Beach Parks Crafts | Vissla’s 2024 Shaping Space

Vissla’s 2024 Shaping Space | ʻEhukai Beach Park, Oahu


My phone rang two days before the Vissla head office closed for Christmas break. “We need you in Hawaii for the WSL Pipe Pro presents by Lexus in January. We are the co-sponsors of the event with Florence Marine X. Oh and we want you to design and build a shaping space, in which you will host local young Hawaiian shapers at the Eiuhkai beach park. Get some design ideas together and some solid numbers for the build.”
Flying in to Hawaii never gets old. The colors strike one first. All that blue for so many miles. And then the green lush landscape behind the reef pass that we love. It was windy on arrival. Kona winds. They would blow hard for most of the trip and with excessive rainfall, be normal conditions to begin building things out. 
The idea was to support the Vissla CT-shaper rankings on the WSL. There would be spots pre-recorded, interspersed during the live broadcast of the previous years front runners and some influential Hawaiian manufacturers too. We had things from Matt Biolos (Mayhem, who won the last years title), Darren Hanley of DHD, Britt Merrick of CI surfboards and Sharp Eye’s Marcio Zuovi in the can. First stop for interviews straight off the plane was Glen Pang. A kind man with more years of experience than you’d guess and friendly family atmosphere in the spacious facility on top of the hill. The iconic air brush art works and ying-yang logo just get you fired up to surf town and country. We would and we did. In fact we got some waves to remember forever and stoke to last a long time. 
 On the East side Tokoro guys welcomed us with plenty story and an update of their current work flow and family concern involving Wade’s difficult recovery. Kerry Tokoro and Gen Asano filling their daily rolls and some. Doing many boards for the world’s best at the current events.  
I’ve been to Eric Arakawa’s factory a couple times, but it never gets old and he’s always willing to share what he’s working on with the entire team. It was getting late afternoon by now, but I didn’t want to turn down a cup of coffee that he offered. He brought it out in Dick Brewer mug. A small, slow half-nod and soft wink went with the delivery. “I choose that mug for you.” He said with a smile and we continued conversation on and off camera in his shaping bay. 
 John Pyzel was borderline exhausted and looked the part; post workout. “Sorry I’m late, I just finished this big shoot in my bay for Samsung, they had all the windows closed and a haze machine on, it was wild, so many people!” We were in and out efficiently and as busy as things were just previous to our arrival, John was fully engaged, brimming with design ideas and thoughts on weather and waves ahead. 
 We designed the shaping space around a tented structure. Securing things going square to round and back wasn’t easy. We really wanted to things to feel comfortable, dust free and be most viewable for the public on site. Dark rooms with perfect lighting would be preferable. However the opportunity at hand was to shape a board, whilst watching Pipeline and sharing the craft for onlookers young and old. 
 I want to thank all the craftsmen who adjusted with ease and were flexible to the waiting period and on hold for run days across the entire event window. 
 We observed the process and hands on approach, unique to each, throughout the days. Sharing tips and tricks with one another and beyond. At times explaining what things like foam and fiberglass are. 
 Surfing attracts such a vast array of people. Kind folk from states and countries far away. The interest is genuine and yet the depth of understanding is cute at best. This is our lifestyle, surfing and shaping and its parts. Like all walks, there is depth and endless fascination with applied time. 
In order of Appearance from day one onwards.
Handing someone a blank and knowing they can see something in there smaller than its start, to their own wondering is marvelous. Kamalei embraced a narrow full nose parallel swallow twin he’s been loving. Listening to him describe the lines available on the design and crossing notes on sensations of certain elements was a joy.
He is a quiet fellow and calmly went to work without any fuss. Meticulously dropping in channels with distinction as he finished up an asymmetrical performer. This was a short walk home along the bike path with his young family. Planer and tools in the baby stroller’s undercarriage. He came and went with ease, but we stayed connected for a few surfs in late afternoons ahead. A very good surfer, in tune with great waves, right in front of his home. That’s a pleasure any day.
It was fun to see a longboard coming to life in the space. There is plenty to shape off on the big boards. A traditional single fin nose rider with Hawaiian curve looked lovely. His extended family and customers popped by throughout his residency and the Ohana of Meyers Surfboards was clear. Although we were at the Banzai Pipeline, so many talented surfers enjoy various waves and days on the logs. So glad Carson shared his tuned craft with us all in the shaping space.
It’s not every day you get the chance to craft a surfboard in such an iconic location that epitomizes the essence of surfing. As depicted in the bottom right corner, the Vissla Shaping Space is proud to be a part of this historic venue. Photo: Jeremiah Klien

You remember Gen; we visited with him at the Tokoro factory. His bright smile and young nature is infectious, but never imposed. His golden planer danced by his side and together they made a board onlookers were signing up to win. One of two boards being given away from the shaping space activation. It was a long way from the entire story we were showing and sharing. Gen would be home soon driving to the East side, glassing this board to a beautiful finish we will see.

The tallest of the shapers we would host. He shaped with ease and finished quickly. Making a soft wing, swallow, a board he loved and knew. We chatted about all sorts of things. I enjoyed observing his planer techniques. Yet again discussing board building, not just shaping and the endless details involved.

No nonsense Al. Always safe and methodical as science would like. Don’t be misled, he is the funniest and freest spirit you could enjoy time with. I have and always treasure it. Another one of the boards being raffled for free to win. There are many approaches to shaping and ways to arrange and order stages. You can often see how someone is shown and then thereafter made it their own. Watching Al is a balanced way to glean.

 Liam O’Brien, Pipeline. 2024. Photo: Max Colvin

If there is a seasoned craftsman I’ve observed most, it most likely would be Travis. A board builder and artist, family man and go-getter. To coin the phrase, this was a walk in the park for Travis.  The beach park that is. Eihukai beach park. He whipped out the most stunning little board, dropped some channels in and the coffee was yet cold. We kept stopping to look out to the waves as one does. We are at the beach. Can you believe it. None of us could.

A few lay days strung together kept Matty amped up waiting to get on the task. Full of ideas and loaded with gadgets galore. He shared and showed us all the ways he organized and operates. So eager to craft together, he prepared some shapes to collaborate on and discuss design ideas and concepts. It was really neat to see and study some finished boards he brought in and listen to what has been working and how things have developed.

I chose this opportunity to shape something that would round out the concept of the shaping space activation. An asymmetrical Pipe board for Keoni Watson. A conservative shape with straighter toe side overall and healthy amount of twist in the rocker.  

Part of sharing the craft with those looking on and tuning in was chance to win a couple of the boards being shaped in the Pipe Pro 2024 Shaping Space. Stoked folks await the announcement of these boards being given away.

Photo: Jeremiah Klien