Wood is Good (Pt. 1) - Tom Wegener’s Alaia Surfboards Video Series
Devon 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 the burgeoning traditional longboard movement of the '80s and '90s, appearing in surf films and earning a rep as one of the most talented noseriders in the modern era. Tom was among my biggest traditional longboard surfing influences during that period, and now, at 40-something, he still holds it down as one of the better noseriders out 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 board building material called Paulownia wood. With a much greater strength-to-weight ratio than balsa, an easy-to-work-with nature, and an imperviousness to saltwater, Tom used this unique wood and his innovative longboard designs to help revolutionize the genre of hollow wood surfboards. His craft and country-living lifestyle were eventually well documented in Thomas Campbell's film Sprout.
In the summer of 2004, Tom discovered a long forgotten ancient Hawaiian surf craft called an alaia. Since that time he’s been tirelessly pouring all his efforts into the development and refinement of this design, finding success in large part from the crucial feedback of 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 filmmaker Thomas Campbell, who has since been fervently documenting Tom's alaia board 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’s test pilots taking the alaia waveriding experience to places never imagined. In fact, it may change the way we view what’s possible on a surfboard, 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 visit to our Patagonia Surf Shop to share with our customers his passion for Paulownia wood surfboards and alaias. If you are inspired by what you see, 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 please contact us at [email protected]. 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.