfboards will always be collectible, and rightfully so, but there’s value in exploring the distinction between a board shaped by Gerry Lopez himself, and one that he assisted in designing.

The board at the top of this post has already been taken down (asking price was $650, for those who care about price points). Even though it’s not a “Lopez” board in the strictest sense, it’s still a wonderful piece of surfing history.

Lightning Bolt: Rory Russell

Obligatory Lightning Bolt post alert!

It’s a rule, really: if I come across any decent-looking Lightning Bolts of non-sketchy provenance, onto Shred Sledz they go. I have my own quibbles with the iconic label, starting with the insane prices ($1,000 for this board), the murky pedigree of many boards (and the numerous ripoffs you see floating around), and so on. But there isn’t a more recognizable surfboard brand out there, and in my quest to delight you all, my dear readers, I will continue to sling the goods.

This board, via Craigslist in Deerfield Beach, Florida, is a Rory Russell model twin fin. It’s got some sweet channels with airbrush, which you can see in the last pic. The owner claims it’s all original save for some ding repair, and while the board definitely doesn’t look like it has been abused too badly, it blessedly lacks the obvious sheen and plastic surgery look of full-on resto boards that I can’t get down with. I can go on about how old surfboards ought to look old, when we get these restorations that seem to be about fantasy fulfillment more than anything else, but I know Shred Sledz’s devoted readers are here for bitchin’ boards, and not some bellyaching. Anyway, this Lightning Bolt measures in at a nice compact 5′9″, and while it’ll cost you plenty, it never costs anything to look.

Check it out here.