Occy Billabong Ad: Sagas of Shred

First, let me say that I am a huge Occy fan. For a while Occy was my favorite surfer, and his redemptive 1999 World Championship campaign was a huge inspiration to your Shreditor in Chief. Occ’s legacy is not only a spot on power surfing’s Mount Rushmore, but also a space as one of the most beloved Aussie characters ever to hit surfing. Occy’s still going strong today, and if you haven’t yet had a chance, I urge you to check out The Occ Cast. I never pegged Occy for a talk show host, but it turns out his guileless charm makes him a natural. Anyway, as you can see, I’ll sing Mr Occhilupo’s praises until the cows come home…but all that said, this Occy Billabong ad is downright hilarious.

The ad originally ran in Surfing Magazine in 1987 (Vol 27, No 2). I’m guessing the campaign must have been shot right after the peak of Occy’s early fame, on the heels of his back-to-back OP Pro finals against Tom Curren.

The clothes in this Occy Billabong ad are par for the course for the Eighties — that is to say, totally ridiculous — but I’m also oddly fascinated by the girl at the right hand side of the picture. Then again, there is a lot about Eighties surf ads that I will never understand, but that doesn’t stop me from getting a huge kick out of them.

Billabong and founder Gordon Merchant famously stood by Occy during his late Eighties / early Nineties swoon, and were rewarded with his feel good comeback win following Kelly Slater’s first retirement. In a way, Billabong is just as much a part of the Occy story as, say, a searing backhand attack at Bells Beach. It’s odd to say that now, when surf brands have hit an all-time low in terms of cultural relevance, but I’ll always associate Occy with his longtime sponsor.

As always, thank you for reading Sagas of Shred, and give us another visit next Thursday night for more vintage surf ads!

Dick Brewer Gun for Rabbit Bartholomew / Darrick Doerner

Vintage Surfboards Hawaii surfboard by Dick Brewer shaped for Rabbit Bartholomew

Greetings, Shredderz! Those of you who follow me on Instagram may recognize the photo above from my Instagram account, where I posted it a few days ago. (You can check out the official Shred Sledz Instagram account here.) The photo was taken by Tom Servais on the North Shore of Oahu, and it features none other than Aussie legend Rabbit Bartholomew posing with some beautiful big-wave guns. As soon as I posted the photo, the current owner of the yellow board — a Surfboards Hawaii gun shaped by Dick Brewer — reached out and was kind enough to send over some more pictures. Thank you to Luke Carter for supplying the pics. If you’re interested in vintage surfboards and fast cars, give Luke a follow on Instagram!

As you can see, the board is still in great condition, even after all these years.

Rabbit Bartholomew Hawaii Dick Brewer Gun 3.jpeg
Close up of the Dick Brewer signature on the stringer. Pic via Luke Carter

You can see a clear example of a Dick Brewer signature on the stringer, alongside some measurements. At 9’5″ x 20″ x 3-1/4″, the gun was clearly shaped for waves of consequence.

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Close up of the glass-on fin on the Dick Brewer Rabbit Bartholomew gun. Pic via Luke Carter

Luke was also kind enough to point me to a photo that gives some indication of when Brewer may have shaped this board. The photo above was supposedly taken at the opening ceremony for the Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay held in the winter of 1989 / 1990.

Rabbit Bartholomew Occy Dick Brewer Eddie Aikau Ceremony by Joli.jpg
Occy (left) and Rabbit, showing off some sweet Dick Brewer guns. It’s interesting to note that Occy’s board has the 1980s Brewer laminate, while Rabbit’s board has the Surfboards Hawaii logo. Photo by Peter “Joli” Wilson / Joliphotos.com

I actually found a copy of the program for the 1989 / 1990 Eddie Aikau contest on eBay, and neither Occy nor Rabbit Bartholomew were invitees. Nonetheless, given Occy and Rabbit’s ages in the Joli photo above, I believe the photo was taken sometime during that decade. I suppose it’s also possible that Occy and Rabbit could have showed up to the Eddie’s opening ceremony with their boards in tow, but that would have been unusual given that is usually reserved for competitors.

Per the title of the blog post, Luke also tells me that apparently the board was originally shaped for Hawaiian big-wave charger Darrick Doerner. This theory makes a ton of sense. For starters, Bartholomew’s brash attitude initially made him a target in Hawaii, as documented in “Bustin’ Down the Door” and even a sketch on “Drunk History.” Moreover, Doerner was something of a Waimea Bay specialist — for which the Brewer board would have been an ideal fit — and also boasted a long association with Brewer. How the board would have made its way from Doerner to Rabbit is a mystery to me, but I’m glad it did, given the rad pictures that resulted!

I’d also love to know what happened to the other board in the picture at the top of the page. I love the splash of color on the Surfboards Hawaii logo. I’m assuming the board Rabbit’s sitting on must be another Dick Brewer, but without a picture of the stringer, there’s no way to be sure.

Thanks again to Luke Carter for the pictures. You can follow him on Instagram here.

Holy Trinity: Occy, Rusty and Billabong

I’m not usually one for repro boards, but hey, there are exceptions to every rule.

Located here on Craigslist is one of the Rusty Priesendorfer re-makes of a famous board he made back for Mark “Occy” Occhilupo back in 1984. This board is an exact replica and was made in conjunction with Rusty, Occ’s shaper back in the 80s, and Billabong, his longtime clothing sponsor. You can see the announcement here, which has some cool pics.

The dimensions are 6’0″ x 20″ x 2 ¼”, harkening back to a time when high performance thrusters had a lot more foam to them. The price is $425, which I think is decent, given that the board is limited – only 100 made – and it’s in pretty good condition, with the only visible wear and tear being a couple of heel dents from being surfed. (And part of me is stoked this thing didn’t just end up being a wall hanger!)

For reference, this board below is a Rusty board made for Occ sometime back in the 80s. This was originally posted to Boardcollector.com.

Here’s a shot of Occy in what I’m guessing is Hawaii back in the day: