As the early morning sun peaks over the top of Haleakala, the only sounds to be heard are a rooster’s distant crow and a muffled hum coming from inside a tin-roofed, wooden workshop hidden amongst the trees and dense jungle along the base of the west Maui mountains. Inside the workshop, a CNC routing machine makes the final few passes on a foam blank, revealing the finished outline of the latest North Kiteboarding prototype surfboard. The machine labors under the close eye of North designer Sky Solbach who quickly toggles through a fewcommands on a nearby computer screen before snatching his latest creation off the cutting machine and heading into the adjacent shaping room.
Slipping his head into a high-tech ventilator helmet that looks more at home in a space odyssey than a dusty shaping shack, Sky immediately sets about fine tuning his latest creation with a sanding block and a sheet of sandpaper. Carefully, methodically and with little wasted movement, he removes the ridges left behind by the CNC router, tunes the rails and carefully adjusts the tuck line. The custom-lit room casts shadows over the foam, highlighting even the most minute imperfections as Sky’s fingers, hands and eyes scan every last detail.
Mid-October is the beginning of the winter wave season on Maui’s North Shore and for the next three months, the wind and waves will fire nearly every day like clockwork, meaning not a second is to be wasted in this prime testing window.