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SH&CC Caption: One of Laird Hamilton's hydrofoil boards, a Dyno kneeboard, a '70s Victoria Skimboard, a '60s "Paipo" bellyboard,
a Hawaiian plywood, fiberglass and resin paipo, a balsa twinfin bellyboard, some swim fins (including 1 of Mark Cunningham's),
a McDonald's tray, a canvas mat (good for rashes from neck to knees), an early Boogie Board, a Hawaiian bellyboard (popular with
visiting tourists in the '30s, '40s & '50s), and a Peruvian Caballito de Totora. We'll be adding a handplane soon as well.
On display ca. October/November 2015. For more information, visit the Surfing Heritage & Culture Center.
Unidentified paipo surfer at Maria's Point, Rincón, Puerto Rico, March 18, 2016. Looks like a foam/glass
board and the rider is wearing a pair of DaFins swim fins and paddling gloves. Photo by Jim Crotty.
Jeff Chamberlain test riding his newest board, "Mega Platter," one of many in his paipo experimentation adventure.
Features: EPS epoxy 6'3" x 29" x 3-3/8" with huge double concaves, and a Futures quad system.
Somewhere in Central California. December 2013.
Learn more about his adventure in our paipo interview with Jeff.
John Galera, "Pastures," 12/19/10. Keeping the sacred art of paipo boarding alive and well.
Photo courtesy of Neal Miyake.
Classic pae po`o riding by Jarrett K. Liu -- Point Panic -- March 20, 2010.
The board is a custom wood laminate with a steamed spoon in it, but Mike doesn’t know whether
Jarrett made it or got it from someone else. Photo courtesy Mike Rogers Photography.
|Other Paipo Boarding Links of Interest|
| pods for primates: a catalogue of surfboards in
australia since 1900
John Nevin riding a hollow, finless balsa paipo at Porthmeor, St Ives in Cornwall. Andy Bick's (Paipo Glide) first built of this type. Balsa sourced locally - grown in the Eden Project Tropical Biome (giant greenhouse). Photo by Mike Newman of Ocean-Image.com
|I was born on September
15, 1905, and I'm a cousin of Bill Sproat... I have two papa paepō
in my artifact collection. They're two small concave boards about
1/4-inch by 1 foot by 3 feet made of wiliwili,
and they were used for spying. The spies selected a night with rough
seas and then surfed in to gather information about various activities.
The boards were easily concealed. I heard this from the old people and
they said that's why the boards were called paepō, "night
- Alfred Solomon, June 25, 1982
|Source: page 302 in Hawai'i Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites, By John R. K. Clark, published by University of Hawaii Press, 2002. See the image captured here from the book. Turns out that John Clark rides what appears to be a paipo board as pictured in a Q&A with him on the blog, Literary Lotus (author, Christine Thomas). He is also an avid bodysurfer and one of the founding fathers of the Sandy Beach Bodysurfing Championships in 1972, and was the head judge (and a competitor) until 1989.|
|"In the days of old, Hawaiians referred to bodysurfing as kaha (or kaha nalu) and pae (or paepo'o). During the early 1900s, the term paepo'o was commonly used in Waikīkī, and it meant riding a wave with only the body. After World War II, this particular word took on an alternate definition, referring to bodysurfing with a small board. The pronunciation of the original word, paepo'o, was altered, and now even the spelling is changed to paipo. Today "to paipo" means to go bodysurfing with a "bellyboard." The board itself is called a paipo board."|
|Source: page 9 in The Beaches of O'ahu, By John R. K. Clark. Published by Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1977. [There is also a 2005 Rev. ed, Beaches of O'ahu. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.]|
From the Past, John R. K. Clark
and describes the types of surfing that native Hawaiians did, one of
which was pae po'o, or prone board riding. He notes that while
it's true that "paepo" can be translated as "night landing" (as
noted in the mo‘olelo by Alfred Solomon), Clark has since
learned that the original word was actually "pae po'o". The
following is from the manuscript:
In the earliest descriptions of surfboards by Hawaiian scholars, the smallest boards, those that were shorter than six feet in length, were generically called papa li`ili`i, or "small boards." During the early 1900s, the name papa li`ili`i was changed on two fronts with non-Hawaiian surfers calling them bellyboards, because they were most often ridden prone, the rider laying on his or her "belly," and with Hawaiian surfers in Waikiki calling them pae po`o boards.
