Morey Pope Surfboards is a brand I have written about a few times before, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. Morey Pope occupies a funky little corner of surf history. Co-founder Tom Morey, who apparently now goes by the Prince-esque name “Y”, might be one of the most innovative and interesting people in the history of surfing, having invented the bodyboard and Slipcheck traction, among others.
Anyway, right now there are two neat examples of Morey Pope Surfboards for sale, neither of which is priced in the stratosphere. Both boards aren’t perfect by any means, but the Shred Sledz motto might as well be “it’s always free to look.”
The first Morey Pope board can be found on the excellent Instagram account Red Dot Goods. They are first rate purveyors of various pieces of surf nostalgia, including some rad boards. They have a Morey Pope Sopwith Camel model up for sale, which you can see in the pic below. $750 doesn’t sound insane, but as always the usual caveats apply — check to see if there are any soft spots / delams, any dings, etc.
I’m unclear on whether or not the Morey Pope Surfboards Sopwith Camel model is one and the same as the regular Camel. For example, see below for a picture of an old Morey Pope Surfboards ad that clearly refers to a Camel model, with no mention of Sopwith. You’ll also see that the Camel logo is nowhere to be found on the board in the pic below. I’ll save you the Googling, if you’re curious — apparently the Sopwith Camel was a British biplane in World War I.
Here’s another example of an excellent Sopwith Camel, from surfboard collector galore Buggs, who runs Surfboardline.com (currently down, please tell me this is just a temporary hiccup!)
And here’s another example of a Sopwith Camel that I was able to find on Photobucket.
The second board that is for sale is a Morey Pope Surfboards McTavish Tracker, which can be found on Craigslist in the Monterey Bay area. The board looks like it has been well used and frequently repaired over the years. It’s being offered at $500, which I think is reflective of its condition (and apparently there are more repairs that still need to be made).
These are two cool Transition Era designs from a couple of legendary surfboard builders — including, of course, Australian shaper Bob McTavish‘s influence on the Tracker! Hope you enjoyed this comparison of two cool boards from a storied surfboard brand of yesteryear.
The board pictured above is an example of a Donald Takayama Model, created for Bing Surfboards between 1965 and 1967. It’s currently listed for sale on Craigslist in Orange County, and you can find the board here. The asking price is $1K. This may seem a little steep, but for reference, another Bing Takayama (albeit in perfect condition) recently sold for $5K at auction.
I’m able to notice a few key differences between the board at the top of the post, and then a few other Bing Takayama boards I found online. For the first comparison, see below for pictures of the Bing Takayama that was sold at auction.
The second example I was able to find was on usedsurf.jp, which always has great vintage boards for sale (albeit at steep prices, no doubt because the shop is located in Japan). I’ve reproduced those pictures below as well:
Now, let’s compare the three boards: the Craigslist board at the top of the post, the auction board, and then the usedsurf.jp board. First, all three of the boards share the same basic outline – a slightly pulled in nose, a triple stringer, and a squash tail in the back. However, the auction and usedsurf.jp boards also have two critical differences: they have large D-fins, as opposed to the Craigslist board’s more raked design; and second, you’ll notice the logos are slightly different. The Craigslist board’s logo has an evenly applied bold outline around the eye-shaped Bing logo; the auction and usedsurf.jp boards have an outline that gets thicker around the right side of the eye.
Close up of the auction board. Bolding is only on the right side of the eye logo.
Here’s my guess: the D-Fin boards (in this case, the usedsurf.jp and auction boards) were produced at a different date than the non-D-Fin boards (see one at the top of the page). The Craigslist board at the top (non-D-Fin) is dated as 1965. Usedsurf.jp dates its D-fin board to 1967. However: the auction board, also a D-Fin, is dated to 1965. Since the Takayama model was only made between 1965 and 1967, I think one of these dates must be wrong. In other words, I believe at some point Bing must have switched from the non-D-Fin to the D-Fin, or vice versa.
Consider, now, the tiebreaker. Here are two more boards I was able to find online, both of which are dated 1965 and closely resemble the Craigslist board at the top of the page. First, we have a board once listed on eBay (aka the eBay board). I can’t get a close look at the fin, but it looks like the rake fin design (not the D-Fin). Note the logo design and placement. First, it’s the logo that has bolding on right and left. Second, the logo is on the right side of the deck, fairly close to the nose.
