Town & Country (T&C) 6’4 twin fin shaped by Larry Bertlemann in 2020. This is board #9 of just 10 boards shaped by Bertlemann on the North Shore of Oahu. Featuring a vibrant airbrush design done by the original colorist, Laura Powers. This board was shaped to the exact dimensions and uses the same materials as the original board made in the 1980’s. Use as a functional surfboard or decorative surfboard art piece!
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History of Larry Bertlemann and T&C surfboards
One of the most exposed professional surfers, shortboard pioneer Larry Bertlemann, can be easily credited with the vast majority of contributions to the evolution of the sport. His style was the exact opposite of the expressing carving of the 1960s and 1970s. He gained the nickname “Rubberman”, after a definite, powerful spring in his surfing style. Larry Bertlemann was the one to deny current values and ride waves top to bottom with sharp turns in the pocket.
Bertlemann was born on August 7th, 1955 in Hilo, Hawaii. His adventure with surfing began at 11 when his family moved to Honolulu. From that moment on, he progressed quickly and always aimed high. Soon the young Larry was surfing waves from Ala Moana bowls on the South Shore to the heavier waves on the North Shore, which immediately became the development grounds of modern jazzed up surfing. He started working with famous shaper Ben Aipa to develop and refine surfboards that allowed for his innovative approach. Ben Aipa was his mentor at the time, and together they redefined the standard for performance equipment. Aipa’s swallowtail and stinger designs of the mid-70s facilitated some of Bertlemann’s best surfing.
On a personal level, Aipa discouraged Bertlemann from pursuing a professional competitive career in surfing. Despite Aipa’s advice and his own distaste for competition, Bertlemann turned pro in the early 70s. Without conforming to the restraints of competition, he finished third in the 1972 World Contest in San Diego. A year later, he won the U.S. Surfing Championship. Although he became one of the highest-paid pros of the time, he experienced only marginal competitive success, and stayed in the top 16 in both 1976 and 1979. His style was so different from the norms that competition judges rarely understood how to score his maneuvers. “I surfed for myself and the public, not for five judges,” claims Larry- “How do you score a maneuver you’ve never seen before?” Thanks to Aipa’s wide, short (less than 6-foot) swallowtail and stinger designs, Larry had total freedom of movement. Bertlemann could do all the spontaneous maneuvers from low gravity cutbacks, 360s to switchfoot antics, and they remained functional. He was also interested in design. Bertlemann shaped his first board inside a friend’s house. After watching Sparky (from the Sparky’s Surf Shop) and working with Aipa, he began shaping regularly, cooperating with Town and Country, George Downing and others. Bertlemann also helped in the renaissance of ultra-short twin-fins around 1980.
His dominant presence in the media overshadowed Larry Bertlemann’s competitive career. He was featured on a record nine magazine covers, and he was one of the first professionals to land a deal with significant corporate sponsors like Pepsi, OP, Toyota, and United Airlines. He even starred a role in Hal Jepsen’s 1975 film Super Session. His hyper-exposed surfing wasn’t the sole thing that he used to stay in the public eye. Frequently surfing in color-coordinated outfits along with his characteristic Afro, Bertlemann made sure the cameras followed him wherever he went. He even surfed Pipeline in a custom bell-bottom styled wetsuit. Being in media’s spotlight made him one of Hawaii’s great ambassadors of the 1970s. Larry really revolutionized the surfing world- it was the first time the surfing lifestyle was available to non-surfers across the planet. Pictures of Bertlemann spread across the globe, and in a short time he grew into the very well known icon of Hawaiian surfing.
Finally, around 1998, his desire for speed and adventure got the better of him. The years of physical abuse from skateboarding, surfing and motorcycle and truck racing resulted in two degenerating discs, leaving the right side of his body paralyzed. He has since regained motion through surgery and therapy, but he is far from his old self. After coming back to Oahu, he began shaping as much as his body would allow. In the summer of 2001, he was arrested on robbery and weapons charges and spent the next years in jail, following a popular “Free Bert” campaign. Upon his release, Bertlemann began making surfboards again, even forming mass-production deals with Rebel Boards and Santa Cruz. In terms of numbers, his greatest influence was amusingly on skateboarding. Award-winning documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, relates to the rise of vert skating begins with names like Alva, Peralta and Adams trying to take Larry’s approach on a wave to streets and parks; they even call their slide-out turns, “Berts.” Now Larry Bertlemann surfs rather infrequently, but people in and out of the surfing world will never forget the significant contributions of this Hawaiian legend.
