Author: Mike Sciarra

South Jersey Boardriders Host First Holiday Board Drive at Mudhen Brewing Company

On Saturday, November 30, the South Jersey Boardriders Club hosted the “Share the Stoke” Holiday Board Drive, their first-ever charitable event, at Mudhen Brewing Company. Over 200 members and supporters of the Boardriders gathered around Mudhen’s outdoor fire pits to share food and drink and give back to their community.

The Boardriders received over 100 donations of new and used surfboards and wetsuits, to be distributed to underprivileged school children throughout Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties. They plan to work with local guidance counselors and school administrators, including Matthew Carey, the director of student services of the Ocean City School District, to deliver the equipment to the young surfers in need.

The Cameron kids and their friends enjoying their time at Mudhen.

Nick Ceccoli, captain of the Wildwood chapter of the South Jersey Boardriders and the organizer of the drive said, “We were overwhelmed with all the support. People were walking in with huge bags, we received tons of boards of all shapes and sizes for all skill levels. Somebody even donated six boards at once.”

Those who donated surf gear for the cause were treated to special giveaways, receiving prizes provided by surf brands Outerknown and O’Neill. Noteworthy among these prizes was a custom Kona surfboard designed as a collaboration with Ocean City local pro surfer Rob Kelly. This board, called the Kona Bullet, was created at the Kona Board House especially for Kelly, who also serves as the vice-president of the South Jersey Boardriders.

Surfer Nick Ceccoli and Kona CEO Chris Sciarra standing with the winner of Rob Kelly's board.

“We at the Boardriders wanted to give back to the community,” said Ceccoli. “We’re about more than competition, we’re here to support each other.” He said he feels positive about the huge turnout of the event. “We were lucky to be able to do it at the Mudhen, it was a nice night by the bonfires,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve held this event, but after the success of this first one, we want to try to make this an annual event.”

Nick Ceccoli and Nick Enos loading the truck with donated boards.

– Mage Meehan

The Creation of the Oyster Catcher

The Oyster Catcher was inspired by Cape May local and Kona shaper, Mike Owen. Owen was able to put a unique twist on a Groveler, while keeping the outline of a funboard. He envisioned a round nose with a wing tail, a tucked nose that adds performance to the cruiser while allowing optimum control and speed.

The first Oyster Catcher groveler board

The name Oyster Catcher comes from Cape May County’s local bird: The American Oystercatcher. The Oystercatcher is a boldly colored shorebird that is recognizable from it’s red and yellow eyes and bill. You can find this little guy by the shore searching year round for clams, oysters, and saltwater molluscs. If your out trying to locate an Oystercatcher, be sure to check the beach when it’s low-tide. As the tide begins to fall, the ocean exposes their prey which gather the birds to a productive feeding ground. Because how the bird has eye popping looks and fascinating facts, we pay tribute to Owen’s design by giving this board the Oyster Catcher name.

The American Oystercatcher

A unique Groveler with a twist! The Oyster Catcher is a funboard that has transformed into a wave catching machine under 6 ft. The rounded nose is our exclusive design and allows the rider to reach peak speed. This mid entry rocker has enough flip in the nose and tail for those later take offs. The Oyster Catcher is designed with 60/40 rails and adds a bit of looseness to wider rounder shapes. This allows the rider to roll the board up on the rail for a smooth transition in cleaner, steeper waves. The bottom contour gives you plenty of lift with a single concave to double concave flowing out the back. Plus 5 fins to give you endless fin combinations!


Length Width Thickness Volume
5ft 8in 20in 2.7in 34.14L
5ft 10inin 20.6in 2.9in 37.24L
6ft 2inin 21.8in 2.9in 43.46L
6ft 6in 22.5in 3in 49.90L

On November 12th, 2019, a day with brutal temps at 30 degrees and snow, our team rider Nick Ceccoli grabbed his wetsuit and headed off to test out the new board. Here’s what he had to say about it:

Q: How was the board?
A: The Oyster Catcher was…. a blast!

Q: How was your ride?
A: Paddling into the waves were super easy because there was little effort of doing it, but it still had tons of performance to it. I was surprised how the rails held throughout tight turns in the pocket with that single to double concave to help get more rail to rail transition.

Q: Was it difficult to build up the momentum on the Oyster Catcher?
A: Actually, no. The best part about this board is that my shoulders are not killing me! This board helped me extend my session and wave count at the same time, so I was catching waves left and right.