Second is a board that was listed for sale on Cannon Beach Artz. It’s also dated to 1965. It has the same logo and placement as the Craigslist board and the eBay board, not to mention the red tail block visible on the Craigslist board.
Conclusion? I believe that the earlier run of Bing Takayama boards can be identified by three things: 1) The logo with the bolding on both sides of the “eye”; 2) Placement of the logo (right side of the deck, close to the nose); and 3) A more raked fin design (versus the D-Fin). There are multiple sources that date these boards to 1965. I believe the later model – produced in 1967, but possibly earlier – has the D-Fin, the logo with the bolding only on the right side, and then logo placement further down the board.
If anyone has more info, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, the Craigslist board is still for sale, and you can find it here.
Shred Sledz is (proudly) made in California. And given HQ’s location in the Golden State (AKA my living room), it’s no surprise that the blog focuses primarily on American and Hawaiian surfboard shapers. Today I’m excited to lend a little more Aussie influence to this modest seppo-centric blog. We’ll be exploring the history and contributions of one of Australia’s earliest surf stars: none other than the late, great Bernard “Midget” Farrelly. In particular, today’s post focuses on a rare surfboard model: a collaboration between Midget Farrelly and Gordon & Smith, the famed San Diego-based US board maker.
Farrelly won the inaugural World Surfing Championship in 1964. The event was held at Manly Beach, located in Farrelly’s hometown of Sydney. A few years later, Farrelly was an active contributor to the experimental surfboard designs of the Transition Era.
To this day there remains a heated debate over the origins of the vee bottom surfboard design. Bob McTavish, another Australian surfer and shaper, is widely credited with having invented the design in 1967. Farrelly, on the other hand, claims that he was the inventor of the vee bottom. He offers the picture below as proof. Farrelly claims the white board in the picture below was about 8′ x 22″ – a good deal shorter than the boards being ridden by his contemporaries – and that the picture was taken in 1967 at the Windansea vs. Australia contest in Palm Beach. Farrelly contends that McTavish did not even glimpse a vee bottom board until November of 1967, which later inspired McTavish to do his own take on the design. The Encyclopedia of Surfing, on the other hand, credits McTavish with having begun work on the vee bottom in March of 1967. McTavish says he was shaping vee bottoms at the Keyo factory in mid-1967. If you want to read more about Midget’s side of the story, I recommend going to his website. Sadly, Midget passed away last year from stomach cancer.
While the origin of the vee bottom may be contested, I think we can all agree on one thing: transition boards – and vee bottoms in particular – are very, very cool.
Pictured at the top of this post is a Midget Farrelly / Gordon & Smith design that is currently up for sale on Craigslist in Monterey, California. It’s 7′10″ in length, but no other dimensions are offered up. The price is $1200 – steep, but this is a rare surfboard, and it looks to be in good condition, other than an obvious repair on the nose. I have included more pics below:
Gordon & Smith agreed to distribute Farrelly’s boards in the United States, and this is a clear example of the partnership. In the very first picture you can see the logo reads “Farrelly by Gordon and Smith Surfboards USA”.
However, it’s unclear to me exactly what model this is. Gordon & Smith – it’s interesting to note that the logo on the board reads “Gordon and Smith”, and doesn’t contain the customary ampersand – produced a Midget Farrelly Stringerless model. Stoked-n-Board has the Farrelly Stringerless model as having been produced between 1967 and 1969, which means it pre-dates the creation of the vee bottom. Here’s an example of a G&S Farrelly Stringerless model, and you can see that it is longer and more of a traditional longboard shape than the board listed at the top. It’s listed at 9′6″, and Surf Research actually dates the board to 1966, a full year earlier than Stoked-n-Board. Either way, it’s clear that the board below is a different model from the one at the top of the post – it’s longer, it has a fuller nose, and it has a different logo.
And here’s an old print ad for the G&S Farrelly Stringerless model. Note that this is clearly more of a standard longboard / noserider design – pre-Transition Era, I’m guessing. Note that this version of the logo has numbering. I’ve seen Stringerless logos without numbers.
