Fantastic Alaia Shaping Instructions

I just came across the best site I have ever seen that explains how to shape an alaia. I wish I had put this together.

See for yourself; CLICK HERE.


A gente brasileira tambem usa alaias

My Portuguese is a bit rusty, but I hope the headline conveys that the Brazilians are also getting into alaias. I came across a story on a Brazilian website that talks about the eco-friendliness of alaias and has some great pictures too.

Check it out.


Alaias in the New York Times!

Holy crap. When an east coast establishment newspaper runs a detailed story about alaias (with props to Cyrus Sutton with a pic of him in my home town of Encinitas), you know the trend is in full effect.  CLICK HERE for the story.


Little Black Wheels Trailer

All at once . . . ahhhh.

Surf movie trailers are the best pornography ever invented.



Not exactly alaia surfing, but some great trim.


Help Rebuild Samoa

[Thought I'd pass along this message from Mercy Corps...]

Dear Reader,

Three decades ago, I had the honor of living among the people of Samoa as a young missionary. Last month, I returned as an aid worker lending a hand in the aftermath of a tragedy.

A Sept. 29 earthquake under the South Pacific Ocean spawned a tsunami that washed away entire villages and killed 138 people in independent Samoa. I met families living under tarpaulins. I passed bunches of flowers left where loved ones were last seen. And everywhere I saw debris: bedding, clothing, toys, building parts and more.

Thanks to support from Mercy Corps' generous donors, we've put hundreds of affected Samoans back to work, rebuilding some of what they lost. And in Indonesia, we've supplied survivors of the massive earthquake that hit September 30 with shelter materials, drinking water and tools to help them clean up and rebuild.

Please help us respond quickly to the next disaster with a gift to our Emergency Response Fund.

On Samoa's tiny Manona, an island without cars where villages nestle right up to the water's edge, I watched more than four dozen men restore damaged seawalls and repair building foundations eroded by the surging waves. Cash-for-work programs like these are how we help communities ravaged by disaster lead their own recovery.

This particular work not only resulted in repairs to important infrastructure, but also injected desperately needed cash into the local economy. For a week's work each person earned 100 Samoa Tala, or about $40 — a significant sum in a country where the average annual income is less than $1,000.

My colleagues and I had the privilege of accepting the heartfelt thanks — or "fa'afetai lava" — of the village workers and chiefs. They were truly amazed at the response of Mercy Corps and our local partner, South Pacific Business Development, to help their tiny island rebound from this tragedy.

Our quick response to the disasters in Samoa and Indonesia was made possible by supporters like you. Please help families when they need it most by making a donation to our Emergency Response Fund. Thank you for your support.

Steve Mitchell

Steve Mitchell
Chief Financial Officer

Donate Now ›


Alaias in Japan

Well, the surfing is not particularly awe-inspiring, but the alaia stoke is spreading around the world. Here, we see a booty-glove wetsuit man putting an alaia through its paces:


Wooden Surfboard Armaggedon

Wegener narrates this crazy collection of everything from 20-foot toothpicks to massive D-fin aircraft carriers to alaias. Be on the look-out for the Tunas. Very cool.


Wegener Alaias -- The commercial?


Heydon Bunting -- Seaworthy

Great sequence. A visual representation of "waterman".


Alaia Surfing on the North Shore

The alaia in its historical home . . .


Alaia Shaping Manual For Sale

I got this in the email recently. Unfortunately, I have not seen a full copy of the manual so I cannot give you a review. However, based on the description below, it seems like it might be worth the money. (Link to the ordering site appears at the end of this post.)

Alaia Building PDF Manual
This instruction manual contains everything you need to know about building an alaia surfboard.

With 43 pages of information, over 4000 words and over 60 high resolution colour photos, every step of the process is covered, including:


The manual also comes with 10 free Digital templates that are tried and tested extensively by us in the surf.

