Renowned surfboard shaper, Guy Okazaki shares a deep understanding with the teens who go to sleep with their surfboards. When we stopped in his shop in Venice, Guy admitted, “I used to do it too — just to be close to it. It’s an appendage.” That passion, bordering on obsession, is still there after 50 years in the business. “I don’t want what compels me to do it,” Guy told us, “but if there’s a board I’m really thinking about, I take it upstairs and stare at it all day and night. I want to absorb every nuance, curve, and dimension.”
Guy grew up in Oahu and was already surfing with his dad at the age of five. When they moved to California in the 50s, the Dewey Weber surfboard factory was right down the street. Guy would hang out there as a teen and before long, they’d leave the shop open for him to make his own short boards which were quickly spoken for by friends. He’d make more and the cycle has never ended. His expertise spans all shaping methods and riding styles from Hawaiian thin/long gun outlines to short/wide Australian templates.
Outside of being a fixture of the Venice surfing scene for decades, Guy is passionate about giving back. He has seen Venice transform from being the second poorest community in the U.S in the 60s to the thriving city it is now. Recently, he was involved in helping to save one of its historic landmarks: the First Baptist Church in Oakwood, the heart of Venice’s African American community. He also started the Venice Surfing Association to make surfing more accessible for anyone and everyone in the community, while also helping educate and codify surf etiquette to reduce conflicts in the water. It’s been gratifying for him to build something beyond surfboards to leave behind as his legacy. As Guy reflected, “We can get so cynical that we don’t realize that the average person still has a pretty good heart.”
To learn more and check out his boards click here.