Z-Boy Original: Zephyr Surfboards

I’ve been meaning to do a longer feature on Zephyr Surfboards, the famed Los Angeles surf shop that later became ground zero for Venice Beach’s surf and skate scene, as immortalized in the Stacey Peralta documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” In the meantime, though, a pretty fantastic example of a genuine Jeff Ho board has come up for sale on Craigslist, and I’m afraid that kind of heat can’t afford to wait for anyone, much less the overworked and underpaid Shred Sledz editorial team!

Zephyr Surfboards by Jeff HoZephyr Surfboards by Jeff HoZephyr Surfboards by Jeff HoZephyr Surfboards by Jeff Ho

The board pictured above is a 1973 Zephyr Surfboards / Jeff Ho single fin that can currently be found for sale on Craigslist in San Francisco (link here). I want to say the board is all original, but as always, buyer beware, and there’s no way of knowing the full extent of its condition unless you see it in person. With that said, check out that crazy fin! Sadly, such quality comes at a pretty steep price: the poster is asking $3,500 for the board. Original Zephyr boards are insanely collectible and difficult to come by.

As nuts as it sounds, I don’t think this is an outrageous price for the board. For example, here is another Jeff Ho Zephyr surfboard that sold for $4,100 at auction recently. However, there are a few points that make the auction board more collectible and expensive. First, the auction board pictured below boasts a C.R. Stecyk spray job. Stecyk was a Z Boy who later became a renowned artist. Boards bearing Stecyk’s touch are the rare pieces of surf memorabilia that have some significance in the world of fine art, too.

Zephyr Surfboards by Jeff Ho
Jeff Ho Zephyr Single Fin with C.R. Stecyk airbrush. Pic via Vintage Surf Auction

If you’re interested in the Zephyr board that’s currently for sale, you can find it here. Finally, you can see some more Zephyr / Jeff Ho posts on Shred Sledz at this link.

Santa Cruz Royalty: Freeline and the Mel Family

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.

Orange County5/20
Peter Mel charging Mavericks in the late 1990s. Photo by Rob Gilley, via Surfer Magazine

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.

John-Mel

And yes, John Mel rips.

02-John-Mel-Fiji
John Mel in Fiji. Pic by Wilcox, via US Blanks

If you’re interested in the board, you can check it out here.

Ben Aipa for Surfboards Hawaii

Spotted on Craigslist in Paso Robles, California is an interesting Ben Aipa / Surfboards Hawaii single fin.

I’d never seen this logo before, nor does Stoked-n-Board’s Surfboards Hawaii page show anything resembling this design. From what I can tell, there isn’t an Aipa signature anywhere on the board, which I believe is unusual as well. Surfboard Hoard has an example of a Surfboards Hawaii board shaped by Aipa, with very different branding and logos. I have included one of the pictures below:

The board pictured with this post isn’t in the best condition. For one, there has been a ton of work around the tail, and at least two other dings that required significant repairs. There’s also the issue of the unsightly black nose guard, not to mention the remnants of a deck pad. It’s sad to see such a cool looking board in half-assed condition, but oh well. And at $600 I can’t say you’re getting a bargain, either, but perhaps this is a very rare logo that would require a premium.

If you’re interested, check it out here.

WAVE TOOLS: Pre-Echo Beach Madness

Here’s a sweet and kind of unorthodox board, via Craigslist in Santa Cruz (but apparently the owner makes frequent trips down to Orange County).

Wave Tools, founded by Lance Collins, enjoyed the height of its popularity during the late 1980s. During this time Wave Tools boards could be found under the feet of Richie Collins – Lance’s son and one of Southern California’s best competitive surfers. The Wave Tools boards from that era boast some predictably outrageous neon graphics, which, I would like to add, Shred Sledz HQ is very much down with.

This board here is an interesting looking single fin. It has the wings that you would associate with a Sting design, but a pintail where you might expect to see a swallow tail. As colorful as the board is, it’s a bit subdued compared to the signature Wave Tools look. I would hazard a guess that the board was probably shaped sometime in the mid to late 1970s, and Stoked N Board dates the logo from sometime between 1975 and 1982.

It’s a bit pricey, listed at $450, but hey, it’s always free to ogle boards on Shred Sledz. Check out the listing here.

Takayama, Bertlemann…and Pepsi?

A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?

Larry Bertlemann.

Photo from The Inertia; copyright Art Brewer.

Mr. Bertlemann, the Hawaiian pro surfer dubbed “Rubberman” for the physics-defying body torqued that defined his surfing, was one of the best known surfers of the 70s.

