The board Felipé is riding in the banner photo, above.
Robin shaping in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, circa 1972.
Robin Mair has been handcrafting surfboards for over 40 years in South Africa, California, and Hawaii!
He shaped his first board when he was 13 years old out of a square block of polystyrene insulation foam, all that he could get out of the blank was a 4' 6" kneeboard. The reason was that it was 9' long, but he needed to make a board for both himself and his best friend and they could only afford one piece! This board was glassed with epoxy after the foam had been covered with spackle. Little did he realize that 46 years later boards would still be built this way! This started a lifelong love of surfboard building, and of course surfing.
When he was 18 years old he was lucky enough to apprentice with a local shaper, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where he learnt from the bottom up to laminate, sand, and polish surfboards. So his career started out as a laminator with short forays into shaping boards for himself. Later building his own boards Robin did every step of the building process, from shaping to polishing.
Robin shaping in Hanalei, Hawaii, circa 2000.
Slowly the love of shaping started to take center stage and so began a quest to master this simple but tricky process that never seems to be fully realized. There always appears to be one or two more tricks or skills that need to be learnt.
So true mastery, as in all things, is always just out ahead like a dangling carrot leading one forward!
Later Robin moved from South Africa to Santa Cruz, California as his passion for designing watercraft moved towards an interest in designing sailboats. This interest led to an interlude building and designing large racing sailboats. But surfing was always present and along with it the love of surfboard building.
Eventually, the cold waters of Northern California drove Robin to the beautiful island of Kauai! Finally, he had arrived home and could now settle down to pursue the art of surfboard shaping and design. Here was a surf spot where Robin could fulfill his passion for shaping guns. Eventually he was lucky enough to run into Felipé Pomar and started shaping some large guns for him (see the photo above and the picture of the board he is riding). These started out as foam and fiberglass but soon moved to hollow balsa boards.
In the late summer of 2003 Robin and a friend, Mitch Haynie, decided they wanted to design their own fin system as they were frustrated with the systems currently available in the marketplace. This sparked a new endeavor with Robin having to learn the intricacies of CAD design and 3D modeling in order to design and engineer the system. Thus the ProBox Fin System was born from humble beginnings and a lot of stoke! The system continues to slowly gain momentum! Mitch and Robin eventually sold the system to Larry Allison at Fibre Glas Fin Co in California!
The creation of the fin system was driven by Robin's deep interest in fin design that had been present throughout his entire surfboard building career. It has always been his strong belief that a surfboard cannot be designed independently of the fins that will be used on the board. Consequently, he has always designed and made his own fins. This led to the creation of a separate fin business called Hanalei Fins that has been providing fins for the last 10 years, featuring Robin's many and varied designs.
Recently a subsidiary was started in Australia to handle the distribution of the ProBox fin system, and the manufacturing of Hanalei Fins. The goal was to introduce both the fin system and our wide range of fin designs to a broader market, the company is called Hanalei Fin Systems, and was started with an old friend of Robin's from South Africa, Lance Pearson!
Robin continues to shape a lot of guns, but these are balanced with a wide range of other boards that fit the eclectic challenges he enjoys. These days he is focused on mastering the composite board building technique that uses bamboo veneer skins on foam cores using epoxy resins. This allows us to build more durable boards that still satisfy our aesthetic goals!
Throughout the intervening years from the time of the creation of the ProBox fin system, Robin continued to work on design improvements for a fin system. This culminated in the release of the GEARBOX fin system in late 2013! Then a year later a complete redesign of the system was released in the form of GEARBOX 2. This design is a revolutionary design that embodies all of the knowledge that has been gained through the years working on fin system design. This system is now used in all of Robin’s new boards. For more information on the system see GEARBOX SURF!
We are also stoked that our new line of RTM molded composite fins are now available, called HRD-KORE that leverage most of our most successful fin templates, these are really exciting fins that can be accessed here. Additionally, Robin continues to make custom hand foiled fins for those discerning customers looking for something truly unique to go with their new board.
Robin will continue to focus on delivering high quality accurate surfboards for a wide range of discerning buyers, and he will always be looking to improve the quality of Mair Surfboards.
Robin Mair and Larry Levin! Robin laminating a Ra Surfboard in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa, June, 1970
Robin checking out some newly finished boards! Port Elizabeth, South Africa, circa 1974
Nature's Own logo from the Port Elizabeth and J-Bay days, circa 1973
Updated version of the OM decal, circa 2014
OM Decal logo from the late Port Elizabeth era, circa 1974. This one was sprayed, but I used to do them in resin as well! No text, just the logo! Going to resurrect this one as I always loved it!