Town and Country (T&C) surfboard by Ben Aipa (1987)
$2,249 | Hawaii | Worldwide Shipping | Comment below or call 1-800-210-6714
Town & Country (T&C) longboard shaped by the late Ben Aipa (1942-2021) in 1987. Featuring pinstriped panels with classic airbrush fade design. 8’3, squash tail thruster. An incredible example of an 80s longboard shaped by the legendary Ben Aipa, surfboard design pioneer credited with inventing the first ever winged surfboard, known as ”Da Sting”. The revered Town & Country Surfboards label sponsored countless surfing stars of the 1980s including Martin Potter, Larry Bertlemann, Dane Kealoha, Johnny Boy Gomes, Christian Fletcher, and Ben Aipa himself. Ride or display this beautiful piece of 1980s surfing history.
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History of Ben Aipa & Town and Country Surfboards
A legendary surfer and surfboard shaper, Ben Aipa, was born in 1942 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has made an important mark in the world of surfing and has been through it all, from worthy competitor to top-tier board-builder to coach of Hawaii’s best surfers. His uncles toughened the son of a Kauai Sugar Plantation worker growing up as his dad left to be a marine. In his teenage years he moved to Oahu to help support his mother and siblings working in the pineapple fields, shining shoes in Honolulu and diving for coins thrown off of tourist liner boats at Aloha Tower. From middle school to high school, Ben Aipa was a fearless competitor in swimming, weightlifting, and football (subsequently growing into a semi-pro football player). Thanks to his height 5’8″and weight 240 lbs, at the time he held positions as linebacker, fullback and center. First, he planned on a career as a pro football player but switched his plans to surf in his early 20s because of an ankle injury. Ben started shaping the same year he started surfing- 1965. Ben surfed 365 days straight that year. He got an offer from his friend, Joe Kaula, who worked at Surfboards Makaha to help in shaping boards. He learned the basics quickly. One year after learning to surf, Ben paddled out with Eddie Aikau during the 1965 Duke Invitational to make a statement that Hawaiians should be invited to surf in the contests held in Hawaii. He also finished fourth in both the 1967 Makaha International and the 1975 Lightning Bolt Pro, and competed in the World Championships in 1968 and 1970.
His surfing and shaping career became noticeable quickly. Aipa Surfboards was founded in 1970, and Aipa soon came into his biggest influence as a designer, inventing the double-ended swallowtail in 1972. His famous model called the “Sting” was modeled after the hydrofoil boats that he had seen racing at Ala Moana. He always observed the life around him very carefully and repeatedly recalled that it was what inspired him. Ben shaped the first Sting and gave it to Larry Bertlemann, who later described his friends work in these words: “What he was doing was futuristic. Watching him, I said to myself, “He’s stinging the wave!” That’s how I developed the name for the design.” And that’s how the Sting was born. Ben invented the doubled-edged swallowtail design in 1972 and followed this with the split-tail design in 1974. Word traveled fast about the new design, especially after it appeared on the cover surfer magazine. Australian surfer and soon to be a four-time world champion Mark Richards noticed Ben’s work, and he also began riding Aipa’s Sting. Ben shaped a series of Stings for Mark Richards, who eventually asked Ben to move the wing further down the board closer to the tail. This is the start of what would become the winged twins. Mark Richards shaped his own boards, and we can notice strong influence of Ben Aipa’s technique. What’s interesting, Ben’s surfboard design allowed his surfers to radically change surfing and also impacted the future of skateboarding.
As an almost-star in football, Ben Aipa took his knowledge of football strategy and applied it to surf coaching. He individually coached some of the best surfers in the world, such as Sunny Garcia, Bethany Hamilton, Brad Gerlach, Taylor Knox, and many others. As a testimony to Ben Aipa’s impact on surfing, in 2004, Bethany Hamilton accepting her title at the awards banquet to a 500-person standing ovation, thanked her coach, “Ben Aipa and God”. Ben Aipa went on to enter and compete in different surfing contests: He won the grandmasters division of the 1989 United States Surfing Championship and the legends division of the 2000 U.S. Championships. Enlisted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1992, Ben was chosen as one of the Top Ten Shapers of All-Time by Surfing magazine in 2004. Ben’s effect and influence will be known by generations of surfers, shapers and coaches to come. Honored and inducted into both the Surfing Hall of Fame and Surfing Walk of Fame in 2018. Ben said, “I wonder what is next?”