After your purchase, we will email you the PDF instruction manual and the templates, usually within 12hrs. This means that it is available to ANYONE EVEN IF YOU LIVE OVERSEAS. All prices are in Australian Dollars. Currently, AUD$14.99 is equal to about $12.50USD.

As this product doesn't require shipping, please select the PICKUP option for delivery. If you do not live in Australia, do not worry - as long as you have put in the correct email address we will be able to email it to you anywhere in the world.

If you need it sooner, please call us on 0412 042 811 and we will organise to have it sent as soon as possible.

Please note that if you buy one of our blanks, the PDF manual is already included free of charge.

HERE is the LINK to the order page.


Stubby Alaia; Alaia as Bodyboard

This may be the direction that alaias take as far as the general population. While people who don't know how to surf will likely not be predisposed (or even able) to learn to surf on an alaia, it seems lots of people might like the speed and maneuverability of the shorter alaias.

Check out this video.


Alaia Shaping Video

The video below may not be a paint-by-numbers video, but if you know woodworking basics, you can probably figure out everything you need to do by watching this video. The only thing left out is the linseed oil coating process.

Props to Woodensurfboards for the find; and to Charles Loiselle for putting it together.


Reader Comment

"Kahi" posted a comment to my Boiled Linseed Oil post, and included a link to the following video, which apparently shows him surfing a pine alaia. Here is the description from the YouTube page:

Roscoe shaped me this alaia, been riding it for about a month and am completely hooked. When the surf is smaller all I ride is this thing. Its made of pine, 5'8", 1" thick, tapered rails, and a single concave. It used to be a 6'6" but we cut about a foot off of it so it would fit in my board bag. Glad to say it still works. Jeffreys Bay is unreal, this place is awesome. Thanks to Louise and Rich Hambloch for filming.

Here is the video:


Alaia + SUP = huh?

Okay, here is some crazy Frenchman combining the two biggest trends is the surfing world: SUP and alaia. Both trends have their detractors; both their advocates. I have no idea what to think about this craziness. I will say that I hope no nut-job tries this in a crowded line-up because someone is going to get hurt. Furthermore, if this is the only way you can get barreled on an alaia, you should probably reserve your alaia for trimming and your thruster for tubes.


On-line alaia school

Chad Marshall takes you through the basics of how to ride an alaia.


Uh, o.k.



Interestingly, a picaresque in the Spanish literary tradition has a strain of sarcasm running through it. Probably not intended here, but worth noting. Wonderful footage and great editing on the trailer. Be on the lookout for the alaia barrel.


Boiled Linseed Oil

I put the first coat of linseed oil on my alaia. What a mess.  

I have never worked with linseed oil before, and was surprised at how runny it was.  I tried to spread it around with a rag, but that didn't work very well.  I ended up using a stiff piece of cardboard to spread it around.  Drips fell off the board onto my drop cloth.

Linseed oil has a propensity to spontaneously combust.  It says so on the can.  I also talked to my father-in-law, who has worked with wood for the past 40 years, and he reminded me that linseed oil spontaneously combusts.  He told me several stories of witnessing such fires.  So, with that fear in the back of my mind, I made sure to apply the linseed oil in a well-ventilated location and was sure to thoroughly dry the rags and the cardboard before tossing them in the trash can.  (Maybe paying $600 for a Wegener alaia at the Patagonia surf shop in Cardiff, CA, is not such a bad idea?!)

The application process is such a mess that I think I will try a marathon 3-4 coat application during a single day.  The oil seems to soak in and nearly dry within 1 hour, so if start at 7am and turn the board every hour, I should be able to complete the entire sealing process within one day.


Anyone who has done this before and can give some advice (including telling me that my marathon session will or won't work), please post a comment.


Great trailer. Anyone seen the movie? Alaias, olos, single fins, fishes, longboards . . . it's all here.


