The Cleanest Line


Wood is Good (Pt. 1) – Tom Wegener’s Alaia Surfboards Video Series

Wood is Good (Pt. 1) – Tom Wegener’s Alaia Surfboards Video Series

Dec 19, 2008 December 19, 2008

Img_1186Devon Howard, manager of Patagonia’s Cardiff Surf Shop, has put together another stellar event for his customers – and recorded it for all of us who couldn’t be there in person. Tune in each day, from now until Monday, as we bring you Tom Wegener’s talk at Patagonia Cardiff. The first video of the four-part "Wood is Good" series is embedded after the jump. Here’s Devon with some background on Tom:

We often hear surfers professing how we’ve pretty much seen and done it all when it comes to board design. But don’t tell that to my friend, ex-pat surfer/shaper Tom Wegener. Over the past four years he’s been putting nearly all of his efforts on a now-much-talked about design with roots that span back a thousand years – the alaia.

According to Wegener, this historical Hawaiian surfcraft – which appears to be little more than a flat piece of wood in the shape of an ironing board – may not only be the most enviro friendly surfboard available today, it might be part of one of surfing’s next big leaps in modern board design.

A Palos Verdes native, Tom gained considerable notoriety in theburgeoning traditional longboard movement of the ’80s and ’90s,appearing in surf films and earning a rep as one of the most talentednoseriders in the modern era. Tom was among my biggest traditionallongboard surfing influences during that period, and now, at40-something, he still holds it down as one of the better noseridersout there today.

Settling down in Noosa Heads, Australia during the late ’90s, Tom started a family and his board-building business, Tom Wegener Surfboards.Around that same time, Phil Joske introduced him to a sustainable boardbuilding material called Paulownia wood. With a much greaterstrength-to-weight ratio than balsa, an easy-to-work-with nature, andan imperviousness to saltwater, Tom used this unique wood and hisinnovative longboard designs to help revolutionize the genre of hollowwood surfboards. His craft and country-living lifestyle were eventuallywell documented in Thomas Campbell’s film Sprout.

In the summer of 2004, Tom discovered a long forgotten ancientHawaiian surf craft called an alaia. Since that time he’s beentirelessly pouring all his efforts into the development and refinementof this design, finding success in large part from the crucial feedbackof pro surfers like Dan Malloy, David “Rasta” Rastovich, Chris Del Moro, Harrison Roach and Jacob Stuth.

Tom’s alaia boards immediately caught the eye of renown filmmakerThomas Campbell, who has since been fervently documenting Tom’s alaiaboard movement in his new surf movie The Present, made possible in part by support from Patagonia.Campbell has shared with me that he has mind-blowing clips of Wegener’stest pilots taking the alaia waveriding experience to places neverimagined. In fact, it may change the way we view what’s possible on asurfboard, namely tuberiding. The Present debuts early spring of ’09.See www.trimyourlifeaway.com for U.S. Tour dates or get in touch with Patagonia’s Surf Shop in Cardiff for details on the film’s premiere.

The following video is a four-part series made from his recent visitto our Patagonia Surf Shop to share with our customers his passion forPaulownia wood surfboards and alaias. If you are inspired by what yousee, be sure to come by our store to see his alaias in our board room.Also, if you ever want to know about future events like this pleasecontact us at store_cardiff@patagonia.com. Enjoy.

– Devon Howard, manager of Patagonia Surf Shop, Cardiff, CA

YouTube version: Wood is Good Pt. 1

A portion of this post appeared in a recent interview Devon did with Tom, which also includes some photos shot by Devon. Be sure to check out the other interview Devon did concerning the “green” aspects of Wegener’s alaia boards.

Part two of the series tomorrow.

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