Greg Noll Surf Center Hawaii shaped by Ben Aipa (1969)

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Greg Noll Surf Center surfboard shaped by Ben Aipa in 1969, serial #570. Featuring a transitional era shape, made in the period when surfboards were starting to be shaped shorter in length. The late Ben Aipa (1942-2021) and the late Greg Noll (1937-2021) will be remembered as two of the most influential and revered surfboard craftsmen in history. Full restoration performed by the legendary surfboard restoration expert, Randy Rarick. Use as a functional vintage surfboard or display as a historical surfboard art piece!

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History of Greg Noll & Ben Aipa Surfboards

Greg “Da Bull” Noll was born in San Diego, California on February 11th,‭ ‬1937.‭ ‬He was given “Da Bull” as a nickname due to his steadfast and obstinate approach towards charging big waves.‭ ‬Noll was‭ ‬11‭ ‬years old when he first started surfing and from a young age was taught how to shape surfboards by none other than Dale Velzy. Noll eventually became a skilled shaper himself while continuously polishing his surfing skills.‭ ‬His remarkable abilities as a waterman earned him a spot with the LA county lifeguard. He especially excelled at ‭paddling, a skill that led him to being selected for the U.S. Lifeguard team which competed in the ‬1956‭ ‬Olympics, held in Melbourne,‭ ‬Australia.‭

In‭ ‬1957,‭ ‬Noll made big wave surfing history as the first person ever to ever ride a wave at Waimea Bay, now an iconic big wave riding break on the North Shore of Oahu. In December of‭ ‬1964,‭ ‬Greg Noll made history again riding a giant wave at third reef Pipeline.‭ ‬Noll was known for surfing in a pair of black and white striped boardshorts, his way of preventing others from taking credit for his rides.‭

Noll returned to California with well established notoriety. He then started a thriving surfboard manufacturing business in Hermosa Beach, California and partnered with iconic surfer, Miki Dora to produce the Miki Dora “Da Cat” model longboard. Sales took off immediately and reached a peak production of around 170 boards a week.‭ ‬Noll also produced surf films such as the‭ “‬Search for Surf‭”‬ series featuring waves ridden in Hawaii, California, and Mexico.

Greg‭ ended his big wave riding career on a storm swell that hit Makaha in ‬December of‭ ‬1969, catching as big of a waves as one could paddle into. Fred Hemmings,‭ ‬a fellow big wave rider who was a witness to his ride at Makaha was quoted‭ ‬saying “If there was anyone else in Greg‭’‬s place, he wouldn’t‭ have made it alive”. Decades later, one of ‭Noll’s personal big wave balsa guns sold at auction for $40,000.‬ His autobiography, published in 1989 was titled‭ “‬Da Bull:‭ ‬Life Over the Edge‭”. Greg “Da Bull” Noll is one of the most recognized names in surfing history and will forever be remembered as a big wave riding pioneer and expert surfboard craftsman.

Ben Aipa

A legendary surfer and surfboard shaper,‭ ‬Ben Aipa,‭ ‬was born in‭ ‬1942‭ ‬in Honolulu,‭ ‬Hawaii.‭ ‬He has made an important mark in the world of surfing and has been through it all,‭ ‬from worthy competitor to top-tier board-builder to coach of Hawaii‭’‬s‭ ‬best surfers.‭ ‬His uncles toughened the son of a Kauai Sugar Plantation worker growing up as his dad left to be a marine.‭ ‬In his teenage years he moved to Oahu to help support his mother and siblings working in the pineapple fields,‭ ‬shining shoes in Honolulu and diving for coins thrown off of tourist liner boats at Aloha Tower.‭ ‬From middle school to high school,‭ ‬Ben Aipa was a fearless competitor in swimming,‭ ‬weightlifting,‭ ‬and football‭ (‬subsequently growing into a semi-pro football player‭)‬.‭ ‬Thanks to his height‭ ‬5‭’‬8″and weight‭ ‬240‭ ‬lbs,‭ ‬at the time‭ ‬he held positions as linebacker,‭ ‬fullback and center.‭ ‬First,‭ ‬he planned on a career as a pro football player but switched his plans to surf in his early‭ ‬20s because of an ankle injury.‭ ‬Ben started shaping the same year he started surfing-‭ ‬1965.‭ ‬Ben surfed‭ ‬365‭ ‬days straight that year.‭ ‬He got an offer from his friend,‭ ‬Joe Kaula,‭ ‬who worked at Surfboards Makaha to help in shaping boards.‭ ‬He learned the basics quickly.‭ ‬One year after learning to surf,‭ ‬Ben paddled out with Eddie Aikau during the‭ ‬1965‭ ‬Duke Invitational to make a statement that Hawaiians should be invited to surf in the contests held in Hawaii.‭ ‬He also finished fourth in both the‭ ‬1967‭ ‬Makaha International and the‭ ‬1975‭ ‬Lightning Bolt Pro,‭ ‬and competed in the World Championships in‭ ‬1968‭ ‬and‭ ‬1970.

