Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest installment of Sagas of Shred. Today we’ll be exploring a vintage Gotcha ad from 1990. Gotcha was founded in 1978 by South African surfer Michael Tomson, cousin to Shaun. (I recently wrote up a sick Stussy board that once belonged to Michael Tomson, which you can see here.) The brand saw its greatest success during the 1980s and the early 1990s, when its loud aesthetic helped set the tone for surf culture as a whole.
Successful surfwear brands are often defined by their team riders, whether it was the combination of Kelly Slater and Quiksilver in the 1990s, OP and Tom Curren in the 1980s. Even today, when the big corporate surf brands have seen their grip on culture begin to slip, Mick Fanning and Rip Curl are still synonymous with one another. Gotcha was no exception to this rule, having been home to pros like Brock Little (RIP), Derek Ho, Rob Machado and Matt Archbold.
Gotcha’s most iconic team rider, though, has to be Martin Potter. The vintage Gotcha ad featured in this post originally ran in a 1990 issue of Surfer Magazine, and as you can see, it prominently features Pottz. Eagle-eyed readers will notice Pottz is going off the top on a Blue Hawaii Pottz Model board. The other pro surfer featured in the ad is none other than Dino Andino, Southern California fixture and father to current WSL competitor Kolohe.
I tend to feature ads that I find amusing — like this earlier Gotcha / Pottz spot — but in the case of the example above, I think it’s a compelling piece of graphic design. The vintage Gotcha ad actually reminds me of Volcom ads from the late 1990s. Beyond the shared homemade collage aesthetic, the Gotcha ad channels the raw energy and creativity that made Volcom so irresistible during its peak.
It’s also interesting that this Gotcha ad reads “More Core.” At some point during the late 1980s, Gotcha spun off More Core Division into a separate sub-brand, which was Andy Irons’ sponsor for many years before Billabong stepped in. I’m guessing this ad just barely pre-dates MCD’s existence as a separate line.
It’s a shame that Gotcha is no longer around, although Urban Outfitters recently released a small collection in conjunction with the storied label. Even sadder, Michael Tomson was arrested a few years ago on suspicion of cocaine trafficking in Southern California. For a sunnier look at things, the Surfer’s Journal ran this excellent interview with Tomson covering some of the better stories from Gotcha’s run. Even if things didn’t end on a particularly high note, there’s no denying Gotcha’s place in history as a formative surf brand.
Thanks for checking out Sagas of Shred and come back in a week for even more!
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, by now you probably know that the one-man Shred Sledz staff has a soft spot for the surfboards of the 80s. And in a decade filled to the brim with colorful characters and even more eye-catching boards, Martin Potter stands out. Pottz’s “Saint” Town & Country twin fin is his most famous board. In fact, its signature green and yellow spray job is still emulated today. The Blue Hawaii Pottz Model might not be as famous, but it’s a stick that has many fans, especially for examples bearing the signature blue flame airbrush around the rails.
The photo featured above is an old Blue Hawaii ad that appeared in Surfer Magazine in 1988. Blue Hawaii was a surfboard brand that is sadly no more. I believe Blue Hawaii was founded by shaper Glenn Minami, who was the original shaper behind Pottz’s famous “Saint” twin fin. Stoked-n-Board claims Blue Hawaii was founded in 1984. I’m guessing Minami must have left Town & Country around the same time, and brought Pottz with him shortly afterwards.
The other thing that’s interesting about the ad is the customizable “bullseye” spray job that could be applied to boards. I have scoured the internet for examples of a Blue Hawaii Pottz Model with a bullseye design, but I was only able to find one. Even so, I think the example below is a custom spray job for an actual Martin Potter personal rider, versus a mass-produced version that is offered in the advertisement. I’m wondering if the board on the far right was actually the inspiration for the bullseye design in the ad.
I also can’t get enough of the shipping rates. Granted, the advertisement ran 30 years ago, but $25 to get a board shipped from Hawaii to the mainland? That is absolute madness. I’d almost take those rates over the board!
If you have any leads on some pictures of a Blue Hawaii Pottz Model with a bullseye airbrush on it, I’d love to learn more. Otherwise, thanks for reading and stop by next week for even more Sagas of Shred.
Attention vintage surfboard trivia buffs: Matt “Mayhem” Biolos and …Lost Surfboards team rider Kolohe Andino are giving away a free surfboard to the person who can name all of the surfers who inspired the various paint jobs in the Instagram post above. Edit: Kolohe also included close ups of all the boards on his Instagram account, which I have included below:
Some hints are rapidly filling up in the comments. Even with the added help, I’m only certain of three of them, and I have an educated guess for another.
The board at the top left is modeled after a board Kelly Slater surfed at Trestles in “Kelly Slater in Black & White.” I only know this from the comments, but I was able to find a YouTube video with the incriminating evidence.
The red / blue board on the top row, second from right, is clearly Tom Carroll’s board from his famous under the lip snap at macking Pipeline. I’m not sure who the shaper might be, though.
On the bottom row, the board second from right is clearly Martin Potter’s “The Saint” board, which is one of the most recognizable airbrushes ever.
