Morey-Pope: A Study in Contrasts

Morey-Pope 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 Morey-Pope boards 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 never hurts to look.”

The first 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 Sopwith Camel model is one and the same as the regular Camel. For example, see below for a picture of an old Morey-Pope 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.

Morey-Pope Camel Surfboard
Morey-Pope Sopwith Camel Surfboard

 

The second board that is for sale is a Morey-Pope 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.

Bing Takayama

Maybe it’s the 90s hip hop fan in me, but there are few things I enjoy more than a great collaboration.

As far as vintage surfboards go, the Donald Takayama Model for Bing Surfboards has to be up there.

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.

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Photos via LiveAuctioneers.com

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:

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Photos via usedsurf.jp

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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo via Cannon Beach Artz

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.

Australia via San Diego: Midget Farrelly and Gordon & Smith

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.

Midget Farrelly
Farrelly, putting it on a rail. Photo by Dick Graham, taken from his book “The Ride: 1960s and 1970s, A Photo Essay”

 

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.

Midget Farrelly
Photo by Dick Graham; photo via Farrelly Surfboards

 

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.

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Photo via surfresearch.com.au

Here’s a close up of the G&S Farrelly Stringerless logo (from a different board).

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Pic via Surfers Japan

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.

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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.

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Photo via G&S

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.

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Photo via G&S

I’ve found pictures of the Farrelly V Bottom model elsewhere online, and here are a few examples. In this one below you’ll note that it has a tunnel fin, which I believe was added afterwards.

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Photo via Gbase

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.

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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.

Mint CONdition 70s Single Fin

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 get enough of vintage 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.

Photo via Ron Regalado

Enough with the pretentious prose, though: let’s get to the good stuff! In the pictures above you can see a groovy Con single fin that’s currently listed for sale on eBay. The board appears to be a variant on a traditional sting design.

There are a lot of interesting things about this board, but man, check out that insane arc tail! (Honestly, I didn’t even know what to call it, until I found this helpful breakdown of different surfboard tail designs by Rusty Preisendorfer.)

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:

Photo via Surfboardline.com

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:

Picture via Cronulla Surf Museum

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.

You can check out the board here.

Pro Choice (Surfboards)

Happy Monday, Shredderz!

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.

Photo by Ted Grambeau; via Surfline

…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.

Steve Lis; photo by Warren Bolster; photo via Encyclopedia of Surfing

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.

Photo via Surfy Surfy

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.

For example, here’s a Steve Lis handshape that was recently posted for sale on Surfer Magazine’s forum.

You’ll immediately notice a few big differences between the Lis posted to Surfer Magazine and then the Choice / Lis board at the top of the page. The first aspect is a clear Steve Lis logo:

Secondly, Lis hand-signs many of his shapes with a mirrored yin yang design (versus his own name). Here is his signature on the Surfer Magazine board:

Photos via Surfer Magazine Forums

Here’s another example of a Steve Lis handshape. A 1972 5′4″ Lis fish was recently sold via the Surfing Heritage Vintage Surf Auction, and ended up going for a tidy $3,500. You’ll notice there’s no logo anywhere to be found on the 1972 board.

Here’s a picture of Lis’ yin yang signature from that 1972 board.

Photos via California Vintage Surf Auction

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.

Check out the Craigslist posting here.

Surf Heavyweight David Nuuhiwa

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:

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Nuuhiwa in the center. Photo via Encyclopedia of Surfing; Photo by Jeff Divine

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Photo via Liquid Salt; Photo by Jeff Divine

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.

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Photo via Surfboardline.com

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.)

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Photos via Bing Surfboards

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:

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Photo via Jackie Baxter

You can find the board on Craigslist here.

Yater Twin Fin

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!