Q: Let’s say I’ve been surfing for 2 years now, would you recommend this board to me at my skill level?
A: I would definitely recommend this board for any rider of any skill level! I would say it’s perfect for any experienced surfer to increase wave count and stoke!

Nick riding his first wave on the Oyster Catcher

Wildwood Crest’s Mike Sciarra headed to N.J. Surfing Hall of Fame: Weinberg

Press of Atlantic City – – Mar 16, 2019

Wildwood Crest’s Mike Sciarra surfed his first wave in summer 1963, when the sport was just starting to catch on at the southern tip of Cape May County.

“I was 13, and I saw a short movie clip about surfing, and I thought, ‘That’s something I’d like to try,’” he said. “A friend of mine, Mike Kelly, had a board he let me borrow. I carried it from his house all the way to the beach, paddled out and stood up. After that, I was hooked.”

Mike Sciarra's a Hall of Famer

Thus began a legendary career in which Sciarra evolved from top-notch surfer to noted board shaper. Now 69, Sciarra’s dedication to surfing has resulted in his selection to the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame was established in 2015 and has held bi-annual induction ceremonies. This one is special, however, because it marks the first time it has honored anyone from the southern-most section of the state.

Sciarra and West Cape May’s Lisa Roselli and Joe Grottola are part of the 12-member class that will be inducted May 31 during a ceremony at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.

Owner Mike Sciarra of Kona of Kona Surf Co. Bike & Board House, smoothing out a fin for a surfboard. June 30, 2017 (Craig Matthews / Atlantic City Press Photographer)

The new group of Hall of Famers also includes Steve Dwyer (Longport), Matt Keenan (Ocean City) and Danny Maragliano (Ocean City).

Roselli is the co-director of the South Jersey chapter of the Eastern Surfing Association. Her husband, Joe Grottola, is the ESA’s Northeast Regional director. Both were also among Cape May County’s top surfers.

“I’m very humbled by this,” Sciarra said. “Joe and Lisa have done a lot more for surfing with all the contests they’ve run for the ESA. They deserve it more than I do.”

Joe and Lisa disagree, however.

The ESA may never have become so popular if not for pioneers like Sciarra, who helped introduce the sport to the Wildwood/Cape May area in the 1960s.

Mike (right) and Chris Sciarra of Kona Surf Company design a variety of surfboards. June 30, 2017 (Craig Matthews / Atlantic City Press Photographer)

“I’m so happy to see Mike get recognized,” Roselli said. “It’s well-deserved.”

Sciarra was one of the people who introduced surfing south of Avalon, along with Cape May’s Harry and Jeffrey Gibbons, Steve “Hag” Piacentine and Steve McDuell.

It was tough to get surfing-related equipment on the island in those days. Scoop Taylor, owner of Scoop’s Sporting Goods on New Jersey Avenue, carried his own line of boards. Then there was Turco’s Sports a few blocks away that had an odd combination.

“It had guns on one side and surfboards on the other,” Sciarra said with a laugh.

Armed with a used board and a wetsuit he bought out of a Marvel comic book, Sciarra spent his teenage years riding waves next to the Wildwood Crest Pier on Aster Road with a crew that included boyhood friends Larry Bonelli, Dave Bowman, Greg Fulginiti, Robby Goodman and Ray “Flipper” Morey.

The 1967 Wildwood Catholic High School graduate spent a year at Florida Institute of Technology, then transferred to the University of Hawaii.

In 1969, he returned home for the summer and started building surfboards with friend Scott Grider in his garage on Nashville Avenue. The late Dan Heritage, a member of the first Hall of Fame class in 2015, helped out by glassing the boards in a factory he had in Woodbine.

Soon after graduating from Hawaii in 1971, Sciarra opened Kona Sports in the same building that previously housed Scoop’s and began selling surfing and sports equipment.

His shaping days were put on hold for a few years, but he recently opened Kona Surf Co. on Rio Grande Avenue in Wildwood with son Chris and purchased an Australian shaping machine called the APS3000 to make their own surfboards and standup paddleboards.

He even made one for himself, an 8-foot board he uses to ride swells in Cape May and the Wildwoods.

“I try to get out there once a week if the waves are good,” Sciarra said.

