The Full Story:
It all began int the 1970’s. Jon LaLanne was only 9 years old when he was introduced to surfing by Waikiki surf legend “Rabbit Kekai.” He didnt know it at the time but that introduction would pave the way for everything he accomplished in the surfboard industry. In 1976 Jon got his first urethane skateboard wheels and skated along side the infamous Dogtown “Z Boys” at Kenter Paul & Revere Jr High. Jon would skate the infamous toilet bowl and entertain tourists along Hollywood on his skateboard. While he was around during the birth of the skateboard revolution Jon was always drawn back to the water.
At the end of the 70s until 83 Jon relocated to Malibu to attend Pepperdine. He quickly became captain of the surfing team and was undefeated in the NSSA for 4 years in a row! It was during this time that Jon worked at the legendary Zuma Jay’s in Malibu repairing surfboards. Over the 5 years Jon worked on boards in this shop he was always advancing his skills and learning the physics behind the board designs. Frustrated by the single fin designs Jons surfing style was changed forever when he was introduced to a Steve Li‘s fish and a Mark Richard‘s style twin fin. When Jon wasn’t in the shop learning he was in the water.
By 1979 Jon had perfected his knowledge enough to start working as a shaper for Zuma Jay Who is now the last original surf shop owner in California. With his near decade of board repairs and learning how to make the boards to work with the surfer Jon was a master apprentice. It was at this time that Zuma Jay sent Jon to South Shore Glassing where he would learn how to fully manufacture a surfboard. It was here that Jon began to perfect his craft.
By age 25 Jon had already owned and rode over 500 surfboards. Unlike other surfers Jon was always trying to translate board behavior and figure out how to make the board work with the rider. He was so good in fact that he could calculate and transpose board volume liters on demand at the shop. Jons obsession with the inner workings of surfboards and his insane number of boards he surfed to figure out the science behind them is probably what lead Surfer Magazines “Robert Gilley” to write “Jon LaLanne has a surfboard problem.” in his article on Jon. In 1981 Jon met top ranked Australian Surfer Terry Richardson and is introduced to a brand new style of shaping after Terry competed in the Malibu-Sunkist Pro contest. A little known fact is that Jon and Terry were responsible for getting Al Merrick’s shapes in to Zuma Jays board shop. The real birth of the thruster fin setup happened at Zuma Jay’s when they incorporated the fin and the channel bottom thruster into the boards in his shop. Zuma Jay had Terry and Jon shape 200 boards like this for him to sell.
Jon got involved with the Natural Progression Factory in 1986 where he was mentored by Dogtown Legend “Skip Engblom and shaper Dean Edwards. At this time Jon met Zboy Chris Cahill and ordered 3 asymmetrical boards to test ride in Malibu. This was not the only asymmetrical thing Jon did. After winning many contests up and down the west coast Jon wanted to be noticed more in the water. This is when he began pioneering custom wetsuits. Jon would purposely order asymmetrical custom bright wetsuits to be seen and it quickly started a trend. Jon became a shaper from 1986-1994 Under Skip and Dean where he appeared on the CBS show 2 on the town Malibu Edition.
Jon went pro in 1987 after sponsorship offers from Rip Curl, Sapporo Beer, Quicksilver, Zuma Jay, Al Merrick and Terry Richardson. In this same year Jon also made the transition from Twin Fin to Thruster and then right to Quad. While surfing as a professional Jon continued to stay current in the surf shops following and trying the newest innovations and designs. Jon surfed PSAA against young and now world champion world champ Kelly Slater in a wave pool in Irvine, CA where Kelly wins his first ever Pro event.
In 2006, Jon was the first shaper to start widening boards to bring back that 1980’s style that was so fun to ride and in 2009 Jon met Jeff Alexander and Randall Hogan in an effort to jump start Project Gemini a double nose design that tested the laws of Hydrodynamics. Jon continues to manufacture that design and it is becoming extremely popular among the younger up and coming surfers. The Gemini design with Jons decades of shaping innovations is arguably the fastest surfboard made.