Brief History of He'enalu (Surfing)

The Making of a Board

Types of Boards Available:
Original Body Board

(4-6 feet long)
Traditional Short Board

(6-8 feet long)
Most Popular Traditional Board

(8-12 feet long)
Board of Hawaiian Ali'i (Chiefs)

(12 feet +)
* - By special order only
  • Hand built by master craftsmen and native Hawaiian, Tom "Pohaku" Stone
    "He mea Kanaka Maoli - Native Made"
  • Authentic Hawaiian design representing 2000 years of tradition
  • Each uniquely named board will come with photos of the crafting process, and a description and history of that board written by Pohaku himself

The Making of a Board

Step one: Choosing the Right Log

Pohaku must choose the right log or wood for the surf board he is going to carve . Once the right wood is found, there is the offering of the ho'okupu (ritual sacrifice) to the gods and ancestors to ask permission to take the wood . This is our native way of assuring the gods that the life of the wood will continue, just in another form . This protocol is the honoring of the gods and our ancestors for the knowledge of the old ways .

Step Two: Rough cutting the log

Once the wood has been blessed, he then rough cuts the log into the general length and width of the surf board type he is building.

Step Three: Finding the Spirit of the Wood

The next step is the offering of the ‘awa (kava) to invoke the awakening of the spirit that resides in the wood, in this way Pohaku connects with that spirit and sees the image that will be created from the wood and the name that will be given to that work of art. He is then able to measure by eye and outline the surfboard that lies within the wood.

Step Four: Carving the Outline
Now the labor intensive stage of carving the outline of the board begins. It is vital for Pohaku to follow the lines of the shape he has seen, while maintaining the integrity of the natural flow of the wood.
Step Five: Shaping the Bottom and Rails

The next step is the shaping of the bottom of the board and the rails. This stage is important to the performance of the board on the water, and it is important that Pohaku generates a smooth, consistent flow along the rails, and a bottom shape that allows for stable paddling and surfing.

Step Six: Shaping the Nose

After the bottom and rails are designed, Pohaku then shapes the nose of the surf board. The nose gives the surf board much of its defining character, and is a true test of craftsmanship, with all of the angles tapering into a final curve. It is important at this stage to also make a nose with the right amount of rocker to handle a drop in while surfing the wave that the board is designed for.

Step Seven: Sanding

Pohaku then sands the surf board for comfort and beauty, bringing out the stunning beauty and character of the woods used.

Step Eight: Bless the Board

The final ho'okupu offering is made to recognize the new life of the wood, assuring the gods that the original life of the wood is continuing in this new form.

Step Nine: Name, Photograph and Document the Finished Board

Finally, Pohaku names this surf board and writes the history of the making of this specific board, and the reasoning for it's name. Photographs are taken, documenting this specific surf board, which will be compiled in a continually growing book of all of Pohaku's pieces.

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Brief History - Papahe’enalu (Surfboards)

Surfing is one of the oldest continuously practiced sports on the planet. The art of wave riding is a mixture of sheer athleticism, art and culture. Much of what we know about surfing was recorded when Europeans first landed in Polynesia in the late 1700's.

It is thought that early surfing began with Polynesians riding waves in their canoes, on their way in to shore from a day of fishing. Ingeniously, they discovered that, given a little more paddling effort, they were able to catch waves over coral reefs and hasten their arrival on the beach. As a culture that cherished the sea, these Polynesians found a way to make their chores into a game of fun. These first surfers were true waterman in their use of strength and skill to maneuver these heavy boats, which eventually evolved into slabs of wood.

The first Polynesian surfers who began standing upon wooden boards in the surf of the Pacific Ocean did so between 1500 B.C. and 400 A.D. And today, we wish to take you on a journey back to those days of old....


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