Greetings, Shredderz! As the holiday weekend fades into the rearview, here’s a hit of vintage surfboard goodness to help ease the transition back into the real world. The focus of today’s post is a bit of Santa Cruz surf history: a vintage Chuck Vinson Surfboards single fin, reportedly shaped in 1973. One of the things that makes writing this blog enjoyable — besides the fame and the money, of course — is the opportunity to shine a light on underground shapers; board builders whose influence outstrips their visibility. Chuck Vinson certainly fits the bill. A Google search for Vinson’s boards doesn’t yield much, save for a testimonial from Shred Sledz favorite Marc Andreini, via the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center. In the post, Andreini gives some great context on the time Vinson spent shaping for Lightning Bolt during the brand’s heyday in the 1970s. The SHACC link also has a great picture of a Vinson-shaped Bolt.
The board pictured here is a 7’3″ Chuck Vinson Surfboards single fin, and it is for sale on Craigslist in Santa Cruz, California. You can find the board here. Don’t be fooled by the typo in the listing — this is most certainly a Vinson-shaped board. The Vinson board was also listed for sale a little while back on the Vintage Surfboard Collectors Facebook group. Pics below are via the Craigslist posting.
The listing claims that the pin lines on the board were done by Laura Noe. I can only assume this is the wife of Rick Noe, another old-school Santa Cruz legend. Rick’s son Buck continues to shape boards for the Noe Surfboards brand today. On an earlier Instagram post, Buck mentioned how his Mom had designed the initial Steamer Lane Surfboards logo.
Sadly, Chuck Vinson passed away earlier this year. Just this past weekend Chuck was honored with a paddle out in Santa Cruz. RIP Mr Vinson, and thank you for your wonderful surfboards.
Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s post features an interesting bit of California history. The board pictured above is an O’Neill gun shaped by Tom Overlin that is currently listed for sale on Craigslist. You can find a link to the board here. Pics above are via the Craigslist posting.
First and foremost, the board above is a beautiful example of a serious big-wave gun. It’s almost certainly an older shape given the outline, the glassed-on fin, and the old-school O’Neill logo. The seller dates the board to 1975. I am not sure where the date comes from, given there are no markings on the stringer or elsewhere on the board. The measurements are 9’5″ x 19″ x 3.5″. And if you still have any doubts about how much foam has been packed into the board’s dimensions, check out the picture above featuring the beaked nose.
I imagine the board must have been crafted for macking days at Steamer Lane’s Middle Peak. The board’s Santa Cruz heritage is clear. First is the old-school logo, which can be found on Stoked-n-Board’s O’Neill entry, albeit without any dates. More importantly, the second picture indicates the board was designed by Pat O’Neill and shaped by Tom Overlin. Jack O’Neill, the founder of wetsuit brand of the same name, has a son named Pat — this cannot be a coincidence.
The board was shaped by Tom Overlin, who has many roots in Santa Cruz. Overlin used to occupy the space behind Doug Haut’s shop on Swift Street in Santa Cruz. Haut Surfboards still occupies its original location, and it remains an important part of the Santa Cruz surf community (Marc Andreini will pass along lightly used personal riders to the Haut shop). Overlin was a well-known surfer and shaper in Santa Cruz during the 1970s, before leaving in 1977 to Oregon. There’s a great thread on Swaylocks with some colorful stories about Overlin’s time in Santa Cruz. Water Brothers’ legendary Sid Abruzzi is a fan of Overlin’s shapes, and there’s a nice video on Vimeo where Abruzzi goes over his mini-quiver of Overlins. Sadly, Overlin passed away around a decade ago.
Finally, a note about prices. The board is listed on Craigslist for $3,000. Despite all the nice things I have to say about the board, I can’t justify the price. It’s also being sold at Surfing Cowboys / 1stDibs.com, and the price is $250 cheaper there. You can find some additional pictures on the 1stDibs link in the previous sentence.
There isn’t too much to say here, other than it has been a bad week for surf legends. O’Neill is widely credited with inventing the wetsuit and thus changing the sport forever. Pic above courtesy of Santa Cruz Waves.
Today’s post is going to be a relatively short one. Usually I like to go a little more in-depth, but it’s late and there’s more to life than cool surfboards (only kidding).
If, like me, you occasionally surf in Santa Cruz, you have no doubt heard of Peter Mel. Peter can currently be seen on computer screens everywhere as a commentator for the World Surf League. He became a fixture in the nineties surf scene thanks to his standout performances at Mavericks, the legendary NorCal big wave proving grounds.
Peter’s father, John Mel, owns Freeline Surf, a local surf shop in Santa Cruz that has been an integral part of the surf community there since it opened in 1969. (Peter Mel has a son, also named John, who is an up-and-coming ripper in his own right!) In addition to running the shop, John Mel is a well-regarded shaper who was recently honored by the Boardroom Show‘s Icons of Foam Series.
Pictured at the top of the page is a John Mel / Freeline surfboard that is currently for sale on Craigslist in Santa Cruz. The Craigslist poster estimates the board is from the late 70s or early 80s, and the 2 + 1 fin setup is an unusual touch for board from that era. I’d almost call it a fish, given the wings and the swallow tail, were it not for the fin setup. And check out the paint job, which has a Larry Bertlemann Pepsi feel to it. I’ve never seen that particular version of the “Freeline Design” logo located on the rails, either.
As a bonus, here’s an old John Mel / Freeline Designs ad I found on the Surf Channel. I love the “Knee Machines” reference.
And yes, John Mel rips.
If you’re interested in the board, you can check it out here.
Given that I call Northern California home these days, I feel obligated to shed light on some shapers from this neck of the woods – particularly when considering the platform afforded to me thanks to Shred Sledz’s worldwide notoriety as THE destination for verbose posts about old and obscure surfboards. Look, when you have a reader base that extends into the single digits…it’s practically a duty to give back.
Noë Surfboards is based out of Santa Cruz. The label was originally started by Rick Noe, who sadly passed away in 2004. However, Noe Surfboards continues strong today thanks to Rick’s son Buck, who shapes boards for some of the best surfers in the Santa Cruz area. For a moving look at the history and the heritage behind the brand, you should check out Noe’s website.
The board pictured here is for sale in Sebastopol California on Craigslist. The only dimensions listed are 7′4″, and it has a classic 70s single fin / diamond tail design. The board looks like it is in incredible shape, and I can’t get enough of that Steamer Lane logo and the sweet airbrush. If I had to guess, the board pre-dates the Noë brand as we know it today. According to Stoked-n-Board, Noë Surfboards was started in 1970, so I would guess this shape is from sometime in the early 70s. The seller is asking $400. On one hand, that is pricey for a used board, but on the other, this is an unusual board from an extremely well-regarded Santa Cruz shaper that is also in great condition.