If you have walked through the doors of Surf the Greats you have probably seen our famous surfboard rack decorated with a wide range of surfboards and colorful options. From shortboards, to mid-lengths, to fishes, to longboards, from Canadian and American shapers, we have plenty of surfboard options to offer for our various waves in Canada. Today, we want to highlight one of our most beloved brands: BING Surfboards.
Founded by Bing Copeland in 1960, the California born brand became one of the major surfboard manufactures of the sixties and early seventies. Bing Copeland, who now lives with his family in the mountains of Idaho, started surfing when he was just 13 years old. Spending most of his days at the Manhattan Beach Pier after trying out an 8ft board that was loaned to him by Dale Velzy, it was easy for Bing and his friend Greg to fall in love with surfing and hanging around Dale’s surf shop.
Bing and Greg became lifeguards the summer after they graduated high school to save up enough money for a trip to Hawaii. At 19 years old, Bing flew to Hawaii. He started out in a Waikiki rental and then moved to a Makaha Quonset hut with his friends where they learned to ride bigger surf. They learned from mentors George Downing, Buzzy Trent, and Peter Cole. When Bing realized his funds were running low, he and his friend Rick Stoner both went into the Coast Guard and were luckily assigned to a ship in Hawaii for the next two years, where they spent all their leave-time surfing and pioneering the North Shore.
In 1958 Bing and Rick sailed around the world for a year, and then opened up their first surf shop in 1959. It was a year later that Rick sold his share of the business to Bing, and that is how BING surfboards was born. In 1974 G&S took over the licensing of BING, then Mike Eaton in the 80s and 90s. Now currently run by Matt and his wife Margaret Calvani in Encinitas California, Bing stops by every now and then to check in on the shop.
BING at Surf the Greats
Antonio Lennert, our founder at Surf the Greats used to live in California for three years in his mid-twenties. While he worked in a retail store and surfed, BING was the brand of boards that he looked up to the most. When Antonio opened up Surf the Greats he had reached out to them and they were very excited about the idea of having their boards on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.
In 2013 Matt Calvani won the The Boardroom: Icons of Foam Tribute to Terry Martin. Only six shapers were invited to the event in which they had to shape a Terry Martin longboard in only two hours. A complicated surfboard design with stiff competition. Matt came out on top and he was honored to pay tribute to Terry Martin through the competition. Matt continues to shape exclusively for BING, Jacobs and Rick Surfboards today while also pushing forward surfboard design and American manufacturing. At Surf the Greats, we are honored to carry these innovative boards that are not only pleasing to the eye, but perform phenomenally on any wave.
Surf the Greats BING Surfboard Guide
We know how difficult it can be to choose either your very first hard board or the next board you want to add to your quiver. Here is a quick breakdown of the BING boards we carry at Surf the Greats and why you don’t want to miss your chance at getting one before they sell out!
BING rider Mick Rodgers once said that “optimal nose control with positive lift sensations is what this board is all about. The BING Continental...post on the nose and set it to cruise control”. The board has a wide parallel outline and a generous amount of nose rocker combined with 5/16” blended concave that extends to the middle of the board. The overall rocker is flat from the middle up to an extreme kick at the very end of the tail, and the rails are pinched so they will engage into the wave’s face. Therefore, if you are looking for your first noserider longboard with easy entry into waves and capabilities to turn smoothly, then this is the board for you! We highly recommend purchasing this board if you are looking to up your wave count and have fun in various conditions.
As Bing says… this is the board that will get you to the finish line. With a wider nose, and a tail that is more slightly pulled in, the shape is friendly for riders of all abilities. If your goal as a rider is to complete more nose rides, then this is the board that will allow you to do so easily. As long as you enter the wave early, the board will provide stability while you cross step your way to the nose. The pulled in tail allows for easy turning of the board, making it easier for the rider to set the board up for nose riding. The midsection of the board is a quarter inch wider than most other BING models, lending to more stability while moving up and down the board. The blended concave and 50/50 rails throughout make for easy transition from the back of the board to the nose. Due to this board's forgiving shape, if you are looking for a longboard that allows you to do a lot of walking and cross stepping then this is the board for you!
Levitator Type II Model
Matt decided to take the design of the first levitator in a different direction. The board essentially is a hybrid log with high performance characteristics. The rider can direct the board to get around critical sections while maintaining glide speed, along with the ability to make faster tighter turns. Matt added an edge in the tail that transitions to a 60/40 rail in the middle. The board from the Levitator I model is noticeably narrower overall while keeping its signature pointed nose. Having the wide point slightly forward still makes it an excellent noserider. Finally, is there more volume in the nose, offsetting the need for the additional width in the Levitator I model. The resulting Levitator Type II has proven itself to be an all-around square tail log that excels in all conditions, is focused on speed, and maintains the traditional attributes of a noserider. If you are looking for a high performance noserider board that excels in various Great Lakes conditions, then this is the board for you!
Designed to “collect” a lot of waves, this BING board is a part of BING’s mid-length collection. This board appeals to a wide range of surfers and surfing styles which highly suit the diversity of waves we see on the Great Lakes. This board ultimately is unique in design since the board has a five fin box set up, with a large center fin box (4+1) so that it can be ridden as a quad, a 2+1 or a single fin. The quad setup works for quick direction changes and surfing in the pocket. The 2+1 setup gives you drive and control so that you can lean hard into each turn. As a single fin you can take classic high lines with the wide point being forward and still execute smooth cutbacks and noserides. Most people prefer to ride the board from the tail and never walk the board. However many surfers like the wider nose since it helps for paddling ability. Therefore this design can come in handy for those challenging days on the Great Lakes. This board is fantastic for all-around noseriding and turning ability, without the heaviness of a 9’0+ longboard. We recommend purchasing this board if you are looking for a true mid-length that provides that in-between shortboard and longboard feel. This board is perfect for both the smaller and bigger days on the Great Lakes.
BING’s innovative designs and passion for growing the surfing community is why we will continue to carry this brand at Surf the Greats. We are always on the lookout for high performance boards that work well in wind swell conditions. Every single penny you invest in BING is absolutely worth it. BING has proven time and time again that they are leading the way by breaking the mold when it comes to hand-shaping boards and providing the best possible surfing experience. For more information about BING you can visit their website and follow their team here.
Words by Maddi Leblanc. Photos courtesy of BING.
Maddi Leblanc is a Niagara born, Toronto-based stand up paddling athlete for Team Canada, SUP instructor, and lake surfer. Maddi is also the new General Manager at Surf the Greats. She has been paddle boarding for nine years, competing in SUP for six years, and surfing the Great Lakes for six years. She recently just completed her Masters at Brock University in Recreation & Leisure Studies. Find her on Instagram.