The Good News & the Bad News - Part 2.

I wrote a post recently called the 'Good News & the Bad News" where I lamented and celebrated the rising price of the once scorned innovation period vintage surfboards.
Since then I have questioned what I was doing with these boards and what type of collection exactly I was trying to build. Occasionally my wife complains about my collection of ugly, beat up (BUT HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT!) late seventies early eighties boards and asks why cant I get some nicer ones to put up in the house.
I came to the conclusion that I am a 'Modern Era" collector and I should be focusing on building a well rounded 'Modern Era' collection. A collection that should include at least one example of each important design phase from '75 to '85 and not just 20 MR template twinnys and 20 beat up early thrusters.
No collection of this type would be complete without the jewel in the crown, a late '70's Hawaiian built single fin pin tail 'Lightning Bolt' gun. A board that is concpiuoius by its absence from my collection mainly due to cost.
The results of the recent vintage auction in Honolulu showed these boards where fetching prices in the tens of thousands of dollars, well out side my $200 yard sale maximum spend. I knew I had my work cut out and my goal was probably out of reach.
As things turned out, I was in LA for work for a couple of days arriving on a sunday.

A few days before I left I started trawling on-line the LA papers classified, notice-boards, craigslist, broslist, ebay etc.
There were a number of Bolts listed for sale with prices hovering around 5K, well out of my reach. So I was was pretty excited to find a 1977 Ken Bradshaw shaped 7'0" Lighting bolt pin tail single fin in below average condition listed for sale in Hermosa Beach. I figured I could take my time on its restoration as long as I got it home to Sydney.

I have made a lot of friends buying, selling or trading boards with fellow enthusiasts but some trades are more memorable than others.
I arranged to meet Hermosa Vince in a back alley near the beach and on my arrival he's standing out there with my beat up Bolt. I give him the cash and the same conversation begins with nearly everyone I meet trading boards.
Hermosa Vince: 'So do collect surfboards?'
Boardcollector: "No, not really, do you?'
HV: No, not really.
BC: Hmmmm..... why do you ask?
HV: 'Oh, well I might some other boards to sell, do you want to have a look......'
BC: 'Yeah, I'm not really looking for anything, but seeing as I'm in California........

As we enter the back door an Adladin's cave of 70's and 80's period Californian boards opens up.
I mention Shaun Thompsons new movie 'Bustin Down the Door' and he says yeah, I've got a few of those, stacked up in the corner is a pile of ST twinny's.
I say that I have a few Energy Thrusters but I've never seen one of those U.S Thrusters that Simon did with Nectar and Vince says, 'oh you mean like these?'
Bolts, Ex-pros boards with flouro paint and 80's logos. It was fantastic.
Plus Vince had one of the best skateboard collection I had ever seen, including compeditors jesseys from the Pepsi Pro-Am which i suspect was used by Vince.

The Bolt is packed up and ready for its trip to Australia and will no doubt feature in a future blog entry when she's been restored.

Frigates reef- Fiji.

- A 6'0" Vintage Lightning Bolt twinny.
- A 6'2" JC NX1.
- A trustworthy surfing mate.
- A friendly Fijian boat driver and a tinny.

Like the Alien's exoskeleton

Along with the 3 finned thruster the development of the channel bottom was one of the other important innovations of the T2 period of surfboard design. Col Smith is credited with its early implementation but New Zealand shaping genius Al Bryne is considered the master of the art of the channel bottom. Surf journalist and accomplished big wave rider Nick Carroll told me that an Al Bryne shaped channel bottom gun is a must have for the quiver at solid G-land. He told me the channels give the board extra hold and drive therefore you can take up to 3 inches of its length allowing for greater speed, control and maneuverability in big hollow waves. These extreme channel have evolved into the single and double concave bottoms we ride today.
I love the sculptural look and feel of the channels and small sharp fins that Al uses. When stacked together they have an almost H.R Geiger feel to them.

Local Knowledge, indeed!

