In terms of standup paddling technique, Dave Kalama is a living icon. He practically invented the sport. Now he'll put his years of paddling knowledge into designing equipment. San Clemente, Calif.-based Imagine Surf has named Dave Kalama Vice President of Design and Innovation, effective immediately. At his new post, Kalama will be responsible for all creative aspects of product development and innovation including research, design and development of the company's board line.
"The people at Imagine and I really have parallel philosophies," Kalama told SUP magazine in an exclusive interview. "They're people I can work with and enjoy this whole process with. When you talk to your boss everyday or every other day, and collaborate, it's fun. The relationship is authentic and when you feel good about the people you're working with that motivates me to want to do a good job for them. It gives me the freedom to create and explore and come up with some really cool stuff.”
The appointment of Kalama signifies the company's new direction since it was acquired by the Pryde Group last January and parted ways with Imagine Surf founder Corran Addison, who established the brand in the early 2000's. Addison got his start as a whitewater kayak designer and moved into the standup realm with a unique design that helped the company cross over to both ocean and river athletes with it's diverse models. Kalama expects to further build on that momentum and expand into different realms.
"I want us to be successful in all versions of standup. We're not going to just be a surf company or a race company," he said. " I want us to continue to be diverse. That's one of the reasons I'm so excited about this."
Kalama is one of the most storied watermen of this generation. He's won windsurfing world titles, was a pioneer in the tow-in surfing realm and along with Laird Hamilton, helped develop the modern form of standup in the late 1990s. But the "Vice President" tag is a new one for Kalama.
"The title sounds good, but I don't pay much attention to titles," said Kalama, who will continue to run his Kalama Kamps, a training program the Molokai Champ teaches in different parts of the world . "(I'm excited) that it keeps me entrenched in an industry that I know a lot about and really enjoy. It just means I'm tied into success of the company and I need to do what it takes to make sure we're successful and as good as we can be."
In 2013, Imagine will debut the first of the Kalama-designed boards: a long board design and a progressive short board style design. Both boards will be available in two sizes. Stand up paddle surfing enthusiasts and action sports retailers will get a sneak preview of both boards at next month's Outdoor Retailer Expo in Salt Lake City, UT. —JC
Dave Kalama is a regular SUP magazine contributor and updates his blog, here.
His new stuff seems to work okay: