Randy Rarick: North Shore Icon

Greetings, Shredderz! A few months ago I had the good fortune to visit Oahu. Even if you have so much as a passing interest in surfing, Hawaii, and the North Shore in particular, is Mecca. Every winter the storied seven mile stretch of coastline becomes the center of the sport, hosting countless pilgrimages from around the world. Even for someone like me, whose surfing ability is best described as limited, a visit to Oahu’s proving grounds is practically required. During my time in Hawaii I had the good fortune of spending part of an afternoon with North Shore fixture Randy Rarick. Rarick, who still rips Sunset Beach, owns one of the most varied and fascinating surfing resumes on the planet: a surfer, first and foremost; a shaper, with stints at both Surf Line Hawaii and Lightning Bolt; an event organizer, who served as the longtime contest director for the Triple Crown of Surfing; and perhaps the authority on vintage surfboards.

Rarick and his home break of Sunset Beach on Oahu’s North Shore, just steps from his house and shaping room.

Rarick is known for glass-off restorations of vintage boards. The process involves completely stripping off the fiberglass from a board and then re-glassing the shape. It is a long and laborious process that transforms beaters destined for the trash heap into showroom-worthy collectors’ items. If you have ever looked at recent high-end surfboard auctions, you have no doubt seen Rarick’s work. It’s also worth noting that Rarick pioneered the collector-focused surfboard auctions, although he has since passed the baton.

There are a range of opinions on the practice of full glass-off restorations — surfers are nothing if not opinionated — and at one extreme, the most vocal critics claim this can compromise the integrity of the board itself. Rarick has shared extensive thoughts on the subject, and for more on his perspective, I highly recommend this Surfer’s Journal profile. Many folks far more knowledgeable than me have weighed in on the subject, and while I personally love (and prefer) the slight imperfections of older boards, I simultaneously have a deep respect for the craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into a full glass-off restoration.

Rarick’s shaping room has probably seen more classic surfboards than any other place on earth. As you can see in the photo below, Rarick preserves laminates from boards he has restored. Each one of the laminates pinned to the walls represents a board that Rarick worked on.

Yes, that is eleven different Phil Edwards Honolulu laminates you see.

I love the practice of preserving the original laminates from these boards. If nothing else, it’s a great way to document the sheer number of notable surfboards that have passed through Rarick’s shaping room. When I picked up my jaw off the floor and told Rarick I couldn’t believe how many rare shapes he had restored, he casually mentioned that there had been even more laminates hanging up until someone had come through and purchased a bunch.

Rarick’s shaping room is small, and it’s hard to imagine a space with more surf history per square inch. And while there are plenty of reminders of all the boards Rarick has worked on in the past, I was just as interested in the projects that were currently under way. In the photo below you can see a unique wooden blank (second from top). The blank is actually crafted from wiliwili, also known as Hawaiian balsa, as part of a project with Tom Parrish, another renowned Hawaiian shaper and Lightning Bolt alumnus.

Parrish posted a different wiliwili board on his Instagram, which I have embedded below.

During my visit Rarick was in the midst of restoring an Inter-Island Surf Shop Hydro Gun shaped by John Kelly. The board would later appear at the California Gold Vintage Surf Auction.

Inter-Island Surf Shop John Kelly Hydro Gun, stripped down to the foam

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Kelly’s Hydro Gun is the insane Scorpion tail, which you can see below.

Close up of the scorpion tail on the John Kelly Hydro Gun

It was really cool to see the board as a bare blank, midway through the restoration process. I don’t have any photos of what the Hydro Gun looked like before the restoration, but the auction listing has some great shots of the finished product.

Rarick was incredibly generous with both his time as well as the vast amounts of knowledge he has accumulated over the decades. Speaking with Rarick was also a reminder of the importance of learning surf history by meeting the people who helped make it. There are times when I chafe at surfing’s fondness for oral tradition, mostly because it can make research so difficult. And while I am a proud advocate of putting as much surf history online as possible, my time with Rarick underscored the fact that it’s so much more informative and rewarding to speak to people in person, especially when those conversations take place steps from storied Sunset Beach. Thanks again to Randy Rarick for sharing his time and making this modest blog post possible.