In everyday conversation, pae po`o was often shortened to pae po, which is common among Hawaiian words that end with double "o's," such as Napo`opo`o on the island of Hawai`i, which is often pronounced Napopo. The popular spelling used today, paipo, was coined by Hawaiian surfing legend Wally Froiseth, who, besides being an excellent surfer, was an exceptional paipo board rider who was famous for standing on his twin-fin board while riding big waves. From 1956 to 1986, Froiseth made approximately 150 paipo boards, which he sold to friends and other surfers, putting a decal on each board to identify it as his product. No one before him, however, had ever spelled pae po, so without the benefit of seeing the word in print, Froiseth spelled it as he heard it, pai po. His decals read, "Hawaiian Pai Po Board. Mfg. by Froiseth." Froiseth sold some of his boards to surfers from California, which helped to introduce the word and its spelling outside of Hawai`i, and today paipo is the accepted term for wooden bodyboards.
John R. K. 2011. Hawaiian
surfing: traditions from the past. Honolulu: University of
|Additional note by John Clark: "Wally made
his first Hawaiian Pai Po Board in December 1955, but he
didn't like the way it rode. He re-designed it early in 1956 and
applied for a patent on it on May 9, 1956. The decal was used only on
his paipo boards, not on his surfboards. Wally and
many other Waikiki surfers from the
early 1900s, especially native Hawaiians, used the term paipo to
bodysurfing and bodyboarding." Source: John
Clark e-mails of June 2009.
Thanks to John Clark for an original Pai Po decal.
Legendary Surfers, "Surfing's Origins" by Malcolm Gault-Williams, Chapter 1.
Pukui, M. K., & Elbert, S. H. (1986). Hawaiian dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Checking the Line-Up and Riding the Wave
This famous image is often mistaken for being a surfrider holding a
paipo board. It is really an alaia board which was most likely
ridden in the standing position. Alaia boards were also ridden
in the sitting, kneeling and prone positions. For a similar image of a surfrider holding a paipo, see this very different board.
Is this a girl or a woman? This Hawaiian paipo surf rider is most
likely a woman most of us would agree. Why is this important
you might ask? Surf historians of the 20th Century often stated
that paipo boarding was for children and adults rode foot boards.
Sources: See the Paipo Annotated Bibliography. The image on the right appears in: Margan, F., & Ben R. Finney. 1970. A pictorial history of surfing. Sydney: Hamlyn. [page 25]. The book's caption reads, "An early painting of an Hawaiian girl riding a surlboard in the pre-missionary days."
Some Contemporary Paipo Riders in Papua New Guinea
Of course, that doesn't mean kids can't have fun on planks of wood to shoot the curl!
Photo courtesy of: Jan Messersmith
The caption that accompanied the photograph: "It’s still a bit breezy here in our belated dry season. The kids were
surfing along Coronation Drive again today. I stopped for a few minutes and got some better shots than I did the
other day. Have a look at these little guys zooming in on those little pieces of plywood. They were getting nice
long runs too. Also check how shallow the water is."
Source: Jan Messersmith, posted on 2009/08/24/, and accessed on 6/17/2012, from the his blog "Madang - Ples Bilong Mi".
The Earliest Descriptions of Surfing are of Paipo Boarding!
One of the most famous and widely cited early descriptions of surfing by European explorers is by Lt. James King:
"But a diversion the most common is upon the Water, where there is a very great Sea, and surf breaking on the Shore. The Men sometimes 20 or 30 go without the Swell of the Surf, & lay themselves flat upon an oval piece of plank about their size and breadth, they keep their legs close on top of it, & their arms are us'd to guide the plank, they wait the time for the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity, & the great art is to guide the plank so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direction. If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much praised."
Source: Lt. James King, 1778, Kealakekua Bay, Hawai`i, from King’s unedited log of 1778. Reprinted in "The Voyage of the Resolution and Discovery," by John C. Beaglehole (1967); as quoted in "Surfing, a History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport," by Ben Finney and James D. Houston (1996, Pomgranate Artbooks, San Francisco).
Paipo rider named Sean Ross having fun at the
Pipeline. He is riding one of Paul Lindbergh's
Hawaii Paipo Designs boards. Sean was a life
guard at the Ehukai Beach (Pipeline) for years
in the 1970's.
