The Original Wave Warrior: Herbie Fletcher

Photo by Jeff Divine; Courtesy of Surfline.com

For most of us mortals, December signifies the arrival of the holidays. It’s time to spend time with family, watch “Home Alone” again, drink egg nog, or maybe just use the time as an excuse to do some otherwise unjustifiable amounts of online shopping.

For the surf industry, though, December is a month of pilgrimage. Surfers from around the world descend upon the North Shore of Oahu, turning the sleepy island town of Haleiwa into the pulsing center of the surf world for a few intense weeks.

One of the best known rituals of the North Shore is the annual Wave Warriors photo shoot. The Wave Warriors shoot gathers some of the best surfers in the world. The original shoot was done back in 1983, to coincide with the release of the surf movie of the same name. After a long lull, the Wave Warriors shoot was restarted again a few years ago, with the same premise of gathering the world’s best surfers for a group photo.

The Wave Warriors maestro is none other than surfing legend Herbie Fletcher. Legend can be an overused term, and I have to admit, as I write this I am getting flashes of panic thinking about times I have used this word to describe others whose impact on surfing has been a fraction of Herbie’s. Among other things, Fletcher is an artist, the creator of surf traction original Astrodeck, and father to sons Christian and Nathan, both of whom are long-time pros. (Christian’s signature boards are particularly prized at Shred Sledz HQ).

Herbie Fletcher enjoying a coconut on the North Shore of Oahu in 1969. Photo by Art Brewer; Courtesy of Encyclopedia of Surfing

Herbie is also a surfboard shaper. As the 2016 edition of the Wave Warriors shoot is wrapping up – stay tuned for pics – I figured it would be as good a time as any to explore some of the boards that Herbie has made.

First, there is a Herbie Fletcher gun currently for sale on eBay. The board is being sold out of Japan, which explains the insane price (upwards of $3,000). Nonetheless, it’s an excellent example of a real deal Herbie Fletcher shaped board.

You can see the distinctive arrow logo, as well as the clear “Herbie Fletcher” logo in the center. I’m guessing the narrow swallowtail is likely from sometime in the 70s. You can see the original listing here as well. The listing advertises this as a “Sunset Gun”, meaning the board was designed for the big open ocean peaks of Sunset Beach, one of the North Shore’s most demanding waves. I can’t find anything that supports this, but given Fletcher’s history and the board’s design, including the unusually thick stringer, this all sounds very plausible.

I’ve seen examples of Herbie’s boards that have his name inscribed in the arrow logo, and those that are blank. First, here’s a clearer example of another Herbie Board with his name on the logo:

Apparently the board is for sale for $350 (!) and it is from 1974. The website looks like it might not have been updated in some time, but if that’s a real price then that board might be my very thoughtful gift to Mrs Shred Sledz (a la the time Homer Simpson bought Marge a bowling ball for her birthday).

Island Trader Surf posted a primo example on their blog a little while back. I’ve reproduced the picture below, and you can see there’s even a “Dana Point” visible as part of the logo, signifying the board’s place of origin:

Here’s a shot of Herbie surfing one of his own creations, and you can see his name is noticeably missing form the arrow logo:

Photo by A-Frame; courtesy of Surfline.com

I hope this was a helpful rundown of Herbie Fletcher’s various board designs. As always, feel free to leave me any feedback, and happy shredding!

Hobie Phil Edwards Model (Part 1): A Shred Sledz Deep Dive

Today, little children, we are going to do a quick little lesson on one of the most famous boards of all time. This is the first post in a new Shred Sledz series that hopes to shed light on the creations of the one and only Phil Edwards. Today we will be starting with the famous Hobie Phil Edwards model, one of the most collectible boards ever made.

For a certain generation of surfers, Phil Edwards is and will always be a legend. For starters, he was one of the first people to ever ride Pipeline, which is about as awesome as it gets. The picture at the top of this post – taken by the legendary Leroy Grannis, and courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Surfing – depicts Edwards surfing the fearsome Banzai Pipeline. Edwards is one of the rare humans who shaped as well as he surfed, and his name remains associated with some of the most sought-after boards in the world today.

Given Edwards’ resume, you would think there would be tons of information floating around online. Sadly, this isn’t the case. I had always assumed Edwards had passed away, given how little is said of his current whereabouts. But apparently he is alive and well, and he visited the Hobie factory about four years ago for an event. You can find a recent photo on Hobie’s website, which I’ve included below.

Hobie Phil Edwards
Phil Edwards at a recent Hobie Surfboards event. Photo via Hobie Surfboards

Phil Edwards his best known for two surfboards: the Phil Edwards “Honolulu” model, known as such for the “Honolulu” branding written on the board; and then the Hobie Phil Edwards signature model, which was produced over a few different time periods. This post will deal exclusively with the original run of Hobie Phil Edwards models. I will be devoting separate posts to Hobie Phil Edwards model re-issues (post 1960s); the Phil Edwards Honolulu models; and finally, a grab bag of some random boards that don’t fit into any other buckets.

According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, Hobie’s Phil Edwards model was produced first in 1963. Today these boards are incredible collectors’ items. This post will examine three different Hobie Phil Edwards boards that were recently up for sale. The hope is to give some kind of context on this wonderful board, as well as what kind of prices it commands on the open market.

