Speaking of Australian shapers, here’s Victoria legend Maurice Cole posing alongside a board he shaped for Tom Curren. You’re probably familiar with the timeless Curren cutback shot, taken by Tom Servais at Backdoor in 1991. In that shot Curren is surfing a 7’8″ reverse vee thruster shaped by Maurice Cole. You can see more on the 7’8″ here, from when it was sold at a recent auction. The board above is nearly identical — there are no stickers, like the board in the Servais photo, and it has the same neon yellow rails — but it’s 8’0″.
Here’s an awesome photo of Larry Bertlemann and Aipa from someone’s private photo stash. This is one of the classic shaper / surfer pairings from the Seventies — the inventor of the sting with one of his star test pilots.
Here’s Terry Fitzgerald with an absolute heat seeking missile tucked beneath his arm. The photo is by Dan Merkel and someone in the comments claims it was taken at Honolua Bay. For more on Fitz’s Hawaiian adventures, check out this board he made for Dick Brewer, and then this colorful Fitz / Lightning Bolt shape.
Last but certainly not least, we have the first ever Scorpion shaped by Donald Takayama! The Scorpion is one of DT’s best known models, but I’m surprised at how little information there is available about the board anywhere online. Click through to the comments for some cool stories from folks like Joel Tudor and Peter St Pierre about surfing this thing.
Greetings, Shredderz! It’s that time of year again: the Boardroom Show is almost upon us. For those of you unfamiliar, the Boardroom Show is an annual event that showcases the surfboard manufacturing industry. Sadly, I won’t be in attendance this year, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the proceedings.
While there’s a ton of great stuff about the show — for starters, Wayne Lynch will be making an appearance — in this blog post I’ll simply cover my favorite boards from the accompanying California Gold Surf Auction. The auction closes in less than three days, so hop on it if you’re eyeing any of the pristine sleds that are up for grabs.
It’s interesting to note how the selection of boards has changed over time. In my write up of last year’s auction I noted the increasing popularity of Eighties neon / Echo Beach influenced designs. I think this year’s California Gold Surf Auction represents a bit of a return to the classics. There are a ton of Sixties longboards, some cool Transition Era shapes, and a host of cool Seventies single fins, and some newer stuff, too.
You can learn more about the Boardroom Show here, and see here for a full list of the boards listed at auction. All photos in this post are via the Boardroom Show’s website. Keep reading below for a brief summary of my personal favorites from the 2019 California Gold Surf Auction:
If you forced me to choose a favorite board from the auction, I think this would be it. I think Fitz’s boards are still a bit underrated here in the States, and this one has it all. How about that rainbow stringer? The airbrush on the bottom is killer, and the unmistakable, sleek Seventies outline is gorgeous. You can read my post on an unusual Fitz-shaped Lightning Bolt here.
As a native New Yorker, I will always think of Rick Rasmussen as the gold standard for Empire State surfing. (Apologies to Balaram Stack, who is another favorite.) Here’s an absolutely stunning Rick Rasmussen single fin that’s listed for sale. The board pictured above is in much better condition than a previous Rasmussen surfboard I wrote up earlier this year. Click the photos to enlarge and get a shot of the black pin line on the deck.
Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight Fabric Inlay (Link)
The Bing David Nuuhiwa Lightweight is special enough on its own, but this example has the rare and gorgeous floral fabric inlay. I love the color of fabric pattern, especially in contrast with the fin. I have nothing against boards that have been fully restored, but I prefer them all original, imperfections and all. If anything, I dig the natural look of the slight discoloration on the deck.
Here’s another gorgeous Hawaiian heat seeking missile. Lightning Bolt is a classic for a reason. The board is all original, and for my money, I think it’s one of the prettiest sticks in the entire auction lineup. Check out that subtle double pin line, and the creamsicle colorway — complete with matching glass on fin — won’t ever go out of style. Parrish, of course, is a legendary shaper and one of the Lightning Bolt OGs. He’s still making boards today, so hit him up!
Miscellaneous / Final Thoughts
In no particular order, here are some other boards that I thought were really rad:
I realize some of my picks are a little unorthodox, but I like what I like, and that tends to skew more towards the Seventies and Eighties. No matter what, though, if you’re interested in surfboards, you can’t go wrong by giving the auction lots a closer look. Check out the California Gold Surf Auction site here and if you’re in San Diego, the Boardroom Show is well worth your time.