In the late 70's and 80's Kirra Surf on the Gold Coast Highway was the epicenter of high performance queensland surfing. The store was an exciting place to visit and home to the likes of Glen Rawlings, Jason Buttonshaw and Shane Powell. As well as a respectable stable of contemporary surfboards and hardware the store also housed a quite wonderful vintage surfboard collection. It was a true joy to visit the store and peruse the collection, sun burnt and surfed out from a Christmas cyclone swell and have a honey, soy, banana smoothie and veggie burger from the Healthy Bee next door.
I picked up this cute Local Knowledge 5'10" double fly,channel bottom, swallow tail twin fin when they sold off their collection and got rid of the Healthy Bee to make way for acres of discount bins full of bad china made surf fashions.
Kirra Surf has now become Australia's leading example of everything that is wrong with vacuous mass market surf culture, out of touch with its roots and chasing the tacky tourist dollar.
Thankfully the lower gold coast and surrounding hinterland is breeding a new generation of committed and innovative surfers, shapers, musicians and film makers, who like me, skin crawls at the smell of these giant discount surf wastelands.

Viva la revolution!!

Simon Anderson - forever the innovator.

Simon conciders himself a cutting edge shaper and dislikes being only associated with the development of the thruster.
Proof of his endless pursuit of innovation in surfboard design is this 6'0" late 70's hollow plastic, blow moulded, single fin whose shape is based on Simon's well proven rounded pin tail designs. Today Simon's passion is for the quad. A recent Tracks magazine board test issue rated Simon's new design as the best new board out there.
photo by Steve Cooney

If you know where to look....

This is one of my favorite left hand reef breaks that barrels and wraps right into the cove. It is literally right in the middle of Sydney. Despite the evidence above some of my best friends don't believe it exists. Like good cheap old boards, good waves are out there, if you know where to look.

Boards I didn't win on ebay

These are the days we live for....

My hair is still wet as I post these pics!
Aaron and I were the first out at this south coast point break at dawn.
As soon as we got out the back he said 'these are the days we live for'.
Then the sets came and he said 'shit, we need bigger boards'.
I disagreed, sure we got pitched on few double overhead ledging takeoffs, but nothing beats the feeling of speed and looseness as a twin fin is pushed to its very limits. A 27 year old twin fin.

I truly appreciate the feedback from everyone on the 'Dear Mr Systems' post especially Tyler Callaway, Director of Business Development, Surf Hardware International who took the time to write to me last time my session was rudely cut short.

But this time I made sure we were both on solid glassed fin equipment.

Echo Beach

Laguna Beach, Calif. The Surf Gallery is headed to LA to curate ECHO BEACH RETROSPECTIVE, 1978-1982: Surf Culture Art Exhibition at The Standard in Downtown LA on August 13, 2009 from 7-10 p.m. The exhibition will include art, photography, paintings, film, vintage beachwear and surfboards by Janette Beckman, Art Brewer, Gomez Bueno, Ned Evans, Rick Griffin, Mike Moir, Ross Morgan, Jeff Parker, Mike Salisbury, Chuck Schmid, Peter Schroff, John Van Hamersveld, Tyler Warren and more. Stefan Jeremias, co-producer of the new Echo Beach documentary, and Will Pennartz of The Surf Gallery will curate the show. Admission is free. For more information go to or

For more info about the ECHO BEACH film, go to

To restore or not to restore.....

Gavin from Pacific Palms has sent me pics of his beautiful Cooper bonzer that I'm posting for the pleasure of Tim in Hawaii.
Gav was apologetic that the board has been restored with a painted finish.
My opinion on restoration is simple.
Waterproof - yes.
Over paint to hide the life and history of the board - no.

Aah the dreaded gloss coat

Rasta harrison said...
aah the dreaded gloss coat..everyone has a different technique and two the same and its an industry can thin gloss resin with styrene but no that would be a disaster though the old guys back in the early 60,s thinned lam resin with acetone..pity about that...nice soft brush, 400 wetndry, 600 wetndry,1000 wetndry,1200 wetndry and 1500 wetndry.I machine the 400/600 and 1000 then by hand with soft block the 1200 and 1500..i then mavhine cut with soft cutting pad with aouto cutting paste...jeez that sounds like a lot of work...yes but it gives you a nice shiny finish and no scratches...some guys then use a sheepskin pad to buff up...but aah that sounds unfair to the sheep..and oh yeah make sure the gloss resin is well mixed as the wax tends to coagalate to the top...and oh yeah preferred temp is around 20 degrees or so ...have fun and show us some pics of your next project..Rasta