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Collectors stoked about surfing items


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POSTED: Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction is a vibrant journey down the annals of wave-riding history and a reuniting of old friends. This two-day event at the Blaisdell Center culminated last night with the auction, and big money was bid for 100 pieces of Hawaiiana and surfing history.

According to event producer Randy Rarick, the most prized board of the evening was an 11-footer, circa 1950, shaped by Bob Simmons, that was owned by James Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillion in the TV series “;Gunsmoke.”; It was one of the first foam boards ever built and, before the auction, it was appraised at between $25,000 and $50,000.

This rare piece of surf history and 99 other items were auctioned off to benefit the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, The Surfing Heritage Foundation and The Surfrider Foundation. The exact amount of money raised won't be known for a few weeks, but the last Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction garnered $650,000 in 2007. Besides generating a lot of money for charity, this event is a gathering of surfers of all ages and backgrounds.

“;It's really fun to bring the history and heritage of our sport together in one place at one time and have everyone share in it,”; Rarick said.

The Blaisdell Center was swarming with surfing's icons, underground heroes and living legends.

Four-time world surfing champion Mark Richards flew from Australia to attend. The 52-year-old still makes a living as a board builder Down Under and was excited to be reunited with a Lightning Bolt 7-2 board that he shaped and rode at the 1982 Pipeline Masters.

According to Richards, the board was on display at the Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki, but was replaced by Sunny Garcia's board when he won the Triple Crown of Surfing. After that, Richards' board went missing for two decades until it surprisingly resurfaced on the North Shore.

“;Randy (Rarick) called me eight months ago and some kid had knocked on his door and had the board,”; Richards said. “;I sent Randy some decals, templates and colors, and he had the board restored and it's here at the auction. It's exciting.”;

While Richards was stoked to see his old board in pristine condition after all these years, the Australian shaper was just as excited to see friendly faces from his past.

“;It's great bumping into people I haven't seen for five, 10 or 15 years. It's great catching up and reminiscing about the old days,”; he said.

As one of the last surfer/shapers on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour, Richards has a wealth of board-building knowledge. He's seen the surfboard industry go from ultra-high performance thrusters back to the retro designs that he rode in his prime.

“;Seeing all the boards is like seeing the history of surfing and surfboard design,”; Richards said. “;It's pretty amazing seeing them all.”;