Photo: Alan McCray, Hawaii.
John Galera riding his NOFIN paipo at Jocko's on
Oahu's North Shore, January 2003. John's boards are make of surfboard foam or balsa.
Dimensions: 56"X 21"x 5/8". The rails and bottom
have a double layer, that creates a channel on the
bottom 9" wide, 1/2" deep, no need for a skeg.
Photo by: Jamie Ballenger
|Birthplace of the Paipo Board?|
|Forced to migrate into the
vast region by the
push of population and the pull of the horizon, the first Polynesians
in the Hawaiian Islands in the fourth century A.D. The Polynesians who
made the arduous journey from Tahiti and the Marquesas to Hawai'i were
necessarily exceptional watermen and women who brought a deep love and
knowledge of the ocean with them. The Polynesians who made it to
also brought their customs with them, including playing in the surf on
paipo (belly) boards. Although Tahitians are said to have occasionally
stood on their boards, the art of surfing upright on long boards was
perfected, if not invented, in Hawai'i. [Source: From
With Love -- The History of Surfing From Captain Cook to the
By Ben Marcus]
While paipo boarding continued its evolution in Hawaii it is not the only place where the paipo was ridden in ancient times. Research suggests that paipo boards of one form or another were used by people in New Zealand (Maori), Peru and Africa. Certainly, Oceania, if not Polynesia, was the center of wave riding since ancient times and into the present.
In ancient Hawaiian times "the construction of the few remaining papa he'e nalu (pa-pa HAY-ay NA-lu) -- the wave sliding boards of ancient Hawaiians -- still show sophisticated parabolic contours, demonstrating a high degree of development. Four types of papa he'e nalu rode upon the waves of long ago. Listed in order of length, from longest to shortest, these surfboards were the: super-long olo (O-lo), kiko`o (key-CO-oo), alaia (ah-LAI-ah) and paipo (pipe-oh) bodyboard. Like the other shorter boards (alaia) the paipo boards were made from either koa wood or ulu (breadfruit)." [Legendary Surfers, Malcolm Gault-Williams]Pictured to the right are examples of the olo, alaia and the paipo (labeled as a bodyboard) boards commonly ridden in ancient Hawaii, scaled to height and with illustrative cross sections.
It is not clear to me whether the Bishop Museum or Ben Finney used the designation of bodyboard in the figure, or the article from which the figure is taken. In the article, Surfing in Ancient Hawaii, Finney struggled with how to address and categorize the board used for riding kipapa (prone), sometimes calling it a surfboard, an alaia of 5 feet or less, and at other times as a bodyboard. In his discussion on alaia boards, Finney states, "The kioe is referred to as a small surfboard."
Perhaps the term kioe was used by ancient Hawaiians in referring to the shorter alaia style board that was used for bodyboarding. The only other mention of kioe in this article is in the glossary (kioe-A small surfboard. [Pukui, Mary K., and Elbert, Samuel H., 1957. Hawaiian-English Dictionary. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press. p. 142]).
Surfing in Ancient
Hawaii. Wellington, N.Z.:
Journal of the Polynesian Society. Vol 68 No.4, Dec. 1959. pp. 327-347.
Accessed on the JPS Internet site. (Click on pic for a larger version.)
Jamie Durwood, New Zealand.
The small board on the left is made of Hawaiian Koa wood.
It was left in NZ in the 20's & has inscribed initials.
The board on the right is made of Kaurie wood.
Adaptation of paipo design, solid wood with steamed advanced scooped
Later models used laminated ply, fins (sometimes twin) and sometimes
a nose grip. X Surfworld #17 and #25 [pods for primates: The Paipo Catalogue]
Long Beach, redwood *
pine, redwood rails,
nose rocker *
redwood, pine rails,
nose rocker *
* as shown for sale at Pacific Coast Vintage Surf Auction
2011 Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction.
The paipo and alaia boards were listed in the Small Wood Board Set on p. 5, of the catalog. The description reads, "The earliest of the Hawaiian boards were little Alai`a boards, which were used as belly boards. These evolved into the popular boards that were used in Waikiki and then spread to the US mainland as an easy to rent, easy to ride, way for anyone to get into the water. Plank boards of the 20’s gave way to laminated boards of the 30’s and 40’s, yet the popularity of small wood boards continued right up to the development of foam boards in the late 50’s."
