Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tom Wegener and the Alaia

I came across this at

Tom Wegener and the Alaia
Thursday January 31st 2008 / 3:57 pm
(Filed under: Uncategorized)
For his fortieth birthday, Tom Wegener knew of no better way to celebrate than to fill his van with some boards, his kids, a lovely wife, and bee line for the perfect points of nearby Noosa Heads. Wegener’s recent visit to the Bishop Museum in Oahu had provided this skilled shaper the impetus to handcraft some ancient replicas for the occasion: a 16- foot Olo, and an inch-thick, 12-foot long, finless plank known as an Alaia. The goal for the day was to ride the regal Olo; the Alaia was brought along as something of an afterthought.
“It was kind of sloppy and onshore,” recalls Wegener of the day, “and you couldn’t really ride the Olo. Jacob Stuth was riding the Alaia, and it was drawing a really beautiful line across the waves. Really clean. It was just very graceful.”
A few months would pass before Tom, who’d long since switched from shaping boards out of foam and fiberglass to the super-durable and functional Paulownia wood, would have another experience with the Alaia design. He and seven year-old son Finley headed for the beach, the latter proceeding to immediately paddle out on a smaller version of the Alaia that Tom had just shaped. The result, admits one of longboard surfing’s main renaissance men, was truly remarkable.
“He caught this little reform, and it doubled up and broke,” says Tom, “and I just saw his little head accelerate about twenty feet in one second across the wave. I went ‘Oh my god, there’s something here we’ve been missing!’”
From that day forward, Wegener has dedicated his existence to refining, shaping, and riding this long lost craft of the most ancient of surfing’s elders. And for Tom, who was beginning to grow a touch bored with traditional longboarding, the Alaia epiphany couldn’t have come any sooner. It’s presented a fresh take on surfing for a guy who’s been hanging ten across perfect pointbreaks since the early 1980’s. But with the freshness, a whole new learning curve has been put into play that he both contends with and relishes in.
“It’s a challenging way of surfing,” says Tom, speaking of the planks whose absence of a fin and maximum thickness of about one inch make them so different from standard surfcraft. “It’s so challenging that just to get to your feet and ride across a wave is like a big success. Your timing, your paddling, everything’s gotta be perfect. But you get the feeling like you just conquered Waimea Bay after you’ve done it. I mean really, it’s a rush.”
But Wegener, and Alaia apprentice Jacob Stuth, will be the first to explain that behind the challenge lies a world of function. In other words, the Alaia isn’t just a novelty piece. It’s a legitimate surfcraft that open-minded surfers should look to add to their quiver.
“I have so many different boards,” says Stuth, a Noosa local who, like Wegener, is no slouch on a mal. “and constantly I’m coming back to the Alaias. A big part of it is the speed. The essence of these boards is that there’s minimal drag and maximum trim.”
And the proof is in the pudding, because just watching these boards being ridden speaks volumes to their function. A practiced Alaia rider like these two, once standing and in trim, can achieve a much higher line on the wave face than a regular board, and with that high line does come the burst of speed. The board sans fin, its total lack of rocker, and a pre-surf application of linseed oil on the bottom of the board all assist in this propulsion. Once the board blasts across the face and goes out onto the shoulder, the normal result is the lala, or controlled sliding, style of surfing unique to the Alaia.
“You’re going down the wave,” explains Wegener, “and the wave gets really steep. You come up high and are right in the steep face and slide sideways. Your tail will drift out towards shore, and then slowly you put your weight on the tail again and then your nose comes around and you kind of climb up the wave again and then take off like a rocket. You’re really working your rails and your balance, to break free, regain control, then climb again. It’s just the nicest feeling.”
Wegener has also been enthralled with the prone-position version of the Alaia. Nowadays, he’s often spotted laying on this shorter version of the finless Paulownia plank, streaking across tiny waves at top speeds, with a genuinely childlike, ear to ear grin extending happily across his visage.
“I’ve ridden boogie boards,” says Tom, “and they speed up fast and then they slow down, where with the Alaia it just keeps going. They have inertia, and so much more surface area, that you can traverse across an open ocean swell so much further than a boogie board. I haven’t really experimented with the (prone) Alaia in bigger waves, but if it’s under shoulder high it will just go so much faster. So I’d say in smaller waves it’s a much better, faster board.”
Where these experiments with the Alaias will lead remains a mystery to Wegener and Stuth. Both the equipment, and the skills the duo have on it, are likely still in their infancies. All they know is that it’s a fun, fresh outlet by which they can tap into the essential stoke of surfing.
“I won’t say it’s better than carving off the bottom on a tri fin and going up and smashing the lip,” concludes Wegener, “but I will say that, to me, it’s just as much fun.”

No comments:

click to enter++++++

The Monsterboards Movie by Matthew McGregor-Mento and Eef

The Monsterboards Movie by Matthew McGregor-Mento and Eef
click picture to watch

stuff i read on a daily basis

click picture to read online

T-shirts Europe

T-shirts Europe
click picture to go to the shop

T-shirts USA

T-shirts USA
click on the image to go to the shop!