TOM WEGENER HAS BEEN MAKING SURFBOARDS FROM A SHED IN COOROY, QUEENSLAND FOR 12 YEARS AND HIS SURFBOARD BUSINESS HAS GONE THROUGH SEVERAL TRANSFORMATIONS. IN 2001 TOM WAS MAKING CUSTOM FOAM SURFBOARDS, BUT HE WAS DREAMING OF MAKING WOOD SURFBOARDS FROM PAULOWNIA. BY 2003 TOM HAD MADE THE TRANSFORMATION TO HOLLOW, WOOD SURFBOARDS THAT WERE SEALED WITH FIBREGLASS AND BY 2005 HE WAS MAKING HOLLOW WOOD BOARDS THAT WERE SEALED WITH LINSEED OIL. HE NAMED THESE “PLANKTON” MODELS.
In 2004 Tom visited the Bishop Museum in Hawaii to visit the ancient surfboards and his life was transformed. He started making replicas of the Alaia boards and started down the finless surfing odyssey. By 2007 the Alaias had a cult following around the world and Tom was very busy tuning in his designs. Soon great surfers like Tom Carroll, Rob Machado, Tom Curren, David Rastovich, Dan Malloy, Mike Stewart were riding Tom’s alaias and in 2009 Tom was named Shaper of the Year by Surfing Magazine.
Getting to your feet while surfing a thin Alaia surfboard is only for top surfers and Tom felt that the rest of surfing was missing out on the Alaia experience. In 2008 Tom started on the Tuna Project which was to make a finless alaia style board but much more floaty and user friendly. By 2010 Tom felt that EPS foam was the key to making this board possible and approached Global Surf Industries for help. This spawned the Seaglass Project and Tom has designed two alaia inspired finless foam surfboards, the Tuna and the Albacore, and they are produced and distributed by Global Surf Industries. In 2011 the Seaglass Project won the Astralian International Best Design Award for Sport and Leisure.
As Tom made very exotic boards and experimented with new shapes, he was also stripping surfing back to its essence and finding why he loved riding waves so much in the first place. He found that no surfing experience tops just belly boarding small waves on a thin piece of wood. He was very inspired by the plywood belly board scene in the UK and how much fun they were having. Tom spent a year fine tuning his version of the simple belly board and has named it the surfie surfboard.
Although Tom’s work has earned him a place among the world’s most influential surfboard shapers, he feels his biggest achievement was creating the green surfboard factory. Normal surfboard factories have toxic chemicals and create an enormous amount of waste. Tom’s factory has no toxic materials and creates almost no waste. The wood chips and sawdust are mulched into his garden and orchard. It is a really nice place to visit and to work. Tom received the Sunshine Coast Living Smart Glossie award for his factory in 2012.
Tom focus is on the Alaia and Surfie Surfboards now, but he can still make any of the boards he has made in the past. He still makes the hollow wood noseriders and foam shapes through Noosa Longboards. Tom feels it is important to keep his skills sharp by making a very wide range of surfboards.