"Bubble Lady." This solid spruce belly board sold for $3,300.
5'0" 1949 (10). This is a neat wood collectable from the 1940’s. A spruce belly board in all original condition. What I love about this board is the water slide decal of the “Bubble Lady” and a couple other period piece decals. Hand holds cut out in each side and finished in full varnish. Amazingly good all original condition. Pre-auction estimate: $2500-$5,000. NO RESERVE. Source: Hawaii Surfing Promotions. (2011, July). Auction Catalog: 2011 Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction. Honolulu. See page 5 for alaia and paipo boards at auction.
1930s North Carolina Surfing Board -- Harbor Island, Wrightsville Beach, NC.
Waveriding board on display at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington, NC (June 1930). The board appears to be approximately 60 inches long and 24 inches wide (based upon my assumption of a 32-inch baseball bat and scaling the board).
Warren Overman subsequently e-mailed me: "My impression was it was shorter than 60 inches, maybe 50 (compared to the waterski) and narrower than 2 feet, that's why I called it a paipo. I very much got the impression it was used for prone riding only. It had no skeg and was really only a cutout piece of plywood. It was grouped with the ski, bat and a very old skateboard presumably demonstrating equipment used many years ago on the Cape Fear for recreation. Next time I go to the Museum I'll ask a curator to give me more specifics."
Upon searching for the Bob Pope slalom ski, I found a 68-inch model which would support a 50- to 55-inch guesstimate for the surfboard, aka paipo length.
Photographs by Warren Overman.
A Postcard of Bodyboarding North Carolina, ca. 1907
Skipper Funderburg, author of Surfing on the Cape Fear Coast, recently discovered a 1907 surfing
photo postcard view of people surf bathing on the ocean side of the Sea Shore Hotel, including
a surfer on a Hawaiian styled body board on Wrightsville Beach. For more info see the article from Global
Surf News [reprinted as a PDF file here].
Post card image courtesy of New Hanover Public Library, Robert M. Fales Collection.
See Funderburg, Joseph. Surfing on the Cape Fear Coast. Carolina Beach, N.C.: SlapDash Publishing, LLC, 2008.
See more paipo postcards in Paipos in the Media.
A Jigsaw Puzzle of Bodyboarding South Africa, ca. 1920s
Jigsaw puzzle image courtesy of Henry Marfleet, Tunbridge Wells, UK
(Henry is known as "bluey" on the paipo forums)
See more paipo jigsaw puzzle information in Paipos in the Media.
Some 1960s Era El Paipo Boards
The two boards on the left would probably be classified as kneeboards and the ones on the right as paipo boards.
Chet's Collection (Rehoboth, Delaware). Photo by: Rod Rodgers
|Click on pics below for a larger image|
|1960s era Chuck Dent||1960s era Newport Paipo||Fish paipo board shaped by Sean Rotella, North Shore, Oahu (ca. 2006)
The introduction of the Morey Boogie Board in the early 1970s set the sport of "boogieboarding" on a path to becoming one of the fastest growing sporting phenomena of modern times. The emergence of this "soft paipo" board led to a quick decline in the "hard" fiberglass and foam paipos. The benefits of the Boogie Boards were many: safe for grommets (and geezers), economic (cheap!), and they could be ridden at beaches where hard boards with skegs were prohibited. [multiple sources-to be corroborated]
In Australia from pods
for primates (surfresearch.com.au) (pod links
1972 Coolite - a coarse bubble foam molded juvinile/beginner board, usually ridden prone, 4 ft 10" X 19" [pods for primates]
Morey Boogie Flexible foam bellyboard invented by Tom Morey as an
of his experimentation leading to the Morey-Doyle flexible surfboard.
