Surfing Heritage: Donald Takayama Tribute




Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center (SHACC) will pay tribute to the late, legendary surfer and shaper, Donald Moke Takayama, by exhibiting a special collection of his surfboards, photographs, and memorabilia from October 16 – November 16, 2013. Takayama passed away on October 22, 2012, due to complications following surgery.

Instead of creating a special event to coincide with the show’s opening, SHACC will host a celebration on its final evening, Saturday, November 16, which would have marked Takayama’s 69th birthday. The celebration will take place from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at SHACC, located at 110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente, California, 92672. Admission is $5 at the door for the general public, with free admission for SHACC members.

Takayama started surfing at age five in Waikiki, Hawaii. A few years later, Dale Velzy met him at Makaha Beach, and upon learning that he had shaped his own board,Velzy told Takayama that, “if he ever got to the mainland, there would be a job waiting for him.” The young Takayama was inspired by Velzy’s offer. At twelve years of age, with money saved from a newspaper delivery route, Takayama bought a plane ticket to Los Angeles and showed up on Velzy’s doorstep.

Takayama would go on to shape surfboards for over 55 years, initially for iconic brands such as Velzy, Jacobs, Bing, and Weber. The David Nuuhiwa noserider and the Weber Performer were two of Takayama’s most popular surfboard models. He founded his own surfboard company, Hawaiian Pro Designs, in Encinitas in the late 1970s, and grew it into a widely respected brand with international distribution. In the 1990s, Takayama, along with World Longboard champion, Joel Tudor, helped re-popularize the traditional style of longboard surfing.

Despite his small physical stature, Takayama was a strong, stylish surfer and fierce competitor. He was a five-time US Surfing Champion, winning the Master’s division of the US Surfing Championships in three consecutive years from 1971 – 1973. Takayama designed some of the most sought-after boards in the surfing world, many of which have become collector’s items valued at over $10,000.

According to SHACC Creative Director and curator, Barry Haun, several of Takayama’s dearest friends and loved ones have come together to loan SHACC many of the surfboards, artwork and personal effects that made this exhibit possible. “Joel Tudor, was kind enough to share his Pipeline gun and his favorite longboard for the show, and Donald’s family provided many photos and personal items, including his classic surf mobile, a 1963 Plymouth Valiant,” Haun said.


About Surfing Heritage & Culture Center

The Surfing Heritage & Culture Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, presenting and promoting surfing’s heritage for the appreciation and education of current and future generations; and to achieving our goal of surfing being more accurately understood, represented and enjoyed.

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