About

About us

Timpone Hawaii specializes in hand-building custom surfboards and watercrafts of all kinds. Board builder Jeff Timpone founded Timpone Surfboards in Huntington, California in 1980. Before starting his own company, Jeff spent ten years shaping under the tutelage of shapers at Russell Surfboards and Brotherhood Glass.

After moving to Hawaii in 1989, Jeff opened Timpone Hawaii Surfboards. Located in the heart of Haiku on Maui’s North Shore, the Timpone shop sits in the east wing of a historic pineapple cannery. Jeff’s approach to shaping boards focuses on the customers’ desires, goals, and needs. Jeff provides one-on-one customer service and harnesses 5 decades of experience to build fully customized surfboards of the highest quality.

Efforts to maintain traditional board building are coupled with 21st-century environmental awareness by offering a range of building methods and materials. Along with traditional materials, Jeff works with new materials that are born of modern innovations. Some of these materials can be featured to give any design a sustainable driven twist. Whatever your ability and whatever your vision, Timpone Hawaii is eager to help you realize your dream.

History. 

As a kid, my sports were baseball and football. My family didn’t live near the beach, so surfing wasn’t on my radar until I was twelve. Before age twelve, I had rented rubber surfing mats, like those George Greenough made famous, on a couple of trips to the beach. I rode the surf mats in the whitewater a couple of times and enjoyed it, but the stoke hadn’t stuck. Then, after turning twelve, my dad Mike took me fishing at the Huntington Beach Pier. On that trip, I saw surfers riding on the North side of the pier and those surfers inspired something in me. In 1962, I found my way onto a rented surfboard at Mission Beach in San Diego. Though I don’t remember much from that first session, the stoke began burning and I bought a new Dale Velzy for $98 in 1963. 

By 1965, I was cutting down longboard fins to make them turn more freely, and slide out while on the nose. In 1967 I saw Witzigs’ film, The Hot Generation, with Bob McTavish and Nat Young surfing their V-bottoms at Honolua Bay. The film was inspirational on multiple levels. One major takeaway was that surfboard designs were changing. It seemed like every month boards were getting shorter. You couldn’t buy a fresh shape at a shop because designs were old by the time the boards hit the rack. 

Because of the rapid changes within the sport, some of my friends began making their own boards. I followed suit and I took a 7’11” board of mine into Greg Chaney’s parents’ garage which overlooked Salt Creek and cut it down to a 7’2”. I think that was in early 1968. Around the same time, I took my first trip to Hawaii. While that trip saw me living and surfing in Honolulu for a few months, I moved back to California to attend college.  

My college career was short-lived as I spent most of my “class time” at the beach. I enjoyed spending my time at the beach and decided to move back to Hawaii. I bought a blank to shape later, strapped my board to it, and headed back to Hawaii. Some friends from my first trip had stayed in Hawaii and they were working at Piper Marine. 

Piper Marine was near Ala Moana and my friends were building 27 foot Banana Patch fishing boats. With a good word from my friends, I had no problem picking up a job at Piper Marine as well. Kirk Pearson, Andrew Spengler, and I became the crew that laid up hulls, decks, and other pieces including hatch covers and flying bridges. Piper Marine was a real-world school for learning about fiberglass and resin. Peter Piper, the owner, let us build our boards with boat resin and glass. Being across the street from Ala Moana meant lots of surf sessions at Big Rights. My two friends and I moved out to Mike Merry’s house on the North Shore, at Rocky Point. We surfed all over the North and East shores, scoring amazing waves. I was making enough money at Pipers that I travelled to the Mainland regularly.  

After “The Swell” of 1969, we shipped a 4-door pickup truck with a camper to Kauai and moved there. The truck, which we had gotten from a military surplus sale, was our mobile home for the next two winters. We continued building boats on Oahu and flew to Kauai for the weekends. 1970 Kauai was the stuff of dreams: great waves and wild adventures. That made the $7 inter-island fare on Hawaiian Airlines easy to part with. Outraged when airlines raised the fares to $10, we continued making trips anyway. By the end of 1971, the Piper Marine job was slowing down, and my friend Andrew Spengler moved on. 