Fifty-six years and one knee replacement later, he still gets the same thrill out of catching a wave at age 69 as he did at 13.

As the Beach Boys famously sang, “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.”

For Mike Sciarra, Wildwood is the top of the world.

David Weinberg is a Staff Writer for the Atlantic City Press. His Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.

Board Review – Get hip to the Hip Hippo.

Let’s do an experiment. Imagine a surfer. Take a couple seconds, I’ll wait.

Are you ready? What’s the image that comes to mind?

The person you thought of is small framed, thin, tan, blond scraggly hair; it looks like they just got out of the water. I’m thinking you’re thinking somebody like Anne Marie Chadwick from Blue Crush or Spicoli from Fast Times?

Spicoli and Chadwick

Well, guess what? Larger framed people with dark hair like to surf too. If you’ve ever tried to get up on a surfboard and it just straight out sunk then you know you’re riding the wrong surfboard. Surfing with the wrong board is like hammering a nail with a screwdriver. It’s like, yeah, it works, but why?

The Hip Hippo over at Kona Board House is just one of the specialized surfboard in our lineup that is engineered for a specific need. The Hip Hippo is designed to act as a normal midlength surfboard for larger framed people. Did you ever see that photo of Andre The Giant holding a can of beer? Let’s just say you’ve been surfing a longboard for a little while and you’d like to shave some length off your board but everything you’ve tried feels like you’re standing on the can in Andre’s hand, Kona is here to help.

The hand of Andre The Giant

First off, let’s take a look at the volume. The Hippo packs a lot of volume hidden in secret spots which is a good thing. You get a board that is the same length with great responsiveness and speed that is not going to sink under your feet. Our stock Hippos start at a length of 7’2″. A standard midlength board at this length has about 48 liters of volume. The hippo clocks in at over 60 liters!


Length Width Thickness Volume
7ft 2in 23.20in 3.25in 61.19L
7ft 4in 23.25in 3.30in 63.59L
7ft 6in 23.28in 3.35in 66.20L
8ft 23.35in 3.45in 73.02L

This board is wider and thicker than your average board so some of this additional volume comes from these dimensions but we’ve also domed the deck. Additional float is also packed in under the chest area. So volume is built up along the center of the board and tapers nicely out to the rails. This technique helps a lot with paddling the board and keeps the rails sensitive for transitions.

The Hip Hippo

The rounded nose and additional width is carried throughout the length of the board. This larger sweet spot creates a good amount of surface area under your front foot. This allows the rider to shift their stance a decent amount without tipping.There’s great waterflow through the bottom contour to help with a mix of speed and stability. A single concave in the front of the board creates additional lift still keeping this board above the wave. The single turns into a double under your feet and around the fins to stabilize the board. The double concave turns to a vee out the diamond tail which creates a great hold on the wave while making rail to rail transitions easier.

All around I’d say this is a surfboard plus about 25% more surfboard. So if you’re surfing out there having some trouble connecting with the waves you want maybe you need something with a little more volume and check out the Hip Hippo.

Mike Sciarra – 2019 New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame Legend

Kona Surf Company is entering our 50th year of shaping surfboards with a bang. We are stoked that CEO and Founder, Mike Sciarra is included in the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame 2019 Induction Class.

Since 2015, The New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame (NJSHOF) has been celebrating surf culture in New Jersey. Every two years four surfers, artists, photographers or videographers each from 5 of New Jersey’s shoreline districts are nominated. Of the 20 nominees submitted, 12 legends will be inducted into the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame. 12 “legends”. I am not making that up, that is directly from the Induction Information on the Hall of Fame website. Check out the site, click here.

For those of you who have been following along, you know Mike Sciarra’s history. From Wildwood, where he grew up next to the ocean surfing, he went to college in Florida and hung out with the greats of the mid-sixties in Cocoa Beach when surfboards suddenly went from long to short. From there he went on the University of Hawaii off the North Shore where he began shaping short boards in the late sixties. Upon graduation, he brought that knowledge back to Wildwood, New Jersey and founded Kona fifty years ago.

There is a lot of great talent being inducted this year. Kona is honored to be alongside such great influential people who have so greatly contributed to keeping our surfing story relevant for future generations. So cheers to my good friends from Cape May Joe Grattola and Lisa Roselli as well as Michael Baytoff, Denny Doyle, Scott Duerr, Steve Dwyer, Elle Keck, Matt Keenan, Danny Maragliano, Skip Miller, and Don Tarrant. When’s the party?

