Surfboard Discussion Forum: Is The Alaia Legit?

Recently Surfing Magazine announced the coveted “Shaper Of The Year” honor would be bestowed upon Tom Wegener, a shaper best-known for his finless, wooden board design known as the Alaia. The decision has opened up all kinds of debate concerning the progression of the modern surfboard. While many argue that riding an ancient Alaia makes you about as progressive as possible, others feel it’s nothing more than a fad; citing that new technologies trump the primitive boards. Transworld Business wants to know what you think.

Here’s Some background info from Wegener’s Web site:

Surfing in the ancient style on a finless wood board has been overlooked for many years now. In Hawaii the board was called alaia. In Japan it was called itaka. There is evidence of early surfers riding this style from all around the world but in the early 1900's this style vanished. I visited Hawaii's ancient surfboards in the Bishop Museum in 2004 and was very impressed by the craftsmanship and the beautifully subtle shapes of the boards. I went back to Australia and made some replicas and I was amazed at how much fun they were to surf. My enthusiasm was contagious and soon my friends were riding them too. It has been several years now since I started riding them and my shapes have gone through many evolutions. …. In my experience, I have never known a surfboard to be as successful as the Alaia. Everyone who tries one really enjoys the lively feeling of the board.

Regardless of whether you think it’s the most progressive thing in the world or the lamest, there’s no argument that they look tough to ride. With guys like Rob Machado and Dave Rastovich riding them, there seem to be more and more of them showing up in the line up, but does that make them a legitimate alternative to the conventional surfboard, and, perhaps more importantly, are they progressive?