I believe the board that is second from left on the top row is a Mark Richards Lightning Bolt, but I’m not 100% sure.
I suspect many of the boards aren’t what some would consider vintage. For example, there are a lot of guesses in the comments that suggest the top left board was one ridden by Kelly Slater in one of his earlier videos.
I’ll be running an updated post once all the answers are in, as I’m dying to know myself. In the meantime, check out the post here.
Greetings, Shredderz! If you’re currently wondering whether or not this humble little vintage surfboard blog took a sudden left turn, let me assure you that is not the case. Shred Sledz remains as dedicated as ever to our mission of shedding light on the great surfboards and craftsmen of yesteryear. But let’s face it: this 1980s Gotcha ad is simply too funny not to post.
Throw in a pair of acid wash jeans and the ad hits every single cliche about bad fashion in the 1980s. More importantly…what on earth is going on? Is the painting on the left supposed to be coming to life? Why is the other guy just staring off in the distance? Sadly, seeing as how this is a family friendly blog, I think there are many questions that will have to go unanswered. And if you haven’t noticed, that’s Pottz who’s getting his tank top stretched out. Not sure how they coerced him into doing this photo shoot. I imagine the ad was originally intended to be edgy and provocative, but with three decades worth of perspective behind us, the entire thing is silly. I say that affectionately, though: no matter what, I will always have a soft spot for the weird and colorful creations that the surf industry produced during the eighties.
Fun fact: the Gotcha logo that appears in the ad was actually designed by Shawn Stussy.
Greetings, Shredderz! While some surfboard aficionados don’t enjoy talking prices, here at Shred Sledz we’re not only fans of capitalism, but also transparency. One of the most iconic boards from modern pro surfing is Martin Potter’s T&C twin fin emblazoned with the iconic green and yellow airbrush. A Town & Country Pottz airbrush board recently sold on eBay, providing a little insight into the market for the former champ’s boards. I have included some pictures of the board below (pics via the original eBay listing).
The final price for the board ended up being $1,300. As you can see in the pictures above, the board is in pretty good condition (I omitted a picture of a decent ding along one of the board’s rails).
First, if you’re inclined, I think there are some questions around whether or not the example above should be considered a proper Pottz board. Of course, Potter rode for T&C, and the airbrush is unmistakable, but as far as I can tell, T&C never released a mass market Pottz model until recently, the way Channel Islands put Tom Curren’s Black Beauty design in surf shops everywhere.
Then again, that’s not the point: the board above is a genuine Town & Country board from the 1980s in good condition, complete with an iconic design. Is it nitpicking to mention that the airbrush on the board above is a lesser-known variant on the classic Pottz spray job, and not the original one?
I won’t attempt to answer the metaphysical questions around how one defines a Pottz board. Instead, I’ll just state the obvious: cool surfboards from the 1980s often command a pretty penny on the open market.
Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest installment of Sagas of Shred, where I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of surf culture from years past. Pictured above is an Astrodeck ad that appeared in the August 1985 issue of Surfer Magazine (Volume 26, No. 8). The ad features none other than the following surfers: Rabbit Bartholomew, Larry Bertlemann, Greg Day, Gary Elkerton, Herbie Fletcher, Marvin Foster, Hans Hedemann, Michael Ho, Marty Hoffman, Jim Hogan, Vince Klyn, Buzzy Kerbox, Wes Laine, Buddy Lomas, Gerry Lopez, Barton Lynch, Tony Moniz, Willy Morris, Paul Peterson, Martin Potter, Joe Roper, and Rory Russell (whew!). That kind of list is only fitting for a product considered to be the “ultimate in competitive traction.” Bonus points if you can match the names to all the faces!
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!
When I stumbled across this HIC board on Craigslist, I thought it must have been a Martin Potter pro model, as evidenced by the giant logo on the bottom of the board (see left).
However, the more research I do, I can’t find any evidence of Pottz having ever been a team rider for Hawaiian Island Creations. Pottz’s most famous boards were for Town & Country Surfboards and Blue Hawaii Surf, which you can see pictured below:
If you look closely, you can see the “Pottz Pro Model” logo on the HIC board is a perfect replica of the Blue Hawaii board above. This makes me think that it simply might be a decal or something else.
The HIC board has “Team” written on the stringer, which strikes me as something of an odd touch as well. Finally, there is a clear signature from Chuck Andrus, whom Stoked-N-Board lists as having been an HIC shaper.
Check out the board here and drop me a note if you have any ideas as to the origins of this board!
Whoever posted this little number must be dreaming about the price – $1,000 is a lot for a surfboard, no matter what! – but it’s still worth looking at the pictures. Located on Craigslist in Daytona Beach, Florida is a cool little Blue Hawaii ‘Pottz’ board, named after legendary former tour surfer Martin Potter and shaped by well-regarded Hawaiian shaper Greg Minami. This is different from the board most surf fans associate with Pottz – the T&C with the jagged green outline and yellow deck – but nonetheless still a fantastic memento from the surf industry of yesteryear. Check it out here.