Join this crew on Friday, May 31st at the 2019 Induction Ceremony at Algonquin Arts in Manasquan, New Jersey. Follow this link for more info about the event on Facebook!

O’Neill x Kona Surf Company x Mudhen Brewing Company presents Wave Of The Winter – Friday, May 3rd.

The North Shore of Oahu has always been a hot spot for surfing. When Winter comes in to cool things down for some reason the waves get larger and Winter 2018/2019 was no different. From mid to late January, northwest swells from Japanese storms mixed with light southeast winds to create some Godzilla sized surfing conditions all around Pipeline.

To up the ante, O’Neill, the original American surf brand created a little contest about nine years ago. According to the Official Wave of the Winter Rules, from November 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019, a surfer and a videographer must visit the North Shore of Hawaii. A successful ride at the surfers own risk with no jet ski assist must be captured on video and submitted to Surfline.
A panel of judges – Gerry Lopez, Pancho Sullivan, Shane Dorian, and Shawn Briley judged over 70 submissions based on Wave Size, Degree of Difficulty of Maneuvers, Style, and Overall “Heaviness” Factor.
That’s the good news. Here comes the awesome news. The contest is over. The judging has been completed. Now all you have to do is join us around the fire pit at Mudhen Brewing Company, check out the footage on the big screen and hang out with O’Neill team rider Brett Barley. O’Neill rep Gary Clayton is bringing over all the entries and maybe some other good stuff. Kona is going to hook it up and play the videos for you. We are raffling stuff off. We have mystery grab bags. It’s going to be a party. The work is done. All you have to do is show up and drink beer, and maybe decide which surfer you think had the Overall “Heaviness” Factor.

Here's a little teaser.

So check it out. Get over to the Mudhen Brewing Company. Friday, May 3rd. the fun starts at 7:00 pm at 127 W Rio Grande Ave in Wildwood, New Jersey!

RSVP on the Facebook event right here.

Board Review – The Lemon Head is Born!

Anyone who’s ever surfed more than once knows that the chase for the perfect wave is never ending. The next part of that statement is once you’ve found the wave, the quest for the perfect surfboard shape is also never ending. That’s why Kona Surf Company is here. Surfers surfing in the surf are three variables constantly changing. Kona is shaping the boards to keep up with the changes. The Lemon Head is a product of an exploration that started as something then became something totally different yet stands alone as it’s own entirely unique surfboard.

We call this the Lemon Head because the wide, round nose creates a large sweet spot. This shape started as a Fish surfboard. Fish boards are traditionally fast and loose in small waves. We thought what do you have to do to give this shape more stability and control? First, we took the Fish and gave it a full, round nose. This definitely made the board more stable but the fish tail was still very loose so we thought what do we have to do to get some more bite out of this tail? Keeping the width of the tail – a big feature of the Fish – we inverted the channel of the split tail and gave it a bat tail! The Lemon Head is born. The wide platform nose is nice and stable and the center point on that bat tail gives you some great hold on the wave. That’s the first part but there’s quite a bit more that went into creating this shape. We are pretty proud of it and we think it’s worthwhile to break it down so you can get excited about it also.

Steve Lis' original Fish surfboard

The Lemon Head is great for smaller breaks. You want to surf this in two to six foot waves. If you don’t want to lug your longboard around yet still want to get out there and have some fun on a small day, this shortboard is a perfect alternative. This is a really cool looking shape. It’s an excellent introduction to shortboards that can be ridden by entry level or intermediate surfers.

The Lemon Head (with Josh for scale)

I mentioned that wide, round nose that provides added stability but it also has a nice amount of kick to it which is going to give you some nice lift on drop ins. The nose rocker is low, not as low as a nose rider but low enough to make paddling really easy. Also, traditional Fish surfboards have a pretty flat entry on the bottom. There’s a honking single concave running under the front of this that is going to push a lot of water fast.

The nose rocker curves quickly into a wide point pushed forward. This again adds stability to the front of the board. It’s great for shifting your weight to your front foot. Additional volume is packed into the dome there under your front foot. That volume tapers off into the rails. With this technique, the 60/40 rails are sensitive all the way through the board. You don’t get that hard edge and it helps dig the rails into the face of the wave and turn smoothly. Meanwhile that heavy concave under the nose transforms into a deep double concave under your feet creating a lot of drive forward.


