1960s O'Neill "Surf Shop" Board


Are there any SF / Santa Cruz guys out there who know anything about the early O’Neill Surf Shop boards? I have the one below that is 9’8".  From what I am told, the original owner was a guy named Skippy who surfed Kelly’s Cove back in the day.  According to the nephew who I got it from, he remembers it being a banana-colored yellow when he was a kid.

I’m guessing the board is very early 1960s based on the D-fin and both San Francisco and Santa Cruz on the deck.  Jack opened the Santa Cruz location in 1959 (I think).

I’m hoping someone here has a bit of expertise in the matter and can maybe throw out some names of possible shapers if it wasn’t Jack.

Unfortuantely O’Neill didn’t number the early boards and there are no other markings.

Pictures below, including one of the original Surf Shop at Ocean Beach, opened in 1952.  You can see the flared stringer boards propped up agaisnt the shop.

Thanks in advance for any input.


The condition is surprisingly good for a board this old. I believe Jack started using the O’Neill name on his boards as early as 1961.

This board was probably made in 1959 or '60. The curved stringers and old logo make this a legit collector’s item and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it should be in a museum. Either the one in SC or the SHACC. Jim Foley shaped for O’Neill in the 60s, but possibly not this early.


Sometimes it’s hard to envision what these old boards looked like originally.   You can wonder whose foam was used in its construction?   Because that foam is a fairly good quality for it’s day.  Pigments were limited back then.  Late 60’s I did a couple of pigment jobs using what pigments were available at a local Marine supply.  Red,  dark blue, black, green and yellow.  The yellow was pretty bright.  To get it opaque and remain dark or solid took most of a jar and a small amount of white.  Too much white and it would go pastel(Easter Egg). Yours appears to be a tint.  Opaques in those days were looked down on, as they were considered an attempt to cover up some mistake or poor quality foam.   It’s always been my experience that yellows, red, orange and green faded pretty quickly…   especially if transparent.   It took a real craftsman to flare those stringers.  The fin is advanced for the era.  Not a big stiff “D”.   Raked more than most were.  Definitely a rare and custom board.  

I can’t link, but there is a pretty good read on SF/OB during that early era on outsidelands.org.

just the fact tht it is foam at all makes it post 1960’s vintage…

ask bill hickey. This good a survivor .

,It was never lost into the pier at kelly’s cove.

babe kane had a bill bragg with stringer pattern


like this he rode it to desruction by 1970+

maybe ask bob coughlin… No as I think more

ask Dicky keating for an opinion…

he was a close associate of O’neil

dating back to the begining.

he may even have some wall space

to display / share it.


bought my first wetsuit vest from Jack’s little shop next to the great highway…a vest and Birdwell’s our only armor aginst 55 degree water and air…

a dozen or so years ago, ran across a 60’s 9’8 three stringered knife railed HIckey on an Oregon beach…garage sale pickup, owner clueless on what he had…if only it could talk 

I’m still waiting to run across an O’Neil Dick Keating Delight…being that the only one I have ever seen is in DK’s shop…

Ambrose - Thanks for the reply. 

Good idea about asking Dick Keating about the board.  Unfortunately it moved across country with me last January, so no chance of that happening.

A few months before I acquired this board, I was getting out of my wetsuit in the Grocery Outlet parking lot at LM and a guy stops his car in front of me.  He starts ribbing me about wearing a wetsuit on a summer day and how he and his crew used to surf Pedro Pt. and the cove in trousers only.  That was my one and only encounter with Dick Keating.  It was sort of cool how he would just cruise the parking lot, looking to chew the fat with anyone who wanted to, no matter if he knew them or not.

Wish I had the board by then to ask him if he could take a look…

Joel Woods was the main shaper in the 60’s