Max McDonald EB5: Elevated Wing Bonzer

Greetings, Shredderz! Long time readers of the blog probably know by now there are few things I enjoy more than learning about influential shapers and craftsmen. This is especially true of those who aren’t necessarily household names. Today we have a sweet board shaped by Santa Barbara shaper Max McDonald. I had seen Max’s boards pop up on Craigslist every now and then, and I learned a bit more about McDonald’s career when I wrote an earlier post that featured his collaboration with the Campell Brothers. In the late Eighties, McDonald and the Campbell Brothers created a board called the EB5, which combined elements from both shapers. The E stands for McDonald’s elevated wing design, which was inspired by Sam Hawk and Dick Brewer’s winged boards from the Seventies; and the B5 refers to the five fin Bonzer shape invented by the Campbells.

The board pictured above is a Max McDonald EB5 that is currently listed for sale on Craigslist in San Diego. You can find the listing here. The board is 6.5″ x 20 1/2″ (thickness is not listed), and according to the seller it was likely shaped in 1990, shortly after the EB5 was first introduced.

The board has a ton of fascinating details. There are almost too many to list! Lucky for you, this is the best blog on the internet for over-analyzing vintage surfboards.

First, you don’t see a ton of non-Campbell Brothers Bonzers, especially from this era. I’m guessing that McDonald produced the EB5 under his own label, in addition to the boards that he shaped alongside the Campbell Brothers.

You can clearly see the elevated wing design in the picture above. There are also some interesting-looking channels that seem to run up the length of the board and create something that reminds me of an exaggerated tri plane hull design.

The tail itself is also unusual. I’m not sure how to describe it — a winged thumb tail, maybe? Regardless of what it’s called, it definitely looks cool and futuristic, a good thirty years after the board was first shaped.

There’s quite a bit of nose rocker on the board, as evidenced by the photograph above.

If you look closely at the photos from the listing, you’ll notice there’s small “epoxy” text beneath the Clyde Beatty logo. Beatty, in addition to producing his own shapes, was known for experimenting with various epoxy glassing techniques, particularly with underground Santa Barbara shaping legend John Bradbury.

As a bonus, here’s another cool Max McDonald five fin Bonzer. It’s not explicitly branded as an EB5 but it has the same fin setup as well as McDonald’s signature elevated wings. Check out the tail on this board, too.

I’m just blown away by all the details on this Max McDonald EB5. The longer I look at it, the more I notice, and the more questions I have. I would love to hear some background on the thinking behind the various design elements, and how they effect the actual ride of the board. Overall the EB5 strikes me as the product of a very detail-oriented and creative shaper, and if nothing else, it’s fun to look at. Oh, and the price is right too: the seller is asking $150 for the board. Here’s a link to the listing if you’re in the market.

1989 Campbell Brothers Surfboards Ad: Sagas of Shred

There’s something to be said about consistency, and the Campbell Brothers have been nothing if not steadfast in their belief about their groundbreaking design. It’s hard to refer to the Bonzer as an “alternative” design these days, given the fact the design counts surfers like Taylor Knox and brands like Channel Islands among its fans and collaborators. I’ve featured some vintage Bonzer ads before, such as this ad for the Bonzer produced under the Bing Surfboards label, and then another Campbell Brothers ad from the early Nineties. The brothers behind the design have also been very upfront about their progressive views over the years, resulting in the bold copy you see here. But you gotta love the fact the Campbells have never been afraid to challenge surfing orthodoxy.

The other interesting thing about the ad is the inclusion of Max McDonald. I was actually able to find out more about the board featured in the ad thanks to Surfy Surfy, whose excellent blog is always worth a visit.

Surfy Surfy Campbell Brothers Bonzer Mac McDonald.JPG
The EB5 featured here is a bit different from the one at the top of the page. Pic via Surfy Surfy

Surfy Surfy ran the photo above in a blog post, which you can find here. The photo you see above ran in Breakout Magazine in 1989, the same year as the ad found at the top of the page. The EB5 board that is featured in both advertisements is a collaboration between Max McDonald and the Campbell Brothers. (EB5 stands for Elevated wing Bonzer 5.) The Campbells started experimenting with five fin Bonzer surfboards in 1983. By the late Eighties they were working alongside McDonald, combining the fin setup from the five fin Bonzers with McDonald’s elevated wing design. McDonald began working on the wing design in the mid Seventies, after seeing Dick Brewer and Sam Hawk’s experiments with the design. All of this info is contained in the article that Surfy Surfy reproduced on their great blog.

If you look closely at both advertisements you can see the elevated wing design. The Campbell Brothers still use the elevated wing in a good number of their boards today.

Campbell Brothers Bonzer Elevated Wing Tail.jpg
Max McDonald’s elevated wing design has its roots in Dick Brewer and Sam Hawk’s shapes of the Seventies. It’s purely functional, but I happen to think it looks absolutely gorgeous, too. Photo via the Campbell Brothers Bonzer 5 site

Thanks for reading and visit again next Thursday evening for more vintage surf ads as part of the Sagas of Shred series!