It was also 1986 when I took a trip to Maui to visit a couple of Brotherhood friends, Paul and Vinny Sides, who had recently moved out. I scored some good waves on that trip and liked the setup Paul and Vinny had going, so when The Boys wanted me to come back and do some work the next year, I  was happy to return (even if this time it meant bringing my planer and hand-tools). On that trip I ended up shaping some sailboards for what was then a budding windsurfing industry. Until then I had only built a couple of sailboards with Rick Moses and Scott Scarbourgh. That was a cushy gig and another great trip to Maui that saw me surfing daily.  

Since my first visit in 1968 I loved the islands. Knowing I could find work as a shaper, I started formulating a plan to return to the islands with my family. Through the 1980’s, the family and I went to Kauai every winter, so moving to Kauai was the first plan. “Go for the best waves and the rest will take care of itself” had been my thinking, but moving a household and a shop took a lot of planning and required input from a lot of other people. The negotiation, planning, and execution took us a year. By the time we made the move, Maui had established itself as the ideal landing spot.  

Arriving on Maui in late 1989, I began as a roving shaper. I worked for Sailboards Maui, Angulo, as well as High Tech Surf and Sport. At the time, they were the “big three,” and I worked part-time for each. Working part-time allowed me to surf and explore the island. Our first home was above Makawao near the old Haleakala Dairy in what is referred to as “Upcounty.” In a short time, I went to work exclusively for Angulo. At Angulo, we built tons of sailboards because Maui had established itself as the windsurf capital of the world. I eventually took over the Angulo shop, which was located in Kahului (the commercial and industrial capital of Maui). I re-opened the Angulo shop under the name Timpone Hawaii Surfboards. Once again, I was building boards under my own label. 

O’Day eventually left The Brotherhood as well, and when he did I began shaping full-time. Thanks to O’Day, Jones, and Stussy, I had learned the basics of how to use the tools. Going from shaping three boards a week to shaping three boards a day provided ample opportunity to cultivate my own style, skills, and tricks. Template making was the area where I really found I was able to develop my own shaping style. The 1970’s were a great time replete with surf trips to Baja and Kauai. Board design changed, with logos getting big, twin-fins capturing surfer’s imaginations, and lineups getting more crowded. 

In early 1980, I rented my first space for a shop. The shop was $150 a month and was located in Huntington Beach on Slater Ave between Pro Resin Works and Fibercraft. My timing was good and orders came immediately. My boards worked well enough that I sustained that early momentum and was always busy shaping. Any slow periods saw Bruce Jones passing shape jobs my way as well. Jones’ Sunset Beach business was booming and he set up a factory in Costa Mesa, where some of the Brotherhood crew had gone to work. Within six months, I started my business in Huntington Beach, bought a house, and married my girlfriend Barbie. The move back to California had been the right one. 

In 1983, my first child, Monique, arrived, and I moved my shop to its Talbert location. I hired a friend, Jerry Manni, to airbrush and deliver surfboards. By 1985 we were mostly building 5’10” to 6’2” squashtail thrusters as that style had become synonymous with high performance. I landed a great overseas account in Japan, where I was thrilled to be sending hundreds of boards. My shop was also building boards for most of the Huntington Beach High School surf team. With business booming, I hired my first “shaping machines;” Jeff “Doc” Lausch and Jeff Madson began doing rough-outs for me. In 1986, my son Nicolas was born. 

In early 1980, I rented my first space for a shop. The shop was $150 a month and was located in Huntington Beach on Slater Ave between Pro Resin Works and Fibercraft. My timing was good and orders came immediately. My boards worked well enough that I sustained that early momentum and was always busy shaping. Any slow periods saw Bruce Jones passing shape jobs my way as well. Jones’ Sunset Beach business was booming and he set up a factory in Costa Mesa, where some of the Brotherhood crew had gone to work. Within six months, I started my business in Huntington Beach, bought a house, and married my girlfriend Barbie. The move back to California had been the right one. 

In 1983, my first child, Monique, arrived, and I moved my shop to its Talbert location. I hired a friend, Jerry Manni, to airbrush and deliver surfboards. By 1985 we were mostly building 5’10” to 6’2” squashtail thrusters as that style had become synonymous with high performance. I landed a great overseas account in Japan, where I was thrilled to be sending hundreds of boards. My shop was also building boards for most of the Huntington Beach High School surf team. With business booming, I hired my first “shaping machines;” Jeff “Doc” Lausch and Jeff Madson began doing rough-outs for me. In 1986, my son Nicolas was born. 

