Aloha! Today is the 20th episode of our podcast, thank you so much to the thousands of you that are already following us! We hope you like the episodes.
Today with us from California, Duke Aipa son of the legendary Ben and amazing shaper.
Let’s discover more about him, surfboards, the Lightning Bolt/Aipa project and much more!
You can find us in the major podcast platforms, but, if you prefer to read the interview you can find it here (please forgive us if sometimes there are mistakes as everything is transcribed automatically)
TTOS: Aloha Duke, welcome to the show, where are you today?
I’m in Huntington beach, California…it’s about 10 o’clock here and it’s a little muggy today.
A little weird for Huntington beach, but on the average this place it’s unbelievable living with a lot of nice people.
There’s like a small pocket of Hawaiians that are here and God, the weather is almost always perfect.
TTOS:. Fantastic! People now can go back to surf, right?
Yeah. You know, we really weren’t shut down that much. I think we had three days, it was shut down. And the first day me and my son were chased out of water. That was really weird, really weird.
He’s 15, we were in the water surfing and our lifeguard buddies started backing the boats up and they run the boats back and forth the mess up the lineup and they start backing us and chasing us into shore. And then there’s all the cops and start pulling up on their ATVs and stuff.
It was a little gnarly for like two to three days, but I think the Huntington Beach City put a lot of pressure on the Governor to open it back up.
I know someone within the city is in the process of suing the governor for all this.
TTOS: I don’t know if they will win, but anyway, the most important thing is that things will get better soon, especially for those small businesses, right? they are suffering quite a lot …..
Absolutely, you know, yesterday was Memorial Day, God bless all our people, our fallen soldiers out there that protect us and give us the freedom to go to the beaches and stuff like that.
Yesterday, I mean, it was almost like business as usual, it was all crowded, looked like summertime down here and some of the restaurants were open although there were police officers that were going in and of the establishments, making sure everyone was kind of like doing what they’re supposed to, I suppose.
It was good to see, although there is more people than usual…. it was like from ghosts town to, to circus….
TTOS: Well anyway, I think people after a while they want to go out and just experience life, right? You cannot absolutely be confined forever….
Today we’re going to talk about surf, surfboards, your projects, your future projects.
The first question that I have for you is in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
The passion for it! I mean, if you don’t have the passion or the stoke, then it’s like….. “what’s the point”
For me when my son started competing, when he was like nine or ten, he got super serious, super-fast. And for me that was no good, so by the time he was 11, I pulled him out from competing and just let him free surf for two years and let him prime himself to when he was ready to commit to competing and having that passion for it.
Because the surf is all about the stoke since the very beginning, I mean the great Duke said the best surfer is the one that’s having the most fun,
TTOS:. Exactly, you cannot just like push, push, push, and try to win, then you’re going to suffer and then you lose what a surfer is really about. Right?
Yeah. You lose your love for it. And then it’s, for surfers, it’s a part of who we are.
TTOS: What was your first surfboard?
My dad made me it was a six/four mini tanker, he made that for my first birthday and gosh, I can still remember having fun on it.
I don’t really remember learning how to surf, but I definitely remember a lot of days in Waikiki at Queens and Baby Greens on that board.
And I loved the significance of that board…. is my dad…. I just got it from my dad cause I helped him move around stuff or whatever..
He kept that board next to the entrance to his shaping room, every place he worked at when I grew up, obviously he kept it with him along with my brothers first boards.
TTOS: You know, I’m asking to everyone : “do you still have your first surfboard?” and yours definitely has an amazing importance for you for your family.
It’s such a unique thing because most of the surfers or surf collector, or most of us do not have their first surfboard.
It’s an amazing thing that you showed that to me….of course the other guys that cannot see it because it’s a podcast, but nevertheless it’s a truly special surfboard, so thanks a lot for sharing the story of it.
Absolutely. If they want to see it, they can find it in the surfing magazine from 1977, it is there somewhere….
TTOS: Your family has like a lot of history of shaping surfboards, but do you collect surfboards of other shapers or not?
I actually don’t and I think I get a lot of that from how my dad always had the philosophy as he has never like looking backwards is always located forward.
TTOS: Ok, I see…. is there a particular surfboard that apart of the one that you just show me that has a very special meaning for you that you you’re going to keep it always dear to you?
I’ve got a shortboard, I think it was probably like six/10 that my dad shaped while he was under the Greg Noll label.
It’s pretty much way ahead of its time, as I don’t think you see too many short boards in 1967….it’s phenomenal.
One of a kind it blows my mind, everything…. from the deck lines and the bottom contours, it’s like…so forward…It’s incredible.