G&S has another old ad up on their website, which shows the Farrelly Stringerless design alongside a Skip Frye and a Mike Hynson design.
In conclusion, I don’t believe the board at the top of this post is a G&S Farrelly Stringerless model. Instead, I think it’s a slightly later G&S Farrelly V Bottom. See the ad below, taken from G&S’ website. If you look closely you can see the second board from the left is called the “Midget Farrelly V Bottom” model. I believe this is the same model as the board at the top of the post. And while the Farrelly V Bottom does not have a stringer, it should not be confused with the Farrelly Stringerless model, which is a longer board.
This board below – which I found floating around on Pinterest – looks like an exact match to the one at the top of the page. It has similar deck patches, logo placement, and of course the overall outline. The picture below also gives a better idea of the vee in the tail, which is of course one of the defining characteristics of the board.
The board for sale can be found here on Craigslist (Update: Link has been removed). The seller also looks to be getting rid of some other gems, including a Morey Pope Tracker and a mystery David Nuuhiwa model. None of the boards are cheap, but they look well cared for. I’m wondering if these weren’t all at some point part of a larger collection in the Monterey area that was sold off a few years ago.
Finally, while we are on the topic of Australian surfing luminaries, I cannot recommend surfresearch.com.au enough. This article on 1967 and the creation of the vee bottom is incredibly thorough and detailed, and a real treat for anyone who’s interested in the topic. The same can be said for surfresearch.com.au’s entry for Farrelly himself, which is a fitting tribute for a true legend of the sport.
I’ve written before about my love for Con Surfboards. I’ve had some time to think about it…and I stand by everything I’ve said. I don’t know what it is but I just can’t getenough ofvintage Con boards. That logo is just so killer! There’s something about the simplicity of the design that encapsulates everything I associate with the early days of California surf culture.
Enough with the pretentious prose, though: let’s get to the good stuff! In the pictures above you can see a groovy Con Surfboards sting single fin that’s currently listed for sale on eBay. The board appears to be a variant on a traditional sting design.
The wings on the Con board are not very pronounced, and they look to be pushed quite far back compared to other sting silhouettes. For example, take a look at this Aipa sting (Aipa, of course, invented the sting). The wings on the Aipa below are wider and located further up, closer to the wide point of the board:
The Con board also sports a step bottom, which you can find on a decent number of stings. Here’s an example of a G&S sting (although I believe this is a board made in Australia, and not G&S’ native California), via the Cronulla Surf Museum, that features a clearly visible step bottom:
With that said, I can’t find any evidence of Con ever having made a sting. I’m not sure whether this was a specific model of board, or, more likely, a one-off. As for the date, Stoked-n-Board has a great entry on Con Surfboards, which has some good clues for when the board might have been made.
First, the board featured in the post has a clearly identifiable logo. It is the combination of Con’s script logo from the 70s, along with its classic red circle design. According to Stoked-n-Board, this logo was only produced between 1969 and 1974.
Those dates line up well with the other details for the board. First, you have a gorgeous rainbow fin in a fin box (not sure what kind of fin system), which points towards very late 60s and the 70s. Second, the sting was a design that came to prominence in the 70s, mostly thanks to Ben Aipa and the top Hawaiian pros of the time. According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, the sting was invented in 1974. (See here for an earlier post on Aipa stings).
More than anything, I’m stunned that the board appears to be in such great condition. It’s almost to the point where I began to wonder if it was a retro board shaped more recently. However, I have my doubts that a retro board would have a rainbow fin, not to mention the funky details (the step bottom and the wings). My guess? The board at the top of the page is just in fantastic condition.
The board is going for $750. As far as I know, there’s no special historical significance to this thing. $750 is never cheap, but if I’m correct in saying the board is all original and in such fantastic condition, I’d argue that’s actually a reasonable price.
As you can see in the pictures above, I can’t say with a straight face that today’s post features a board in absolute mint condition. Since Shred Sledz prides itself on fostering a family atmosphere, let’s just say this board has been well-loved throughout its lifetime.
What today’s post does bring, however, is a deeper look at one of the most enduring designs in surfboard history.
