Surfers in PNG are learning the traditional Hawaiian techniques of timber surfboard
building from renowned Australian surfboard shapers Tom Wegener and Bryan Bates. Members of the Tupira Surf Club in Madang Province were taught to build boards like those ridden in pre-20th century Hawaii (Alaia style).
‘It’s a bit of work, a lot of man power and a lot of sweat’, said PNG Surfing Association president Andrew Abel. The boards are made from locally sourced balsa wood and carved using a combination of hand tools, axes and machetes.
The thin boards feature round noses, square tails and often do not have fins. ‘They’re very difficult to ride but a lot of the lightweight kids had no trouble whatsoever in hopping onboard and ripping those waves up in Tipura’, Mr Abel said.
Mr Abel hopes the surfboard shaping training will be the catalyst for a new era in PNG surfing.