1975 Ben Aipa Stinger Swallow

1975 Ben Aipa Stinger Swallow

The last decade has seen a significant increase in enthusiasm around the rediscovering and reincarnation of old classic surfboards of all kinds. Check Facebook and you can join up to a multitude of surfboard collector groups and troll for hours through a diverse group of (MOSTLY) aging surfers sharing theirlove for and fascination with all things past, surfboard wise.

People pay big money for classic sticks made by legendary shapers who now watch their grandkids rip, professional ding fixers and amateurs alike spend hours stripping back, bogging and re-glassing boards that were once thrown onto the rubbish tip with no regard for their future relevance. Wily entrepreneurs make good dollars finding, fixing and then flogging off boards that are often sold for many times their original price. The local dump, Op Shop or garage sale, once a great place to buy a ten dollar board for your kid to learn on is now the place where history and fortunes can be made by these cunning characters.

But and it is a big but, the ultimate moment in this new and exciting world of everything old is new again (and possibly better depending on your nostalgia gene) is when an accidental moment of surfboard discovery occurs.

On our happy little non-profit website we want you; the avid surfer, restorer, collector or bargain hunter to share these moments of discovery. Whether it was grandad's garage or a website dedicated to removing your hard earned cash we would love you to post your stories too. Please DO NOT state unpleasant or abusive material in any way shape or form or nasty things will sting or bite you when next paddle out.

Start typing and always include pictures of your classic boards.
Cheers from the FYS lads.

Ben Aipa 1975 Stinger Swallow

#1. Boards are where you find them.

The United Arab Emirates is not a great surf destination. If you don't know where it is use your phone and have a look. There are waves on both coasts, The Persian Gulf on the west coast and The Gulf of Oman on the east coast get sloppy wind swells from time to time, quality waves bigger than two foot are very rare. The regular surfers though are just as keen as any other desperado who does not live in a primo surf destination. Weather charts and apps like magicseaweed provide forecasts of potential swell events and everyone who can heads for their favourite spot hoping to find the reported two to three foot swells which are too often half the predicted size (often they are much smaller ). The best wave in the country is a right reef on the Fujairah coast, I won't name it but it is on Magicseaweed, I found it for myself when I moved there without knowing about it so if you go there you too can enjoy the challenge.

In my two and a half years of living there I probably surfed twenty times. Fortunately, when not in the UAE I was in Oman, Sri Lanka or The Seychelles making up for the obvious deficits associated with The UAE's lack of waves but these will be other stories.

One thing that can be said for the UAE regulars is that tax free incomes often meant the line-ups had their fair share of contemporary brands and boards, with everything from ultra-slick high performance boards to lumbering beat up old longboards that probably need to be left in the vast expanses of desert for the camels to frolic on when not busy staring at the moon.

But what of classic boards? On my last trip to the aforementioned reef that I didn't mention my colleague and I drove across the country for the dawn session only to be greeted by another magicseaweed exaggeration. One foot dribble...again. One other guy getting ready to paddle out. He could have it to himself, I was heading back to Oz in a couple of weeks so really didn't care and my mate felt pretty much the same way. Then the guy walked past us carrying a very interesting board. I jumped out of the car and asked if I could check out the board. It was one of those amazing moments when the past and the present collide. The guy, an absolute legend and the only Turkmenistan born surfer I have ever met was carrying a 1975 Ben Aipa stinger swallow. And it was in mint condition. We got chatting and this poor guy had just driven for three hours from Abu Dhabi to surf for the first time in twelve months. The surf was rubbish but he was keen as and we had to join him.

His name is Murad and he was so excited to just paddle out on this incredible piece of surfboard history. His first wave was probably not what Ben Aipa ever imagined his boards would endure but for the three of us we were elated as Murad got up and cruised along for twenty or thirty metres. His smile was worth more gold then all the sheiks have tucked away inside their palaces. We chatted and laughed and slowly a few more expats drifted out. It was time to go. My 6'2" Bourton snub loves South Straddie, not dribble, and I had just sold my chunky 6'2” Bolt I had custom made for the UAE, but that is another story.

So, we farewelled our mate on the stinger swallow and drove away from Fujairah for the last time. Fond memories of surfing a strange place in a strange country for sure, but definitely more about the people you meet then the waves that were ridden.

With luck Murad has had a few more sessions since then, winter in the UAE is the season when the wind blows down the Persian Gulf and dribble arrives a bit more frequently.
A great bloke with an amazing piece of surfing history.

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