Denis Galioto: Costa Quality

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Denis Galioto: Costa Quality

Denga Surfboards
Full Service Factory and Retail Shop
Known for High-Performance Shortboards and Fish

I grew up surfing in Cefalu, Sicily. We only have windswell, so not real waves, but it’s a beautiful location and one of the most consistent surf spots in Sicily. I was a professional motocross racer, but winding down my career and looking for a replacement sport that would be more gentle on my body. I took up windsurfing and my favorite part was riding the little windswell waves. at’s how I found my way into surfing.

We didn’t have access to proper surfboards in Sicily, so I made one myself, built from 4 pieces of styrofoam glued together with fiberglass and resin that I got at marine yard. I remember basing it on surfboards I had seen on Baywatch. Of course it turned out horribly, but as soon as I put it in the water, everyone wanted one. Because Sicily is an island and so much of our life revolves around the sea, everyone had a fascination with riding waves. ere was tremendous demand for surfboards, but virtually zero supply. I met a surfer from Rome and he invited me to come visit a proper surfboard factory in Rome. That experience gave me a much better appreciation and understanding for what is involved in both design and construction. I was able to procure some materials and build a few boards back in Sicily. That was my introduction to board building, but again, the waves are so marginal there, that it wasn’t long until I was traveling in search of better surf.

I came to Costa Rica in 1997 on vacation. The waves were so diverse and so consistently good, that
I came back every year. I fell in love with the people, the climate. In 2002 I decided to buy this land in Santa Teresa and make my dreams come true. At the time, there were no shapers in this area and hardly any boards available. Santa Teresa has become more trendy and more heavily touristed, but in 2002 it was a lot less accessible.

The original business concept was humble, we just built a little surf shop and a skate bowl with my living space on the property. We had so little business in those first few years, but I developed a reputation for doing quality ding repairs, and we mostly sold leashes, wax and accessories. There were also a lot of tourists who wanted to rent surfboards, but they were actually pretty good surfers. The waves right in front of my shop are good and it gets hollow so you can’t really send a customer out on a soft-top longboard, so I began shaping high-performance rental boards. I made 3 basic models that would fit a wide range of needs and also had high-performance contours and design characteristics. Then I’d finish them with heavy cloth and glass. This rental program became hugely popular and has been largely responsible for the success of my business.

During the last 15 years, and especially the last 5 years, tourism has increased dramatically, and so has new board sales. I’m now building about 1,500 per year. We have a lot of demand from retailers throughout Costa Rica and Central America, but keep all my Denga label surfboards here and make them exclusively available through this shop. Santa Teresa is such a unique and beautiful part of Costa Rica, I want to share it with every- one and create a draw or attraction for surfers to come here. I want Denga Surfboards to be synonymous with the waves of Santa Teresa.

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