The fish, as it is known, is one of the more popular variants on a standard shortboard. In a Surfline feature, Nick Carroll described the original fish as “a broad, super-wide-swallowtail with a straight rocker line and long-base rigid twin-fins.” Fish, thanks to their increased volume and better paddling ability, are go to boards for many surfers facing less-than ideal conditions.
Despite having been invented in the late 60s, the fish saw a resurgence in popularity in the 90s. A big part of this was thanks to Tom Curren’s surfing on a 5′7″ fireball fish in pumping Indonesian right handers, which was more or less uncharted terrain for a board seen by many as being suitable for waist high slop.
…Lost Enterprises also released 5′5″ x 19 1/4″, an entire video dedicated to its stable of young team riders ripping on unorthodox equipment. What Youth recently ran an excellent retrospective on the video, which I recommend checking out.
So, before we get too deep down the fish rabbit hole…who invented the thing, anyway?
The man widely credited with inventing the fish design is San Diego kneeboarder Steve Lis, who created the distinctive swallow tail shape back in the late 1960s. Lis was doing some truly incredible surfing on these shapes in his San Diego stomping grounds, which helped create the initial groundswell of interest in his design. As always, the Encyclopedia of Surfing entry on Lis tells his story better than I could ever hope to.
This brings us to the board pictured at the top of the post. There is a fish for sale on Craigslist in Orange County with Steve Lis’ name on it, but a few other details that I haven’t quite been able to sort out. And before we get into the history, just check out that awesome 70s airbrush!
As you can see in the first picture, the board is clearly branded with Lis’ name. However, the logo on the board is that of Choice Surfboards.
Choice Surfboards is one of the many brands from well-regarded San Diego shaper Rich Pavel (who also shapes under his eponymous label, Greenroom Surfboards, Axis / Access Surfboards, and even Rainbow Surfboards.) Pavel was a protege of Lis’, and he has continued to pump out fish designs on his own. Here’s a recent Pavel fish produced under the Choice label, and featured on San Diego shop Surfy Surfy’s own site. Notice the bigger Choice logo.
The board listed at the top of the page appears to be a Lis / Choice collaboration, which I have never seen before. Stoked-n-Board’s entry for Choice lists Lis as having shaped for the brand from 1975 to 2009. However, the vast majority of Lis fishes I have seen have had his own branding, with no mention of Choice.
What’s interesting about the Choice / Lis board featured at the top of the page is that it does not have a clear Lis signature. My guess – and this is by no means definitive – is that Lis supplied the template, which was then shaped by someone else.
With that said, the Choice / Lis board certainly looks vintage. The awesome airbrush screams 1970s, as do the dimensions of the board itself. According to the Craigslist post, the board is only 5′. Lis’ boards seem to have gotten longer as he has tweaked the shapes over the past few years. For example, the grey board taken from the Surfer Magazine forum is 6′2″ x 21″. There’s no leash plug, and the fins are glassed on as well.
It’s a shame the Choice / Lis board wasn’t better cared for, but oh well. I’m not sure what to say about how collectible it might be. I doubt it’s a Lis handshape, but then again, I have never seen one of these Choice / Lis boards before, and apparently neither have the far more knowledgeable folks at Stoked-n-Board. The board is priced at $200, which isn’t cheap for something this weathered, but this might be a good pickup for someone looking for an unusual example of a Lis-related shape.
Greetings Shredderz! We’ve got a real gem to take you into the weekend.
Pictured here is an extremely rare 1968 Bing Lightweight David Nuuhiwa model with a floral pattern. It’s currently for sale on Craigslist in Los Angeles, and a mere $7.5K will take this bad boy home for you. It’s in all original condition, and it looks to be in great shape, other than some minor dings.
Where to even start on this thing? David Nuuhiwa was one of the surf world’s early superstars. As always, I will direct you towards the Encyclopedia of Surfing’s comprehensive and compelling entry on the guy for some more background.
In the 1960s, during the height of Nuuhiwa’s fame, he released two signature models in conjunction with Bing Surfboards: the Noserider and the Lightweight. The board pictured here is an example of the latter, as you can clearly see from the logo at the top of the post. Nuuhiwa, as you can see, is a man with tons of style:
Nuuhiwa’s Bing boards are in high demand today, thanks to the pedigree of the Bing label, and of course Nuuhiwa’s status as one of surfing’s earliest pros. For example, you can see a Bing Nuuhiwa Lightweight in much worse condition being sold for $2000 at the Surf Station Store.
