Greetings, Shredderz! As the holiday weekend fades into the rearview, here’s a hit of vintage surfboard goodness to help ease the transition back into the real world. The focus of today’s post is a bit of Santa Cruz surf history: a vintage Chuck Vinson Surfboards single fin, reportedly shaped in 1973. One of the things that makes writing this blog enjoyable — besides the fame and the money, of course — is the opportunity to shine a light on underground shapers; board builders whose influence outstrips their visibility. Chuck Vinson certainly fits the bill. A Google search for Vinson’s boards doesn’t yield much, save for a testimonial from Shred Sledz favorite Marc Andreini, via the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center. In the post, Andreini gives some great context on the time Vinson spent shaping for Lightning Bolt during the brand’s heyday in the 1970s. The SHACC link also has a great picture of a Vinson-shaped Bolt.
The board pictured here is a 7’3″ Chuck Vinson Surfboards single fin, and it is for sale on Craigslist in Santa Cruz, California. You can find the board here. Don’t be fooled by the typo in the listing — this is most certainly a Vinson-shaped board. The Vinson board was also listed for sale a little while back on the Vintage Surfboard Collectors Facebook group. Pics below are via the Craigslist posting.
The listing claims that the pin lines on the board were done by Laura Noe. I can only assume this is the wife of Rick Noe, another old-school Santa Cruz legend. Rick’s son Buck continues to shape boards for the Noe Surfboards brand today. On an earlier Instagram post, Buck mentioned how his Mom had designed the initial Steamer Lane Surfboards logo.
Sadly, Chuck Vinson passed away earlier this year. Just this past weekend Chuck was honored with a paddle out in Santa Cruz. RIP Mr Vinson, and thank you for your wonderful surfboards.
An overview and history of Creative Freedom and John Bradbury’s surfboards
Shred Sledz may have a silly name, but we’d like to think we’re (somewhat) serious about making an effort to help preserve surf culture. Then again, the blog’s name does have an ironic ‘z’ in it, so who can be sure? One thing is certain, though: Shred Sledz has a keen interest in examining lesser-known chapters of California’s rich surfing history, and in particular, the craftsmen who have helped make it all possible. One such underground shaper is Creative Freedom’s John Bradbury. Bradbury might not be a household name, partly due to his untimely passing in 1999. Nonetheless, Bradbury is still respected by some of the most famous board builders in the world. Among others, shapers like Al Merrick, Renny Yater, Marc Andreini, Wayne Rich and Bruce Fowler have all expressed admiration for Bradbury and his designs.
Bradbury was an early proponent of EPS / epoxy surfboards. In 1985 Pottz won a World Tour contest on a Bradbury design. The success of this collaboration led to Bradbury supplying boards to other top pros Cheyne Horan and Brad Gerlach.
More than three decades later, as companies like Firewire continue to incorporate alternate materials into their designs, Bradbury’s approach looks downright prescient.
While Bradbury is rightfully known for his early forays into epoxy surfboards, this post will focus on the boards he made during the earlier parts of his career. The pictures of the boards in the post below came from a Shred Sledz reader who has been quietly collecting Bradbury’s designs over the years. (Side note: If you have any interesting boards or stories you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to reach out!)
Creative Freedom John Bradbury Board #1: “Double Logo” 7’10” x 19-1/8″ x 3″ Single Fin (Date Unknown)
It’s unclear when this board was shaped. My guess is sometime during the 70s. The fin box looks like a Bahne Fins Unlimited box, which I believe were not popularized until the late 1960s. In addition, the outline looks similar to many of the single fin guns and mini-guns being made during this era. This logo was created by Michael Drury, who also did the updated version (see below).
Creative Freedom John Bradbury Board #2: “Compass Logo” 7’6″ x 20-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ Single Fin (Approx. 1969)
Stoked-n-Board continues to be one of the finest online resources on vintage surfboards. Predictably, S-n-B’s entry on Creative Freedom / John Bradbury is worth a read. However, after discussing the boards in this post with their owner, I’m not sure that the dates corresponding to the logos in S-n-B’s entry are correct. See below for an example of a Creative Freedom surfboard with a “compass logo”. Despite what is listed on Stoked-n-Board, the compass logo was actually the first logo ever designed for Creative Freedom. The board below is also numbered #199, which pegs it as a pretty early shape.
See below for more pictures of the board in question. Note the prominent S-Deck with the domed tail.
The tail in particular is pretty funky looking, as you can see in the pictures:
And here’s a side shot, which gives you a clear idea of the S-Deck and the rocker.
Fountain of Youth Surfboards shaper Bruce Fowler graciously took some time to read this blog post and offer some additional information on the board above. There is no tail rocker present in the Compass Logo board, which was likely shaped in 1969. According to Fowler, the more modern designs of shapers like Dick Brewer, Mike Diffenderfer, and Mike Hynson forced the Santa Barbara crew to adapt. Brewer, Diff, and Hynson’s boards featured beak noses, full down rails, and natural rocker in the tail. These advancements were later incorporated into Bradbury, Yater, et al’s designs.
