1) Why did you decide to start the family business PUKAS?

My dad (Iñigo Letamendia) and a bunch of friends were seeking the fun side of life in 1973 by trying to build surfboards in a rented "caserio" in Cantabria. It wasn't the business that moved them, it was a sexy lifestyle that was lining up for them to discover. I guess my mom (Marian Azpiroz) put the balance in my dad's smart madness by joining the gang and trying to make a profit. It was in 1979 when my uncle Miguel Azpiroz joined forces with them and started Pukas Surf in the Basque Country.

2) You have three parts to the business: Manufacturing Surfboards, Distribution & Retail stores. Was this always the plan and how did the business evolve over time?

Making surfboards lead to sewing bikinis, to sewing boardshorts, to bringing flashy clothes from overseas, to opening brick-n-mortar stores in the Basque Country, to organizing ASP awarded contests and strengthening ties with international friends that would change us forever; surfers, shapers, glassers, photographers.... We have kept this Pukas business of ours for 50 years by embracing natural growth. The cascade of surf-related businesses over the decades (70s to 2023) came to us with little plan. Today we employ around 100 people and the secret is being loyal to surfing. Oh! and being digital making surfboards accessible to everyone via pukassurfshop.com.

3) Did you guys envision that it would become one of the largest Surfboard manufacturers in Europe / World?

Absolutely not. Nobody smart enough in business wanted to be involved in surfboard manufacturing. Messy places with crazy people manufacturing products that couldn't be built in bulk, transport with ease and had no margins? BUT, those places had the magic, the surf, the vibe, the truth of our sport, the beginning of it all. And there is only one long-term goal we all share, and that's being relevant to surfing for decades to come.

4) You guys have placed well in the STAB in the Dark where one of the best surfers in the world judges mystery surfboards only by their performance. Can you give us a rundown on that shaper from Pukas?

This SITD thing is such a team work! Guessing who the surfer is the main crack. We have trusted Axel Lorentz for more than a decade so he was the chosen one when designing and shaping the boards for these quests. But we have put lots of trust in our team of glassers, sanders and factory freaks to build them in great fashion. We have consistently made the finales since our first appearance in 2019. This format has put our surfboards in the feet of some of the greatest: Mick Fanning, Dane Reynolds, Jack Robinson or Taj Burrow just to name a few. The guys at STAB are too good to surfing for creating such great content.

5) Tell us who makes the best surfboard bag, luggage and backpacks to go along with the best surfboards customers can buy at Pukas Surf Shop? (hahaha)

Our team has taken your products over the north coast of Spain, Morocco and Namibia. The look and feel of DbJourney is great but the product is even better. The Roller Surf Bag for 3-4 surfboards is soo well thought and built! Your expertise in luggage put on surfboards is brilliant. The lightness of the Roller, the way the top folds back, the strength of its reinforcements, the supper handy handle in the bottom, the interior pockets (nose and tail) and how smoothly it travels with those wheels... a 10 out of 10 must have boardbag

6) What role do ambassadors Kepa and Ainara have within the PUKAS family, R&D etc?

We are friends and that's what makes the difference. This pics were taken in 1988 (adur Letamendia and Kepa Acero). Imagine how much surfing and surfboard talking we have done together. But most importantly think of the friendship we share. Kepa is amazing. A true surfer with an inimitable backside and unparalleled flow that has poured a tremendous amount of know-how and feelings into our shaping rooms, and we have all benefited from that. And Ainara has fully grown into an exciting character of her own. She is from Zarautz and has us in awe with her personality and behaviour. We are neighbours but everytime we exchange words with her is super valuable and the team at the factory absolutely loves her. She is a box of surprises; did you know that she plays soccer at the Pukas-Shelter Soccer Team?

7) Do you guys get to surf much between the daily business and where?

If we didn't surf we wouldn't be selling surfboards. We must surf and understand what surfing means. Connecting to the people in the water by enjoying the key sessions and the average ones. Our beach breaks in Zarautz and San Sebastian work on a regular basis but 1 hour drive takes us to Mundaka or Hossegor (and everything in between). Oh, and it gets big in the winter time. Any Db boardbag for guns anytime soon?

8) Where would you recommend in the Basque Country for readers to surf and what's the best time of the year to score?

September to November without a doubt. Legit swells with mild temperatures and ok crowds on a post-summer vibe. It's the best time Europe-wide.

9) Best places to eat near Pukas Surf Shop?

The staff at our digital department has a Sheet with secret spots that I'm not allowed to share. It's hard to make wrong choices in San Sebastian. Besides the classic pintxos in the old town (where our Lo Viejo Shop is based) or the new Kai Sushi, I will tell you my local favorite:Pulpería O'romeral: Don't expect a chic ambiente nor the latest deco. Out of the radar hardcore local shit down there.

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