Rip Curl Tom Curren: Sagas of Shred

First of all, Shredderz, I’d like to offer a sincere apology. I know that many of you — perhaps even more than ten! — come to this blog on Thursday nights for a lighthearted look at vintage surf advertisements as part of the Sagas of Shred series. And while we have a fresh ad to share, I’m afraid this is a very serious matter. Look closely at the Rip Curl Tom Curren ad above.

Sharp eyed readers might notice that Rip Curl have misspelled Tom Curren’s name. I can’t say I’m thrilled about that — I mean, it’s not like Curren is the greatest surfer in California history, the state that helped shape surf culture as we know it — but whatever, it’s just a single letter.

No, the line in the sand is the fact that the Rip Curl ad pictured above depicts Tom Curren as a goofy foot.

I’m sorry. But I find this extremely offensive.

Really, Rip Curl? Did Curren spend his formative years dissecting Rincon on his backhand, like an earlier version of Bobby Martinez? Had I misremembered Curren’s indelible cutback at perfect Backdoor on a logo-less board all this time?

I can’t even focus on the hilarious copy — the earnest, corny “Rip Curl Does it Vest!” tagline, or the fact the product was actually named Aggrolite — or even the presence of a young Danny Kwock, alongside East Coast legend Wes Laine. I was, however, able to put my indignation aside long enough to note that Laine is toting a sweet-looking Canyon thruster, which was likely shaped by Rusty Preisendorfer.

Surfer Magazine Cover August 1983 Vol 24 No 8.jpg
Cover for the magazine in which the Rip Curl Tom Curren ad originally ran. Photo via Surfer Magazine

The ironic thing is the cover of the magazine in which the ad originally rad — August 1983, Vol 24 No 8 — features Curren, too!

The only acceptable explanation here is that Curren simply surfed this wave switch and Rip Curl neglected to mention it. Otherwise, I’m afraid that running a wetsuit ad with Curren as a goofy foot is like marketing “Terminator 2” as a romantic comedy. I like to think of myself as a pretty laid-back guy, but a good thirty five years after this ad originally ran in Surfer Magazine, I’m now considering a full-blown boycott to express my outrage over this Rip Curl Tom Curren ad.

As always, please visit us again next Thursday night, where we will have another vintage surf advertisement. Hopefully next week’s entry in Sagas of Shred manages to do justice to one of the greatest surfers of all time.

 

Tom Curren, Ocean Pacific, and Channel Islands Surfboards: Sagas of Shred

Greetings, Shredderz! Today’s vintage surf ad — part of the Sagas of Shred series — features the Eighties surf scene’s version of peanut butter and jelly: Tom Curren and Channel Islands Surfboards. Never mind that the ad is technically an OP ad. I still look back fondly on Ocean Pacific’s run as one of the surfwear heavyweights, but I think we can all agree that the real magic is the union between Tom Curren and CI mastermind Al Merrick.

Now, the real question is this: is the board Curren is holding none other than the legendary Red Beauty? Red Beauty was the name of the Al Merrick-shaped thruster Curren surfed to victory in the 1984 OP Pro. The Red Beauty model is still available via Channel Islands’ website today.

To be honest, I’m not sure. I doubt the board in the ad is the Red Beauty. First of all, the ran ad in the February 1986 issue of Surfer Magazine (Vol. 27, No. 2), which means the photo was likely taken sometime in late 1985. This would date the ad to a good year plus after the 1984 OP Pro.

I also found the below picture online. You can clearly see the board Curren surfing below is very different from the one he was in the ad (the below picture doesn’t have the Tom Curren logo, for example), yet it has the same red rails. Either way, I think the red rails were a very common design for many of Curren’s boards over the years.

Tom Curren Channel Islands.jpg
Curren about to launch into another beautiful bottom turn.

The other thing I love about the ad is the fact Curren is referred to as Tommy Curren. It seems like the Tommy name was favored by a number of Santa Barbara locals who grew up with Curren, and you’ll still see it pop up from time to time.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this post, and we’ll have another vintage surf ad for you next Thursday night as the Sagas of Shred train continues to chug along!

 

Social Media Roundup: RIP Charlie Bunger

Greetings, Shredderz! As always, here are some of my favorite social media posts I have seen over the past month. Keep scrolling for more.

I hate to start off with one of my own posts, but this time it’s important. Sadly, Charlie Bunger, one of the true OGs of the New York surf scene, passed away earlier this month. The only reason I included my own post is, well, it’s my favorite photo of a Bunger surfboard. RIP to Mr Bunger and thoughts and prayers to all his family and friends.

If, like me, you have an obsession with both Skip Frye boards and their opaque pricing, you’ll also enjoy the post above from Bird’s Surf Shed. (Roperized, for those who are unfamiliar, means the board was fixed up by San Diego local Joe Roper, who runs one of the better-known repair shops in town.) The Modern Machine is a G&S model, not a Skip outline, which Joel Tudor referenced in another recent Instagram post. Anyway, the G&S / Skip Frye board was listed for $1,200, which seems extremely fair to me.