Surfboardline.com also has a great picture of a Bing Nuuhiwa Lightweight. Note, however, that the Surfboardline board has a pintail, versus the squash tail seen in the board above.
The other thing that should be noted about the board at the top of the page is the floral pattern. The floral pattern is a rare and coveted feature. Bing’s website has an awesome page dedicated entirely to their vintage models, and they shed a little more light on the topic of the famous floral print boards. Bing had custom floral patterns printed right onto the fiberglass cloth itself, which is an unusual method. You can see another board on the aforementioned page with the exact same pattern as the board featured on this post! I have included the pictures below. Note that the board below is a Bing Pintail Lightweight – not to be confused with a Bing Nuuhiwa Lightweight – but the fiberglass pattern is unmistakable. (If you really want to nerd out on Bing models, you’ll see the third pic has a Bing Pintail icon visible on the deck.)
As for price, I was only able to find a few comparisons. First was the 7′ Bing Nuuhiwa Lightweight available at Surf Station going for $2K, but it’s in much worse condition. The US Vintage Surf Auction had a different Nuuhiwa Lightweight for sale recently, and while the estimate was between $6 and $7K, it looks like it only ended up at around half that. See here. The USVSA board also does not have the floral pattern. Long story short: the $7.5K price is certainly a lot for a surfboard…but it doesn’t sound crazy to me.
Final note: there are two different variants on the Bing Nuuhiwa Lightweight logo. The board at the top of this post has the Bob Dahlquist logo (via Stoked-n-Board), which dates strictly to 1968. In addition, the board at the top of the page has a W.A.V.E. Set box, which is also from 1968. You’ll notice earlier versions of the Nuuhiwa Lightweight have a different logo and glassed on fins. Here’s an example of the 1967 logo:
Right now there’s a Yater twin fin for sale on Craigslist in LA for a reasonable $375 (pending, of course, a closer examination of the board for any soft spots, delam, etc.)
The board looks like it’s in pretty good condition. It has also had some work done. You can see the repairs on the bottom (see the second picture above).
What’s curious to me, though, is that I’ve never seen an example of a twin fin design from Yater. With the swallow tail it almost looks to be a standard fish design. If I had to guess, I would say this may have been made sometime in the 1980s, but I can’t be certain. There’s no mention of a twin fin on the history section of Yater’s website, either. I’d love to learn more if anyone has any info!
Good morning, Shredderz! Today’s post will cover the one and only Reynolds “Renny” Yater, a Santa Barbara fixture and one of the better known shapers in California history. See below for some pictures of a sweet 1970s Yater single fin that recently popped up for sale:
If you’re a film buff with a great eye for detail, first of all I’d like to say I have no idea how you ended up here, but I’m glad you haven’t left yet. Secondly, I’d add that you might recognize Yater from his cameo in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, the surf-obsessed madman played by Robert Duvall, wields a Yater board in the movie’s iconic surfing scene. The board sports a pretty bitchin’ custom paint job, too:
When Kilgore isn’t shouting “Charlie don’t surf” and clearing lineups in the Mekong Delta, he can be seen sporting a Yater t-shirt:
Reynolds Yater, for the uninitiated, is a legendary California surfboard shaper who got his start in the 1950s. Yater might be in his eighties now, but he continues to shape boards under the Yater Surfboards brand today. If you haven’t already, you ought to read his Encyclopedia of Surfing entry, which contains this awesome pic of Yater at the Hollister Ranch:
Yater is best known for his longboard shapes. He invented the Yater Spoon in 1965, which was an incredibly modern noseriding shape for its time. Yater is probably best known for his longboards, but as you can see at the top of the post, you can currently find one of his shortboards for sale on Craigslist, in Petaluma. The board pictured at the top of this post was shaped sometime during the seventies. There are two pieces of evidence that point to this fact. First is the logo, which is a more stripped down design than the classic “Santa Barbara Surf Shop” Yater logo, which I’ve reproduced below. Stoked-n-Board’s comprehensive entry for Yater Surfboards matches the logo in the first pic to boards shaped in the 1970s.
