Rory “The Dog” Russell for Lightning Bolt: Sagas of Shred

Surfing is a sport known for its colorful characters. Even against this crowded backdrop, though, Rory “The Dog” Russell stands out. As always, Matt Warshaw’s peerless Encyclopedia of Surfing puts it best: “Happy, hedonistic tuberiding specialist from the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii; Pipeline Masters winner in 1976 and 1977.”

Russell was a North Shore standout during the 1970s, and there are tons of pictures of him charging sizable Pipeline riding the unmistakable Lightning Bolt single fins that dominated the decade.

Rory Russell Pipeline 1975 Jeff Divine via The Surfer's Journal.jpg
Russell, about to get pitted at Pipe. Photo by Jeff Divine; via The Surfer’s Journal
Young Rory Russell.jpg
A young Rory Russell, more pup than Dog in this picture, waxing up. Pic via Lightning Bolt

The Lightning Bolt ad at the top of the page ran in the August 1982 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol. 23, No. 8). For a good chunk of the Eighties Lightning Bolt ads occupied the coveted back cover on Surfer Magazine, and this time period yielded some pretty classic material, including the spot featured above.

The Lightning Bolt ad is a not so subtle play on Russell’s  nickname, “The Dog”, and his reputation as a ladies’ man. As unlikely as it might seem, the copy on the advertisement is every bit as good as the classic photo of Russell grinning in a sea of blondes.

“A roving ambassador and captain of Team Bolt, Rory Russell travels the world in search of the perfect wave and the ultimate lifestyle.

Aside from his surfing exploits, Rory is famous for his fun-loving attitude and is a widely proclaimed afficionado (sic) of beachwear and the casual lifestyle. Rory invited this very special group of friends to show his pick to click in Bolt for Gals Swimwear for the summer of ’82…

…and a hot one it is, thanks Rory.

As a general rule of thumb, anyone who can be described as a “widely proclaimed aficionado of beachwear and the casual lifestyle” has nothing more to prove to anyone. Ever. I don’t even know what being a casual lifestyle aficionado would entail, nor do I care. If you look closely, you’ll notice all the women in the ad are wearing matching Lightning Bolt necklaces, which is the cherry on top of the figurative sundae.

Thanks for checking out this installment of Sagas of Shred, and as always, swing back around next Thursday for more.

California Surf Museum Fundraiser: Retro Lightning Bolt Pipeliner

The California Surf Museum held its 10th annual Gala Fundraiser on Saturday, October 28th. One of the guests of honor was none other than Gerry Lopez. As part of the fundraiser, a select group of top shapers created tributes to the Lightning Bolt Pipeliner as a way of celebrating Lopez’s career, and they ended up producing some beautiful vintage-inspired shapes. I’ve collected various posts about the boards and included them all below.

Ryan Lovelace

Well there she is 😍 7’6 Pipeliner replica (as best I could!) for the @casurfmuseum gala/auction next weekend. The deck is a full fabric inlay, with 6 gradating resin panels expanding out from the lightning bolt (also done in resin). The little hologram on the bottom certifies that it’s a registered Lightningbolt, and being given the opportunity to make one for this I figured I had to give it my best 🤙🏼 I do t build many boards start to finish anymore, but when I do I try to make them count!! Stoking thoroughly after working on this for the past few weeks after hours – I’ll post a slideshow of it next week for y’all if you’d like to see more! And of course if you wanna buy it, come check out the event at the @casurfmuseum on the 28th ✌🏻 #ryanlovelacesurfcraft

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I’ll be honest, 90% of the reason why I even wrote this post was to feature Lovelace’s Lightning Bolt Pipeliner. I don’t know Mr. Lovelace, nor have I had the opportunity to ride any of his shapes, but I am dying to get my grubby paws on one of his famous V Bowls models. I recommend listening to Lovelace’s guest appearance on this recent Surf Splendor Podcast. More importantly, though, click through the slide show in the Instagram posts above! The board is insane and Lovelace made the entire thing by hand for the event.

 

Vulcan Surfboards / Dane Hantz

The Vulcan imagining of the classic Pipeliner we built for last evenings @casurfmuseum Gala. The Pipeliner auctioned along with other fantastic boards by @timbessell @ryanlovelace @roryrussellbolt and @hollingsworthsurfboards for the benefit of the @casurfmuseum. Of course, @chriscote was a fantastic host for the auction and listening to him pitch the boards had me in hysterics😹. I want to thank my friends @birdsnyder for help with this incredible board, my good friend @boostubbs4061 for all your help and encouragement, @cinnamonbeachgrinder for the recognition and @christinekueneke for all the love and support. Thank you to my friends and family for being there to support me, @ava.alh @pilgyfish Tom and Jen Varga, Paul and kristi Ambrogio. NO ONE could ever confuse me as being the retro guy but I’m very proud to have taken a stab at this iconic surf craft. Thank you @lightningbolt1971 for the permission to do so. Who knows this may go down in their archival records as one of the few carbon fiber pipeliners. Heaps of gratitude to my buddies @colanaustralia for an absolutely tight and dazzling plain weave carbon you guys are absolute LEGENDS.