Length Width Thickness Volume
5ft 6in 20.65in 2.45in 32.31L
5ft 8in 20.84in 2.45in 33.59L
5ft 10in 20.98in 2.50in 35.49L
6ft 21.06in 2.58in 37.86L

That taper on the profile from the center of the board to the tip of the tail is probably the only line left that is close to the Fish. The bat tail keeps additional width on the rear of the board for stability. A little tail rocker, endless options for fins, the center point of that bat tail and a big vee waterflow that is pushing water from the double concave through the fins has got some fangs biting the face of that wave. Based on our research from our surf team, there seems to be two preferred fin set-ups. The combination of the single fin and the bat tail gives you that balance of stability and control. The waterflow blasting out of the double concave through a quad fin set-up also gives you a great balance of stability and control. Single fin is better for smaller surf. Quad fin is better for medium days.

The five finned bat tail.

So there is it, the Lemon Head. You’re going to want this under your feet on weak days where the surf is maybe knee to head high. That low rocker is going to get you into a lot of waves and make it real easy to paddle. The additional width and volume give this board plenty of stability. The waterflow and the fin set up balance that stability with a nice push forward down the line. This board is a lot of fun for all skill levels and we know once you pick this one off the tree, it’ll be your favorite.

Growing Up in the 60’s – The Shortboard Revolution

Surfing is the only sport where the greatest innovations have been made by the love from it’s enthusiasts. These innovations have shaped surfing into what it is today. Board shapers are constantly making improvements to surfboards for more performance or stability. Whether it’s the smallest tweaks to one of the dimensions, or a new combination of materials to create the board, surfing is a sport where the tools you need to play the game are constantly evolving.

It was not all that long ago when everybody surfed on a longboard; the only reason for that was because that was the only surfboard available. A longboard is a wide, long surfboard that is about 10 feet long constructed with a single fin. Enter a teenage Mike Sciarra living in Wildwood, New Jersey enjoying the surf with his longboard, faced with a choice of masonry work with his dad or attending college. Young Mike chooses education. His two possibilities are Ohio (no surfing) or Florida (surfing hot spot). Mike takes off for Cocoa Beach to attend University and enrolls in Oceanographer classes at Florida Tech in 1967. A lot of big names are surfing around here and a few go to Florida Tech including Mike Tabeling. Mike surfed often with Tabeling and they remained friends until his death last year. Oceanside O’Hare, and Surfboards Hawaii had shops in Cocoa Beach and sponsored some heavy hitters like Gary Propper, Claude Codgins, Jeff Crawford and Greg Loehr. In between classes, you could find Mike surfing the Canaveral Jetties, Indialantic or Shark Pit.

Gary Propper, the top paid pro of 1966, from Cocoa Beach.
Image courtesy of East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame

A surfing revolution had been brewing for a couple years. In 1964, two Australians George Greenough and Bob McTavish, a crazy knee boarder from Santa Barbara, California and an amateur shaper from Australia start experimenting with surfboard shapes. Maybe they realized the surfing industry was a little stagnant. Maybe they were crazy and thought it would be fun to try something new. Greenough and McTavish experimented for a couple years and came up with “Sam”. Armed with and longboard as their only template available, they make a thinner, shorter, sleeker surfboard with different bottom configurations named Sam. In 1966, Robert “Nat” Young takes Sam to the World Surfing Contest in San Diego and crushes it. The surfing world is stunned, but Sam is not quite ready for prime-time yet. Of course we know today, surfboards shapes perform differently in different surf conditions. The North Shore of Hawaii is the take it, make it, break it, remake it grounds for surfboard designs where Sam was unpredictable. The missing puzzle piece was Dick Brewer who has been shaping boards in Oahu since 1960. Brewer has a secret surfing weapon: a short tear drop pin tail called the mini-gun he has been perfecting.

 Nat Young and "Sam" in 1966.

In 1967, a wave that started in California and Hawaii breaks straight towards the East Coast and shakes the foundation of the surfing world. The longboarding dynasty was over and suddenly the pintail, concave, pointy nosed shortboards were the choice of the new generation.

