Dane Kealoha, Shaun Tomson, Cheyne Horan, Johnny Boy Gomes, and Sunny Garcia are just some of the riders who have sought Hawaiian surfboard shaper Glenn Minami’s magic touch. These are world champions, icons, and true power surfers who have demanded the best from Minami’s shapes for decades. And he has yet to disappoint. However, it was one particular surfer who helped etch the Minami name into the memories of a generation. If you were a surfer in the 80’s, you remember Martin Potter flying across and above the wave during his meteoric rise to the top of the world tour in 1989. Those Blue Hawaii thrusters, short and fat with flames emblazoned along the rails, were the things of teenage surf dreams. Who didn’t want to destroy the competition with figure-eight roundhouse carves and atomic re-entries like Pottz? In the manner of Tom Curren’s black rails, Tom Carroll’s deck stripe, Potter’s flaming Minami shapes made history under the feet of one of surfing’s most progressive athletes.
Born in 1950 in Honolulu , Hawaii, Glenn Minami started surfing at 14 and shaping at 18. At the time, the craft was in major flux as the Shortboard Revolution of the 1960’s ravaged the design status quo. By 1973, Minami had graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in accounting before diving full on into a shaping career. At island board building institution Town & Country, Minami spent a decade honing his craft and building his reputation as one of most innovative and consistent shapers in Hawaii. According to Matt Warshaw, Minami earned the nickname “Xerox” for his skill at re-producing magic shapes. By 1984, Minami began to shape his own future, launching Blue Hawaii surfboards. Pottz jumped ship from T&C to stick with Minami which proved a fateful decision. In 1989, Potter won 4 of the first 5 contests of the year on a quiver of Minami shapes. Sporting webbed gloves and long hair and with his flaming Blue Hawaii under foot, Martin Potter staged one of surfing’s most decisive and dramatic attacks on the world title. The same year, competitive and soul surf icon Cheyne Horan hopped on a Minami shape and won the prestigious Billabong Pro. The potential of Minami’s shapes could not be denied, and since then throngs of superstars and underground rippers have lined up for Minami’s shapes.
A decade later, Minami moved on to other avenues after selling the Blue Hawaii name. He started Minami Hawaiian Designs, a line of beginner shapes produced in China. He shaped for other companies and started Infamy Surfboards. He still lives in Hawaii.