Tom Wegener: The Paipo and Surfing

by Tom Wegener on July 2, 2012

My life is enmeshed with surfing about as much as possible. I make surfboards for a living, my family surfs, most of my friends surf, and I love surfing. One of my big issues in life is finding where the business stops and where the fun begins. For me it begins when I lose myself in the surf. When I am jumping in the water and the whitewash wash cleanses me of my worries.

Surfing with friends and going with the flow brings on the joy. Then a crowd problem arises or someone drops in on my son, and I sort of get jolted back to reality, or there are people watching or cameras and I have to perform, again, back to the business reality.

I love the paipo so much. I never get jolted back to reality. My favourite surf is to wade out into small waves with my paipo and catch small waves. It is like a pleasant day dream. I can do it for hours and find total absorption into the surf. It is a meditation. It does not suck.

Of course I spend a lot of time in the crowds surfing all the boards I shape and I love it too. But, I think I am a lot more relaxed and resistant to getting caught up in the performance hype because I am so grounded with the paipo sessions. I am not so hungry in the surf. It is a very nice surfing balance.

I think people are baffled watching the great George Greenough ride his mat in atrocious conditions. He says he likes it when the wind is howling and there is lots of popcorn on the waves (white caps). I believe he finds his bliss bobbing out there, alone, in the surf he loves so much. But, this surfing is not simple. There is just as much technicality to making a waist high grinder on your belly as there is in any other surfing. It is challenging with great rides and a sense of achievement though nobody ever notices.

If you ever are frustrated with crowds, the surfing scene, poor surf… I seriously recommend grabbing a paipo and finding the absolute joy of riding a little wave towards shore on a piece of wood. There is a good reason why this is the world’s oldest continuous sport. You will not be disappointed.

Tom Wegener lives and works in Noosa Heads, Australia. Together with his brother Jon Wegener, based in California, they helped ignite the Hawaiian wooden surfboard revival by basing their alaia and paipo designs from The Bishop Museum archives.

Photography: Izu, Japan by Mizoguchi


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick July 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I’d love to find one of youre paipo blanks or even the finished version… Oahu Hi Aloha


Adam July 2, 2012 at 9:45 pm

So stoked on this and its vibe. Keep it comin’ – Long live the slide!


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Sam July 3, 2012 at 7:23 am

Great stuff Tom you rock


Jeannette Prince July 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hi Tom!
So glad Australia has been good to you! It’s been fun seeing glimpses of your success in business, surfing and with family life. Everything has been wonderful here in Cardiff… I’ve been blessed too! Loving the fact that I was lucky enough to choose the sport of surfing to be part of my life. It just wouldn’t have been the same without it! I’m sure you would agree… Question, and I’m curious… the paipo board… I’ve not tried one yet but would like to purchase one to experiment with. This way I could use it over and over again to really get the feel of one instead of a one time trial from a friend? This may be the board I retire on ;D


Tom Wegener July 9, 2012 at 12:40 am

Hi Jeannette, Glad you liked the article. Yes, get a paipo, you will be stoked. I remember surfing around Cardiff when the surf was small. I was so often trying to fit my longboard into a tiny wave. I really wish I knew about the paipos back then! You will find that you grab the paipo a lot. To get a great one call my brother, Jon and he will make you a terrific custom board. 310 938 9440 or go to Desfruita (enjoy) Tom


Jeannette Prince July 13, 2012 at 6:31 am

Thank you!!!


Eef July 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

great interview, he is SOOOO stoked!



Daryn July 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm

great little read…


Bryan Helfand July 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm

It’s not often you get to talk about a “first time” before it happens so I thought I’d share. Tomorrow I’m going to Paipo Stokefest at Scripps Pier. I’ve never ridden a Paipo and really looking forward to an eye opening experience. I’ve been out of the water and out of surfing for 5 very slow…very disconnected weeks. A dislocated ankle is no bueno! But after seeing the video by Chad Waldron and the story by Tom Wegener I’m looking forward to the re-connection and introduction to some new fun! Tom you painted a mental image for me that even before trying it I totally get…thanks! It looks like your brother will be bringing a great array to tryout tomorrow. Looking forward to meeting him!

Aloha – Bh


charlie kavanagh August 7, 2012 at 4:20 am

hey tom
im making an alaia surfboard for a school project and i was looking at your finley surfboard design which looked super fun. i was just wondering if you could send me the dimensions for a standard finley model size, like a 6’0 or something. that would be awesome, cheers


tim watson June 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Hello Tom, Thanks for all your aloha and stoke for the paipo community. I have made a few myself. If you ever have time please check them out at Your “wood is good” videos are such an inspiration. I have used them to turn many people on to paipos. MUCH ALOHA tim Watson (Canada)


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