Based on the Hawaiian paipo and incorporating flex and ‘vacuum track rails’ (Greenough / Brock hull design). Soft construction circumvents bodysurfing area restrictions. Originally offered as a buyer assembled mail order product. Extensively imitated. [pods for primates: the Leg Rope] [redated from 1974 to 1971 by myself based on correspondence with Tom Morey's son and other sources]
* Since the
Tom Morey has also introduced to the surfing world professional surfing
contests and in partnership with his University buddy Carl Pope, they
the Morey-Pope Company in Ventura, California. From this venture
they invented and developed removable fins (notably the W.A.V.E. Set
System), the Morey-Doyle soft surfboard (the soft surfboard was
a dud but has gone on to make a perfect rental board for beginning
down rails, concave under nose, turned down nose, and a three section
travel board (today perfected by Carl Pope with Pope Bi-sect). Y
continues to innovate and currently has a new design longboard called
information on Tom Morey, see Paul Gross' article: "Inventions:
Morey." The Surfer's Journal. Vol. 8, No. 3 (Fall 1999):
Also see Neal Miyake's interview with Tom Morey at http://www.hisurfadvisory.com/views/tommorey.html.
|Rediscovery: The Reemergence of the Wooden Alaia Paipo Board|
the first decade of 21st Century there has been a resurgant interest in
the building and riding of ancient surfing boards made of wood. In the
paipo community you will find board builders and riders experimenting
and adopting a wide variety of paipo board designs fashioned from a
variety of woods, including plywood, balsa, redwood, paulownia and
others. One of the popular forms has been the ancient alaia bodyboard.
John Clark, author of several Hawaiian beach books, a bodysurfer and paipo rider, told me that as he started research for his forthcoming Hawaiian surfing book (2010, Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions From the Past), that he "decided to ride something closer to what traditional Hawaiians rode than the standard paipos that are common today. My paipo partner, Bud Scelsa, makes our boards, so I asked him to make me an alaia-shaped paipo. He ended up making me two, one out of redwood with pine stringers and one out of wiliwili with koa stringers, so that's what I've been riding for the past couple of years. Both boards are about 5'2", 3/8" thick, flat-bottomed with no fins. They're too thin to stand on, at least for me, so I just ride them prone ("kipapa"). I really like them, and I think they've helped me to understand the pluses and minuses of traditional boards, and why the waves at Waikiki were especially well-suited to the old styles and equipment."
Figure: Examples of Modern Alaia Paipo Boards Based on Traditional Designs. Compare these to ancient alaia paipos for auction in July 2009. Photo at Publics in Waikiki, November 2008, by Bud Scelsa.
Summary: "The BodyGun is a body surfing system developed in
Africa. The BodyGun harnesses to the user's chest and torso by
of integrated waist and shoulder-toggle, harness subsystems. This gives
BodyGunners buoyancy, speed, maneuverability and freedom of movement.
benefits combine to afford a longer, more versatile, enjoyable,
and safer surf-riding experience.
The Cornish-made board consists of a
bottom, profiled Dow ethafoam 220 core and Softlon deck and HiSeal
rails and tail. The Multi-point 4-way adjustable harness is in
nylon and polyester materials. The BodyGun derives its name from
the Hawaiian Gun, a long surfboard with a narrow tail designed for
large steep waves, and the handgun: a hand-held body surfing
The BodyGun has true family appeal, especially among those who have
penetrating the surf line with other forms of surf craft." [BodyGun
tm UK] Also see this Popular Mechanics
"More maneuverable than body surfing. More portable than a Boogie Board..." The innovative promoters of the handboard say, "Designed and developed in Hawaii, these durable, wooden, twin finned handboards, over the years, have been to many of the breaks in the islands and also have been slipped into suitcases and backpacks to enjoy fun little waves all over the world... California, Mexico, Tahiti, New Zealand." For more info, read "A Brief History of the Handboard," by John Hazen, Jr. [Need updated link or file.] Also visit the French handboarding web/blog page.
Shown to the left is the Woody Armstrong
|More Evolution: The Surf Mat
"This adventure began in the winter of 1982, when an Oregon surfer & inventor, Dale Solomonson, created the original 12 ounce nylon & polyurethane surfmat for two highly skilled, multi-talented surfers: Paul Gross & George Greenough. That first nylon mat was a success, & since then, the best airmats for fast, high-performance surfing have never been the same." [from Dale Solomonson's former webpage, "Neumatic Surfcraft." Read more here.
Earlier surf mats included the
surfoplane which would be superseded in the 1970's by the Coolite, the Zippy Board
and/or the Canvas
In the 1980's the dominant prone board would be the Morey Boogie. A
2001 model of the Surfoplane is under development from a Newcastle
consortium. [from pods for primates : a catalogue of
surfboards in australia since 1900, the catalogue
#146, at http://surfresearch.com.au.]
