artwork by Mike Field

artwork by Mike Field

BoardRoom - Legends of Surfboard Shaping DVD
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Donald Takayama

World Famous Surfer and Shaper

Remember the very first pullout poster SURFER ever did? Sure you do. It came out in like 1960 or 1961, and the surfer was Donald Takayama at Ala Moana circa 1959. "I had my arm stuck all the way into that wave so I wouldn't spin out," Takayama said. A little less than 50 years later, Takayama is alive and well and still arm deep in the surf industry, punching out surfboards around the clock from Hawaiian Pro Designs in Oceanside, and teaming up with SurfTech to meet the demands he can't do by hand.

Shapers come and go and come back again. Takayama has been hard at it since the middle-50s from Hawaii to California and back again. with very few detours. Takayama claims some fine names as shaping influences: Dale Velzy, Renny Yater Pat Curren, Mike Diffenderfer, Ken Tilton, Hap Jacobs, Joe Quigg, His first surfboard was a redwood in Hawaii, around 1948. Where did he get the redwood? "Railroard tracks," Takayama said. "They were changing railroad ties and had all these old ones on the side of the road and so I went over there and helped myself to it."

Takayama started surfing in Hawaii and worked for John Price and Surfboards Hawaii before he came to California in the middle 50s on a wing and a prayer. "Yeah you know I left Hawaii with a one-way ticket on one of those cattle planes, Trans Continental Airlines. Halfway over I go up and knock on the cockpit door and say, "Hey, Captain, we almost there yet or what, brah?' I showed up in LA when the only airport was at Burbank. I think I had $10 in my pocket. It was 1955 or 1956 or something like that. I have memory lapse now."

Takayama also can't remember how many boards he has shaped over the years, only that he has been doing it almost non stop since the middle 50s. He worked for ????? in Hawaii and ???? in 19?? He opened Donald Takayama Hawaiian Pro Designs in Encinitas but there were too many people poking their heads in asking "What's up?" He moved it all to Oceanside and has been there ever since.

He's been going non-stop for the last 35 years. He was one of the Refounding Father who promoted the resurgence of longboarding in the early 90s. " I was working with Oxbow and Joel Tudor and Nat Young promoting the World Championships in France. Everyone came and it was enlightening to see everyone so excited. And from there it just kept escalating. I make boards for California but there are Takayama licenses in Australia and Japan and France. The demand is amazing. I had no idea surfing would be as large as it is today and as a manufacturer I know there is no way I or any of us can fulfill this market."