Photo at the top of the page by Lance Trout; Randy Rarick, Sunset Beach, 1978.

[UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Barry Kanaiaupuni as Reno Abellira. The caption has been updated. Sorry for the mistake and thanks to everyone who helpfully pointed it out.)

July Flyin’ By: Social Media Roundup

Greetings, Shredderz! For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s crazy to think that summer is almost behind us already. But while the days are still long and the weather is warm I thought it’d be great to review some of the better surf-related social media that has crossed my desk recently. Without any further ado, here are some choice cuts for you to enjoy

Tyler Warren is a talented surfer and shaper, and here at Shred HQ we’re big fans of his work. In fact, Warren got a brief shout out in the last Sagas of Shred entry for a beautiful single fin he crafted for Dane Gudauskas. This time we have Warren behind the controls of an original Sixties Hobie Phil Edwards Model. He claims it’s not an easy board to surf, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that from watching the clip above. It’s always nice to see a historically significant board still get wet every now and then.

Gordon & Smith posted this really cool mini-gallery of a reproduction of a vintage flex tail egg. I love the comparison between the newer board and the original. It’s unclear to me if Skip Frye himself shaped the original egg, but needless to say, his involvement with providing some design pointers makes the end product even cooler. Very stoked for the owner who counts both of these sleds among his collection!

It’s practically a rule at this point: any Social Media Roundup entry is likely to feature at least one board that Luis Real has added to his collection. Luis is a machine and I mean that in the nicest possible way! Anyway, he somehow managed to find this stunning Seventies Tom Parrish shaped single fin. The artwork and the colors on this thing are nothing short of amazing. You can go see it at the North Shore Surf Shop in Haleiwa if you’re so inclined, along with the rest of Luis’ ridiculous quiver.

I’ve been meaning to write a longer post on the infamous Morey-Pope Blue Machine, but it’s one of the many items on my to do list that only seems to collect dust. Until I saw the post above, I didn’t realize that Morey-Pope had also made a green version of the Blue Machine. The board belongs to Buggs, another prolific collector whose sticks have made it into these pages over the years.

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Russell x Stussy

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Look, I don’t make the rules here, I just follow them. And any time I see a sick Stussy shape pop up on the Gram, well, you know it’ll be resurfacing here. I love the boards Stussy made for Russell Surfboards in the Seventies, and this is a really sweet example.

Photo at the top of the page by Jereme Aubertin, featuring Tyler Warren surfing in New Zealand, via Corona.

Social Media Roundup: May 2019

You know the drill, Shredderz! See below for a selection of some of my favorite social media posts over the past month or so.

This is the only example of a Hakman / Parrish laminate that I have seen. Wish I knew more about the board but it’s gorgeous. Lately I’ve become more interested in Tom Parrish’s career — even more so after reading his Encyclopedia of Surfing entry, which mentions how Parrish became a lawyer in the Eighties. Photo at the top of the page features Hakman on a Parrish shape; photo is courtesy of the excellent Lyttle Street blog.

I haven’t seen Buggs’ collection myself, but judging by what he posts, both on Instagram and Surfboardline.com (which sadly appears to be down right now), it’s filled with gems. If you the photo above doesn’t immediately make you bring your phone within two inches of your face and start frantically zooming in, then I might not be able to help you.

Pictured above is one of my favorite boards that I have seen online: an all original Jeff Ho / Zephyr surfboard with some incredible colors. Apparently the owner was able to snag this for a song, too.

Here’s Carl Ekstrom, the creator of the asymmetrical surfboard, posing alongside a newer shape via Ryan Lovelace, on a fancy new Varial Foam blank, too. I love it when surfboard design comes full circle like this.

The Boardroom Show / California Gold Surf Auction 2019

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:

Terry Fitzgerald Hot Buttered Winged Pin (Link)

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.

Rick Rasmussen Seventies Single Fin (Link)

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.

Tom Parrish Lightning Bolt (Link)

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.