By 1991 I had become friends with many innovative watermen around Maui. Building boards for people like Dave Kalama, Rush Randle, Pete Cabrinha, and Mark Angulo pushed my shaping to the forefront of innovation. Over the years that group of riders would challenge my shaping with new ideas and fresh concepts. One of the first innovations was adding footstraps to boards. The “Strapped Crew,” as those guys became known, pushed my shaping both conceptually and practically. With the new maneuvers being thrown down, boards were broken. Each replacement board came with new ideas and tweaks.  To help strengthen the boards we started vacuum-bagging shaped high density foam to the bottoms of boards, which helped tremendously. We made a lot of unusual surf-crafts at the Kahului factory. 

With strapped surfing already underway, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Buzzy Kerbox eventually towed Laird into a big right at Backyards. The logical step from boards with straps to strapping in and towing into a wave would become known as the “towing revolution.” 

Jaws, on the North shore of Maui, quickly became the focal point of big wave surfing. The thing about building boards for Jaws is, some years you only got a handful of ridable days. Few rideable days combined with the fact that the Strapped Crew were the main riders, the first few years offered minimal opportunity for equipment testing. The first big-wave tow boards were 7’6” to 8’0” long but were narrow and thin. Tow-in board design trends saw boards creeping down in length and up in weight over those first years. Over the years I perfected templates for tow boards that could ride any size waves, from small 6-10 foot surf to medium 12-15 foot surf as well as 25 feet and bigger. 

Concurrently with the tow surfing breakthroughs, a young man named Marcus “Flash” Austin showed up at my factory one day wanting me to build him some kiteboards (at the time a very new concept). Flash ended up riding my equipment to two world titles in the early days of the kitesurfing.  

While tow surfing and kite surfing were growing and changing, windsurf companies began exploring overseas markets for both consumption and production alternatives. In Thailand, boards could be made inexpensively, then imported in bulk. The shift to ‘assembly line’ board design marked the start of a troubling trend in American watercraft design and consumption. While many American surf companies joined the overseas production trend, that was never a model I wanted to follow. I maintain my eagerness to experiment with new and interesting surfboard design and still enjoy the challenge of attempting different designs, blending my art with ideas from different riders and creating new shapes. Communication is a big part of what I do and what I love about shaping. I shape for people and I like to see the faces of those I create for. I like to hear their feedback. I enjoy building relationships with my riders over years so that I can design the best boards for them and bring the best out of their surfing. Surfing is a sport of mixed elements and a surfboard is a perfect metaphoric representation of that. The perfect board takes the fantasy of the rider and the artistry of the shaper to create something greater than either could have achieved individually. I pride myself on being able to mold the foam to anyone’s idea. That flexibility is what saw me stumble into shaping some early stand-up boards for Dave Kalama and Laird Hamilton. 

While shaping innovations continue, the biggest shift over the last couple of years has come with regards to materials rather than shapes. The government shutdown of Clark Foam was an eye-opener for the industry. The sheer volume of blanks coming from a single distributor was problematized by the disruptive potential of that model. While I had access to blanks after the shutdown and wasn’t hit as hard as some shapers, I took the shut down as a chance to grapple with a demon of the surf industry: environmental degradation. 

The surf industry is responsible for a ton of waste, and the Clark Foam shutdown highlighted the fact that shaping is not a green industry. I dug deeper into research on alternative blanks, alternative cloth for glassing, and alternative resins. Maui Leaf Lite was born out of a recognition that if surfing is going to exist for future generations, the oceans and the earth must be preserved. Timpone Surfboards is proud to be one of a handful of shapers making Eco Project certified surfboards. Our Eco Boards use recycled and renewable resources to create quality hand-shaped surfboards. Because the materials are different, my shaping remains an innovative and creative process as I learn to emphasize the strengths of these sustainable materials. The feedback on Maui Leaf Lite boards has been outstanding, with long-time customers switching orders to Leaf Lite shapes because of the performance of the boards as much as the reduced carbon footprint. 