Also see the informative article on surf mats in The Surfer's Journal, "Inflatable Dreams," Vol. 9, No. 2 (Late Spring 2000) and the surf film/documentary "Crystal Voyager" (with "Echoes" by Pink Floyd).
George Greenough Discussing Surf Mats on
Graeme Webster's UK Mat Surfing
Paul Gross's web blog, Surfmatters and 4th Gear Flyers website
Krypt Surf Mats website
Dale Solomson's Neumatic Surfcraft
The Surfoplane ca. 1933
Source: pods for primates : a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900, the catalogue #146.
Leap: The Hydrofoil Paipo Board
The hydrofoil represents a revolutionary jump in paipo boarding design. According to Terry Hendricks, the primary design goals of this board (the Super Slicer) are: (1) high maneuverability, (2) paddle-in (vs tow-in), and (3) flight elevation "autopilot." A secondary goal is to achieve at least as fast a speed as a state-of-the-art conventional board with a planing hull.
Pictured to the right is a side view of the Super Slicer. For more info on this board and additional pictures, click here.
Terry's early encounters with a hydrofoil bodyboard/hydrofoil paipo date back to the early 1960s and Gaylord Miller. Read his story here.
Another hydrofoil paipo board innovator is Gilbert Lum, of Oahu. See the article written by Neal Miyake.
|Wally riding his 4-foot "Paipo" at Makaha.
||Val Ching standup paipo ca.1963.
Gault-Williams, Malcolm. (1997, Winter). Surf Drunk: Wally Froiseth. The Surfer’s Journal, 6(4), 105. Courtesy of The Surfers Journal, Gault-Williams and Wally Froiseth.
Photo by Val Valentine, courtesy Jack McCoy. See and read more about Val Ching in the A Paipo Interview with Jack McCoy, by Bob Green, and in this article: Pendarvis, Cher. (2010, Winter). Uncle Val. Paipo in practice. The living link to surfing's high-performance roots. The Surfer’s Journal, 19(6), 38-47.
information from Bob Green's Belly boarding in Australia: The 1950s
An e-mail from John Clark to Bob Green (2010, August 23) contained a letter to Clark from Wally Froiseth (August 17, 2010), "I first put a single fin on one of my paipos, but when I tried it at Makaha, it was too shaky and not steady enough. My record shows that I tried two fins in 1955-56. I think I showed you one of my record books which confirms the timeline dates of 1955/56." Clark added the following to the information in the letter from Wally, "Wally made his first Hawaiian Pai Po balsa/fiberglass board in December 1955 with no fins. This is the board that he loaned to Jimmy Alama that was stolen. He made a second board without fins, but it side-slipped too much, so he added two fins to it, which were too small and in the wrong position. This was early in 1956, and from then on he continued to experiment with materials, designs, and fins until he could ride the boards to his satisfaction. By 1957, he was riding his paipos prone and standing on big days at Waikiki, Makaha, and Sunset."
In another e-mail to Green, John Clark (2010, August 27) stated, "Traditional paipo boards until after World War II were generally short, narrow, and thin. Wally's boards were longer, about 4'; wider, about 21" in front narrowing to 18" in the tail, and thicker, about 1 1/2" wide. He also glassed the boards and added a handle in the front and twin fins on the bottom. Given all those features, his boards were different than the existing boards."
Bodyboarding and Kneeboarding Links
There are numerous web pages on bodyboarding and kneeboarding, both commercial and personal. Links to many can be found at my general links page under the heading of "Kneeboarding, Boogie, and Skimboarding!" Some other good sources include: Kneeboard Surfing USA (KSUSA), Surfinfo.Australia, Alan "Bud" McCray's Blast Kneeboards Hawaii, Dean Cleary's Kneeboards, the American Kneeriding Club (AKC), and NetBodyBoarding. See a succinct review on the anatomy of a bodyboard (courtesy of eBodyboarding.com). Skimboards are also used to ride a wave breaking upon the shore (check out Skim Online). An interesting documentation of bodyboarding models dating from the original Boogie Board in 1972, can be found at VintageBodyboards.com.
