Pacific Long Boarder Banner
Image 1 for R.I.P. Ben Aipa

Ben and his Stinger design

Image 2 for R.I.P. Ben Aipa

Image 3 for R.I.P. Ben Aipa

Image 4 for R.I.P. Ben Aipa

Image 5 for R.I.P. Ben Aipa

R.I.P. Ben Aipa

18 January 21

An innovative shaper, great surfer, and a son of Kauai, Ben Aipa died on Friday from heart complications, aged 78. The Encyclopedia of Surfing’s Matt Warshaw rates Ben in the Top 15 Power Surfers of all-time, adding “he was rudely under appreciated as a longboard surfer”

Here’s how Hawaii News Now reported it:

HONOLULU, (HawaiiNewsNow) - A renown figure in the surfing community, Ben Aipa died Friday. He was 78 years old.

Aipa was born and raised on Kauai before he moved to Oahu in his teenage years.

He was a great surfer in his own right, and soon made waves in the community for his board shaping abilities. He notably created the board used by fellow Hawaiian Fred Hemmings in his World Championship win in 1968.

His Swallow Tail and Sting designs are said to have had a great impact on the sport of surfing.

He also was an accomplished coach, taking champions such as Sunny Garcia and Bethany Hamilton under his wing.

“As far as the impact that he leaves? It’s going to ripple form here until God knows how far. He has made such an impact,” Duke Aipa, Ben’s son, said. “He was my dad. Yeah he was a legend shaper, coach, surfer — but to me, he was the guy that woke up early every morning. He went to work. And he came home when the sun was already coming down. That was my dad.”

Family members say Aipa’s health had been deteriorating for about two years.



Ben Aipa, one of the most influential surfboard craftsmen in the history of the sport, passed away on January 15, 2021, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease and effects of a subsequent stroke.

"I'll remember my dad as a father, surfer, shaper, designer, athlete, friend, mentor and a grandfather. Thank you for loving and mentoring so many generations of surfers in competition, and most importantly life. Your contributions to our sport and industry leaves a legacy with everyone you were able to share with, help and inspire," wrote his son Akila on Instagram.

Growing up in Hawaii, Aipa had a passion for football until an ankle injury fortuitously sidelined him and he picked up surfing in his early 20s. Athletically gifted, by 1965 he'd made the final of the Duke Kahanamoku Classic at Sunset Beach. He went on to compete in the World Championships in 1968 and 1970. 

Aipa's contributions to the development of modern, high-performance boards cannot be understated. First picking up a planer in 1966, his comfort in the shaping bay was immediate. By '68 he'd shaped the board that Fred Hemmings rode to victory at World Championships in Puerto Rico. 

Aipa Surfboards was officially established in 1970. Among his innovations are the development of the swallow tail and the "stinger" design, in which he sculpted a wing along the rail ahead of the tail. Aipa's designs were ridden by Larry Bertlemann, Michael Ho, Buttons Kaluhiokalani and Mark Liddell in competition, where Aipa also served as an informal coach/trainer for the surfers. 

Along with running a successful surfboard business, he continued to be one of the most inspiring coaches over the years, working with the likes of Championship Tour stars Brad Gerlach, Sunny Garcia, Kalani Robb, Bruce and Andy Irons and Bethany Hamilton, among many others.

Today, his sons, Akila and Duke, have carried on the family tradition and continue to build beautiful surfboards under the Aipa name.


<< Previous   Print   Next >>

Please choose your region

Australia | US / Rest of the World

(Changing your region, will clear your cart)