Back in Florida, Mike has a bit of a revelation and looks for a place where he can transfer his college credits and tailor a degree that suits his needs better. Where else better for a stoked, young surfer in an industry in the midst of a major overhaul than Oahu? Mike transfers to the University of Hawaii in 1968 to study business and economics and act a scientist at the heart of surfing’s experimental laboratory on the North Shore.

Among the legendary and, dare I say godlike, surfers and shapers, we encounter Dick Brewer, Owl Chapman, Reno Abellira, Barry Kanaiaupuni, and Gerry Lopez, along with a whole host of no name surf worshippers who make boards to ride them in back yards all over Hawaii. Mike Sciarra and a bunch of buddies who all happened to take the long, strange trip from Florida to Hawaii start shaping shortboards at the start of the shortboard revolution among the prolific, prodigious, and prestigious.

After graduation and business degree in hand, Mike brought his board shaping skills back to his hometown of Wildwood, New Jersey and started Kona. Since Mike’s Hawaii days, a lot of surfboard shapes have been invented and perfected, but a lot of those friendships remain the same. Stay tuned for Part Two coming soon.

The History of Screen Printing and the Method to Our Madness

In the early 2000’s, Chris Sciarra came on board at Kona Surf Company to rebrand the company. Six years ago, Chris and his father Mike began creating their own brand of surfing inspired products. Chris spearheaded the creation of the Kona apparel line. We often say we design these shirts in house, we create these shirts in house, we print these shirts in house, but what does that mean? We think the process is a unique labor of love, so we thought it would be interesting to take a moment and break it down for you.

The 1960’s is when the term screen printing was popularized by pop artists like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg but the art of screen printing is a whole lot older than you might think. For the first screen print we have to go back. Wwwaaayyyy baaack. Screen printing is basically pushing ink with a rubber slab through a screen with a stencil on it. The part of the screen that is not blocked out allows the design to transfer to pretty much whatever flat surface you want.

Andy Warhol screenprinting pop art at The Factory. 

Over the years, I mean, decades – I mean, centuries! The process of getting the design on the screen has been updated. Pushing ink through a mesh fabric hasn’t changed much since the Song Dynasty around 960AD in China. Screen printing was first created by stretching silk over a wooden frame. The silk is a fine mesh that will allow ink to push through. Next, an image is hand drawn. Think, a line drawing – in one color. For every printed color in screen printing, an additional screen needs to be prepared and registered for alignment. The negative image of the drawing is hand painted on the screen with a waterproof masking medium that stops the ink from transferring through the silk.

In the early 1900’s, about 1,000 years later, the first screen printing machine was patented and printers began using chemicals that were light sensitive to create printing screens. So there you have it. The screen printing machine, a photo realistic way to get your design on the screen and inks and this whole thing was a done deal over 100 years ago.

Now computers cut out a lot of time creating designs. It will take a full color image and separate the design into the four color layers easily. Cyan, Magento, Yellow and Black layers are what it takes to produce a full color image. Most modern graphics programs will create these channels with the click of a mouse.

Here at Kona Surf Company, we always use eco-friendly inks and cleaners that are needed for creating photo realistic images for our clothing.

One pass on the screen.

Kona has tried and tested many methods of printing t-shirts. At first, Chris was pressing custom decals on shirts with a heat press. The decal is cool, but they never quite live up to expectations. Decals don’t wear or wash well. Chris wanted something timeless. Kona tried a t-shirt printer also, literally, like a laser printer that would print a t-shirt. This method is popular right now with a lot of print-on-demand places that need to do quick, in-and-out prints or one-offs. Printing a t-shirt just does not have the same classic quality of a true silk screen. The quality and clarity of the real deal comes through when you take the time to do a job right using the right tools.

Four screens - one shirt

When working in our screen printing facility, we always use high quality materials. With a full 100% cotton shirt, you’re going to get nice, even colors that are going to hold fast in the shirt. For darker shirts, we add a special mixture called Discharges that bleach the shirt. Colors really pop using discharge ink on a dark shirt. There’s a method to our madness, but in the end, we love creating high quality, printed shirts for our supporters.

Finished hoodie with some essential screen printing tools.

Call us crazy! Of all the ways to deliver a design to a t-shirt, screen printing is the most time consuming thing we do here, but we love the process! The end result is a classic, high quality shirt with a crisp, colorful design we can be proud of and is going to stand up to a good amount of wash and wear.