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First gun I ever shaped, in Sumer of 1988. …30 years ago. @renoabellira was in San Clemente, building some boards @herbiefletcher SurfShop ( now @catalyst_sc ) that summer, where I worked. He gave me a little help with the outline and rocker. I took it to Hawaii (on my first trip ever) and surfed fun sized #SunsetBeach…as well as the best #Laniakea I’ve still ever seen to this day. I ran out of money and sold it to a used board surf shop in Honolulu. In 2005, on Hawaiian holiday with my family, I found it sitting in the used racks @ #SurfandSea SurfShop, Haleiwa ( remember that @crawford.eddie ! ). Ofcourse I bought it, and brought it back. Here it is now, sitting in the lam room, @catalyst_sc , exactly where is was first built. Home 🏠. #PacificCoastFiberglass #Suds #MickyT @astrodeck

A post shared by Matt Biolos (@mayhemsurfboards_mattbiolos) on

Is this pushing the limits of vintage? Maybe. Do I care? Not one bit. I hardly ever write about high performance thrusters — mostly because I can’t surf them! — but I am an unabashed fan of Matt Biolos and his Lost Surfboards label. I’ve never met the dude but he seems knowledgeable without being the least bit pretentious. Anyway, this board has some nice history, as it not only involves Mayhem, but also Reno Abellira and Herbie Fletcher.

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Surfed out Al looking at his watch, futility trying to convince Shaun that he needs to get back to the shaping room. Shaun almost smirking, “as if.” Low tide and firing. 5 minutes later Shaun and the professor are walking back up the point for another go. • These early 80’s session, “Shaun at the Con” with Al are legendary. Al has often cited these surfs as some of his most cherished surfing memories. The presence of Shaun, his board, his surfing were all out of place, not Rincon's status quo. This one seemingly basic image of two guys talking, of cobblestones and sticks, red single fins, of black wetsuits and mustaches at the foot of the cove where the trail empties out, this one simple image represents a relationship and the flash point of all that was to come. • #almerrick #shauntomson #rincon #twinfin #santabarbara #surfinglife #surfphotography #cisurfboards @cisurfboards @cisurfboards_sbstore @oneill #adayatthebeach #cobblestone #mustache #allday @cisurfboardssantamonica @cisurfboards_europe @cisurfboards_japan @cisurfboards_africa @cisurfboards_oz

A post shared by Jimmy Metyko (@metykojimmy) on

Jimmy Metyko is a photographer who has been sharing some real gems on Instagram lately. I urge you to give him a follow. He has chronicled some of the great moments in California surf history, with a particular focus on Santa Barbara and legends like Tom Curren and Al Merrick.

Finally, Pat Rawson is well worth the follow. Despite having a resume that any shaper would envy, Rawson is still going strong. He shares a lot of posts on his modern shapes and the details behind the boards, rooted in his deep knowledge of the craft.

Eighties Ocean Pacific Ad featuring Tom Curren: Sagas of Shred

Before we start, I’d like to make one thing clear: this might be a free country, but Shred Sledz is a blog that will not tolerate any slander of Tom Curren whatsoever. This is non-negotiable.

That said…I’d like to know who at OP in the Eighties thought it would be a good idea to cast Curren as a would-be heartthrob for these advertisements. Again, in case the previous paragraph wasn’t clear, the blame is being laid squarely at the feet of the once-ubiquitous surf brand, and not with the most stylish regular foot of all time.

But this is marketing malpractice! Why is the picture of Curren gazing off into the distance approximately eight times the size of him ripping on a signature Channel Islands Al Merrick stick?

And while I’d like to be outraged by the Ocean Pacific ad featured above…at the end of the day, I can’t bring myself to truly dislike it, no matter how ridiculous the photoshoot might be. In fact, if anyone knows where I could find a version of the shirt Curren is rocking in the ad, I’d definitely be interested (though I don’t think I’m capable of actually pulling it off).

As a palate cleanser, please enjoy Tom Curren’s first-ever wave he rode at Jeffreys Bay. Curren famously refused to visit South Africa for years, due to his objections to Apartheid. This footage was shot by the legendary Sonny Miller. Fast forward to the 1:43 mark to see some truly virtuoso level surfing:

As always, thank you for reading, and check back next Thursday for more Sagas of Shred.

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup: #Fryeday Edition (September 1)

Greetings, Shredderz! Here to take you into the weekend is a celebration of one of California’s finest board builders, one Harry “Skip” Frye. Don’t forget to check out the latest issue of The Surfer’s Journal for a comprehensive look at Skip’s personal quiver. In the meantime, here are some social media selections showing off Skip’s shapes…

I wrote about this Skip Frye single fin when it was posted on Craigslist…and I’m still kicking myself for not buying it! This is the only Frye I have seen with a Select Surf Shop laminate, and it’s got a sick little wing pin outline to boot. I’m glad that it found a good home with Buggs, who runs Surfboard Line. The board has been fixed up and looks better than ever. Make sure you scroll through all the pictures!