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This board is a trip! Hantz is a San Diego-based shaper with famously futuristic leanings, and to no one’s surprise, his version of a classic 1970s Lightning Bolt Pipeliner includes the use of space age materials. Personally, I love the carbon fiber accents, and I’m dying to know how it rides, too.

 

Rory Russell

I don’t think the fundraiser would have been complete without the presence of at least one original Bolt shaper, and Rory Russell delivered what looks to be a classic example of the iconic Lightning Bolt Pipeliner board. I love the simple black, yellow and red paint job. There’s nothing more to say about this one, and that’s exactly how it should be!

 

Craig Hollingsworth

Craig Hollingsworth is another shaper who has some history with the Lightning Bolt label, having led its revival in the late 1990s. Again, make sure you scroll through all the photos in the posts above. You’ll see that the iconic Bolt logo is actually made of red and blue ming shell leaf, according to the caption. The end result is a very cool and subtle sparkle effect, reminiscent of some of Renny Yater’s abalone shell inlay boards.

 

Tim Bessell

I had heard of Tim Bessell, and mostly knew of him as a San Diego-based shaper. However, I was unaware of the fact that Bessell had actually shaped boards under Lightning Bolt’s label during the 1970s. According to Stoked-n-Board, Bessell shaped for Bolt from 1976 to 1980 before returning to his native Southern California. I’d say Bessell’s Lightning Bolt Pipeliner replica is the most traditional of the bunch, with its classic red color, white pinlines, and hint of drop shadow around the Lightning Bolt logo.

 

Jon Wegener / Andy Davis

Last but not least is a Jon Wegener board with an Andy Davis hand-painted tribute to an iconic photo of Gerry Lopez standing tall in a Pipeline cavern. You will probably recognize Andy Davis’ artwork from a number of collaborations across the surfing world, such as with fine folks like Mollusk Surf Shop. Wegener is another well-regarded California shaper. Among other things, he is known for his finless paipo designs.

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!

Astrodeck Ad: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! As promised, we have another episode of Sagas of Shred, which features various bits of surf history from over the years. We have written about old Astrodeck ads before, but hey, you gotta keep drawing from the well until it’s dry! Today’s installment is an Astrodeck ad from the 1980s that features another murderer’s row of surfers. Pictured left to right: Willy Morris, Rabbit Bartholomew, Larry Bertlemann, Wes Laine, Gary Elkerton, and Chappy Jennings. The second picture has Hawaiian fixtures Buttons Kaluhiokalani and Rory Russell…because the All Star team assembled in the first one simply wasn’t enough! A lot has changed in surfing over the years, but Herbie Fletcher’s unparalleled ability to gather big name pros has not. Hope you enjoyed this post and tune in next Thursday for more Sagas of Shred!

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (April 30)

Greetings, Shredderz! Hope you are all having fantastic weekends. Without any further ado, here’s a selection of social media posts that have recently caught my eye.

Christian Fletcher’s signature model is the coolest. Raddest. Most-shredding-est. Choose whatever superlative you prefer; I just can’t get enough of these things.

Hit the “Continue Reading” link below for some more vintage surfboard goodness…

Continue reading “Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (April 30)”

Lightning Bolt: Rory Russell

Obligatory Lightning Bolt post alert!

It’s a rule, really: if I come across any decent-looking Lightning Bolts of non-sketchy provenance, onto Shred Sledz they go. I have my own quibbles with the iconic label, starting with the insane prices ($1,000 for this board), the murky pedigree of many boards (and the numerous ripoffs you see floating around), and so on. But there isn’t a more recognizable surfboard brand out there, and in my quest to delight you all, my dear readers, I will continue to sling the goods.

This board, via Craigslist in Deerfield Beach, Florida, is a Rory Russell model twin fin. It’s got some sweet channels with airbrush, which you can see in the last pic. The owner claims it’s all original save for some ding repair, and while the board definitely doesn’t look like it has been abused too badly, it blessedly lacks the obvious sheen and plastic surgery look of full-on resto boards that I can’t get down with. I can go on about how old surfboards ought to look old, when we get these restorations that seem to be about fantasy fulfillment more than anything else, but I know Shred Sledz’s devoted readers are here for bitchin’ boards, and not some bellyaching. Anyway, this Lightning Bolt measures in at a nice compact 5′9″, and while it’ll cost you plenty, it never costs anything to look.

Check it out here.