Kona has Grown, Shrunk, and Rethunk

Kona Surf Company started 50 years ago when Mike Sciarra began shaping surfboards in his garage. As green as grass roots can get, local surfers were able to get their boards shaped by Mike through word of mouth from friends that knew somebody who knew somebody. If you could reach through time and pinch young Mike to tell him he would come full circle and still be shaping surfboards 50 years later, he’d be fricking stoked! Along the way Kona has grown, shrunk, rethunk and reorganized, but shaping surfboards has always been on Mike’s mind!

Mike Sciarra shaping surfboards in the Summer of '69.

Moving on up and out of the garage, Mike moved from a small storefront to an empty car dealership with the help of his friend Tony Chrietzberg working the front of the shop. He couldn’t keep his custom boards in stock because there was nothing like his product available and local surfers were eatin em up. Surfing, of course, is a summer sport and now Mike has a business he needs to support all year. Based on the decent response to Mike’s unique custom surfboards, Mike decides to look at what is going on locally and add trending products that would be unique to locals to keep the business open year round. Also, Mike’s longtime sweetheart, Dee comes on board to work the finances and manage the up and coming ladies sporting styles. From there, Kona becomes a hybrid, a mish-mash, a mixed bag of surfing and other sporting goods. Maybe you remember the late seventies when it seemed like everybody needed a ten-speed bicycle. Kona creates a bicycle shop and a repair shop! Remember those Nike waffle trainers? Mike brought them to Wildwood along with tennis rackets, hockey sticks, baseball bats and other products that no one carried locally.

Then comes the internet. The internet is amazing in concept. Businesses now have the ability to reach millions of people, but customer loyalty is thrown out the window. Everyone online is just looking for the best price. Being in a seaside resort town, here’s a double whammy: the cost of affordable housing goes through the roof and families begin to move off the island. This lowers a lot of the demand for the sporting goods locally which brings Kona to a challenging crossroads.

Along comes Chris Sciarra, Mike’s son, in the early 2000’s to rethink the future of Kona Surf Company. Mike and Chris put their heads together and decide to go back to the roots of Kona. Chris’ idea is to get back to what has always made the place a success; offering a unique product with a passion for surfing.

They start phasing out sporting goods. Chris picks up a heat press from a local guy and starts creating a Kona clothing line with a decal of the classic sun image. Remember, this is Wildwood, New Jersey. It gets hot here! Kona hasn’t really set up a workshop for creating merchandise yet. As Mike started by shaping boards in a garage, Chris is now operating an oversized iron in a humid back store room handling hot fabric. That was a fun summer, but it was worth it because those experiments paved the way for screen printing and embroidering custom high quality merchandise in house.

The Kona Board House today.

Now Kona has a unique brand to promote; a surfing inspired line of clothing. In case you were wondering, that was a test, but don’t worry! There won’t be one about this later! The test was to see how their unique brand sold in the store and online. The line sold great and it’s still going strong. Next up, the surfboards!

Still shaping after all these years.

At this point, let’s just say that Mike’s been shaping surfboards for about six years longer than that movie about a galaxy far, far away was released at the drive-in theater. Over the years, Mike has shaped a lot of different boards and perfected a lot of signature models. To shape a surfboard by hand takes a deceptively long time. Not to mention, the debris you’re inhaling and the toll it takes on your knuckles. It was Mike and Chris’ goal to figure out a way to make this shaping process more streamlined. After a ton of research they settled on saving up enough money to bring Miki Langenbach to Wildwood from Gold Coast, Australia and set up “The Holy Grail of Surfboard Machines”. Miki helped Mike and Chris dial in the measurements for Mike’s classic boards. Now they are cranking out their own Kona surfboards in-house as well as custom boards for local surfers. You can come in and purchase one of Mike’s classic shapes that are available as stock boards. With this new CNC machine, every measurement on a custom surfboard can be tweaked by changing a few numbers in the computer. The machine does about 90% of the work, and the rest is finished and glassed by hand. As every diehard shaper knows, a pair of hands are still vital to the finished product.

Set the controls for the heart of the surfboard.

Kona started as a grass roots surfboard shaping business and has come full circle. Kona is back to offering our original designs exclusively. I guess what we’ve learned through this process is don’t give up and stay true to yourself. So what’s in store next for Kona? Stay tuned!