Design Focus: The Russ Short Bonzer

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Design Focus: The Russ Short Bonzer

Bonzer Quiver

A full decade prior to the introduction of the Thruster design, brothers Malcolm and Duncan Campbell had been quietly advocating 3 finned surfboards in the hinterlands of Southern California’s surf industry.  Honed in the quality surf of Oxnard’s beach breaks and Santa Barbara’s point breaks, Campbell Brothers’ home spun design ingenuity was dramatically improving the local community’s wave riding ability.

Malcolm Campbell,
“Duncan and I were learning to surf and make surfboards at the same.  This allowed us to approach things without too many preconceptions.  I remember the first wave I rode with 3 fins; it was a 3 foot left at Emma Wood Beach.  The improved speed and control was instantly noticeable.  It was undeniable that we were on to something.”

Russ Short – 3 Fin Bonzer – Mexico ‘77 from Campbell Brothers Surfboards on Vimeo.

“In 1972  we added a single to double concave bottom with a bit of vee through the fin area.  This along with the three fins became the basis for the Bonzer design, and in  1983 we developed the 5 fin version.  The Bonzer is more of a system than a particular board type.  This system is extremely versatile, and works well on any type of board, be it shortboards, longboards, kneeboards Paipo boards, Sup’s, sailboards, or kite boards.”

Russ Short Concaves

Russ Short Bottom 600x300 2

“It’s hard to believe that we’re entering our 45th year of this project.  The Bonzer is not retro, and remains a high performance, cutting edge design to this day.  Our original thought was to utilize the energy created by the water moving underneath the board.  The keel shaped side fins and the concaves work in tandem to organize the water passing through the tail area.  The angle of the fins essentially act as a an extension of the concaves, and their low profile allows them to enter and exit the water with little resistance.  The result of this combination is increased speed, control and maneuverability.”


Taylor Knox – 5 Fin Bonzer – Mexico from Campbell Brothers Surfboards on Vimeo.

“What has become known as the Russ Short Model was our most popular shape in the mid 70’s.  Russ’ quintessential style and skill exemplified the capabilities of that shape, and now here in the 21st century, it is again one of our most popular shapes.  It has been ridden in all types of waves, and has proven to be a versatile high performance surfboard.  It is mostly used with three fins, but  can incorporate the 5 fin set up as well.  Although primarily a diamond tail, it also works well as round pin or swallow tail.  When shaping the Russ Short model we use the “A” series blanks.  The range the 6’2” A to the 7’7” A, provide a perfect canvas to re create the 70’s profile with it’s iconic beak nose.”

65A with Russ Short 2

To learn more about the Campbell Brothers and the Bonzer surfboard design, visit