June 20, 2014
Ehitu Keeling photographed CJ Kahuna as he sculpts solid wood Hawaiian style surfboards. These boards are from the native Hawaiian Acacia Koa trees.
I came across CJ Kahuna through The Surfer’s Journal, a fabulous publication with gorgeous photographs. CJ is a professional surfer who has returned to the art of the classic surfboards. To the educated collectors, these vehicles are sublime interpretations of the creative spirit of their times. The curves and muscles of the breaking wave are carved into these rare, handmade objects. There is an art to finding the essential beauty in the marrying of the solid memory inherent in the wood with the swift-moving form inherent in the wave. That perfect board!
My love of surfing is founded on my son’s love of it. He began surfing in the Gulf of Mexico at an early age and surfed Hawaii at only 10 years of age. Granted, not the giant waves, non-the less Hawaiian waves. We met Gerry Lopez, Mr. Pipeline, while there and recently I found that photo and gave it to him. It is a love of the ocean and the respect for the power of the ocean and peace that one has while sitting, waiting on that perfect wave. Learning the art to read the waves and the sets of waves only comes from many hours of waiting and watching. Paddling into the water at sunrise, enjoying the beginning of the day and awaiting and anticipating a great ride.
I tried my hand at surfing as a teenager. A friend had a long board; it was not the elegant pieces of old but rather a 9 foot yellow board. We referred to it as the big banana board. Truly, it was not my sport but I enjoyed being in the ocean and attempting to catch a wave. Sun tan, bikinis, puka shell anklets and hours of fun. Now, I sit on the beach and live vicariously through the surfers who ride with balance, beauty and joy!
Grab a board, a beautiful one, and go for a ride. If you are not ready for the ride, you can surf photos in
If you are interested in sculpting your own wooden surfboard, head to Maine. Grain surfboards has a barn where they teach people how to build wooden surfboards.
All photos courtesy Ehitu Keeling