Terry Fitzgerald for Lightning Bolt

Hawaii is, and will always be, the center of the surfing world. Even as globalization pushes surfing into new and interesting corners, like retro longboarding’s unlikely resurgence in Indonesia, Hawaii is not only the birthplace of surfing, but the very place where much of its history continues to be made.

The 1970s were a particularly fertile and fascinating time in surfing’s development. It was during this decade that Australians descended upon the North Shore of Oahu, raising eyebrows with their brash surfing and matching attitudes. While the “Bustin’ Down the Door” episode has rightfully earned its spot in surfing history, the arrival of top Australian pros on Hawaiian shores had another side effect: many fruitful collaborations between Aussies and their Hawaiian counterparts.

I wrote an earlier post about a board Terry Fitzgerald shaped for Dick Brewer, which you can find here. Mark Richards is another example of an Australian surfer / designer who found inspiration in the Hawaiian boards of the 1970s. MR still counts Ben Aipa and Dick Brewer among his influences. MR has written some great posts on the subject, and he continues to produce his version of an Aipa sting today! And if you prefer the reverse commute, Von Weirdos has a Hot Buttered surfboard shaped by Owl Chapman.

Today’s post, however, covers another Terry Fitzgerald board: a rare example of a Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt collaboration. The story behind the board comes courtesy of Gavin Scott, an Australian collector with a special interest in what he calls the “Aussie / Hawaiian cross-pollination.” During the early 1970s, Lightning Bolt founders Gerry Lopez and Jack Shipley invited Fitzgerald to do some shaping for the brand while he was spending the winter on the North Shore. Fitzgerald already had Hot Buttered up and running, but the way Fitz tells it, he took on the gig shaping for Lightning Bolt for some money on the side and to refine his designs. The board below is one of but four boards Fitzgerald shaped for his initial run at the Lightning Bolt shop.

Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt Surfboard.jpg
Terry Fitzgerald posing with one of the few surfboards he shaped for Lightning Bolt. Note the fluted wings in the tail, which TF attributes to Reno Abellira’s influence. Pic via Gavin Scott

The Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt board is filled with all kinds of beautiful details. I’m particularly drawn to the precise double-winged pintail and the striking white pin line on the bottom of the board:

Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt Surfboard 2
Close up of the fin. Check out the white pin line! Pic via Gavin Scott

The Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt board also has some interesting laminates. On the deck you can see the famous Bolt laminate. The bottom, though, has a Lightning Bolt logo that I have personally never seen before. The board’s owner tells me that the text Lightning Bolt logo along the stringer is something that Roy Stamm did with many of the boards he glassed.

Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt Surfboard Logo.jpg
Unusual Lightning Bolt logo along the stringer on the bottom of the board. Apparently this was a common technique for Roy Stamm, who glassed the board. Pic via Gavin Scott

After purchasing the board, Gavin was able to get a certificate of authenticity from Terry Fitzgerald that details the board’s history. I have included a photo below:

Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt Surfboard 1
Certificate of Authenticity by Terry Fitzgerald for the board pictured above. TF goes all out on these certificates! Not only does Fitzgerald get deep into the design elements, he also provides great context on the state of surfing during the time the board was made. Pic via Gavin Scott

As you can see in the certificate of authenticity, the board was shaped in Hawaii in 1973. I love how TF goes through the various influences that informed the board’s final design, including a nod to Barry Kanaiaupuni’s radical stylings at Sunset Beach. The board truly is a product of Hawaiian and Australian influences, spanning Fitzgerald’s experiences from Narrabeen to Sunset. I love how comprehensive the certificate is, going as far as to credit Roy Stamm with the lovely glass job.

Randy Rarick also played a part in this board making its way back to Australia. Rarick was kind enough to share some back story on the board. Apparently Rarick found the Terry Fitzgerald Lightning Bolt on the West Side of Oahu and then turned it over to a friend. Eventually the board made its way to Gavin Scott, its current owner. Scott was responsible for getting the certificate of authenticity and the back story from Terry Fitzgerald. Many thanks to Gavin for making this post possible! You can also check out Gavin’s activity on the Vintage Surfboard Collectors Group on Facebook, where he is kind enough to share more of his incredible collection.

Photo at the top of the page taken by Jeff Divine.

Shred Sledz Presents: September 15 Grab Bag (Hawaii Edition)

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest edition of the Grab Bag, where I’ll be featuring some of the more notable boards I have seen listed for sale over the past few weeks. Today’s entry has a distinct Hawaiian flavor , as all of the boards covered below are from famous labels that hail from the birthplace of surfing.