Hobie Phil Edwards Model Serial Number #999

The first board featured here was sold at the recent Surfing Heritage Vintage Surf Auction. The picture below depicts a Hobie Phil Edwards model with serial number #999. The estimated closing price was between $2,000 and $5,000; I was unable to find info on the final price for the board, however. You can see the beautiful glassed-on D Fin in the pictures, the triple stringer design (with a wider center stringer), and then the silver foil label.

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Photo courtesy Surfing Heritage Vintage Surf Auction

 

Hobie Phil Edwards Serial Number #865

The second board is a Hobie Phil Edwards from the 1960s, also in excellent condition. It is a 10′ board that is currently for sale on Surf Garage, and the listing claims it’s all original and dates to 1968. Here you can clearly see an example of the “foil” label that can be found on the earlier runs of the Phil Edwards models. Later on, especially with reproductions, these labels were replaced by silver, non-foil laminates beneath the glassing. This board is being listed for sale at $4,000, which is steep, but if this indeed all-original, that is in the ballpark of similar boards. You’ll also notice this board has the same features as the one sold at the California Gold auction: same triple stringer setup, same D fin, and then the foil label. It is serial number #865, as clearly shown in the picture. My last note is that this board seems to be in suspiciously impeccable condition. I am wondering if it was restored, but I have no further info.

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Close up of the famous Hobie Phil Edwards foil logo. Photo via Surf Garage

 

Hobie Phil Edwards Model Serial Number #103

The third Hobie Phil Edwards model was also sold at an auction, but this time it was at the US Vintage Surf Auction. This board has the same hallmarks of a Hobie Phil Edwards model, as explained above: you can see the triple stringer design, a glassed-on D fin, and, of course, the distinctive silver label with a clear serial number (#103). The auction claims that this is the lowest numbered Hobie Phil Edwards they have found in existence; I have no way to verify if this is indeed the case. It’s also curious to contrast this silver label with the one on Serial Number #865. #103 is way more faded, and the deep blue of #865 looks more like a green. There are likely differences in photo editing, etc., that explain the discrepancy, but I found it interesting nonetheless. This board was estimated by the USVSA to go for somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000, but again, there’s no info on what the final price ended up being.

Photo via USVSA

Photo via USVSA

 

What’s interesting about these original boards is I can’t find an example of a Phil Edwards signature on any of them. I tend to believe that none of the original run of Hobie Phil Edwards boards bore his signature, but I would love to know if there are any examples I might be missing. Edwards signed the re-issued version of the Hobie boards, which will be the subject for a future post.

Hobie Phil Edwards Model from John Mazza Collection at Pepperdine University Serial Number #479

Finally, I’d like to include a shot from a board that Pepperdine University has as a part of their John Mazza Surfboard collection. It’s a 10′ Hobie Phil Edwards model from 1963, and they’ve got some great pictures up on the site. In this shot you can see the fin. I’ve heard conflicting reports, as some sources indicate the fins are made of ash wood, and I’ve also heard they are made from balsa. I can’t say for sure. But I do know they’re pretty awesome to look at.

Closeup of a Hobie Phil Edwards fin from John Mazza’s collection at Pepperdine University. I’ve read that the fins on these boards were made of ash, and I have also read that they were made out of balsa. Photo via Pepperdine University.

And as a bonus, I came across this old Hobie ad on Swaylocks. From left to right are the following surfers: Joey Hamasaki, Joyce Hoffman, Mickey Munoz, Phil Edwards, and Bill Hamilton! Note how each name has an Encyclopedia of Surfing account linked to it. That’s a murderer’s row of surf legends right there. In the middle of an ad is an example of a classic Phil Edwards model. You can see the triple stringer and the silver foil logo.

I hope you found this post useful, and stay tuned for parts two, three, and four on Phil Edwards and his boards!

Old Hobie Surfboards ad. Photo via Swaylocks

Surfboards Hawaii Vee Bottom

For the first time in Shred Sledz history, I am using a different picture to link to a post. The picture above, which I found on Flickr, courtesy of user surfvinsd, is of an 8′ Surfboards Hawaii vee bottom board.

The good news is there’s a very similar board up for sale on Craigslist right now. These Surfboard Hawaii vee bottoms are pretty hard to come by, and the one that is listed appears to be in decent condition. The poster is asking $650 for the board, which seems fair, with the big assumption that the board is in decent condition.

I couldn’t bear to post the picture that came with the ad, since this board is so dang beautiful and unique. But I urge you to check it out here and maybe even spring for the board (again, check it out in person yourself, and make sure the condition is up to snuff!) should you be inclined to own a piece of transition era surfboard history.

Takayama & Tudor

Here’s a quick hit for you: a rare Joel Tudor logo for a Donald Takayama board.

The board is listed on eBay, which you can find here. It’s not in great shape, including two delam spots and a decent amount of sun damage. I have never seen this logo before, though, and it’s a great example of a more obscure aspect of one of the greatest surfer / shaper partnerships in modern surfing.

Check out the board on eBay here.

Channel Islands Al Merrick Tri Plane Hull

 

For sale on eBay is a vintage Channel Islands single fin. This one is presumably shaped by Al Merrick, though it doesn’t seem to have his signature anywhere on it. This one isn’t all original, though apparently restorations were done by Joe Roper down in San Diego, who is probably at the top of the list of people you would want working on a board like this. It’s not super expensive – buy it now price is $600 – but that’s far from a steal, too. I can’t help but think that hand-shaped Merricks are eventually going to shoot up in value, given what an iconic brand Channel Islands is (and the fact that Al doesn’t seem to be making them anymore!) Anyway, check out the board here if you’re interested.