Story by Michael Shapiro
Photo by Kyle Rothenborg
If surfing had a hospital, Roi Globen’s shop would be its trauma ward. Racks of mutilated boards, the carnage of late drops, snapped leashes and heinous wipeouts, line its walls. The deck of pro surfer Keala Kennelly’s board is hanging off like a scroll of wallpaper. Longboard legend China Uemura’s brand-new baby is missing a tire-sized chunk from its rail (it wasn’t even a surfing mishap; the board sailed off China’s roof rack and nailed the H-1 median). You don’t even want to know what happened to pro Kai Sallas’ stick; suffice to say it looks like it ought to be read its last rites.
"A board might look ugly," says Roi Globen, a.k.a. the Ding King. "But ven the worst board is great if you're surfing on it."
But Roi likes a challenge. Whether a board’s been raked across the reef at Rockpiles or snapped in half at Jocko’s, he’ll rescue it. In fact, fixing boards is the only thing he does—he doesn’t shape them, sell them or stock accessories. The Israeli expat learned ding repair when he was 14—back in the ’80s, it was hard enough just finding surfboards in the Middle East let alone someone to fix them. He moved to Hawai‘i in 2003 (inspired by Big Wednesday) where he refined the art on the länai of his Waikïkï apartment. Since he opened Ding King in 2005, most of the south shore surf shops have been sending their casualties to his hole-in-the-wall Kaka‘ako location.
Roi’s open every day, late (8 p.m.) during the summer season. He’ll turn a board around in twenty-four hours. He’ll repair fiberglass, carbon, epoxy, skimboards, kiteboards—“if it floats, I’ll fix it,” he says. And he’ll teach ding repair to anyone who’s interested. Is he giving away the store? “No,” he says. “I have no problem sharing my knowledge.” Because the Ding King heeds a higher call: doing whatever it takes to keep boards afloat and their owners up and riding.
Roi’s willing to cherry out a lost cause for a couple of hundred dollars, but for him ding repair isn’t about looks. “I help any kind of surfer: If you have a lot of money I can make your board look really, really good. If you’re sleeping in a tent in Wai‘anae, I do it cheap, no cosmetics. Because even the ugliest board is the best when you’re surfing it. Don’t worry about the small stuff,” he says. “Fix what you need to fix”—here he claps his hands—“and surf!”
The Ding King