Owner and shaper Matt Kazuma Kinoshita was born and raised in Hawaii and has been surfing for more than 30 years. Matt was once a top level professional surfer and even the United States Surfing Champion. From one foot to 40 feet, Matt is still a standout in the lineup. Over the last 20 years, Matt has been passing all his knowledge to the kids and his Kazuma coaching program has already produced several generations of champions. From Dusty Payne to Ian Walsh, the list of superstars from the Kazuma program is second to none. Matt learned the art of surfboard shaping from the legendary Master Ben Aipa. “Ben Aipa was my surfing coach and shaping mentor and I was lucky to have studied under sensei Aipa, the person that I consider the greatest shaper of all time”.
Hello Matt, thank you for taking the time to give us this interview. Tell us a few words about Kazuma Sups. How did you start the company and how long have you shaping sups?
I started Kazuma Surfboards over 27 years ago here on Maui. The first real SUP that I saw and built was one that Gerry Lopez custom shaped for Laird Hamilton, I don’t remember the year but it was the first real custom SUP made. I operated the Lopez factory here on Maui and Gerry handshaped that 12′ SUP out of a custom Clark Foam tandem blank, it was something special to see as we never had anything that big in the shaping room.
You have a wide range of boards, from short sups to allrounders and Racers.
Yes, I can and do make everything you can imagine. Being a custom board builder is something that I am proud of.
Do you have any favorite board and if yes which one is it?
The milkman is my favorite design in both surfboards and SUP boards, it is by far the most versatile design that I have ever made
Nowadays the trend says, the shorter the better. Do you agree? Going shorter is always the right way?
Shorter is not always better and it applies to both traditional surfing and SUP surfing. Having fun is the number one priority and in most cases a board that is too small is difficult to ride and multiplies rider error. I surf at a professional level and even for me, having a solid base to surf on is the most important thing for surfing my best as well as to improve at the fastest rate possible.
What do you like most on Stand up paddle?
My favorite thing about stand up paddle surfing is the possibility to have fun in waves once thought of as too small to surf. This opens the door to much more surfing time and possibility to find your own undcrowded spot.
Flatwater, downwind, surf. Which one is your favorite?
My favorite is a combination, small wave surf. It reminds me of why I fell in love with surfing, just having fun.
Favorite location for SUP?
My favorite SUP spot is Thousand Peaks here on Maui, I drive along that 4 mile stretch of highway until if find a wave with no one out then I stop and surf alone or with whoever I bring with me. It reminds me of the old days of surfing when there were no crowds.
Most memorable session?
My best session ever was 3 winters ago on my 9’10” Milkman at a normally unsurfed outer reef spot here on Maui. 15 to 20 foot faces all alone and easily hundred meter long rides, it was magical. There were many more days similar but that was my first session back in the water after recovering from a broken leg, I was so happy just to be able to do what I loved again. It is amazing to be able to appreciate the simple fact that I could surf again.
What is your advice to someone who would like to start sup surfing?
The best way to start SUP surfing is to find a great shaper or shop with skilled and knowledgeable sales experts that will sell you a board that fits you and the conditions that you will see. There is no reason why your first board couldn’t be the best board of your life. Get the wrong board and you will probably quit before you find the love for the sport.
Where do you see sup and specially sup surfing in the following 5 years?
Unfortunately SUP board design has been stalling if not going backwards as more people start SUP companies to take advantage of the popularity of this new sport. I see people becoming “shapers” without any experience or knowledge and creating terrible board designs that they mass product overseas. The quality of the shapes is a negative to the progression of the sport and the terrible quality of those boards construction is an even bigger negative to the sport. The end customer starts viewing a sup board as disposable and starts to only look at price. Bottom line is a bad board design will not keep the customer in the sport and bad quality construction ends up becoming a battle to the lowest price. Everyone looses.