Shred Sledz Social Media Roundup (July 26)

Greetings, Shredderz! As always, here’s a sampling of some of the finest surfboard pictures recently found on the world wide web…

As I’ve written before, Lightning Bolt’s notoriety in the 1970s was a double-edged sword. The label’s popularity meant the signature bolt design was slapped on boards that had nothing to do with its Hawaiian bloodlines. Pictured above is a nice selection of genuine articles, via the Australian National Surfing Museum.

 

Yup, another classic piece of Hawaiian surf history, this time presented by the Lost & Found Collection. L&FC came about when its founder discovered boxes of pristine surf photography slides from the 1970s at a flea market. It has since blossomed into a wonderful project that supports surf photographers and the history of surfing. I highly recommend checking out the site and following them on Instagram, too. Pictured above is Larry Bertlemann alongside one of his signature Pepsi surfboards. Dying to know who the shaper might be…if anyone has more info, drop me a line!

 

If you object to the above post on the grounds that it’s not vintage enough, then I’d like to politely refer you to Andy Irons’ gesture in the photo. Happy belated birthday to The Champ, the only surfer to take on Slater during his prime and win.

 

Finally, I figured we’d throw our Aussie friends a little bone. Pictured above is Wayne Lynch with the first ever surfboard he shaped! It’s great to see a close up photo of this board, and one in color. For more on Lynch’s early boards, check out this earlier post, which is still one of the pieces of which I am proudest.

 

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Early 1960's #consurfboards #🐖 #singlefinlog

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Just a beautiful 1960s Con Surfboards log in lovely condition. Check out that D Fin! Love the color of the stringer…I love everything about this board, really.

Surf Line Hawaii: Shred Sledz Deep Dive

Greetings, Shredderz, and welcome to the latest Shred Sledz Deep Dive! Today’s Deep Dive features a venerable Hawaiian surf brand that has long deserved a closer look: Surf Line Hawaii. Before I get into the history, though, let’s skip right to the good stuff: pictures of awesome surfboards.

First up is a single fin shaped by none other than respected Hawaiian shaper Dennis Pang. Pang got his start at Surf Line Hawaii in 1976, before moving on to some of the most recognizable Hawaiian brands, like Lightning Bolt, Town & Country, and Local Motion. The board below was originally listed on eBay (pics originally found on the eBay post).

This thing is clean and mean. I love the black & white color scheme and the pinlines, with just a touch of color on the logos on both rails. I was a bit stunned when the board didn’t sell for $450, considering that another Surf Line board by Dennis Pang sold for $1800 ten years ago!

Surf Line Hawaii History

Surf Line Hawaii began as a surf shop on Oahu. It was founded by Dave Rochlen, and I believe Fred Swartz as well. By the time the shortboard revolution started in earnest, the shop began to put out boards under its own label.

I was blown away when I saw all the well-regarded shapers who passed through Surf Line over the years. According to Stoked-n-Board, Ben Aipa, Randy Rarick, Tom Parrish and Michel Junod, in addition to the aforementioned Dennis Pang, all shaped for Surf Line at some point!

Aipa Surf Line Hawaii
Aipa for Surf Line Hawaii. Board was made for Tony Moniz in 1981. Tony is a former pro and father to Josh and Seth, two up-and-coming Hawaiian pros in their own right. Pic taken from Boardcollector.com

However, I was even more shocked when I found out that Lightning Bolt’s famed core group — Gerry Lopez, Reno Abellira and Barry Kanaiaupuni — were all early Surf Line shapers. Lopez actually spent some time working in Surf Line’s offices on the business side.

Gerry Lopez Surf Line Hawaii Offices 1972.jpeg
Gerry Lopez working at his “first real job” in the Surf Line Hawaii offices on Oahu, 1972. Picture via Gerry’s personal website.

Here is a great Surfer Magazine interview with Tom Parrish that expands on how a bunch of Surf Line employees broke away to found Lightning Bolt. Bolt was founded by Lopez and Jack Shipley, the latter being Surf Line’s top salesman at the time. Shortly thereafter, Reno, Barry and co followed Lopez and Shipley out the door. It’s really saying something when it’s hard to find space to mention Dick Brewer‘s involvement with Surf Line, as well!