Musica Surfica

I know that I have posted about this before, but some great music and great alaia and finless footage here. I wish the tour would come to southern California. If anyone has any info, please post a comment.


Cargo Bike

The perfect thing for transporting your alaia:

By Richard Peace

It’s a sign of a bike's success when companies in the Far East start producing cut-price copies of it – and that’s just what’s happened with the classic Dutch ‘bakfiets’ design.

At this year's China International Bicycle & Motor Fair Show in Shanghai, Ningbo Nanyang Vehicle Co. displayed a complete range of carrier cycles which were difficult to tell apart from their made-in-Holland counterparts.

The powerhouse of bakfiets sales (bakfiets literally means ‘boxbike’) is still the Netherlands. But, even though the design seems to have been around for ever, sales have exploded over the past few years.

"When we started six years ago, we sold about three a week," said Jan Rijkeboer, head of Azor, which manufactures bakfiets big enough to transport two or three small children. "Now, we sell thousands per year... and we export a containerful to the United States every three months."

According to Rijkeboer, the average bakfiets buyer is a young parent in the upper-middle income range – but not always. "For some it is a display of wealth but some, like my single-mother clients, don't have a choice," he said. "It's still cheaper than a car."

The trend seems to be catching on in the UK too. Huw Salt of the School Run Centre, Cambridge, specialists in bakfiets called Cargobikes, says sales have taken off over the past couple of years, and the last three months have been 100 percent up on the same period of last year.

Cargo bikes can be used for carrying goods as well as children, in this case in coventry: cargo bikes can be used for carrying goods as well as children, in this case in coventry

Cargo bikes can be used for carrying goods as well as children, in this case in Coventry

What’s behind this mini-surge in popularity? Salt says: "While Cargobikes have always appealed to those with a green conscience – we actually sold one to Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth – the rise in petrol prices last year and the credit crunch have made Cargobikes especially appealing to those looking to replace the second car on the school run."

Perhaps surprisingly, 99 percent of Salt’s bakfiets purchasers opt for the two-wheeled version rather than the tricycle option. "Despite what people might think about difficulties in handling a heavily loaded two-wheeler, they soon realise a tricycle – loaded or not – requires a whole different set of skills to riding a bike," he said.

While sales of bakfiets are strongest in flatter areas, especially in the south-east of the UK, Salt thinks there is potential for the bikes in hillier areas now that his company has started selling an electric version of the Cargobike.

Richmond mp susan kramer with members of pedal power for parents: richmond mp susan kramer with members of pedal power for parents

MP Susan Kramer with members of Richmond-based Pedal Power for Parents

One particular bakfiets project has proved a long-term success. The Richmond-based Parents for Pedal Power Project was given £5,000 funding by Transport for London to provide four bakfiets at Stepping Stones nursery in May 2007, to be borrowed by parents for short trips.

Jessica Anderson, one of the project founders, uses a bakfiets to carry her children, Jemima, four, and Hugo, three. She said: "The bikes have changed our lives and the children love it. We have a cover for when it rains, and while I might get wet, the children are cosy. I've used it for grocery shopping, getting to after-school activities, trips to the park and even to the recycling bank with a load of cardboard and bottles. It's the ultimate eco-friendly people carrier."



Surf Donkey Canadian Alaia Madness

Okay, if you have never seen a Surf Donkey episode, check it out. A surf video that opens with 12" of fresh snow and a surfboard stuck into a snow bank is worth a look. Also check out the alaia sliding on a homemade pine plank starting about 2m00.


Alaia -- en francais

Some French guy with long hair surfs on a super-wide alaia:


Native Alaia Surfers

The guys over at have a fascinating story about a church missionary who found some natives in the South Pacific surfing on planks. Just a great set of pictures and a great story. CLICK HERE for the full story.  The picture of this kid below with his carved plank is sweet.

Tropical alaia

This video has cool shots of the tropics, single fin surfing, family bliss, and, from 1m30 to 3m00 some cool alaia footage. I like the camera attached to the back of the board. Sweet.