The second giveaway is the rainbow fin, which looks to be in excellent condition. The same can be said for the entire board, which looks pretty great considering it was originally shaped almost 50 years ago. I can’t spot any obvious telltale signs of the board having been restored, but take that with a grain of salt.
Yater’s best known shortboard shape is the Pocket Rocket model, which was designed during the Transition Era of the late sixties and early seventies. According to the Yater Surfboards website, “From 1969-72, [Yater] produced the Pocket Rocket, a surfboard designed with Hawaiian surfing in mind, riding the crest of the short board era.” I’m not sure whether or not the board at the top of this post would be considered a proper Pocket Rocket, but my early guess is no. Here are some pics of a recent Pocket Rocket reproduction (shaped by Yater), and you can see the outline is far more pulled in and narrow. In addition, it’s missing the wings you can find in the tail of the Yater single fin at the top of this post.
In addition, here’s an example of a 1969 Pocket Rocket that recently went up for auction. You’ll see in the second pic that the auction board has a glassed-on fin, versus the fin box in the Yater single fin at the top of this post.
Finally, here’s a third example of a vintage Pocket Rocket, which was sold in 2001 at Randy Rarick’s Hawaiian Island Vintage Surf Auction. I can’t find any information on the closing price, but as you can see in the pictures below, the board has the same narrow outline as the other examples.
Regarding the board at the top of this post, even if it’s not a traditional Pocket Rocket design, it’s still a fantastic example of a Yater single fin. It looks like it’s in fantastic condition, too. There is no price listed on Craigslist, but the seller says he is accepting offers. You can find the board for sale here.
As a bonus, the good folks at Pilgrim Surf + Supply published a great interview with Yater where he reminisces on his career and his influences. Check it out here if you’re interested.
Happy Monday to all you faithful Shredderz out there! I hope this week brings you a non-stop procession of tasty waves and interesting surf craft. I figure there is no better way to start the week than with the holy matrimony of Lightning Bolt Surfboards and Hawaiian legend Gerry Lopez. The Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt is perhaps the most famous vintage surfboard of all time, and for good reason. If the name Gerry Lopez rings a bell, it’s because you may recognize him from his role as Schwarzenegger’s sidekick Subotai in “Conan the Barbarian.”
Actually, that’s nobody’s first impression of Mr. Lopez, but it is an irresistible piece of surfing trivia. All jokes aside, surfing legends don’t get any larger than Gerry. For goodness sake, the dude’s nickname is Gerry “Mr. Pipeline” Lopez! Given his impeccable style, it’s a miracle they haven’t re-named the spot after Gerry himself:
First, some background on the man and the marque. Lopez, along with business partner Jack Shipley, founded Lightning Bolt in 1970. (For more extensive background, see the Encyclopedia of Surfing’s entry on Lightning Bolt.) Lighting Bolt started with an unorthodox business model that was more akin to a collective than a real brand. According to the EoS, Bolt initially did not have a centralized factory where all of the production took place, and instead a variety of shapers – including Lopez and other notables like Reno Abellira, Tom Parrish, Tom Eberly, and Barry Kanaiaupuni – shaped at home and then brought their wares into the Lightning Bolt store, where the boards were sold to the public.
Lightning Bolt was ubiquitous during the 1970s, and even today it remains at the forefront of surfing’s consciousness. Unfortunately, Lightning Bolt’s history can also be read as a cautionary tale about the perils of poor brand management. Other brands and shapers shamelessly borrowed the distinctive logo, slapping it on boards that had nothing to do with Lightning Bolt.
Even “official” Lightning Bolt surfboards have a mixed history. Take, for example, the green and yellow board pictured above. The board was originally posted for sale on Craigslist in Los Angeles, where it was advertised as a Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt surfboard. And as you can see in the second picture, there’s a clear “Gerry Lopez” laminate bearing the man’s name himself. So far so good, right?
Unfortunately, the board at the top of this post was unlikely to have been shaped by Gerry himself.
According to Randy Rarick, boards that bear the “Gerry Lopez” laminate – not to be confused with a signature – are “California Bolts” that were licensed to a variety of different businessmen around the world, including a factory in the San Diego area. Two shapers involved in the production of the California Bolts were Terry Martin and Mickey Munoz. For more context on California Bolts and the licensing of the Bolt name there is some good info on Boardcollector.com. Martin and Munoz are extremely well-respected, and for good reason; but there is a big difference between a Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt and all the rest.
