A Beloved Icon
One of the greatest child phenomenon’s in surfing history, Donald Takayama saved up money from his paper route to buy a plane ticket to California while barely a teenager to start shaping boards under Dave Velzy. He was one a very few early 60s stars to make the transition to shortboards. Eventually he would go on to create his own surfboard label Hawaiian Designs, famous for shaping longboards and such epic shapes as “The Scorpion” (a shortened version of a longboard). In 1985, Surfer magazine named him one of “25 Surfers Who Changed the Sport.”
In 1990, Takayama introduced Surfer’s Choice, a teriyaki sauce derived from a family recipe. The Surfer’s Choice label featured a graphic of Takayama nose riding a wave.
Takayama was well respected and loved in the surfing community, and his legion of clients were the same as his multitude of friends. In a sport with no shortage of bravado, Takayama was known for his generous good nature and impish humor. “He had that old-time Hawaii ‘aloha’ kind of laid-back style,” Motil said, “and I never saw him without it.” “Aloha is really important to me. I was brought up with it. To me, it means giving, sharing, helping one another, and showing that you care. It means just try to be on equal level with people that you meet. That’s Aloha.” And that was Donald.