Captain Turbo: the bodyboarding superhero created by Russ Brown of Turbo Surf Designs

In 1983, Russ Brown founded Turbo Surf Designs in Hawaii. But he also revolutionized the way bodyboards were sold to young rippers.

The man known as "Captain Turbo" was one of the first to defy Morey Boogie's monopoly. Brown introduced premium bodyboard models featuring hard PVC slicks, vinyl decks, and bold graphics.

In the mid-1980s, Russ developed a cartoon series featuring the world's first bodyboarding superhero.

"The Adventures of Captain Turbo" was a fundamental marketing tool in the success of the Hawaiian brand and was introduced to the world via boogie magazines.

Brown created a parallel bodyboarding universe - Turbo Island - where his boards were high-tech wave-riding vehicles.

Here's how it all started:

"In November of 1982, Russ Brown was snatched up into the turbulence of Hurricane Iwa! Cast adrift in the middle of the Pacific, he found his destiny... Turboland!"

"A beautiful, uncharted island shrouded in the mists of time is a surfer's Shangrila! Rumored to be somewhere south of the Hawaiian archipelago, it was the prehistoric base of a group of extra-terrestrial surfers whose knowledge and technology still lie far beyond the comprehension of man... with one exception!"

The Adventures of Captain Turbo (1986) | Illustration: Fujitake

"As the island's first human visitor staggered ashore, a strange energy began to flow into his battered body. The pulsing force was at once both refreshing and magnetic, drawing him toward its source."

"The energy grew more irresistible as the lush tropical growth gave away to a clearing and the abandoned camp of the alien surfers. He entered the central chamber and, with only a moment's hesitation, stepped into the mind vortex sphere where he was bombarded with pure energy from the crystalline Turbonite power core."

"What emerged from that chamber was more than human... an augmented mind and body pursuing the endless quest of the ultimate surfing vehicles. Combining his mental power with the high-tech alien devices, Captain Turbo utilizes his creative energy to produce such innovative designs as the Turbo 360 skeg and the XTC Turbo!"

The Adventures of Captain Turbo (1986) | Illustration: Fujitake

The Ultimate Russ Brown Obsession

In 1987, a couple of years before launching the iconic Mike Stewart Pro Comp bodyboard, Brown created a cartoon to boost the sales of the Turbo Z, a board with wingers, a scoop nose, and triple skeg boxes.

The Adventures of Captain Turbo (1987) | Illustration: Fujitake

Later, Turbo Surf Designs made another cartoon to market the XL-R8, one of the most popular Turbo bodyboards of all time.

The Adventures of Captain Turbo (1987) | Illustration: Fujitake

Turbo was "The Ultimate Russ Brown Obsession" (T-U-R-B-O) until 1998, when the founder sold the brand and moved to mainland America to follow other personal and professional interests.

Brown stated he wanted to "leave the party when you're having fun."

"I started with silkscreening, then moved to wave skis, then soft skis, which then segued into Scott Hawaii getting involved in the business. I also dealt in motorsports equipment and model plane parts," Brown once told Neal Miyake of Hi Surf Advisory.

"Turbo Surf Designs started as a design exercise to make surf equipment. We realized that bodyboards back then were just a flexible piece of foam. Having ridden paipo boards at The Wall right away, I knew the boards should be stiffer, and if it was stiff, then you could put skegs on them. And so began the line of Turbos."

Russ Brown said goodbye to the surf industry, but his legacy won't be forgotten.

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