Two of the better bodyboarding shops in the USA
are Turbo Surf (Honolulu, HI)
and eBodyboarding.com, an
excellent on-line shop owned by Jay Reale (formerly of Ocean City,
Maryland) and his wife Vicki. We sincerely miss the Shoreline
Board Shop (Ocean City, MD, ceased business operations summer of
2003). In Australia, you can check out http://www.bodyboarders.com.au.
Be sure to check the bodyboarding community's magazine A-Frame. (Option rip Oct. 20, 2004.) An East Coast USA bodyboarding forum: EastCoastBodyboarding.com.
Wave Riders: Intimacy or Evolution -- It's All in the Eye
Look and see for yourself: Is your surf riding vehicle a "step forward in evolution" or is it a "step backward from intimacy with mother ocean?"
The Tool Essential to Paipoboarding, Bodyboarding, Kneeboarding,
and Bodysurfing -- The Surf/Swim Fin
Finding some flippers or swim fins for catching your waves can sometimes be a real challenge. Depending upon your style of riding, frequency and foot shape you may have some special requirements. Personal preferences rule the day when it comes to swim fins. Visit this page for some links and info.
Need a Board Bag? If you need a travel bag you'll know
they are hard to come by -- even day bags aren't easy to find. Visit
this page for some links and info.
I've acquired a paipo during each of the past four decades and used it for any number of years before retiring the poor, beaten up specimen. Paipo-60 was made from a stripped down long board ca. 1969. I called it my Green Machine I, probably a blatant rip-off of something from the period, but it was green and used in the emerald Caribbean waters of Rincón and vicinity. Paipo-70, plain white but called Green Machine II, was made ca. 1978. My truly disgusting glassing abilities are evident in that board but it brought he great pleasure over the next 10 years at assorted breaks from DELMARVA to Puerto Rico to La Jolla and up to Ventura. Both boards were tear drop shapes with single fins. GM-I was potato chip thin with easy round rails, great on the crisp waves of PR and when I was a much lighter rail (5'9", 130#). GM-II was thicker and transitions from easy rails forward to has very hard rails from the midsection. My next two boards, Red Machine III and Red Machine IV have parallel lines, contemporary surfboard rails, 3-fins, and additional rocker in the nose area. These boards are better suited to the waves on the U.S. East Coast but have performed well in surf up to 8-10 feet in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. My newest board, the Checkered RPM, moves me back to a thinner, narrower and lighter board, and one more optimized for good surf rather than a board optimized for all waveriding conditions.
See some quick pics of my Paipo
See a description, the vital statistics, and pictures (future item) for each paipo at these links:
Green Machine I] [Paipo-70 Green
II] [Paipo-80 Red Machine III]
[Paipo-90 Red Machine IV]
[Paipo-XP04 Green Disk V] | [Paipo-El Chillito VI] | [Paipo-07 Orange Matter VII] | [Paipo-09 Checkered RPM VIII]
[Paipo-11 S&S Checkered RPM IX] | [Paipo-12 S&S Checkered RPM X] | [Paipo-14 S&S Checkered RPM XI] | [Paipo-14 S&S Diamond Bonzer RPM XII] |
Red Hansen | El
Paipo Knee Machine 48 #1070 |
Sheet for your paipo]
|Orange Matter||Checkered RPM
|S&S Checkered RPM
(Sun & Sea)
|S&S Checkered RPM
(Sunset & Sea)
|S&S Checkered RPM
(Sun & Sea II)
(Sun & Surf)
PAIPO TESTIMONIALS -- MY PAIPO STORY by Paipo Enthusiasts
Random Stories by Paipo Enthusiasts from Internet Postings, Magazines, Newspaper Articles and Elsewhere, including MyPaipoStory submissions to MyPaipoBoards.org (see the Your Paipo History Survey Form).
Bruce Barcik. "My Paipo Story," submitted to MyPaipoBoards.org on February 7, 2011.
"...on cold winter days I can still close my eyes and feel that rush of the wave, the acceleration you feel as the wave grabs you, the view of the shoulder developing before you and that special place in the tube charging along at what seemed 100mph. These are the things I will never forget."
"Skinners Brewery World Bellyboard Championships in Cornwall" -- SIBA News Article: The surfing scene of yesteryear was re-created at Chapel Porth Beach near St Agnes, Cornwall, when the clock was turned back in style for the Skinners Brewery World Bellyboard Championships... Click here for the news article in PDF format.
