Vintage Kelly Slater Sundek Ad: Sagas of Shred

While this blog is a celebration of vintage surfboards and surf history in general, it is never my intention to make people feel old. But as I look at this vintage Kelly Slater Sundek ad and do the math, and slowly come to the horrifying realization that the image is thirty years old…well, I can’t help but feel ancient.

And jeez, can we talk about the Champ’s longevity for a second? Even though it’s a subject that has been discussed to death, it’s still possible that Kelly is underrated. An entire three plus decades after first arriving upon the surf scene, Kelly has arguably yet to peak, thanks to his role in ushering in what could prove to be the wave pool revolution. It’s amazing to think that in an age where Kelly is not only relevant, but still the most influential surfer in the world, that he ever shared space on a surf clothing company advert with someone like Corky Carroll. No disrespect to Corky, of course, but Slater’s career is now starting to warp time itself.

The Kelly Slater Sundek ad pictured at the top of the page was originally published in Surfer Magazine in 1988. For some other Hall of Fame moments in vintage Sundek ads, check out some of Ken Bradshaw’s work for the brand. It looks like Sundek is still kicking around these days, but it is nowhere close to its apex as one of the pre-eminent surfwear brands of the 1980s. In doing a little research, I discovered that Sundek was apparently founded in San Francisco, of all places, in 1958. Frankly, I was surprised to learn that Sundek is such a venerable brand. It’s too bad that it has since been recycled through a variety of owners, with none seemingly interested in reviving the things that made the brand such a recognizable name in the first place.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this shot of the future 11-time world champ in his adolescence, before he became synonymous with the sport of surfing itself. For more content like this vintage Kelly Slater Sundek ad, tune in next Thursday for more Sagas of Shred.

Ken Bradshaw: Big Wave Charger & Surfboard Shaper

The subject of today’s post is noted big wave surfer Ken Bradshaw. Before we get to the pictures of a cool Ken Bradshaw surfboard or two, it’s worth filling in some detail on the man himself. Bradshaw was a respected presence in some of the heaviest lineups on Oahu’s North Shore throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. His fame, however, reached another level in 1998, during the height of the tow-in craze, when Bradshaw allegedly surfed the biggest wave ever during the infamous Condition Black swell that winter. There’s an excellent Surfline feature on the session which you can find here.

Amazingly, there are no photos of Bradshaw’s infamous ride that day, although eyewitnesses seem to agree that it was absolutely insane. You know it’s serious when the wave pictured below, taken from the same session, was NOT the biggest one surfed that day.

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Ken Bradshaw at Outer Log Cabins, Winter 1998. Photo by Brian “Hank” Stephens, via

Bradshaw had been shaping surfboards for a good twenty years before the infamous Condition Black session in 1998. Despite hailing from Texas, Bradshaw quickly became a fixture in Hawaii, and started shaping for Lightning Bolt before striking out on his own in 1978. If you want to read more about Bradshaw, the Encyclopedia of Surfing has a typically excellent entry, which you can find here.

It seems like Bradshaw doesn’t shape as much as he used to — something that I haven’t been able to confirm — but every once in a while you will see some of his older boards for sale. Two Ken Bradshaw surfboards are currently up for sale.

The first board, pictured above, is currently up for sale on eBay. You can find a link to the board here. This thing is in absolutely immaculate condition, and you can see in the last picture that there is a clear signature on the stringer as well. Few things warm my heart quite like the glow of a neon airbrush, and this gem checks all the boxes. I love the design of the “B” logo, and the flames are too good! I don’t think I could keep a straight face if I were to order a flame airbrush on my next board.

As of the time this post was written, there are still three days left in the auction, and the price is $405. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this thing sell for a lot more by the time bidding closes.

Check out the board on eBay here.

Hit the jump for another classic Bradshaw shape…

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