Thick Alaia

Check out how thick the alaia is in this video. It definitely seems slower in trim than the Wegener-style alaia. On the other hand, it clearly floats a lot better than the wafer-thin Wegener alaias. Maybe the thick alaias could be winter boards (since you can float out of the cold water) and the thin ones could be for the summer?


Wood Stain on an Alaia?

What are your thoughts about staining an alaia with colored stains before sealing it with Linseed Oil? It is suggested in Step 9 of THIS POST over at TransWorld Surf.

Does that betray the rootsy eco-ness of the board, or is that a way to personalize it beyond using a wood-buring kit or a branding iron? Maybe a colored pattern on the bottom of the board or some line art on the deck? Would the colors even turn out after the Linseed oil coating, or would they all appear to be a shade of brown?

I'm considering at least testing the concept on this first alaia. At the least I'll probably print a word or two in a discreet place prior to applying the Linseed oil.


My Cut Alaia

Okay, here is a picture of the basic outline of my alaia. It is about 6'7" and about 17" wide at the widest point. This is totally free-handed design based on posts I've read elsewhere and based on guessing at dimensions from pictures I have seen. Completely unscientific, but fun.

This picture is post-band saw, post-jig saw, and post-rough sanding. The belt sanding and hand sanding have yet to occur. I will be carving the required channel down the middle of the underbelly of the beast soon. This, from what I am told, will give me "control" over the board while trimming across the face of a wave.

I hope to have this thing finished and coated with Linseed oil in time for spring-suit weather here in SD (ie, by the early part of June). Updates to follow.

Wood is Good . . . the Series

I have posted links to these videos before, but I thought that embedding them would be better for all the new readers that this blog has been attracting. Here is the complete "Wood is Good" series filmed at Patagonia Surf Shop in Cardiff. Tom Wegener giving a great talk about wooden surfboards, in general, and alaias, in particular (especially parts 3 and 4):


My Alaia Project

Okay, talk is cheap. So, here is the beginning of the process. Glued up 4"x1"x8' boards soon to become an alaia. I am using inexpensive fir because I didn't want to use expensive wood for my first board and butcher it. This way, if I do screw it up, I can have a nice fire at the beach one evening.

I'll post updates as the project advances.


More Great Alaia Blog Post Links

A series of posts related to alaias and other historical surfboards and styles of surfing at Surf In Oregon.

Wood is Good series at Daily Surf Video.

Random alaia shaping forum.

Xylem surfboards in Hawaii.

A couple of posts (first one; second one) from Studio Light Room

Really? On Yahoo Answers?!

A software company called Alaia Technologies? What, do they program using punch-cards or maybe BASIC? And, yes, they named themselves after the surfboards.


Tom Wegener Talks olos and alaias

Great footage; great discussion.


Description of Historical Alaia Surfboards

[Here is an excerpt, discussing alaias, from LEGENDARY SURFERS: A Definitive History of Surfing's Culture and Heroes, a great site about the history of surfing.]

The ancient Hawaiian surfboard, or papa he’e nalu (pa-pa HAY-ay NA-lu), came in four types. Listed in order of length, these were (from longest to shortest): the super-long olo (O-lo), kiko`o (key-CO-oo), alaia (ah-LAI-ah) and paipo (pie-poe) bodyboard. The olo and alaia were both used under different surfing conditions and by different classes of people. According to Abraham Fornander (1812-1887) in Hawaiian Folk Lore, the alaia averaged 9 feet long. It was best suited for kakaha, “a curling wave, terrible, death dealing.” That is, a wave that broke quickly and had a hollow curl section to it. The olo, on the other hand, averaged 18 feet long, and was ideal for opuu, “a non-breaking wave, something like calmness.” Waves like this are typical at Waikiki on days when the surf is not big.

