The waterman world lost an icon Wednesday, Jan. 4, as legendary surfer/shaper, Harold “Iggy” Ige, passed away in the waters off of Lanikai, Oahu, presumably from a heart attack, while testing unlimited SUP prototypes with Randy Naish (older brother of Robby). Randy shared news of the tragic and unexpected loss on his Facebook page:
Harold Ige, shaper, friend, and mentor, died in my arms today.
We were testing new 18-foot sup prototypes. Everything was fine. Harold took a good one. Rode it a couple hundred yards. I was about 50 yards behind,when I watched him collapse into the water. I got there as fast as I could. He’d been under one or maybe two minutes. Time gets funny when one is put in this position. A passing kayak instructor helped out,had a phone on him and called 911.Kai Santos (good old friend and waterman) saw the pilikia and swam out with fins and together we tried to resuscitate Harold, we were towed in by an instructor from Kailua sailboards and kayaks( Thanks Leo!) and a C&C lifeguard.
Response time from Honolulu C&C was super. When we got to the beach, the ambulance was pulling in. When I saw Harold go under, I knew something was up. Very unlike Harold. When he didn’t come up after a few seconds, I knew something was bad. We fought hard all the way to the beach to bring him back.
Called out to Harold, God, and anyone else who may have been listening to help us. I’ve never felt so helpless!
I did all I could. WE, did all we could. I’m sorry.I’ll never forget this day even if I want to.The surfing world lost an icon, a legend, and a friend to many, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a mentor.
Love you uncle Harold.
Ige grew up surfing on Oahu and became an icon and an artist in the shaping world, having traded a pocket knife his sisters gave him as a Christmas gift for his first surfboard in the fourth grade. He learned to shape boards because when “you’re young, you just couldn’t afford to buy boards,” he said. According to his close friends, Ige carried himself with great humility. “He was one of the few people I tried to emulate,” said longtime Naish athlete Dave Kalama, who used every type of equipment that Ige crafted including windsurf boards, longboards and SUPs. “How he treated people and just being a peaceful warrior. He personified how I want to live my life.”
Ige graduated high school in 1960 and moved to Southern California to work in the industry, helping Greg Noll shape his Makaha guns before moving on to work for Dale Velzy. “For me going to California was a good move,” Ige said. “I knew I had a job and I knew people already. The biggest challenge was the cold.”
He then joined Dewey Weber, where, along with the likes of Donald Takayama, he spent some eight years, turning the Weber “Performers” into a household name in the surfing world at the time. Following his stint with Weber, he started his own label (Iggy), returning to his beloved Oahu where he set up shop. He hooked up with Rick Naish in the latter part of the 1970s and along with Robbie, formed the Naish brand in 1979, creating a long-lasting relationship with the family and company, helping to create most of the Naish line through the years from wind- to surf boards and everything in between. Along with the Naish clan, he has been at the center of the standup revolution.
Ige was from shaping’s old school and created boards instinctively, avoiding headphones and thick gloves so he could hear the sound of his tools against the foam and feel the shape with his hands. “He was one of the best shapers I ever had the opportunity to work with,” Kalama said. “He was a master but very open minded and incorporated any ideas and input you had into his shapes.
Indeed, Ige’s art mimicked his life. “Shaping boards has been the only job I have ever done,” he once said. “Back in the 70’s people used to say when you shape a board, you put your soul into it or some spiritual stuff like that. I kinda laughed but when you shape, you do get really tired. It’s so much more work than machine shaping not only because it’s hard labor, but because you put all out. When you say shaping , it’s not just shaping using the planer. You touch it, listen to the way it’s cutting, I have to hear and feel it. Otherwise I can’t tell the details. Maybe you put mana into the board by hand shaping. That’s why you get exhausted.”
Harold “Iggy” Ige was 71.
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The article was originally published on Standup Paddling
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