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A palm reflection off two Skip Frye's

A post shared by taylor_knox (@taylor_knox) on

Taylor Knox owes his long career to his powerful rail surfing. It’s difficult to imagine him laying these gliders into his patented spray-chucking carves, but if there’s anyone who can pull it off, it’s Taylor Knox! I’m just stoked to see this unexpected but rad union between two opposite ends of the famously varied spectrum that is San Diego surfing. Don’t hold your breath for Joel Tudor to bust out a high performance thruster, though…

I don’t know a word of Japanese, but I do know how to recognize an incredible quiver when I see one…

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Holy Grail. Art and shape by Skip Frye.

A post shared by Val Dusty 69mm (@beyond_litmus) on

This board is a bit of a mystery, but don’t skip over it because of the abstract picture! Skip Frye shaped this board for use at Jeffrey’s Bay, and it ended up being ridden by Derek Hynd (and I believe Tom Curren, too). You can read more about the board and the session in Andrew Kidman’s forthcoming Beyond Litmus book.

A young Skip Frye holding an early Gordon & Smith board. Interesting to note Skip’s board doesn’t have any Frye logos on it — it must pre-date his signature models for the brand.

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…

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Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (April 23)

Greetings, Shredderz! Here are some interesting vintage surf posts I’ve stumbled across in my recent internet travels.

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#toughchoice

A post shared by Island Trader (@islandtradersurfshop) on

Island Trader Surf Shop is a great shop in Stuart, Florida that happens to sell some pretty rad vintage boards. They don’t update their blog frequently, but when they do, there are some great gems. (I’m partial to this Harbour Rapier and this transitional Hobie board with a tiger stripe spray.) Back to the shot above: this looks like an old Weber Surfboads ad. I love the floral print inlays on the decks, and the “WEBER TEAM 67 PERFORMER” is a sweet looking board that must have been made for team riders back in the day.

Hit the link below for some more selections…

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Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (3/30)

Greetings, Shredderz! As always, see below for my hand picked selections of some high quality social media.

I’ve been writing about Morey Pope a bit lately, and here’s an incredible find from Buggs, who has one of the dopest surfboard collections known to mankind, and runs SurfboardLine in his free time. This is a balsa Morey Pope board from what looks to be 1966 — see the comments for some more knowledgeable people chiming in with info on this beaut.

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My hero renny

A post shared by Joel_tudor (@joeljitsu) on

Joel Tudor has been posting a lot of quality vintage content on his Instagram lately. This is a picture of Renny Yater. I’d guess late 1950s or early 1960s, but don’t quote me on that. Either way, it is one classic picture of one classic dude (and posted by another!)

Continue reading “Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (3/30)”

Classic Combo: Channel Islands Tom Curren Model

Is there a more perfect pairing than Tom Curren and Al Merrick? (And while I am flattered by all the suggestions from faithful readers that yours truly and Gisele Bundchen would also make a fantastic combo, I’d like to reiterate that Mrs. Shred Sledz vehemently disagrees.) Pictured here is a beautiful Channel Islands Tom Curren Model.

Curren and Merrick both hail from the Santa Barbara area. Curren, of course, is one of the most celebrated surfers ever. While he has a tidy three world titles to his name, Curren’s popularity has more to do with his unhurried, smooth style, which is still mentioned as the gold standard for regularfoots. His mystique doesn’t hurt, either, as Curren has been content to disappear from pro surfing’s SoCal / Hawaii bubble and chase down mysto waves on obscure equipment.

Likewise, Merrick is one of the most distinguished shapers in surf history. He has made boards for just about every big name California pro you could think of, and during Kelly Slater’s run in the 90s and the 2000s, Merrick was responsible for putting boards under his feet. Unsurprisingly, Merrick’s Channel Islands brand became a behemoth (it’s now owned by Burton Snowboards), and it continues to boast a roster of top pros, although it seems like the shaping torch has been passed to his son, Britt Merrick.

What we have here, via Craigslist in the SF Bay Area, is a Channel Islands Tom Curren signature model. It doesn’t look like an Al Merrick handshape – boards that Al personally shaped have his signature on the stringer, along with the fish logo, like this one – but based on the “Max” signature on the stringer, and this Swaylocks thread, I’d wager this board is shaped by Max McDonald. (Max doesn’t show up as a shaper on Stoked-n-Board’s page for Channel Islands, but the explanation in the Swaylocks thread makes a lot of sense to me.)

I’d guess the Channel Islands Tom Curren model featured here is from sometime in the mid- to late-80s, maybe even the 90s. There are a few dings here and there, but overall it looks like it’s entirely original and in pretty good shape. There might be some damage on one of the glass-on fins, which is worth checking out in further detail. I gotta say I absolutely love the logos, even though it’s a bit overboard and excessive. The first board Shred Sledz’s Editor-in-Chief ever bought was a Channel Islands step-up, as a wide-eyed 16 year old grommet, and the brand has remained near and dear to my heart ever since.

Best of all this board is only going for $250. I remain stunned at how cheap you can get vintage Channel Islands boards – even Merrick handshapes – nowadays. I can’t imagine these boards will remain affordable for long, especially since Al doesn’t seem to shape anymore, even for his team riders. I think this is such a rad board at a phenomenal price.

Check out the Channel Islands Tom Curren Model for sale here.