Aotearoa’s only full-time female surfboard shaper Lou Aitken on what led her to her craft.
Shaping surfboards from scratch is a messy business, hardly the romantic image some might have in mind. It’s hours spent hand-carving surfable shapes from slabs of polyurethane foam, squatting and stooping in awkward positions, foam and resin frequent features on the shaper’s skin.
Lou Aitken encourages people to be nosy when she’s shaping. “I want them to see how it works and what I’m doing. Going to see any shaper and their process really just gives people an appreciation for the work that’s in a board.” Lou, 24, is based in the Coromandel Peninsula’s Whangamata, where she works alongside local surfboard shaper Pete Anderson and shapes boards under her own brand, Louweazal.
It was a natural progression to shaping for Lou, who grew up on the coast north of Auckland and spent a good portion of her childhood in the waters of Tutukaka Coast’s Sandy Bay. It’s there she remembers first trying to surf standing on a boogie board. “I didn’t get into proper surfing until I was about 12, when I got a piece of blimmin’ polystyrene foam and I went from there.”
She left high school to take on a cabinet-making apprenticeship with Danske Mobler; in a team of 50 cabinet makers, she was one of three women working with wood. Taking a break from building...
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