Tanaka Surfboards

Tommy Tanaka, son of the late respected Hawaiian shaper Ernie Tanaka, grew up in Santa Monica, California but moved back to Hawaii to live with his dad during high school. He started off body boarding Waikiki and then progressed to surfing. Soon he was competing in summer contests and won Hawaii’s biggest longboard contest, China’s Uemura’s Annual Longboard Contest.

He studied and learned the art of surfboard shaping under the wings of his father Ernie and eventually worked full time for him. Tommy later got a full time shaping job for Town & Country Surfboards with the help of his father and in the five years that he was there shaped over 1,000 boards.

Ernie Tanaka passed away a few years after Tommy landed the T&C gig and after his father’s passing, decided that he wanted to start up the Tanaka Surfboards label once again. Tommy’s main philosophy was taught to him by his father Ernie which is: “stick to the basics”. Tommy specializes in shaping longboards and his philosophy on making a great longboard is to “shape each board as if it were my own”.

Tommy Tanaka recently signed with Town & Country Surfboards once again. You can find his T&C longboards at your nearest T&C shop.


KEY: O= Original, R= Repaired, RF= Refurbished. Condition of board rated: 1(worst)-10(best)



Board Dimensions
Length: 7′ 9″
Width: 22″ 1/8
Thickness: 2″ 3/4

Great Transitional 1968 pintail example from long to short Team Rider.  Unknown if this is a Ernie or Tommy Masterpiece.  If anyone out there can help, greatly appreciated.  Very clean, all original, also unknown who’s personal team rider board this was.   Beautiful Resin Pin line and deck air brush work.  Pintail Mike Acquisition. (o) 9

Related Articles Union >> Bradshaw >> Robert August >> Catri >> Tom Carroll >>

  • abs

    tommy was not born yet i’m pretty sure its a Ernie

  • jb

    on the tanaka team board. that board was in my collection for years here on the east coast. it was discovered at a yard sale in central jersey, i also noticed you have a few other that i had for awhile. morey pope and harbour with splash acid bottom. great collection

  • Buggs

    JB, Sweet!! Nice to get some history on the Board. Collection is coming together. Others to follow soon. Did you subscribe to the site ? Front page, just submit your email address and you will be emailed on all new additions. No Spam! – Buggs

  • Tommy Tanaka

    The board is a Ernie from the 60’s. The team rider would have probally been the great Paul Strauch. Aloha T.T.

  • Buggs


    Great Input! What you think of the site? Please Post, Show and Inspire!


  • Lee Silby Jr

    Tommy, I worked with your dad and gaylord at the Van Nuys store! Man my board was so awesome I could nose ride all day, I remmber one day at k38 in mexico I took off on a 10′ wave dropped into the curl and made the breake 1/4 down the beach and road 3/4 of a mile in the curl squaded hangging 5 the whole ride. the board was 7′ 8″ concave 24″ wide nose pin tail end with shark fin and truned on a dime the greatist board I ever owned and working at the shop was one of the best times I ever had! Lee 😎

  • michael pultz

    i was on ernies team from 65 to 68 ernie was abig influence on my life he taught me many things he never talked shit about peoplehe was very generous with his time he was quiet and respectfull a real gentleman i saw him like a sensei knowing him opened many doors for me i hold him in high esteem

  • Richard Palmer

    I was on Ernie’s surf team 1965 and 1966, he also sponsored our surf club  “California Coast Surfing Association”. Ernie was always fun to hangout with, and he had a great sense of humor. Sorry to hear of his passing, I really miss those days…cheers Richard Palmer

  • alain

    The board above was shaped by Ernie at his shop on Van Nuys Blvd. I am pretty certain it was made for Al Mitchell who had previously ridden for Val Surf in the valley. About the same time Ernie made my 8’6 Square pin tail which was quite a drop from my 10’10” Hobie nose rider.

  • Richard Haworth

    I found a board ( no BS ) in a tree on a ranch in central cali. Its a Tanaka Paul Strauch design. I have pics and would be stoked for any info. peace

  • Mark


    Was off in Africa and just returned. would love to see photos, advise at surfboardline@gmail.com

  • http://www.aperturephotoventures.com Gary Truchelut

    I found one like it in Texas at an estate sale. It is a Charger II, Paul Strauch design Tanaka board from about 1970. It isn’t in very good shape but I like it.

  • lucifrshmr

    That’s a beautiful board, I have one similar. Bought new in 1971 at “The Root Beer Barrel Surf Shop” in Brigantine, NJ. Been in the family ever since.
    Ernie knew how to build them. What a ride!

  • Shakey McGinty

    Can you send pic to shkycurtis@yahoo.com, I have one I bought here in Tx too…..

  • http://www.aperturephotoventures.com Gary Truchelut

    I’ll take some pictures and send them.

  • Shakey McGinty

    Cool deal…..thanks

  • Jack Hamlett

    I worked for Ernie in late 60s- 71 helped make a very cool 6ft 4 downrailer moveable fin red plastic. Rode so fast. Mine from beginning. Worth lots I am sure

  • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.liston.3 Christopher Liston

    I have a very similar board. Owned it for 25+ years. Just pulled it out of it’s storage bag to have some repairs made on it. Looking for a WAVEset fin now.

  • Imaka

    Does tommy Tanaka still in the business of designing surfboard? and where can one meet tommy for a private meeting to create a personalize creation?

Recent Blog Posts

Check out some of the lastest updates from Buggs and blog posts here.

Surfboard collector Mark “Buggs” Arico discusses a few of his prized possessions on Surfermag.com

“It all started with one of Tom Curren’s boards. I was picking up some boards for a surf trip and saw it at my...

Tony Anjo
Tony Anjo Shaper of Lightning Bolt 1970’s

Tony Anjo was one of the Lightning Bolt shapers of the 70’s, who...




“When I first started working here around 1967, I was sitting on the floor playing...