Lightning Bolt Rory Russell Twin Fin (eBay)

This thing is KILLER! First, it’s in excellent condition. Actually, let me back up: first and foremost, the board just looks awesome. Even if you didn’t know the first thing about Lightning Bolt or Rory Russell, this board makes you stop and look. Maybe that makes me shallow…or maybe I just have impeccable taste when it comes to vintage surf craft. I’m always a sucker for intricate details, and I love the Clark Foam and Rory Russell Model laminates on the tail. The board is 5’4″. Is this considered a fish? I never see the Rory Russell twin fins referred to as such, but they seem pretty fish-like to me. Bidding is already hovering near $700 with four more days to go. Pics above via the eBay listing.

Surfboards Hawaii Owl Chapman Gun (Craigslist)

I love the old school Surfboards Hawaii logo, which is one of my favorite surfboard labels ever. Apparently this board was shaped by none other than Owl Chapman, uncle to current North Shore pro Kalani Chapman, and all-round Oahu fixture. I asked the seller if there’s a signature anywhere on the board, but I haven’t heard back. I’m not sure when this board was made, but I am guessing very early 1970s, based on the shape of the pintail, what looks like an after-market leash plug, and the glass-on fin. I have never seen a straight up Surfboards Hawaii Owl Chapman surfboard before. The pairing makes sense, given Chapman’s association with Dick Brewer, and the fact Brewer founded Surfboards Hawaii in 1961. The board is 9′, the board is located in Los Angeles, California, and the seller is asking $900.

Dick Brewer Gun and 1970s Single Fin (Craigslist & eBay)

There are currently two great Dick Brewer boards for sale. The first, pictured above, is a 8′ x 19-1/2″ x 3″ gun with glass-on fins in a thruster setup that should be ideal for the upcoming winter. It is being sold in Orange County, California. You can find a link to the board here. The seller is asking $600. I think that price is extremely reasonable, given that the board looks to be in excellent condition.

You want a Dick Brewer signature? Great, then how about another one? It’s a little odd that Brewer signed the board twice, but either way, I feel confident in saying the board was shaped by Brewer himself.

There’s a 1970s Dick Brewer single fin available on eBay that also bears two Dick Brewer signatures. Pic above is via the listing, which you can find here. The seller is asking $1500 for the board. The 1970s single fin has a wonderful old school outline and glassed on fin. Unfortunately, the pics provided with the eBay listing are pretty poor, so I have omitted them from the post. Still, I encourage you to click through and check them out for yourself.

As for the price difference, the best I can offer is that Brewer prices can be all over the place. I think one should expect genuine 1970s Dick Brewer single fins to command higher prices than newer boards. The gun on Craigslist is clearly newer (I would guess mid-1990s or later) and in better condition, but I imagoine 1970s single fins have more cachet.

Lightning Bolt 1970s Single Fin by Darrell Beckmeier (Craigslist)

Darrell Beckmeier was a fixture at Lightning Bolt during the 1970s. There’s a beautiful example of one of his boards that currently listed for sale on Craigslist in Orange County. Pics above are via the listing. The board is 6’6″ x 19-1/2″ (no dimension listed for thickness). The seller is asking $750. I’m honestly not sure what to make of this price, and how Beckmeier’s boards compare in value to other Bolt shapers. Still, it doesn’t get any more classic than single-fin Bolts!

Quivers of Note: An Awesome North Shore Owl Chapman Collection

If the surf industry were a high school cafeteria, then Saturdays NYC would definitely be sitting at the cool kids’ table. I imagine the Saturdays founders are hanging out with European models in SoHo right now while I sit here in my apartment, surrounded by empty Kind Bar wrappers and piles of unfolded laundry. But I digress. Saturdays used to publish a killer print magazine filled with beautiful photography and great features. I highly recommend picking up a back issue or two. Nowadays, Saturdays Magazine can be found online, where it continues to publish great content. The most recent blog post details the Owl Chapman quivers of two North Shore fixtures, Andy St. Onge and Rick Williams. Owl Chapman remains one of the pre-eminent builders of big wave boards, and the Saturdays Magazine post is a great opportunity to get a closer look at his shapes. Check out the blog post here, and if you know the Saturdays guys, put in a good word for me so I can come to one of their parties the next time I’m in New York.

Photo above via Saturdays Magazine. Photo taken by Joey Trisolini. jtrisolini on Instagram

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (3/22)

Greetings, Shredderz! Here is the latest in vintage surfboard news from the far reaches of the interwebs, collected all in one place.

Dick Brewer, Sam Hawk and Owl Chapman. 3 names that means so much to our surfing community. Just legends!

A post shared by Vintage Surfboards (@luisrealcollection) on

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.

