Surfing in the ancient style on a finless wood board has been overlooked for many years now. In Hawaii the board was called alaia. In Japan it was called itaka. There is evidence of early surfers riding this style from all around the world but in the early 1900’s this style vanished.
I visited Hawaii’s ancient surfboards in the Bishop Museum in 2004 and was very impressed by the craftsmanship and the beautifully subtle shapes of the boards. I went back to Australia and made some replicas and I was amazed at how much fun they were to surf. My enthusiasm was contagious and soon my friends were riding them too.
It has been several years now since I started riding them and my shapes have gone through many evolutions. It has been great fun experimenting with the infinite variety of shapes. I often start with a big board and continually reshape it after every surf to learn about how the different shapes ride. Eventually the board is too small for me and it is given to a grom. I recommend to fellow board builders to try this.
In my experience, I have never known a surfboard to be as successful as the Alaia. Everyone who tries one really enjoys the lively feeling of the board. The popularity of the boards is growing fast and many well known surfers ride them often including David Rastovich, Tom Carroll, Mike Stewart, Dan Malloy, Derek Hynd, Thomas Campbell and Dane and Belinda Peterson. These surfers bring notoriety to the boards and this helps me get the word out, but what is most important to me is that any level of surfer enjoys them.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010