“I was never watching what other board builders were doing…I was watching the surfers and the natural world around me. Their movements showed me what was missing… I was always looking for the next wave…The Next Move.”
Town and Country Surf Designs (T&C Surf) is a globally known manufacturer of surfboards and apparel. T&C’s roots go back to 1971 when Craig Sugihara opened his first surf shop in Hawaii. The beginnings of this project were simple - an old barbershop in Pearl City worked as the original storefront. The company soon expanded into a full line of surf-wear and surfing accessories and now has retail stores in many places around the world, such as Japan, Australia, and Brazil.
Craig Sugihara’s relationship with the ocean and surfing started long before entering the surf business. Although he wasn’t a competitive surfer in his early years, he recalls surfing being an essential part of his life. Surfing defined Craig Sugihara’s career, lifestyle, achievements, and spirit. He also had a passion for creating quality equipment. Soon he picked up the anatomy of the surfboard and learned about what impacted it’s performance. Young Craig would watch Joe Kuala at Surfboards Makaha, as well as Sparky and Ben Aipa shaping surfboards. Around the same time, he found an old, long forgotten, brown board at the neighbor’s house and gave it new life. This was a significant event that influenced the future of T&C surf. Craig’s second board was shaped from a blank purchased from Surfline Hawaii. By chance, Greg Noll Surfboards had just lost a laminator around the same time. Craig showed his work to Greg and got the job- one step closer to his goal. At this new workplace, he came across many people that would play key roles in surfing’s development- including Randy Rarick, surf promoter and Director of the Triple Crown of Surfing; and Buffalo Keaulana, Makaha’s ambassador of surfing. A few years later, he was offered a position with Mystic Surfboards in Waianae. Soon thereafter Craig was shaping for several local standouts, and about one year later, he opened his own shop.
T&C surfboards was born. The name expressed the shop’s position between the two headquarters of surf on Oahu - Town & Country. Many people were attracted to T&C, not only because of its ideal location but also thanks to their exceptional quality boards. At first, shapers like Glenn Minami and Barry Kanaiaupuni helped Craig meet increasing demand. The logo of Town and Country Surfboards (the unmistakable Yin-Yang symbol), suggested by a t-shirt artist, has a powerful graphic character and deep significance. It’s simple and relevant to surfing- balance. This balance has defined the evolution of Town & Country over the years.
T&C’s alumni of surfers is impressive; Larry “Rubberman” Bertlemann, Dane Kealoha, Marvin Foster, Matt Archbold, Christian Fletcher, Sunny Garcia, Ben Aipa, Johnny Boy Gomes, Chris Ward, Bobby Martinez, Shea Lopez, Kahea Hart, Martin Potter, Ross Williams and the 2018 WSL Big Wave World Champion Billy Kemper, to name a few. In 1976, Tak Kawahara became a co-owner of Town & Country Surfboard’s wholesale department and established the apparel brand, which developed into one of the top five brands in the global surfwear industry. T&C also expanded the product line by introducing surf watches, beach sandals, and school stationery accessories (all of which were the first of their kind in the industry). The late 80s were a golden era for T&C on the North Shore of Oahu. During this time, young team riders Matt Archbold and Christian Fletcher, nicknamed the “Air Brigade” were taking surfing to new levels. This new radical surfing attracted many shapers and team riders to Town & Country. Around this time, Sunny Garcia was also signed to the Town & Country team, and under the coaching of Ben Aipa he went on to win the World Title in the year 2000.
T&C Surf Designs mission is to share and maintain the spirit and aloha of the Hawaiian surfing lifestyle. Like its characteristic Yin and Yang logo, the brand has remained balanced, and true to their roots. This balance has led to a highly successful global brand and will continue to define the growth of T&C for generations to come.