Who are you?
Guilhem Dupouy and Yan Baldenweck. We used to be based in Anglet but moved a quarter hour south to Bidart 2 years ago. Hidden Wood’s been in existence for 5 years now – we specialise in shaping alaias and hand-planes.
How did you get into riding waves?
We grew up close to the ocean, so it was a natural to start surfing.
How did you get into shaping? The only way to try an alaia was for us to shape one ourselves.
What boards did you surf before you started shaping your own? We’ve always surfed all kinds of shapes from classic thrusters to fish, twin fins, single fins and logs.
Shaping influences (old or new)? Obviously Tom Wegener, he set this whole re-emergence off. And our other big influence is Californian longboard shaper Robin Kegal, founder of Gato Héroi, with whom we’ve been collaborating with for the past year and a half.
How did that come about?
It’s a funny story actually. We just met by pure coincidence here in France about 2 years ago. We loved what he did and it just happened that he was looking to set something up here in Europe and it just went from there. Today we actually fill a lot of Gato Heroi orders here in Bidart.
What kind of tunes does the magic go down to? Rock n’ roll.
Other than positive feedback on boards, what else keeps you stoked?
The challenge of surfing bigger and bigger waves and feeling like a man! And you can never really get bored of the challenges involved in surfing finless wooden flex.
Anything else you enjoy creating?
Furniture and decorative pieces. We love working with wood in all its forms.
You just got back from a trip to Japan. How was that?
Yeah it was awesome. We were offered the opportunity to put on a workshop in Tokyo with Gato Héroi. The feedback we got from the Japanese was amazing, guys telling us they loved our alaias! And after that we travelled to the island of Niijima where we scored some really cool waves. It was a perfect trip!
Anything been pissing you off in surfing/the world today? Crowded spots and a competitive spirit in the water. In France there is a real problem with the mainstream “no surf culture”.
What do you wish you had more of? Surf and open-minded people.
Any helpful advice for getting started on an alaia?
If you don’t get to surf regularly, as in live by the ocean, it’s best to give it a try in the summer, when it’s small and nice and clean. The real difficulty with surfing an alaia is actually catching waves as you have very little buoyancy compared to a normal surfboard.
Visit some shapers, watch how they work, practice and of course come buy plenty Paulownia blanks from us.
Your favourite surf destination? Costa Rica, the waves are ideal there for alaias!
How did your last session go and what board were you on? A really fun session at St Jean Luz with a longboard Gato Héroi 8″11.