So, what does a genuine Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt look like, then?
Here’s an example of a 1970s Lopez board that was sold at the recent California Vintage Surf Auction. Note: this board has been restored. But it does contain a clear Lopez signature on the stringer, which at the very least is meant to refer to how these original Lopez boards would have looked:
Surfboardline.com has an incredible selection of Lightning Bolt boards, where you can compare boards that have the Lopez laminate, like the green and yellow board above, versus boards where you can clearly see Lopez’s hand drawn signature beneath the glass. For an example of the latter, see the picture below:
In summary, Lopez seemed to sign many of the boards he hand-shaped. And those that he did sign, he did under the glass, in all capital letters along the stringer. Lightning Bolt surfboards will always be collectible, and rightfully so, but there’s value in exploring the distinction between a board shaped by Gerry Lopez himself, and one that he assisted in designing.
The board at the top of this post has already been taken down (asking price was $650, for those who care about price points). Even though it’s not a “Lopez” board in the strictest sense, it’s still a wonderful piece of surfing history.
Now, I realize that 2004 might not be everyone’s idea of vintage. And you know what? That’s totally fine, because I happen to be the guy in charge of this very blog (mostly because no one else wanted the job, but I digress).
Still though, when it comes to Kelly’s personal boards, especially those that were hand shaped by legendary shaper Al Merrick, the Shred Sledz editorial staff is more than willing to bend the rules a little bit.
Everything seems to match up. First, the K logo clearly indicates the board above is a Kelly Slater model that was produced during much of his time with the Channel Islands brand. While the K Board was released to surf shops as a signature model, towards the end of Kelly’s stint with CI, he simply applied the logo to a variety of designs. Here’s a shot of Kelly’s quiver from the 2011 Hawaii season, via the Channel Islands blog, that shows the K logo on a wide range of boards:
The other interesting thing about the board pictured in the first set of photos is the fact that it has a thruster setup. Nowadays, Kelly’s boards, like those of most pros, sport a five fin setup that allows toggling between a standard thruster fin configuration, and then a quad fin config for when the waves get bigger and more critical. Here’s a shot from 2014, towards the end of Kelly’s tenure with CI, that shows a five fin setup (though note the K logo is gone):
The tri fin setup indicates that the board in the first set of pictures is an older one. There’s a date on the stringer that says 2004, which sounds about right, given that the five fin configuration didn’t become popular until a few years afterwards.
Speaking of the signature, you can see Al’s trademark Al / fish signature, as well as the name Kelly written into it. This makes me all but certain this is a board Al shaped himself for Kelly. See below for an example of another Al / fish signature. It follows the same format as the pic in the set at the top of the page.
Example of another Al Merrick signature
Finally, the interesting thing is that this board, given its location and its size, was probably crafted as a step up for Kelly’s winter months in Hawaii. It seems practically outdated now, given that Kelly routinely surfs sub 6′ boards at macking Pipeline. Here’s a picture of Kelly about to paddle out at the 2016 Pipe Masters with one of his new Slater Designs boards. You can see Kelly’s 2016 board is well short of 7′2″. One of the biggest innovations in surf craft in recent years has been the downsizing of equipment in serious conditions. Leading the charge, of course, is none other than the shiny headed G.O.A.T.
Nowadays, of course, Kelly is working on Slater Designs, his own line of boards produced in conjunction with the good folks at Firewire Surfboards. Slater Designs offers some cutting edge, high performance shapes that were created via collaboration with high profile shapers like Daniel Thomson and Greg Webber.
For many of us, however, Kelly and Channel Islands / Al Merrick will forever be an enduring combination. And the board that’s being offered for sale, at a steep $2,000 dollars, might just be a collector’s item one day. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can’t imagine there are that many genuine Merrick boards shaped for Kelly that will be up for grabs. Kelly is the greatest surfer ever – and the most influential – and one could make that same argument about Al Merrick and shaping as well. So it’s interesting to wonder if boards that represent this pairing will only become more valuable and meaningful over time.