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Surfing Heritage and Culture Center hosts exhibit and party for the late Donald Takayama

Donald Takayama. Photo by Glenn Sakamoto/LiquidSalt
Donald Takayama. Photo by Glenn Sakamoto/LiquidSalt

By Andrea Swayne

It’s been a year since the surfing world lost one of its most beloved icons, and the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center is paying tribute to Donald Moke Takayama, the legendary surfer and surfboard shaper, with a special exhibit and celebration of his life.

Takayama passed away on October 22, 2012 due to complications following surgery.

SHACC is now displaying a collection of Takayama’s surfboards, photographs, remembrances and other memorabilia, including his 1963 Plymouth Valiant.

Instead of holding an opening night party back on October 16, at the start of the show, a closing night celebration has been planned for Saturday, November 16, on the eve of what would have been Takayama’s 69th birthday. The event will be held at the SHACC museum, 110 Calle Iglesia in San Clemente. Admission is $5 at the door for the general public. SHACC members are free.

Takayama shaped surfboards for more than 55 years, creating some the most sought after models, such as the David Nuuhiwa Noserider and the Weber Performer, and built his own successful brand, Hawaiian Pro Designs, beginning in the late 1970s. He is also widely credited, along with world longboard champion Joel Tudor, for breathing new life into traditional-style longboard surfing.

According to Takayama’s compiled life stories, his illustrious career was inspired by a meeting with Dale Velzy in Hawaii at Makaha Beach when Takayama was just a kid.

Velzy, upon finding out that the young surfer had shaped his own board, told Takayama if he ever wanted a job as a shaper, he would have one waiting for him on the mainland. Takayama saved his newspaper route money and at the age of 12 bought a ticket to California and showed up on Velzy’s doorstep. The rest, as they say, is history.

“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,” said SHACC Creative Director and curator, Barry Haun.

“We’re honored to be presenting this tribute to legendary surfer and shaper, Donald Takayama,” Haun said.

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