In Surfing, the Sport of Hawaiian Kings, academian Ben Finney and writer James Houston, noted that in both the olo and alaia, “the top and bottom were convex and tapered to thin rounded edges, so that either side seems to have been suitable as a riding surface.”

Historian Ben Finney acknowledged that, “between the biggest surf and the low easy swells of Waikiki, there were not many waves suited to the big olo boards. Consequently, limited maneuverability usually restricted their use to those few suitable areas with ample space for their characteristically long rides. Waikiki is such an area. But Waikiki’s combination of long, low swells and sandy shore is not common in Hawai`i. Along the Kona coast, for example, one finds more often... rocky terrain... with steep walls of water breaking closer to shore. These latter conditions seem to have allowed only the use of the smaller alaia.”

Compared to the olo and kiko`o, the alaia was shorter, broader, less convex and more plank-like in its thinness. Hot Curl surfer John Kelly pointed out that, “Today’s guns and light short boards have basic features including shapes, contours and breakaway edges handed down from or similar to the ancient alaia boards.” The largest alaia boards in the Bishop Museum collection – including the Ka`iulani alaia -- range from 7-to-12 feet long, average 18-inches in width, and are from a half-inch to an inch-and-a-half thick. Alaia boards were used by the common people, but the ali’i were also known to ride these shapes. One particularly representative alaia board was collected by J. S. Emerson, in Kailua, Hawai`i, in 1885, and later donated to the Bishop Museum. It is made of koa, is six-and-a-half feet long, and is a little over a half inch thick at its center. The bow end is curved in a convex shape and the stern end is cut off square. Its widest point toward the bow is 14 3/4 inches and the narrower stern end is 10 3/4 inches.

The alaia board was the preferred shape for steeper, faster-breaking surf. “The board’s thinness and shorter length,” wrote Finney and Houston, “gave it much greater mobility on the sheer faces of fast surf. The technique of sliding at an angle to the moving swell, which alaia surfers had obviously mastered, was called lala.” The alaia ranged from a child’s board of approximately six feet to about twelve feet long for adults. The adult board was about one-and-a-half inches thick through the center, leveling off on both top and bottom to about one-quarter inch at the edges. The comparatively small size of the alaia board made it easy to handle in waves that wall-up quickly and form tubes or hollow sections in the process.

“The alaia board,” wrote Nineteenth Century historian John Papa Ii, “which is 9 feet long, is thin and wide in front, tapering toward the back. On a rough wave, this board vibrates against the rider’s abdomen, chest, or hands when they rest flat on it, or when the fingers are gripped into a fist at the time of landing. Because it tends to go downward and cut through a wave it does not rise up with the wave as it begins to curl over. Going into a wave is one way to stop its gliding, and going onto the curl is another. Skilled surfers use it frequently, but the unskilled are afraid of this board, choosing rather to sit on a canoe or to surf on even smaller boards.”

The alaia shape made it possible for ancient riders to avoid getting worked on close-out sets and kept them from pearling. “It was the board most suitable along the frequent rugged coasts,” wrote Finney and Houston, “and it is no wonder that most of the ancient boards remaining (ten of thirteen in the Bishop Museum collection [in 1965]) are of the alaia type.” As to who rode these boards, Finney and Houston believed that, “whereas the olo was reserved exclusively for the ali’i, it seems obvious that the commoners had no such exclusive rights to the alaia. The greatest number of early reports tell of surfing alaia style, and many legends mention chiefs surfing along rocky shores where an olo board would be difficult to handle. These two board types, then, allowed the separation of chief and commoner if desired, but never to the point of depriving the ali`i of the faster and more hazardous surf.”