Surf Line Hawaii Surfboards

The board pictured below was shaped by Barry Kanaiaupuni. It was sold at the Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction in 2007, where it went for a mere $1,000 (anyone have a time machine handy?) Pics were taken from the auction site (original link here). I love everything about this board: the listing calls the bottom a “root beer” color, the purple fin pops, and I love the logo, with its clean lines and two-tone color job.

After Lopez left to found Lightning Bolt, Buddy Dumphy took the lead on shaping boards at Surf Line. Lopez writes about Dumphy in his memoir “Surf Is Where You Find It”. Patagonia’s website has a great excerpt from Lopez’s memoir, “Surf is Where You Find It”, where Lopez describes his early friendship with Dumphy and their early experiences riding new surfboard designs.

I’m fascinated by Dumphy’s boards. While they seem to be coveted by a segment of collectors, Dumphy shapes don’t seem to generate the same excitement as those from shapers like Barry K, Reno, and of course Gerry himself. Still, Lopez’s respect for Dumphy speaks volumes about his abilities as a shaper. Sadly, Dumphy passed away as the result of a car accident sometime in the 1990s.

The single coolest Dumphy board I was able to find online was posted by HolySmoke.jp. I have no clue if the board is for sale but that airbrush is absolutely killer!

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The 70s were a great decade for surfboard airbrushes…

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Here’s another Dumphy single fin, which was also sold at the Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction in 2007. I love the plumeria logo on the deck. It looks like this thing was shaped in the 70s for some serious North Shore surf. Pics taken from the original auction listing.

 

I was able to find a few Dumphy boards currently for sale online. There’s one currently for sale at New Jersey’s Brighton Beach Surf Shop, and it’s only listed at $450. Link to the board can be found here. I think it’s underpriced, considering the history of both the brand and Dumphy, but then again, the Pang board at the top of the page failed to clear the same $450 mark.

Surfboardhoard.com has a different Dumphy Surf Line Hawaii single fin for sale, but they don’t list the price. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s north of $450. You can find that board here.

Surf Line Hawaii has such a rich history and a deep stable of shapers, it makes it hard to spotlight just a few boards! Standard Store / UsedSurf.jp are selling two other 70s single fins. Note that because the boards are in Japan, the prices are much higher. But they illustrate the wide variety of cool logos that Surf Line employed throughout the years. Boards can be found here and here (pictures below taken from Usedsurf.jp). The boards are credited to Steve Wilson / Welson (guessing the difference is a translation issue), but I couldn’t find any evidence of a shaper by that name. If anyone has some details, let me know!

 

Finally, no Surf Line Hawaii post would be complete without a mention of Randy Rarick. In addition to organizing the Triple Crown of Surfing, putting on auctions like the aforementioned Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction, Rarick restores old surfboards. There is currently a Surf Line Hawaii board for sale on eBay that Rarick restored. The board is not a Rarick shape, but rather, it was made in 1971 by Ryan Dotson. You can find a link to the board here, and I have included some pictures below as well. (Pictures are from the eBay listing.)

Surf Line Hawaii: Odds and Ends

Believe it or not, I haven’t even covered all of the Surf Line Hawaii shapers, like Rick Irons and Sparky Scheufele! If nothing else, that speaks to the incredibly deep collection of shapers that passed through the brand over the years. Sadly, Surf Line Hawaii no longer seems to be in business. It seems as if they stopped producing surfboards long ago (I would guess sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, but that is just a guess), and a Yelp listing indicates that Surf Line’s Honolulu retail location has closed, too.

Nonetheless, Surf Line Hawaii played a prominent role in the Hawaiian surf scene, and remains one of the most impressive collections of shaping talent ever.

I hope you enjoyed this Deep Dive! If you have any pictures of any Surf Line boards you would like to share, or any comments at all, please reach out via the Contact section. Thank you for reading, and may your stoke levels remain high and rising!

Featured Image at top from @aipasurf on Instagram. Original link to photo here.