Born and raised in Kaimuki, Oahu, I am a 4th generation Japanese/Okinawan local boy. Growing up in a family who lived and breathed surfing, it was only natural that I took up the sport from an early age. My father, “China” Uemura, was a professional surfer back in the 70’s and 80’s, and instilled the traits of a surfer in my sister, Kanoelani, and I. My entire surfing career started at the age of 5, at a surf spot in Waikiki known as “Baby Queens”.
After going through the ranks of the HASA (Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association) and NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) events, I decided to take my career to the next level following my high school graduation in 2000. With the support of local companies such as Town and Country and Piko, I was able to travel the world chasing my goal of becoming the next World Longboard Champion. Throughout my years on tour, the best highlight of my career was in 2004 where I placed 2nd overall in the ASP Longboard World Rankings. Also, from 2006 – 2010 I did the JPSA (Japan Professional Surfing Association) Tour full time and was able to attain 4 grand-champion titles in that time. Following these years of professional longboarding I decided to try to find my niche in another aspect of the surf industry. With my passion and knowledge of the surfing world, it was only natural that I looked for something to keep my career aligned with the surfing industry.
Sometimes life throws you struggles as a blessing in disguise. From 2006 – 2008, I began to get frustrated with surfboard companies. I decided to take actions into my own hands. In 2007, I started working for my friend who had just bought the newest surfboard cutting machine called the APS 3000. After learning the software and incorporating the knowledge that I’ve gained over the last 20 + years of surfing, I began to design my own boards using the APS software.
Many of my board designs have been influenced by the talented shapers that I’ve worked with over my 24 years of surfing. From the early years of working with Keola Rapoza, Jason Kashiwai, and Tommy Tanaka, to my recent years working with Todd Pinder, Jeff Bushman, and Mitsu Matsushita. These surfers/shapers have shown me their style of shaping and designing through the numerous boards they’ve shaped for me throughout the years. Everything from my competition longboards to fishes, quads, shortboards and mini longboards. Although all of my boards are put through a machine that cuts them down to size, every design I create is original and comes from the years of knowledge I’ve gained through my own personal experiences. I always say, “You can know how to work the software good, but if you don’t know how the contours and technical aspects of a surfboard work, you won’t be able to create a magic board”.
I have been blessed to live my dream and to travel the world, seeing the many countries and cultures that the world has to offer. My way to give back is to try and put a smile on someones face every time they hit the ocean and ride a wave. Whether 1ft Waikiki, or 20ft tow-ins, the stoke is all the same, and it’s a feeling that will never be forgotten. So if you haven’t had the feeling of stoke yet, let me help you to get there, cause there no other feeling like it in the world.