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"
"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
|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.
History - Papahe’enalu
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
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....