Bertlemann was one of the few men who could truly lay claim to having a signature style, whether it was his radical surfing, his awesome hair, or, of course, his surfboards. Bertlemann was sponsored by Pepsi during the height of his career. He embraced his role as an ambassador (some might say billboard), going as far as to decorate his boards with the Pepsi logo.

The Pepsi boards have not only become synonymous with Bertelmann’s legacy, they are one of the more enduring symbols of 70s Hawaiian surf culture itself.

One of Bertelmann’s infamous Pepsi boards is currently up for grabs on eBay. It is a classic twin-fin swallowtail shape (not sure if it qualifies as a fish or not…anyone got thoughts here?). Even better, it bears a Donald Takayama signature, and one of Takayama’s clear bird logos (I believe it’s an ewa / frigate bird, but also cannot confirm). There’s a bit of damage around one of the glassed on fins, but hey — that’s a small price to pay for an iconic piece of Hawaiian surfing history.

Check it out on eBay here.

Recent Mike Hynson Single Fin

Surfer or not, you have likely heard of “The Endless Summer”, filmmaker Bruce Brown’s timeless ode to surfing, and one of the few surf movies to receive equally rapturous responses from surfing insiders as well as the mainstream (alongside “In God’s Hands”, of course.)

Mike Hynson, one of the stars of “The Endless Summer”, went on to a distinguished career as a surfboard shaper. Hyson’s life is a compelling story of its own, sadly filled with more drama and lows than the movie that made him famous, recounted in an autobiography released in 2011.

What we have here, via Craigslist in San Diego, is a 9′2″ Hynson hand shaped board with a clear signature on the stringer. The signature includes the “Om” symbol, a favorite of Hynson’s. You can see another example of an excellent and clear Hynson signature here, via a board that was once on sale at peerless San Diego shop Surfy Surfy.

The best part about this listing? The board is going for a mere $525. I think this is a steal. There’s a 9′0″ on sale directly from Hynson’s website currently going for $1500.  Hynson is 74 and while he’s still shaping today, I think it’s likely that his most prolific days are behind him. Surfers and shapers don’t get any more legendary than one of the guys who starred in “The Endless Summer”. And most importantly, of course, Hynson’s pedigree as a shaper cannot be overstated.

Check the listing here.

Crow for Carbonell

This surfboard (via Craigslist in LA) is like seeing Helen of Troy with a terrible boob job. It is a beautiful old board from the 60s, likely shaped by Larry Weise. (You can barely see his initials – “L.W. Crow” underneath the #93 in the fifth picture). The board is such a cool old school shape, and Carbonell, a Laguna Beach-based brand, wasn’t one I had ever heard of before. I like that it measures in at a solid 10′, too – I can imagine taking this thing out in some small waves and being able to just scratch into anything.

Sadly, though, there is the matter of that horrible black noseguard. It looks like it’s likely hiding some damage near the nose as well. It might all be a dealbreaker considering the board is going for $500. Either way, worth checking out. You can see the listing here.

Last of the Wildmen: Martin “Pottz” Potter

Whoever posted this little number must be dreaming about the price – $1,000 is a lot for a surfboard, no matter what! – but it’s still worth looking at the pictures. Located on Craigslist in Daytona Beach, Florida is a cool little Blue Hawaii ‘Pottz’ board, named after legendary former tour surfer Martin Potter and shaped by well-regarded Hawaiian shaper Greg Minami. This is different from the board most surf fans associate with Pottz – the T&C with the jagged green outline and yellow deck – but nonetheless still a fantastic memento from the surf industry of yesteryear. Check it out here.

Zuma Jay Single Fin

Up for grabs on Craigslist in Ventura CA is a Zuma Jay single fin for $100. Warning: there could be a decent amount of repair involved in this one. The duct tape on the tail is never a good sign, and it looks like the bottom has a bunch of little dings or discoloration. Still, not an awful price for a little project, especially considering Zuma Jay’s status as a well-known Malibu brand. Not sure who the shaper could be, but Stoked N Board pegs the logo as sometime between 1985 and 1990. I wonder if it could be a little earlier than that, even, given the singlefin setup. Check it out here.

Hawaiian Island Creations Channel Bottom Board

Here’s an example of an old school Hawaiian Islands Creations board on Craigslist. Measurements are 5′10″ x 20″ (approximately). I think the $450 price is, uh, optimistic, especially considering the deck looks like crumpled up aluminum foil in places, but I dig the hideous 80s paint job, and the channels and quad fin setup are pretty neat, too.