That was a special one for me, but most importantly my father had a line of surfboards with Boardworks as my father loved their construction.
In one of those boards that my sister hand wrote on it and, as time progressed, my father would write people’s names that meant the most to him all across the board.
It’s like even though the board is just a pop up board, the meaning behind is so incredible because he was putting the names of all the people that impacted his life, that he loved …. writing their names on the board as like a constant memory and which is so cool….
TTOS: When did you start shaping your first surfboard?
From as far back as I can remember, between my brother and I were dipping in and out of our father’s shaping bay.
It’s just something we just grew up around it….so I would say like nine, 10 years old, something like that …when was just started noodling around.
I mean like my first official board by myself, probably 13, but I was just always around…. it’s no different than like when you’re the son of a farmer, you know, what is the first time you picked potatos?
TTOS: What is the most important thing in shaping, in your opinion?
The most important thing in shaping, above and beyond any design or on contours or fancy channels. The most important thing is, is the energy that you put into it.
It’s literally me putting a part of myself into the board to transfer it to the person that rides a board….so it’s very much like if you’re having a bad day, it’s not a good day to shape!
TTOS: I guess so, but don’t tell this to people otherwise they will not buy surfboards you shaped when you were in a bad mood!
Exactly, It’s a good thing. I’ve always been in a good mood
TTOS:. That’s good! What is your greatest achievement? The one that you’re most proud of, in your career?
I would have to say bringing together AIPA and Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt came about in 1971 and right around that timeframe is when my father had developed his first block logo: AIPA and the way it was, essentially was my dad related to South Shore and Lightning Bolt was really the North shore…..there are two pretty big Hawaiian forces that have the opportunity to put them together. And a lot of people ask me, why? Aren’t you guys big enough? I’m like…well, why not?
TTOS: Can you tell us more about this project?
Essentially though, the way that it works is the customer can choose any design that they want.
I’ll put a little special flair on it that kind of Lightning Bolt vibe and bang! There’s the AIPA logo right there!
I mean, it’s not like how Jerry has got the pipeline model or anything like that…..It’s not that specific.
I feel like it should be more free flowing, just like a shaper or a surfer.
That’s why I give the customer free reign to decide what kind of light bulb they want.
TTOS: Interesting…you know, the concept of giving freedom… you could have gone for like a couple of models and that’s it. I really like the opportunity that you give to people personalize their own AIPA/LB
Absolutely. I mean it’s funny because people will roll tiptoe around it and be like “Hey, I really liked this model, but only if it, if the nose is a little more flared out” and I’m like “no problem”
I’ll even get response….”Oh really? You don’t mind changing your shape?” I’m like, “no, that’s part of the thing…. Creation!”
TTOS: In your career, have you seen or have you received a request for a crazy surfboard?
Well I don’t know about a specific request for crazy surfboards, as I think a lot of them are pretty unique.
I did just recently make a four/10 for Kalani Robb to test out in the wave pool that got a very unique look to it, so look out for that.
And I also had pitched it to Mick fanning, soft boards to develop a soft board off of the design.
It’s a fun, fun looking design.
TTOS: Let’s talk about you as a surfer, which kind of surfboard you ride today?
So thanks to COVID-19 and me gaining 15 pounds, I had to go a little bit wider and a little bit thicker and even from poli to EPS.
I was predominantly on anywhere from six/0 six/ 19 five eight thick, but now I’m a pretty hefty two, almost 230. So I bumped my board up to a six/four by 20 by two and seven/eight EPS poxy resin, but the rails you’d never guess it was two and seven/eight thick.
It’s just got the most oiled, ridiculous, smooth rails.
TTOS: love to see that board.
Yeah, you will be seeing it too, cause it is the first prototype of the very first collaboration that my brother and I are working together.
We’re collaborating on this specific type of sting, based on a fusion sting model but it’s taking the attributes of, his style and my style and putting it together on top of the canvas that my father provided for us.
it’s going to be a very unique design,
TTOS: Amazing! We will finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind.
The best surfboard that you’ve ever ridden…
A quad my dad shaped for me when I was 13 had glass on fins, bright orange spray, the thing just went!
TTOS: in your opinion, the best shaper of all time.
My dad! Then my brother! Outside the family my favorite shaper would be MR
TTOS: Personal question….your favorite song…
I think Aerosmith “dream on “that would have to be my favorite song.
TTOS: your favorite surfer of all time
That would be Kelly Slater, all day long.
TTOS: the last question is a little bit unusual. We want to know your best relationship and advice.
Wow. treat your wife with respect. Happy wife. Happy life. That’s what they say. And it’s true!!
Recorded June 2020