Collecting vintage surfboards can be a serious business. Iconic boards sell for thousands and the competition among bidders can be intense. Some cashed up collectors want them as wall trophies and conversation pieces for their beachside weekenders. Others think of them as mainly financial investments and trawl garage sales, council pick-ups and op shops looking for a tidy profit. Which is why original handshapes by big name shapers are increasingly difficult to find. Most have already been snapped up.        

Then there’s Sydney’s Damion Fuller whose passion is for riding old foam, learning from it and sharing the knowledge. Fuller runs the Board Collector blog whose motto is: buy high, sell low, enjoy the ride. Fuller is focused on boards shaped between 1975-1985, known as the innovation period. Forget sawn off logs - we’re talking refined single fins, twins, Lazor Zaps, early thrusters and the invention of channels.   

“I’m interested in exploring the different design elements and why some became popular and others didn’t,” says Fuller. “For example, in 1981 Cheyne Horan and Geoff McCoy developed a theory that bigger waves need shorter boards with different bottom curves than those ridden at the time. Cheyne paddled out at 20ft Waimea on a 5’8” prototype and was laughed at. Today all the tow guys ride short boards in big waves proving Cheyne and Geoff were onto something 30 odd years ago.”

Fuller is particularly keen on twinnies. “My theory is twins lost popularity to the thruster not because they didn’t work but because there were so many bad ones made. I recently took six 40-year-old twin fins to WA to see how they would go under the feet of Ry Craike, Craig Anderson and Ozzie Wright. We took a Byrne that had one-inch deep clinker channels and worked amazing and held on tight, deep in the tube. We also had a KC twin fin from 1978 that went really well because the fins were set so far back and it had really flat bottom curve.”

 

The current twin fin crush has all the markings of a trend but Fuller believes the design has real merits. “I think the recent interest has shown what twins are capable of. I loved seeing the difference in the way they were surfed at the J-Bay expression session, the different lines that the surfers were taking. And I think our minds were opened by watching Asher Pacey shredding on a twin at Snapper. I think twins will be
a standard part of every surfer’s quiver moving forward.”

Pop culture is currently trawling through the 90s for inspiration but that probably won’t happen with surfboards. At least not for collectors. “The trouble with 90s boards is that by then we had developed an obsession for lightness which meant super light glass jobs and boards that only lasted a season or two. Consequently most 90s boards are pretty trashed. Secondly, airbrush designs and colour had largely gone out of vogue. Of course, there are exceptions. Christian Fletcher’s and Martin Potter’s comp boards from the 90s have a following as well as some of the more progressive designs such as Tommy Peterson’s fireball fishes and Greg Webber’s banana boards.”