Timpone Hawaii is comfortably nestled into the jungles of Haiku at Pauwela Cannery, where we continue shaping all manner of surfboard, watercraft, and Eco Board, including kiteboards, shortboards, mini-tankers, longboards, guns, tow boards, and SUPs. The only designs not on that list are floating in your imagination, unordered. Because until you give it one, there won’t be a name for that shape. 

I was doing 500 boards a year by hand. I had a great crew and glass shop going full on while still glassing Ole’s and walk-ins as well. My Kids were both surfing and those were some of my best memories. Monique at 9 or 10 was getting pretty good, and Nick was having fun as well for a 7-year-old. I made him his first board, a 6’0” mini-tri with a skull and crossbones on the deck. I used to surf Ho’okipa every morning with a great crew. Dawn patrolled with maybe 6 to 10 guys out at the Point. Then drive downtown to shape and manage the shop.  

We had moved the family from Makawao to Haiku, to be closer to the ocean. The shop soon followed as rent down town in Kahului kept increasing. Found a space in the one of the old Pineapple canneries for a third of the downtown cost. The space was pretty rustic, but we made it work. The sailboard market had dried up completely, but with the tow-in and kite-board movement, the transition out was easy. Change is always inevitable. So, I’m in a new phase of board building. I closed the glass shop and sent the boards out to be glassed elsewhere. I was trying to handshape 2 boards a day, 6 days a week. I would build, sell, pack, deliver and have a life in between. I always liked the diversity of board orders, it kept my mind working over-time.  

It’s a new century, we made it through Y2K. Had gone to Tavarua for the first time in 1998. I had a great group of Maui surfers and a couple Aussies that I went with. I ended up going every summer for the next 7 years. Was building a lot of longboards, I had a great 3-man team: Dave Kalama, Kahekili Kaaa, and Danny Kalahiki. They made me look good. At the time our Japanese distributor was selling encouraging numbers, it was nice to fill the orders. I had been making bigger and bigger longboards for the boys. They wanted to equalize the growing crowds. I was using “tandem board” blanks from Clark Foam 12’ x 26” to make 11 & 12 foot longboards. I don’t remember exactly when, but all the sudden Laird and Dave have paddles with them. Soon another new discipline was coming to light, “SUP”. 

In December 2006, Clark Foam had suddenly closed their doors, and the board builders of the world were pulling out their hair. I had a little stash thanks to Ted Wilson at Fiberglass Hawaii. Having built Styro/Epoxy sailboards, we moved in that direction. My son Nick has only ridden Styro boards since then, he likes the feel. But the business changed dramatically. Up until then I’d always did 12-15 boards a week, with a back log of 25 to 30 boards. Lots of new foam companies tried to fill the void left by Clark, but they were mostly crap. The Aussie stuff was the good stuff, but you had to buy a container full to get it. I had to downsize the shop and operations to adapt. There was a lot of imports coming in, even some local builders were having their boards built in Thailand, then China following the cheap labor markets.  

I had been running my boards through Gott Glassing which is next door to my shop at the Pauwela Cannery. I was shaping 10 boards a week, and things were  working  out pretty good, but now we’re entering the era of the shaping machine. There was a big impact on the small island board markets. New challenges mean new changes, again. After closing my glass shop I had rented the space out to a ding repair business, but kept an area that was upstairs where I built team boards and my own boards to save glass shop costs.  

Just a couple years after Clark Foam closed, I’m building 5 or 6 boards a week by myself. Handshaping, airbrushing, laminating, figuring fins, hot-coating, sanding and some boards got glossed and polish as well. Also doing Styro/Epoxies, eventually US Blanks has filled the void left by Clark Foam. But, the business has changed. Between foreign imports and new designers via the CAD machines. No more 50 board back log, but can give better customer service and find more time to fine tune my work.  So here we are it’s 2017 building custom hand shapes , have weathered lots of storms , still surfing and loving it……..      

During one of these trips I took a job at Aqua Jet Honeycomb Surfboards in San Francisco. There was some great surf up there, but it was a bit cold for me to make it permanent, so back to Hawaii. 

The whole Brotherhood crew surfed and hung out together during those years. Russ had a little A-frame at Campo Lopez in Baja. It became a great base camp for further Baja exploration. Trips to the Seven Sisters and Abriojos became routine, we’d camp, surf, fish, dive, there was never a dull moment.