The Alaia can be traced back to the origins of surfing itself.
While the Alaia is not going to feel like any foam surfboard you’ve ever ridden, it can act as a sort of time-machine to transport you back to the beginning of wave ridding as well as offer some unique experiences.
Experimentation and exploration is only going to make you a better surfer. The alaia definitely earns a top spot for equipment to test.
What is an Alaia Surfboard?
The alaia is a thin, finless, wooden board ranging in lengths anywhere from about 6′ to 10.’
Thickness is usually no more than 1″ to 1 1/2″ and each curve and concave in the design contributes to its performance.
The thin, hard rails, concave bottoms, and flex act as the “fins” of the board.
The flat surfaces allow for extremely fast planning and gliding on the face of the wave.
They’re often made out of paulownia wood and finished with oil.
Alaias will work best in clean, glassy conditions. You can ride them either prone or standing. You’ll be able to go faster laying down, but you’ll have more maneuverability standing up.
You’ll want to get into waves at more of an angle than you would on a modern surfboard and try to trim down the line.
Moving further back on the board will help you engage the rails for speed and control.
History of the Alaia
The alaia surfboard dates back to ancient Polynesia, and could really be considered one of the original surfboards.
Ancient alaias were anywhere from 7′ to 12′ and up and could weigh as much as 100 pounds.
In Hawaii, they were shaped from solid Koa wood.
The modern alaia and the reassurance of interest in it can be attributed to Tom Wegener in 2005-2006, when he found interest in the history and the design himself.
In 2009, Surfer Magazine named Wegener Shaper of the Year. In the same year, Thomas Campbell’s surf movie “The Present” features surfers like Rob Machado on an alaia.
The alaia is maybe as close to nature as a surfboard can get. Just wood and natural oil. With proper care, an alaia can last forever.