Alaias are thin wooden finless boards whose history traces back to the people of Hawaii before the 20th century. The predominant material used currently is Polonia which is light, extremely strong, and will not delaminate or have problems from taking on water. Alaias will last a lifetime if treated well and bring the rider back to a simpler form of surfing waves.
Alaias will vary in size from five feet up to ten feet in length and from 15” to 19” in width. They are very thin boards, typically ranging in thickness from ½ inch to 2 inches. According to Tom Wegener’s web site, tomwegenersurfboards.com, the rail’s hard edges act as a long fin when it bites into the wave and “the gentle curves on the bottom hold the board into the face of the wave.” The board’s light weight allows it to accelerate quickly down the line and it is usually sealed with oil, making the Alaia very slick and fast in the water.
Surprisingly, flex plays a large role in an Alaia’s performance. The thin shape allows the rider to manipulate the board’s rocker on the wave to generate more speed or facilitate turning. On his website, Wegener explains that the nose of the Alaia can be pushed down when in trim or catching the wave. This reverse rocker makes the board faster. Conversely, the nose of the board will be pulled up when turning. This makes the board turn quicker and project out of the turn when it relaxes back to its original shape. The result is a very lively board that is best ridden with a controlled slide in the wave’s pocket.