I'll take the brown one

A post shared by Joel_tudor (@joeljitsu) on

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.

Presents Expression Session 1

A post shared by Surfboardsandcoffee (@surfboardsandcoffee) on

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.

Owl Chapman Underground

If you’re into underground Hawaiian shapers, there’s a gem of a board waiting for you on eBay. Pictured here is an Owl Chapman wing pin single fin made under the Surfboards Honolulu brand.

Chapman (whom I’ve written about previously) has his own Encyclopedia of Surfing entry, but there is little reliable information about his shaping history. It looks like he still runs Brewer Chapman Surfboards, which of course was founded in conjunction with fellow Hawaiian legend Dick Brewer.

Stoked-n-Board is the go-to source for surfboard and shaper information, but shockingly, it had very little information about Chapman’s various stops. S-n-B doesn’t have a listing for Brewer Chapman, just Brewer’s own eponymous label. S-n-B’s entry for Owl Chapman only lists him as having shaped for three brands: Buttons, Natural Progression, and Wave Weapons.

First, we know that Chapman shaped – and continues to do so – for Brewer Chapman. In addition, Chapman has also shaped under the Owl Chapman Underground label, which has one of the coolest old school logos you’ll ever lay eyes on:

Pic courtesy Surfboards.com

The board pictured here is under the Surfboards Honolulu brand, which I had never heard of before. There is no entry on Stoked-n-Board, and googling the brand is fruitless. I contacted the seller for the board pictured here, and he was able to provide a picture of the signature on the stringer, which clearly reads “Owl Chapman Underground.” I’m wondering if this board and the Surfboards Honolulu brand pre-date the Owl Chapman Underground label (and its ridiculously groovy logo).

If you’re interested in this board you can find it on eBay here. It’s being sold alongside a few other vintage gems. The seller looks like the person behind the excellent Surfboardline.com, which is another great resource if you’re into vintage boards.

Buttons and Owl: Two Hawaiian Counter Culture Icons

This board represents a timeless combination of two of the better-known figures in Hawaiian surf history: 70s pro surfer Buttons Kaluhiokalani, and legendary shaper Owl Chapman.

Found on Craigslist in San Diego, this board is a 7′ single fin shaped by Chapman (see his signature on the stringer in the 3rd picture) intended as a tribute to Buttons.

Buttons is one of the most iconic figures to come out of the North Shore of Oahu, which is saying something, considering the island’s place in surfing history. He has been immortalized in a number of pictures from the era, including many of Jeff Divine’s photos.

Photo by Jeff Divine

Owl Chapman still lives and shapes on the North Shore, and he continues to supply boards to some of the best surfers in the area. It was interesting to come across this one, which has Buttons’ distinct logo, and bears Chapman’s signature on the stringer. If I had to guess the board is probably a recent shape, judging from the condition as well as the FCS fin boxes for the side bites.

For $1200 it isn’t cheap, but it’s in immaculate condition, and has a ton of cool Hawaiian surf history involved. You can check it out here.

Dick Brewer Winged Single Fin

Dick Brewer is one of the most famous surfboard shapers ever. His claim to fame is crafting big wave guns that perform in the demanding conditions of a Hawaiian winter.

One of the more fascinating – or maddening, depending on how you look at it – aspects of Brewer’s long career is the wide variety of brands and labels he shaped under. There are too many to name – Hobie, Surfboards Hawaii, and his eponymous label, just to name a few – but there are a dizzying number of brand names one needs to keep straight in order to unearth a genuine Dick Brewer hand shaped board. For example, here’s a board that bears the Dick Brewer Surfboards label, but was apparently shaped by Owl Chapman. Why that wouldn’t be a Brewer Chapman board is beyond me, but I’m not the one who makes the decisions here.

The good news is there are occasional gems that pop up here and there that bear promising signs of being a genuine Brewer hand shape. I don’t want to make any definitive declarations, because I’m not an expert. But this board, located on Craigslist in Honolulu, certainly fits the part.

It’s listed at 7′2″ and the poster claims the board is a custom shape from 1978. The tail is pretty interesting, somewhere between a rounded pin and a diamond tail, which seems right for the era. The wings are a cool touch as well.

Stoked-n-Board’s page for Dick Brewer doesn’t have an entry for this label, which simply reads “Brewer Surfboards” (versus the more standard Dick Brewer Surfboards). It does have the famous plumeria wreath, though. More importantly, there does appear to be a genuine signature on the stringer (reach out directly to Rob, who posted this board, for a pic).

The price is steep – $1300 – but as always, ogling on Shred Sledz is free of charge. Check it out here.