‭ ‬His surfing and shaping career became noticeable quickly.‭ ‬Aipa Surfboards was founded in‭ ‬1970,‭ ‬and Aipa soon came into his biggest influence as a designer, inventing the double-ended swallowtail in‭ ‬1972.‭ ‬His famous model called the “Sting” was modeled after the hydrofoil boats that he had seen racing at Ala Moana.‭ ‬He always observed the life around him very carefully and repeatedly recalled that it was what inspired him.‭ ‬Ben shaped the first Sting and gave it to Larry Bertlemann,‭ ‬who later described his friends work in these words:‭ ‬“What he was doing was futuristic.‭ ‬Watching him,‭ ‬I said to myself,‭ ‬“He‭’‬s stinging the wave‭!‬” That‭’‬s how I developed the name for the design.‭”‬ And‭ ‬ that‭’‬s how‭ ‬the Sting was born.‭ ‬Ben invented the doubled-edged swallowtail design in‭ ‬1972‭ ‬and followed this with the split-tail design in‭ ‬1974.‭ ‬Word traveled fast about the new design,‭ ‬especially after‭ ‬it appeared on the cover surfer magazine.‭ ‬Australian surfer and soon to be a four-time world champion Mark Richards noticed Ben‭’‬s work,‭ ‬and he also began riding Aipa‭’‬s Sting.‭ ‬Ben shaped a series of Stings for Mark Richards,‭ ‬who eventually asked Ben to move the wing further down the board closer to the tail.‭ ‬This is the start of what would become the winged twins.‭ ‬Mark Richards shaped his own boards,‭ ‬and we can notice strong influence of Ben Aipa‭’‬s technique.‭ ‬What‭’‬s interesting,‭ ‬Ben‭’‬s surfboard design allowed his surfers to radically change surfing and also impacted the future of skateboarding.

As an almost-star in football,‭ ‬Ben Aipa took his knowledge of football strategy and applied it to surf coaching.‭ ‬He individually coached some of the best surfers in the world,‭ ‬such as Sunny Garcia,‭ ‬Bethany Hamilton,‭ ‬Brad Gerlach,‭ ‬Taylor Knox,‭ ‬and many others.‭ ‬As a testimony to Ben Aipa‭’‬s impact on surfing,‭ ‬in‭ ‬2004,‭ ‬Bethany Hamilton accepting her title at the awards banquet to a‭ ‬500-person standing ovation,‭ ‬thanked her coach,‭ ‬“Ben Aipa and God‭”‬.‭ ‬Ben Aipa went on to enter and compete in different‭ ‬surfing contests:‭ ‬He won the grandmasters division of the‭ ‬1989‭ ‬United States Surfing Championship and the legends division of the‭ ‬2000‭ ‬U.S.‭ ‬Championships.‭ ‬Enlisted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in‭ ‬1992,‭ ‬Ben was chosen as one of the Top Ten Shapers of All-Time by Surfing magazine in‭ ‬2004.‭ ‬Ben‭’‬s effect and influence will be known by generations of surfers,‭ ‬shapers and coaches to come.‭ ‬Honored and inducted into both the Surfing Hall of Fame and Surfing Walk of Fame in‭ ‬2018.‭ ‬Ben said,‭ ‬“I wonder what is next‭?‬”
“I was never watching what other board builders were doing…I was watching the surfers and the natural world around me.‭ ‬Their movements showed me what was missing‭…‬ I was always looking for the next wave‭…‬The Next Move.‭”‬

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