Town & Country surfboards
Town and Country Surf Designs (T&C Surf) is a globally known manufacturer of surfboards and apparel. T&C’s roots go back to 1971 when Craig Sugihara opened his first surf shop in Hawaii. The beginnings of this project were simple - an old barbershop in Pearl City worked as the original storefront. The company soon expanded into a full line of surf-wear and surfing accessories and now has retail stores in many places around the world, such as Japan, Australia, and Brazil.
Craig Sugihara’s relationship with the ocean and surfing started long before entering the surf business. Although he wasn’t a competitive surfer in his early years, he recalls surfing being an essential part of his life. Surfing defined Craig Sugihara’s career, lifestyle, achievements, and spirit. He also had a passion for creating quality equipment. Soon he picked up the anatomy of the surfboard and learned about what impacted it’s performance. Young Craig would watch Joe Kuala at Surfboards Makaha, as well as Sparky and Ben Aipa shaping surfboards. Around the same time, he found an old, long forgotten, brown board at the neighbor’s house and gave it new life. This was a significant event that influenced the future of T&C surf. Craig’s second board was shaped from a blank purchased from Surfline Hawaii. By chance, Greg Noll Surfboards had just lost a laminator around the same time. Craig showed his work to Greg and got the job- one step closer to his goal. At this new workplace, he came across many people that would play key roles in surfing’s development- including Randy Rarick, surf promoter and Director of the Triple Crown of Surfing; and Buffalo Keaulana, Makaha’s ambassador of surfing. A few years later, he was offered a position with Mystic Surfboards in Waianae. Soon thereafter Craig was shaping for several local standouts, and about one year later, he opened his own shop.
T&C surfboards was born. The name expressed the shop’s position between the two headquarters of surf on Oahu - Town & Country. Many people were attracted to T&C, not only because of its ideal location but also thanks to their exceptional quality boards. At first, shapers like Glenn Minami and Barry Kanaiaupuni helped Craig meet increasing demand. The logo of Town and Country Surfboards (the unmistakable Yin-Yang symbol), suggested by a t-shirt artist, has a powerful graphic character and deep significance. It’s simple and relevant to surfing- balance. This balance has defined the evolution of Town & Country over the years.
T&C’s alumni of surfers is impressive; Larry “Rubberman” Bertlemann, Dane Kealoha, Marvin Foster, Matt Archbold, Christian Fletcher, Sunny Garcia, Ben Aipa, Johnny Boy Gomes, Chris Ward, Bobby Martinez, Shea Lopez, Kahea Hart, Martin Potter, Ross Williams and the 2018 WSL Big Wave World Champion Billy Kemper, to name a few. In 1976, Tak Kawahara became a co-owner of Town & Country Surfboard’s wholesale department and established the apparel brand, which developed into one of the top five brands in the global surfwear industry. T&C also expanded the product line by introducing surf watches, beach sandals, and school stationery accessories (all of which were the first of their kind in the industry). The late 80s were a golden era for T&C on the North Shore of Oahu. During this time, young team riders Matt Archbold and Christian Fletcher, nicknamed the “Air Brigade” were taking surfing to new levels. This new radical surfing attracted many shapers and team riders to Town & Country. Around this time, Sunny Garcia was also signed to the Town & Country team, and under the coaching of Ben Aipa he went on to win the World Title in the year 2000.
T&C Surf Designs mission is to share and maintain the spirit and aloha of the Hawaiian surfing lifestyle. Like its characteristic Yin and Yang logo, the brand has remained balanced, and true to their roots. This balance has led to a highly successful global brand and will continue to define the growth of T&C for generations to come.