Having the knowledge and ability to skillfully shape a surfboard is a pretty big deal. Although there are amateur backyard shapers who may claim that they can shape a fine board, surfboard shaping is a profession and craft that takes years of practice and experience to master. There are two professional surfboard shapers on Okinawa who have both been shaping for over a decade and create outstanding quality surfboards for beginners and professionals alike. They are Taizo Harada from ‘Drive Surfboards’ and Mamoru Itokazu from ‘Mamoru Surfboards’ a.k.a. ‘M’s Surfshack.’
Taizo is not only an incredible shaper but also one of the best surfers on the seawall. When a powerful typhoon is hitting, you can find him in the middle of it, literally; getting barreled and dancing with danger by taking on some serious waves. Taizo has been shaping for 10 years and surfing for 30 years. His company, Drive Surfboards, focuses mainly on designing and building short board shapes. He also specializes in wider variations called hybrid short boards. As a shaper, he constantly works on developing his craft by shaping a diverse range of boards and practicing new shaping techniques. He advises anyone interested in shaping surfboards to do the same.
Taizo is originally from Osaka, but believes surfing and surfers from Okinawa are in his words, ‘Hot Rippers.’ Nonetheless, he advises those who want to become stronger surfers to travel and surf a variety of waves in many locations so as to remain engaged and stoked on surfing.
One of my favorite surfers on Okinawa is one of Taizo’s team riders, 50+ year old Satoru Nakachi, a local legend who is by far the best tube rider on Okinawa. Satoru exclusively rides Drive surfboards, custom made to his taste, which complement Satoru’s riding ability, something that every good shaper can do for a surfboard rider. Taizo concludes our conversation by saying ‘Ride my surfboards.’ You can delve further into the depths of what Drive Surfboards is all about by checking out his website www.drivesurf.net
The next best shaper, board repairman and owner of the conveniently located surfboard shop, ‘M’s Surf Shack,’ is Mamoru. Mamoru makes incredible short board and long board shapes. He is a true craftsman whose hands are always dusted with surfboard resin and fiberglass cloth as he runs the busiest surfboard repair shop on Okinawa. Mamoru can competently build every type of board but is most passionate about designing competitive short board shapes for his riders to use in competitions.
Mamoru advises surfers on Okinawa to stay hungry on their search for waves everyday, and not to become lazy or complacent just because there are no waves close by. He says, ‘Go out and search and find some waves because there are waves everyday to ride somewhere around Okinawa.’
If you are interested in learning about surfboard shaping but have no clue how to start, you can inquire at M’s Surf Shack about his ‘shaping a surfboard together service’ that allows you to shape your own custom board under Mamoru’s guidance. He advises you on the proper techniques, tools and methods to use when creating your board. This is the first time I have ever heard of a shaper offering this service, and it is truly a chance of a lifetime for anyone interested in shaping their own board, confidently and without folly under the direction of a board shaping master. You can inquire in person at M’s Surf Shack located in Sunabe or check out their website www.mssurfshack.com.
Mamoru and Taizo are both very positive uplifting people who are extremely passionate about surfing and surfboard shaping. I admire their patience and skills in designing sublime surfboards for Okinawan surfers. Whether you are a beginner in search of your first custom board, a seasoned veteran desiring a particular custom shape or eager to gain experience shaping your own surfboard, these are your go-to guys on Okinawa. Mamoru and Taizo will guide you in the proper direction to your own soul surfing path, which might well include shaping your own custom surfboard.