My dad, John Jones, started to build surfboards in 1968 while attending high school in Honolulu. He would buy blanks and supplies from Rich Parr, who had a shop on the corner of Queen and Ward. He was living in the dorm at the time, and was given a key to a decommissioned auto shop, where he set up some racks and made about 60 boards for himself and his friends during his junior and senior years. He came up with the bird logo for his boards in 1972 while attending college in California.
I’ve been enthralled by surfboard designs from the late 1960s to mid-80s for a long time, and see it as one of the most experimental times in surfboard history. I try to combine elements of these proven shapes with modern designs, blending them to suit some of our waves here on Oahu, as well as the waves I’ve experienced during my travels.
When I was a kid, I saw the film of Tom Curren surfing at 8- to 10-foot Bawa on a 5'7" fireball fish. A few days later, I stripped the glass off of a broken board, and with the help of my dad made a 5'0", three-finned fish. I loved that board so much, and thought that maybe I could make some performance thrusters. Those were average at best—probably garbage when compared to my Ben Aipa’s!—and I knew I had to ride the best equipment if I wanted to improve my surfing and compete with the other little kids like Jamie O’Brien and Joel Centaio.
During the next two decades l got to work with some of the best shapers here on Oahu. Guys like Ben Aipa, Akila Aipa, Chuck Andrus, Pat Rawson, Wade Tokoro, Glenn Pang, Glenn Minami, Mike Woo, Martial Crum, Tom Parrish, Brett Morimoto, Jeff Johnston, John Pyzel, Jason Kashiwai, Chris Gallagher, Kent Senatore, Cino Magallanes, Tim Barron, Owl Chapman, Nat Woolley, Denis Pang, Noah Budroe, Kyle Bernhardt, Greg Griffin, Matty Raynor, Brian King, Mike Madison, Danny Nichols and George Vicente all made me boards and shared their knowledge about board design with me.
Whenever I was traveling through California, Europe, Australia, Bali, or Brazil, I would always pick up a few boards to try from the local shapers. I loved trying different boards, and I always thought “It’s possible this guy makes the best boards in the world, but only the people in this area know about it.” I really believed in what everyone was doing at that time, and had a great respect for shapers. And after building a few of my own boards from start to finish, that respect and gratitude extended to include glassers and sanders as well.
Many of these working relationships grew into friendships and mentorships. I’ve always appreciated all the boards everyone took the time to make me over the years, but I appreciate them even more now after realizing how much work went into the boards, and how much of their personal water time was sacrificed so that I could have the best possible surfboards under my feet. When I build boards, I try to bring this same passion and commitment to my craft.