Alaia Link Post

I put together some links to posts about alaias on blogs that aren't exclusively about alaias. Check 'em out: (We love you, Kassia!) (Rasta)
(hey, this guy linked to this blog in his post. Thanks.) (Very cool post about just doing it on a piece of unworked plywood.) (a bunch of pics posted by some guy who made his own alaia)

Finally, did you know that Alaia is the last name of someone who designs shoes? If you care, here is a link to get you started:


Props from the Man

Okay, I think this post over at Machado's MySpace Page shows that Himself has been reading my posts. Note how he refers to "sightings," which is the exact wording I used in THIS POST.

It must be tough being a spokesman and getting paid to do something we all would do and do do for free. It must to create some existential issues: from the kid at San Dieguito who was a couple of years younger than me to surfing celebrity known the world over who is the subject of stupid posts like this one. I wonder what I would do in his situation?

What a crazy world!

By the way, the Trim Your Life Away site that Machado links to from his MySpace blog is really cool.


(More) Alaia Surfing Videos

[By the way, Mikey De Temple is coming out with a killer new surf movie called Picturesque.]

Transworld Surf apparently does not let people embed their videos (which is lame), but this one is worth watching. CLICK HERE for the link. [PS -- the hippie psychadelic soundtrack on the TWS video is classic.]


Machado at Seaside -- Video

Well, this isn't the same day that I mentioned in an earlier post, but you get the idea.


Historical Alaia Surfing

By now, everyone knows that alaia is a term used to describe one type of surfboard ridden by Hawaiians in the old days. Thus, the new trend of riding alaias is a revival rather than an innovation. Here is a link to a great brief history of surfing in Hawaii.

Here are a couple of good excerpts from this history of surfing describing surfing in Hawaii before and just after Europeans showed up:

Before contact with Cook's crew, Hawai'i was ruled by a code of kapu(taboos) which regulated almost everything: where to eat; how to grow food; how to predict weather; how to build a canoe; how to build a surfboard; how to predict when the surf would be good, or convince the Gods to make it good. Hawaiian society was distinctly stratified into royal and common classes, and these taboos extended into the surf zone. There were reefs and beaches where the ali'i (chiefs) surfed and reefs and beaches where the commoners surfed. Commoners generally rode waves on paipo (prone) and alaia (stand up) boards as long as 12 feet, while the ali'i rode waves on olo boards that were as long as 24 feet.


[Description of surfing from a member of Captain Cook's crew] But a diversion the most common is upon the Water, where there is a very great Sea, and surf breaking on the Shore. The Men sometimes 20 or 30 go without the Swell of the Surf, & lay themselves flat upon an oval piece of plan about their Size and breadth, they keep their legs close on top of it, & their Arms are us'd to guide the plank, thye wait the time of the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, together push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity, the great art is to guide the plan so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, as it alters its direct. If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much prais'd. On first seeing this very dangerous diversion I did not conceive it possible but that some of them must be dashed to mummy against the sharp rocks, but jus before they reach the shore, if they are very near, they quit their plank, & dive under till the Surf is broke, when the piece of plank is sent many yards by the force of the Surf from the beach. The greatest number are generally overtaken by the break of the swell, the force of which they avoid, diving and swimming under the water out of its impulse. By such like excercises, these men may be said to be almost amphibious. The Women could swim off to the Ship, continue half a day in the Water, afterwards return. The above diversion is only intended as an amusement, not a tryal of skill, & in a gentle swell that sets on must I conceive be very pleasant, at least they seem to feel a great pleasure in the motion which this Exercise gives.


Free Alaia Shaping Template

Well, Grant from sent me a free 6'8" alaia template. Thus, my request discussed in my prior post is answered. Thank you very much, Grant.

Unfortunately, in order to use the template, you need to download a free version of Shape3d software. To get the software, you have to register (i.e., give your name, address, and other info) with the software developer. I am sick of registering for this and that and that and this, so I decided not to do it.

I am planning on shaping my own alaia, and I guess I will just freehand most of it based on various dimensions that I have gathered from checking out various websites. Once I finish my alaia and I have tested it in the waves to be sure that it is actually surfable, I'll be sure to post exact dimensions for anyone else who wants to try to shape their own alaia.

