Michael Arenal looking down the length of a board he is shaping

The art and craft of making hand-crafted surfboards is at a watershed moment.  Many of the great surfboard craftsman are gazing on the stark reality of seeing fewer waves in their future than in their past.  Today we are witnessing a younger generation of men and women taking up the venerable craft of hand-made surfboards; laying hands on a Skil 100 planer with purpose.  A purpose built surfboard, in today’s mass-produced world is incredibly unique.  It’s handmade!

Born and raised in bustling Orange County, California, Michael first dipped his toes in salt water at the beaches of Salt Creek and Laguna Beach. By age 14, he was hungry to surf, and while vacationing on Hawaii’s North Shore, rode his first waves Log Cabins.

“My dad – a mechanical engineer – raised me to work with my hands.  We built go-karts and stuff.  So when it came to a point where I really started getting interested in surfing it seemed natural to start making some surfboards.”  Donald Brink was a huge inspiration and help in those formative years.  “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Donny.”  Through Donny, Michael met Tarry Martin.  “I remember coming to Donny’s shop to show him the first board I’d shaped.  Terry was there hanging out.  They both looked at my strange Mini Simmons-like shape and had positive things to say about it.  [That] was all the inspiration I needed.”

Other influences came from Hobie shaper, Gary Larson; Tyler Warren, and Terry Martin’s son Josh.  At the same time Greg Martz at the Waterman’s Guild, along with Wes Holderman, at Weston Surfboards took Michael under wing, showing him the tricks of the glassing trade. “[To] be taken care of by those guys was insane,” relates Michael.  Furthermore, Waterman’s hooked Michael up with Kookbox Surfboards; hand-shaping for them.  In 2017 Michael was invited to collaborate with Maxx Dexter, of DXTER SURF and Timmy Paterson, of T. Patterson Surfboards on three Hobie Surfboards models.  This collaboration launched his alliance with Hobie, where he continues to shape today.

Moving to Ventura, California, around this time, “[I was given] the amazing opportunity of working with Ryan Lovelace, hand-shaping for Trimcraft Surfboards.”  Currently Michael resides in Ventura, building surfboards and experiments start to finish, both for himself and others, while hand-shaping for Hobie Surfboards, Trimcraft Surfboards, Kookbox Surfboards, and The Guild Surfboards.

michael arenal sanding a surfboard michael arenal sanding a surfboard
michael arenal surfing on a wavemichael arenal surfing on a wave
michael arenal riding the nose of a longboard on a wavemichael arenal riding the nose of a longboard on a wave
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