Editor's Note: In conjunction with our annual Surfboards Issue (On newsstands Nov. 18), we will be posting one interview per day with a craftsman who contributed to the issue. Some are the biggest names in the bay; others are underground and want to keep it that way. But all of them share an equal passion for the crafts that move us forward. In these tough economic times, they all have a lot to say on where their craft is going. This time: Da Sting inventor and one of the greatest shapers of all time, Ben Aipa.
Name: Ben Aipa
Zone: Honolulu, HI
Years Shaping: 43 years
Boards per Week: Depends on the surf….
Specialty: Da Sting…..not stinger!…. all you foreigners!!!!
Is your business better or worse since the Clark Foam shutdown?
Better, I only do custom orders, it’s been OK for me.
Do you think there’s an increasing or decreasing appreciation for a custom surfboard?
I think in time we’re going to back to people wanting custom boards.
Are quads declining or increasing in popularity?
Quads are doing a full circle twice.
What’s keeping you afloat? Custom clientele? Shop accounts? Surftech?
My custom boards in Hawaii, my custom made boards thru King Surf Hawaii, and my epoxy molded boards from Boardworks.
If it hasn’t already, will your surfboard production ever have to go overseas?
I’m already there….
What kind of music do you like to listen to when you shape?
Soft jazz, crossover jazz, cross under jazz, cross thru jazz….
How much time do you spend on a single board now?
From scratch, about two hours.
How important is teamrider feedback to you?
I’d say not really team rider feedback, it's the everyday surfer feedback that I want to hear.
What kind of board do you enjoy shaping most right now?
The boards that I really enjoy shaping are whatever anybody wants. I’m not limited or restricted in my shaping.
How often do you get to surf?
More than a lot of people. Let’s put it this way, I’ve never stopped surfing since I started in ’63. Surfing for me is very spiritual, it keeps my spirits alive.
Are you actively pursuing “greener” avenues in your surfboard production?
What ever is happening with surfing, I want to be there, I want to go head on into it as it changes, if it involves a better world.
MONTH OF THE SHAPER:
DAY 1: William “Stretch” Riedel
DAY 2: Mark Price / Firewire Surfboards
DAY 3: Jeff Clark
DAY 4: Chris Gallagher
DAY 5: Matt Biolos
DAY 6: Geoff Rashe
DAY 7: Mark Wooster
DAY 8: Jeff Bushman
DAY 9: Rusty Preisendorfer
DAY 10: Rich Price
DAY 11: Shane Stoneman
DAY 12: Ricky Carroll
DAY 13: Xanadu
DAY 14: Chris Christenson
DAY 15: John Carper
DAY 16: Michael Walter
DAY 17: David Barr
DAY 18: Ben Aipa
DAY 19: Jeff “Doc” Lausch
DAY 20: Jesse Fernandez
DAY 21: Cole Simler