Randy Rarick – QnA with Director of the Hawaiian Vintage Surf Auction
Randy Rarick, known to many as the longtime executive director of the Triple
Crown of Surfing, is also the producer of the widely popular Hawaiian Islands
Vintage Surf Auction. The biennial event (that’s every two years folks) takes
place July 17 and 18 in Honolulu at the Blaisdell Center. If you are a lover
of surfboards and surf history this gathering of foam, fiberglass, legend and
lore is the summer hotspot. I caught up with Randy recently to discuss the upcoming
Randy, hey before we get into it here, how are the waves on the North Shore
Yeah I was just out watching it (Sunset Point) and there is a little North
Swell running, excellent glassy conditions, the sun is out so I’m going to take
advantage of what’s left of this time of the year.
The season is winding down over there, isn’t it? Anytime you can get into
May and June and still be surfing on the North Shore you are pretty fortunate.
Yeah, it’s been a funny year. It was actually pretty crappy after the Triple
Crown was finished this year. We’ve had a pretty good springtime. It has been
beautiful over here. Everyone is away on trips or what have you, so no complaints
and it is just the local neighborhood boys out there.
Now, no offense, but as you get older, at least in my case, it’s harder
and harder to dawn patrol. Dawn patrol for me is around 1PM. Do you still dawn
(laughs) Well it is interesting because there is a group of guys right here
at Sunset Beach who all go to work early and hit it early. There is Bones, who
glues up all the blanks for Dick Brewer. There’s guys like John Thompson who
is a pilot, and another guy, John Wade, who flies for Hawaiian airlines, so
all these guys are professionals who surf early and I’m right there with them.
Surf early and get to work.
Well I’m perusing your website, Hawaiian
SurfAuction.com and man oh man, there are some beauties on here. The auction
date is July 18, what exactly takes place at the auction? How does it all go
Well we actually have two days. On July 17th, which is a Friday, and we do
an Antique Road Show type of deal that day, which is really neat. Then on Saturday,
July 18th, everything is on display for the public and we take care of the auction
late that afternoon.
I’m salivating over some of these boards that are already on display on
your website. In particular there is a red Dick Brewer gun that Brewer hand
shaped for Tom Carroll in 1984. How much would something like that cost me?
We have what is known as a pre-auction estimate based on previous auctions
and the current state of collecting. That board will go from anywhere between
$5K to $10K. It’s interesting because that board, you could take that board
out and ride ti today, it is still in relatively good shape. Although it is
25 years old, a Waimea gun hasn’t really changed much in the last two decades.
That board, Tom had left that board here in Hawaii in the mid-80s, under Bernie
Baker’s house and completely forgot about it. As you know Scott, Bernie’s house
is something of a depository for boards of traveling pro surfers. I was over
at Bernie’s house digging around, I’d knew I could find something under there,
and I pulled this thing out, and I go, “Ah, here we go.” I remember surfing
with Tom at Waimea when he was riding this board. I asked Bernie, “Is this Tom
Carroll’s old board?” Bernie is like, “I’m not really 100% sure.” I emailed
Tom, and luckily Bernie had a water shot of Tom riding that board. And Tom replied,
saying yeah, that was his board, and that he had wondered what had happened
to that board. So, it’s sort of funny how it all happens.
Well Randy, you put this great auction on every two years since 2001, is
there ever any anxiety about getting enough quality boards for his auction every
Well it is really interesting, the boards have to be at least 25 years or older
to be called what we call ‘vintage.’ I started this back in 2001. I was inspired
by Allan Seymour’s vintage surf auctions in California. I remember telling Allan,
“This is so cool, seeing our entire surf history laid out before our very eyes.
I kept saying, ‘man somebody needs to do one of these in Hawaii. Finally I decided
to it. The first year was pretty easy to get boards, I went around to all of
my contacts in the surf industry asking around, “Hey do you have any old boards?’
And guys were like, ‘yeah, here take this one over here.’ Each subsequent year
it’s been harder and harder to find boards. That’s why it takes me two years
to dig stuff up. So it is definitely getting harder and harder to find boards.
It has literally become a treasure hunt.
I imagine too Randy, there are some ownership issues. For example has there
ever been a situation where you find an old board, you clean it up, post it
on the website and somebody pops up out of the blue and claims it as their board.
There must be some politics to deal with, no?
Well, yeah. We try to get what is known as the provenance, which is the history
behind the board. The better the history, the more the board will be worth.
For example, take Tom Carroll’s Brewer gun. Because we know it is Tom’s board,
because we have a picture of Tom riding it. Because we know Brewer shaped it
specifically for Tom, we know the history of the board and that is what we call
the provenance. I try really hard to find out each boards history. Occasionally,
I will find a board that is really neat or unique but that nobody knows anything
about. We’ll put it in the auction and somebody will claim it as theirs and
it usually goes tow ways. A guy will go ” Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you have
my old board.” And they will provide some great details about the boards history
and add to or create the provenance about the board. I’ve also had guy come
up a go ‘hey that’s my board, it was stolen in such-a-such a year.” The guy
actually had the police report on the board and I pulled the board from the
auction and gave it to the rightful owner.
Well, Randy, you’ve got a unique event for Hawaii. Now, the boards for the
2009 auction are available to see online, correct?
IF you go to the website you can go sneek-a-peek at what is available this
year. It’s sort of a taste of what is on offer. The website is kind of cool
because we have the boards from all the previous auctions on there. So you can
go back in time and see what the boards from the last auctions went for. You
can see the 2007, 2005, 2003, and 2001 auction results. What was on offer and
what the boards went for. In some ways the site is sort of an historical exhibit.
Scott I know you have the Sacred Craft Expo, which is really neat, so you have
the contemporary stuff and also the stuff that will be future collectables.
And on my site you can see the older stuff, you can take a look back all the
way to the 1800s, and see what price the boards went for as well. We do have
other stuff besides surfboards, memorabilia. It is about 65 percent surfboards,
because surfboards are my true passion and that is what everyone can relate
to if you are a surfer, but we do have memorabilia. We have a classic Duke trophy,
old posters, in fact we are going to have a complete set of SURFER magazines–
a complete library of SURFER. We also have a complete set of SURFING magazine
and THE SURFERS JOURNAL as well. A couple of books from the 1800s are on offer.
The first thoughts about surfing written down by the missionaries, so the guys
that are really into surf history, the scholars, we’ll have something for them.
A lot of the legendary pros will be in attendance. PT, Peter Townend will be
there with one of his Duke trophies and his pink Parrish that Tom Parrish made
for him in 1976, the year that PT won the world title. And MR, Mark Richards,
MR’s 1982 Pipe Masters board, the board he won the Pipe Masters with will be
on auction. The event is pretty neat because at the Blaisdale center exhibition
hall we put up racks and anyone can come walk around for free and 100 years
of history is laid out before everyone. At the last auction, in one room we
had thirty of the best craftsman together all in one room. Scott I’d love to
see that happen at your Sacred Craft expo.
Randy, unreal, as it is every two years, I’m sure the Hawaiian Surf Auction
will be a big success. We wish you all the best and perhaps we’ll see you there.
Right on Scott, thanks so much. Talk soon.