There’s one other data point that supports the 1969 date for the compass logo board, and it comes from Kirk Putnam. Putnam posted a picture of a very similar looking compass logo Creative Freedom board, which Putnam dates to 1969 as well:
Creative Freedom John Bradbury Board #3: 1970s Single Fin 6’8″ x 19-1/8″ x 3-1/4″
At some point Bradbury tweaked his logo to include two surfers on the wave (maybe as a more accurate depiction of the crowds at Rincon?) The same collector owns a single fin sporting the two surfers logo.
I believe the logo with the two surfers is more recent than both the single surfer logo, as well as the nautical logo. The board bears many of the hallmarks of a traditional 1970s single fin. It has a beaked nose, a removable fin box, and beefy rails (3-1/4″!).
The 70s single fin also has a Bradbury signature on the board, addressed to Lewis. You can barely make out the “J. Bradbury” below.
At some point, Bradbury appears to have ditched the Creative Freedom brand altogether. Stoked-n-Board estimates the switch happened in the 1980s, and Bradbury continued to use the new logo until his passing in 1999. Here is an example of the modern Bradbury logo, taken from a board that was listed for sale on Craigslist a few months ago:
Bradbury was also recognized by the Boardroom Show’s “Icons of Foam” series back in 2009. Marc Andreini turned in the winning tribute board. I believe Andreini’s tribute board is a thruster, but I’m not certain. I took this photo myself at the Boardroom Show in Santa Cruz last fall.
Creative Freedom John Bradbury shapes continue to have a cult following, particularly in and around Bradbury’s hometown of Santa Barbara. While Bradbury’s career as a shaper might have been cut short by his untimely passing, there is no doubt about the extent of his contributions to the sport of surfing.
Many thanks to Jesse McNamara for much of the information in this post!
How cool is this thing?! Yater was the subject of my most recent post, but I might like the board above even more. I can’t be for sure, but it looks to have a bit of a vee bottom. The outline of this Yater hull is very reminiscent of some Liddle and Andreini hulls (specifically, Andreini’s Vaquero model.) The fin — both its rake and its placement — reminds me of Liddle’s boards.
Hull aficionado Kirk Putnam has an excellent pic on his blog that traces the lineage of Andreini and Liddle’s shapes back to George Greenough. I’ve added the picture below. Liddle’s board is at top, and the next two are Andreini Vaqueros. The fourth board from the top is a Surfboards Hawaii vee bottom shaped by John Price, and the board at the bottom is a Midget Farrelly stringerless vee bottom with a Greenough logo. I had been aware of Greenough’s influence on Andreini and Liddle, but had no idea that Yater had tried out some of these shapes as well. Andreini has made no secret of his admiration of Yater, and it’s cool to see a shape that combines the Greenough school of displacement hulls, and Yater’s more traditional side of California board building. If you have pictures of another Yater hull, please drop me a line!
Lopez’s boards for Lightning Bolt are by far the most collectible, but it seems like there’s a growing interest in some of his more obscure shapes. Pictured above is an extra clean example of Lopez’s signature model that he produced for Hansen in the late 1960s. What’s interesting about that board is that it actually featured two different logos. There’s an example of a different Hansen / Lopez board that was recently sold on eBay. It has the alternate logo, which I have reproduced below.
Bird Huffman is a San Diego fixture. He runs Bird’s Surf Shed, where he oversees an ungodly stash of vintage boards. Here Bird has come across two awesome early examples of boards from two separate San Diego craftsmen: Skip Frye and Steve Lis. Make sure you click through all the pictures in the gallery above. The Frye is very similar to the Select Surf Shop single fin I posted about recently, down to the glassed on wooden fin. I love the Frye wings logo towards the tail — never seen that placement before.
The Lis board is a funky shape, given that it’s a wing pin single fin, and Lis is best known for his fish designs. Make sure you follow Bird on Instagram, as he has been posting updates on the Lis board as he gets them!
Shred Sledz might have its roots firmly in the California tradition of surf history and culture, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any love for our friends across the pond. After all, who doesn’t love Australia? The accents are charming, the waves are great, and most importantly, Australia boasts a former prime minister who has skulled a beer (chugged, for you seppos) to a standing ovation at a cricket match not once but twice. But I digress. This post is a deeper look at various Wayne Lynch surfboards, and an attempt to document the Australian legend’s shapes as they evolved over time. This is Part I in a series.
I. Transition Era, Shortboard Revolution, and the Involvement School
It is hard to overstate Lynch’s impact on the sport. Surfer Magazine lists Lynch as the #17 most influential surfer of all time. For more on Lynch, I recommend the excellent entries from the Encyclopedia of Surfing and SurfResearch.com.au. Lynch, like his contemporaries, started off with longboards that were typical of the early to mid 1960s:
Shortly after, though, Lynch would play a critical role in bringing about the Transition Era and the shortboard revolution, thanks to his radical surfing and equally revolutionary equipment. Many regard Paul Witzig‘s seminal 1969 surf film “Evolution” as Lynch’s coming out party.
