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.

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!

Weekend Grab Bag: Single Fins Galore

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.

G&S Swallowtail Single Fin (Craigslist Los Angeles)

G&S Swallowtail Single Fin 3

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.

Surf Line Hawaii Ryan Dotson Single Fin (Craigslist Orange County)

Surf Line Hawaii Ryan Dotson Single Fin .jpg

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.

Mystery Lightning Bolt (Craigslist Orange County)

Lightning Bolt Single Fin.jpg

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.

Mystery Seventies Lightning Bolt Single Fin

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.

Seventies Lightning Bolt Single Fin Roy Stamm 4

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!

 

Eighties Japanese Lightning Bolt Ad: Sagas of Shred

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.