Of course, if my alaia ends up being a piece of crap, then I will probably register for the free software and use the template.


Advice on How to Shape an Alaia

I found a great link to a site showing you how to shape an alaia from start to finish. The site will even give you a free alaia template, though it is unclear if you need to buy a blank from them before you get the free template. I am sending them an email right now and will provide an update when I get a response.


Sliding Away the Day

I guess that a typical alaia surfer will surf like the guy in this video. Not as many of the explosive turns you'd see Rasta or Machado do, but trimming across the waves.

More Alaia Surf Videos

Found some great stuff over at These videos indicate that you can learn to surf one of these things pretty quickly.

CLICK HERE for the link. Especially check out the second and third videos.


Do It Yourself Alaia Construction

Lawrence over at has been detailing his alaia project. It is now all done and looks pretty sweet. You can link to his series of eight posts by CLICKING HERE. Here is a photo of his finished board:

Wood Stories

A quick link to this video about making and riding alaias:

And another alaia video with one of my favorite songs as the soundtrack:


Great after-work surf today

Now that daylight savings time has made surfing before work a bit challenging (at least for the next few weeks), the after-work surf is where it is at. I snuck out of work at about 4:20 and headed to Grandview. When I first got there, I was disappointed. It looked WEAK and tiny. But, then a set came in. Not big, but rideable and looked like it had a bit of power due to the low tide.

I was glad I went out. Between 4:45 and 5:45 there were only about 6 guys out max. For a while, there were only 4 of us. I caught about 10 waves, and a couple were pretty good. In fact, I almost had a little tuck-and-cover barrel, but the wave changed its mind. (On a cautionary note, there was a lobster trap right beyond where the sets were breaking. It didn't pose any danger, but if the waves pick up a bit in the next few days, as is predicted, it might be something to be on the lookout for.)

When I finally went in at around 6:00pm, I saw some guy with a 4-foot alaia heading out. He had some swim fins, so it looked like he was going to ride it prone. The board looked like it might have been redwood, so I wonder if it was homemade? Anyhow, I didn't get a chance to ask him as I needed to get home quickly.

God bless Grandview. God bless Leucadia.


Alaia surfboards in the mainstream Press

Okay, when the UT runs a story about alaia surfboards on their website, you know the trend is in high gear. Expect lots of alaias at the beach this summer. Whether they will be firewood or wall hangers by next summer is anyone's guess. Of course, I can't believe the SUP trend continues to grow, so I am not a reliable oracle.

Alaia advertisement/art video

Okay, so JP tweeted over at SurfySurfy about a 10-year-old grom making some comment about alaia surfboards being for cavemen. Perhaps, but most of the things I said when I was 10 I have either forgotten or dismissed. I remember thinking longboards were LAME when I was 10. I still prefer riding a shortboard, but a longboard is an appropriate tool for having fun under the right conditions.

Check out this video:

Some pretty nice tricks on those penis planks.


Alaia = trendy

The synchronicity just doesn't stop. I saw this story today about the 33rd Annual Buffalo's Big Board Surfing Classic in Hawaii. Here is an excerpt:

But the most talked about division was the alaia board division, which was added this year.

Alaia boards are the earliest form of surfboards. Basically, they are thin planks of wood with no fins.

"The alaia board doesn't float like a regular surfboard and you don't have the fins to help you turn and stuff," Brian Keaulana said. "You have to be in the right spot every time to ride the wave. I think everybody who tried it got to appreciate their culture and the ocean a little more."

Hoptong Smith of Makaha won the alaia board division after practicing on it a few times this month.

"It's hard to control — it's way different from a surfboard," Smith said. "That's what makes it fun. It's challenging.

Brian Keaulana said he was surprised at how many children were interested in riding the alaia boards.