Luis Real is the owner of North Shore Surf Shop on Oahu. He is also the owner an extensive collection of vintage surfboards that has been known to bring grown men to tears. He posts a lot of incredible stuff on Instagram and on the Vintage Surfboard Collectors group on Facebook. This post above is a rad picture of a rare Dick Brewer logo that features Sam Hawk and Owl Chapman as well. Note that in the top portion of the pic, Sam Hawk is on the left, Owl Chapman is in the middle, and Brewer himself is to the right.
Today’s post features some tasty Bonzer content for all you alternative surf craft fans. Check out this Shane Bonzer shaped by none other than Simon Anderson! This is a cool look at one of Anderson’s earlier experiments with a tri-fun setup before he invented the proper thruster and revolutionized surfboard designs forever. Note that the owner of the account above is none other than Duncan Campbell, brother of Malcolm and one of the co-founders of Campbell Bros.
Your last Bonzer related post of the day comes from none other than Joel Tudor. Check out the comments in the thread where Tudor and Malcolm Campbell are discussing how Joel is going to take that thing down from the rafters and have the outlined copied so he can make a repro. Check out the fin placement on the board on the right — just like the Campbell Bros recommend. Love the little “Bonzer Vehicles” logos you can see next to the side bites, not to mention the funky double concave and the super thinned out tails.
Look at this beautiful example of a Steve Lis fish! And check out those dimensions: at 5’2″ x 20 3/4″ x 2 1/2″ it’s not hard to see the kneeboarding influence. You can barely see a little logo on the bottom of the board towards the top.
Surfboards and Coffee (looks like their website isn’t quite ready for primetime yet) is a group of surfboard collectors in LA that host regular meetups to compare boards and ingest some caffeine. If I lived in that lovely City of Angels I’d like to think I’d be a regular, but alas Shred Sledz HQ isn’t moving from the Bay Area any time soon. Anyway, check them out on Instagram (and how about the spray job on that Stussy!)
Last but not least, Marc Andreini took to Facebook to explain some of the backstory behind his famous Vaquero design. The board on the right is an early predecessor of the Vaquero — then called the “365”, because Andreini and co found they could surf the board nearly every day of the year — from 1974.
Shred Sledz is a one-man operation, and sometimes, that means it can be hard work finding dope vintage sleds and sharing them with you all. (Sadly, one-man operation is a term that can be used to describe both Shred Sledz’s editorial staff as well as its entire reader base, but I digress.)
Part of what makes my job fun is stumbling across well-camouflaged nuggets, like this board here on Craigslist. It’s described as a “Vintage Surfboard by Bradley and White”, and while this is correct, this board is actually an old school White Owl noserider.
I’ve written up White Owlbefore. My interest in the brand is solely thanks to Marc Andreini, who grew up surfing White Owl boards. Since then, Andreini has begun shaping boards under the resurrected White Owl brand, going as far as to create a special 50th Anniversary board back in 2011, which you can read about on his blog. (One of these 50th Anniversary boards is up for sale on Craigslist, if you’re interested.)
If I had to guess – and I’m no expert – this particular White Owl board is from sometime in the 1960s. The logo on this board reads “Hand crafted by Bradley and White at Santa Barbara.” Stoked-n-Board doesn’t even show this logo on their page for White Owl. However, Andreini’s 50th anniversary boards clearly copy this unique text layout, as you can see here. I would also say the outline of the board looks like a pig, given that the wide point is behind center and the nose looks pulled in. More pics would help, though.
The board is listed for $400. That seems extremely fair if the bottom is in as good shape as the deck, but that’s not always a guarantee. The listing indicates the board is watertight right now, which is always a good sign.
Here at Shred Sledz HQ we have a fine appreciation for all things surfboard-related. But all parents have their favorites, even if they’re not allowed to say it.
Luckily, Shred Sledz’s editorial staff / sole founder / janitor has no such compunction when it comes to political correctness. Marc Andreini is one of our favorite shapers, and that’s because he’s in his sixties and still rips, shapes rad boards, and is an all-around nice guy.
This board isn’t an Andreini, per se, but it looks to be an older White Owl board. White Owl is a venerable California brand, and Andreini has helped resurrect the marque in recent years. Once upon a time, a young Marc Andreini was a White Owl team rider himself, and the brand seems to hold a special place in his heart.
This thing is certainly boasting its fair share of battle scars, but it’s cool to see what appears to be an older White Owl, and not one of the newer ones shaped by Andreini (which are also extremely rad). The board doesn’t come with a fin, but at least it’s water tight. Buy it now is $650. It’s kind of steep if you ask me, considering the extensive repairs that have been made. I’ve spared Shred Sledz readerz the pain of having to look at all the dings that have been patched up over the years on this board, but you can see all the gory details on the original eBay listing.