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 greatposts 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
How to describe the North Shore of Oahu, the famed strip of surf breaks that, at the start of every winter, becomes the beating heart of the entire surf world? Volcom dubbed the most famous piece of real estate in surfing “The Proving Grounds”, and while surfwear marketing is rarely inspired, this is a fitting name. Surfers have long made pilgrimages to the North Shore, and Aussie Terry Fitzgerald, AKA The Sultan of Speed, is no exception.
Fitzgerald’s first exposure to Hawaiian influence came during the world contest in 1970, held at Bells Beach. The Australians — Fitzgerald included — were riding equipment that was inferior to those of their Hawaiian counterparts. According to Fitzgerald, at the time of the contest he wasn’t particularly well-liked by his Australian peers. As a result, Fitzgerald ended up rooming in a hotel with Hawaiian surfers Ben Aipa and Paul Strauch. The experience left a lasting impression. “I got a whole new perspective out of that contest, and I connected with the network that was to become the foundation of my surfing life. …I was put in with Aipa and Strauch, and my mind was opened to the whole Hawaiian deal.”
The quote above can be found in “Accelerator”, an excellent Fitzgerald profile written by Phil Jarratt and published in The Surfer’s Journal. I cannot recommend the article enough; you can find a link to it here (article is free for TSJ subscribers, or $3.99 to download.)
Fitzgerald made his first trip to Hawaii in the spring of 1971. In Hawaii Fitzgerald met none other than Dick Brewer, one of the statesmen of Hawaiian surfing. “Accelerator” has a number of excellent details on how the two shapers’ partnership began to emerge. Brewer witnessed Fitzgerald surfing Rocky Rights and dubbed the young Australian the best surfer in the world. In the summer of that same year, Fitzgerald followed Brewer back to Kauai, where the two began to exchange ideas on surfboard design. Fitzgerald credits Brewer’s influence, but disputes the notion that he left Hawaii intent on aping Brewer.
“The boards I took to Hawaii in 1971 were very much Terry Fitzgerald creations. They were the boards that created my reputation, and they were made before I met Brewer. Basically, I’d taken the twin fin that Greg Hodges and I made, put a single fin on it and refined it along the lines of the boards that Russell Hughes and Dana Nicely were doing at Byron Bay. Dick’s genius was that he could look at what a TF or a Sam Hawk was doing and subtly integrate that into his own designs. He could pull together influences from a whole range of people in a way that worked. …By the end of 1971, I was in California making a real statement in foam, and I know I couldn’t have done that without the Brewer experience.”
Shortly after returning to his native Australia, Fitzgerald opened up his own shop and began selling his shapes under the Hot Buttered label. Even the name Hot Buttered has its origins in Fitzgerald’s Hawaii experiences: during the winter of 1971, Fitzgerald and Hawaiian surfer Owl Chapman had been listening to Isaac Hayes’ album “Hot Buttered Soul”, and the name stuck.
A few years later, Fitzgerald’s Hawaiian experience would come full circle.
The board pictured above is an incredible piece of surfing history that serves as a document for the cultural exchange between TF and Dick Brewer. It is a Hot Buttered single fin, shaped in either 1975 or 1976, that Terry Fitzgerald made for Dick Brewer. The board belongs to Mark Loh of Beach Beat, who kindly contributed the photos to this post.
The winged pintail setup is a hallmark of Fitzgerald’s designs from the Seventies. The board above measures in at 6’5″, and it is a single fin. According to Loh, the board has had some small repairs, but otherwise completely original. The board is in excellent shape considering its age, not to mention that swallowtails and wings are notoriously prone to damage.
One of the most classic logos in Australian surf history!
TF’s signature indicating the board was a gift for Dick Brewer
You can see Fitzgerald’s signature on the board. It clearly reads “T.F. Hawaii for Dick 6’5”. However, the board’s owner went one step further, and contacted Fitzgerald directly. Fitzgerald was able to issue a certificate of authenticity and provide some more details on the board itself.
Fitzgerald provides great insight on the various elements that went into the board’s design. It’s amazing to hear that despite the time spent together, Fitzgerald had never actually ridden one of Brewer’s boards! Finally, Fitzgerald notes the board was glassed by Jack Reeves and sanded by Tom Hawk (brother of the aforementioned Chris).
This is an amazing board, and Fitzgerald’s certificate is a wonderful source for some first-hand information. Finally, check out the original post featuring the board on Vintage Surfboard Collectors (Facebook). As you can see, I’m not the only person who was stoked about this find!
Thanks to Mark Loh for sharing the pictures and the story.