"They were asking all kinds of questions, which is good because they're learning about the history of it," he said. "Some of them said they did research on the Internet ... when you hear stuff like that, it's all worth it."

When the kids are interested in the technology, you know it is here to stay (at least until the next big thing comes along).


Alaia construction how-to guide

Ever wondered how to build an alaia?

Wish I could say that this was something that I had done myself. However, just a link to a post on Transworld Surf about how to build your own alaia. The comments to the post are classic. Unlike the commenters to the TWS post, I really don't think it would be that hard to surf one of these things, so long as you were used to a shortboard.

Anyhow, hope to provide an eyewitness account in the coming months.

Here is a link to the TWS post: How to Build an Alaia

(See my prior posts if you are interested: 1) alaia obsession and 2) alaia surfing at Seaside.)


BBC Correspondent's Perspective of Hawaiian Surfing

I heard a fascinating report on BBC radio the other night while I was driving home from work. A reporter who clearly has absolutely no experience with surfing, and probably not even the beach, goes to Hawaii, does some research into surfing history, and tries to learn how to do SUP surfing. The story has quotes from a late 19th-century diarist whose description of surfing and the Hawaiians of that time is extraordinary. And only the British would describe Surfer Magazine as a source of "rip and curl reportage."

Here is a link to the 5 minute story. CLICK HERE.


Machado--Alaia Sighting

So, if you have been following along, you read my earlier post about how I am obsessed with alaias.

Today, I decided that I would eat lunch at Seaside. So, I left my office in Solana Beach with my sack lunch and drove 5 minutes to Seaside. When I arrived, I saw Rob Machado and another surfer who I could not identify (a regular-foot) surfing alaias. There was a photographer and a videographer in the water filming them. [I am sure the videos and pics will be on Surfline, in a magazine, or in a movie in short order.] I, of course, had left my cell phone (my only digital camera) at my office.

Anyhow, I enjoyed eating my sandwich, yogurt, and tangerine while watching Machado & Co. sliding across the 2-3 foot mush. Comparing the speed of the alaias with the shortboards in the lineup, it is clear that on a weak, mushy day, an alaia is the best. Better than a longboard, I would wager, except for catching the wave. After that, the alaia dominates.

The other thing I noticed was that when you did a nose-dive (which was the wipeout of choice for these guys), the board stops and pops up. I never once saw Machado or the other guy (was it Chris Del Moro?) have to swim to the shore to get their boards. This is nice to know for someone who has become a lazy swimmer due to using a leash.

Did I mention I want an alaia? (Rob, if you read this, hook me up, please. It will make a nice feel good story for this blog.)


Alaia Surfboards; "Wood is Good" Series

Is anyone else out there obsessed with alaia surfboards? I first encountered the boards last summer on the internet. I can't remember where on the internet I first saw or read about them, but I was hooked.

An alaia is a replica of traditional Hawaiian/Polynesian surfboard. They are made of wood, razor thin, rather short (under seven feet usually), and finless. This classic photo (which I had seen a million times but never really bothered to think about what the board looked like) shows a Hawaiian man holding an original alaia:

The person who seems to have single-handedly resurrected the alaia is Tom Wegener. His passion for shaping surfboards of all kinds is evident, and his passion for the alaia is probably the most intense. Check out these videos of him speaking at Patagonia Surf Shop in Cardiff, CA, where he explains how he first began shaping alaias and the evolution from that moment: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; and Part 4. Part 4 features some especially amazing carving on an alaia by David Rastovich.

Do I own one of these boards yet? Unfortunately, no. Have I tried one? Unfortunately, no. (But check out some virgin alaia rides here.) I have looked at them and touched them at the Patagonia Surf Shop. I am planning on buying one as summer approaches so that I can learn to ride one in warmer water. Right now, I prefer having a board with more buoyancy to keep me on top of the winter water. I guess that means I am getting old.

(Update: for related posts, make sure you click the alaia tag appearing below.)