"Rabbit Kekai: First Hotdogger, Last Beachboy -- 1930s Paipo Beginnings," Legendary Surfers, by Malcolm Gault-Williams.
The Wedge Story, an awesome story about paipoboarding the Wedge and Huntington Beach in the early-60s, written by David Richards and Tod Brown, as told by Mike McKerracher. Read more about the "Big Wednesday" at that site (hope you have a broadband connection - long loading).
"Gliding Gilbert" -- paipo boarding on a paipo with a hydrofoil, by Neal "Sponge" Miyake
Gaylord Miller's Hydrofoil Paipos of the 60's -- Info provided by Terry Hendricks
"Wooden Bellyboards-Cornwall 9/92" -- by Neal "Sponge" Miyake
"Homegrown Pocket Rocket" -- a story about a bodyboarder's finest creation -- by Foondoggy
Neal Miyake's InnerView of Russ Brown (aka "Captain Turbo") of Turbo Surf Designs Hawaii (4/13/98), innovator of the stiff bodyboard in 1983:"We realized that bodyboards back then were just flexible piece of foam. Having ridden paipos (paipo boards) at The Wall, right away I knew the boards should be stiffer, and if it was stiff, then you could put skegs on them. So began the line of Turbos."Paul Lindbergh's (Hawaii Paipo Designs) "Paipo Boards Story" (an excerpt--go to the link for the complete story):"I remember in those days that Makapuu was the place to paipo. All kinds of home made paipos everywhere. Ehukai, on the North shore was another Paipo place. Very hip place too I should add. This all took place before Boogie boards were invented. When Boogie boards came out the Paipo almost disappeared. People were attracted to the new materials (i.e., polyethylene), and with peoples creative levels going down, it seemed easier (and, or, more decadent) to buy a Boogie board than to build your own Paipo.Surfer Magazine, Letters to the Ed - Post (1996), In the Water is Fun at Makaha!
As far as I'm concerned, the surfboard, and later the boogie board, were modeled after the boat (or canoe, same context). The surfboard has evolved from boat designs and is really a scaled down, redesigned, and much improved version of the outrigger canoe and the Boogie board the same. Of course there have been many improvements in shapes and materials, Surfboards are designed for the rider to paddle around on and float around on, much like a small boat. The same with Boogie boards, a main factor is its ability to float, like all good boats. If it don't sink, it's good. People feel safe when it don't sink. Surfing the waves was very much like the old canoes did. Of course it's been around for many years now and a lot of things have changed, but not the basic boat origins.
My opinion is that surfboards and boogie boards are improvements on an old theme, not a design synthesized, after thought and observation. The paipo is just that. It was not designed to float; it was designed with hydraulic dynamics in mind only. Previously the comfort of the rider was not even considered. The rider laid on the hard surface of the board, and often took a pounding. This board will take off easier than surfboard, Bogie board or boat, go faster, and has the ability to dive under outside sets with great ease. It's a good feeling, I tell you.""...I don't think the guys at Windansea have anything to complain about. Windansea guys have trouble with boogieboarders and kayakers? At Makaha we have bodysurfers, guys on surfboards, longboards, bodyboards, paipo boards, kayaks and canoes. We've got things in the water the Windansea guys have never heard of. At Makaha everybody shares and everybody has a good time. Yeah, we got some huge guys who will take action if somebody gets out of line, but nobody gets out of line and everything goes pretty smoothly." - Sunny Garcia, guest editor.Kiah Interviews His Dad, November 1997, by Kiah Imai (excerpts)How did you learn to surf?
We were in the water a lot from when we were young. First we just swam. Then we used a foam board and body surfed. They didn't have boogie boards then. The foam boards would fall apart and give us a rash on our stomachs. They we started using and making paipo boards. Paipo boards are pieces of plywood that we cut and shaped just like a surfboard. We sanded the edges and painted them with marine paint. The Paipo boards were about 4 feet long. This was in 1967.My dad came with us paipo boarding off of Port Lock. Then we got into surfboards. We started with used boards and then made our own boards. I surfed with my friends and my brother.Did surf boards change [from] when you were young?Sam Mokuahi, ‘Mayor of Waikiki,’ By Helen Altonn, Honolulu Star-Bulletin. [Excerpt from an obituary on Sammy "Steamboat" Mokuahi]
Yes they did. Now surf boards are shorter. They have leashes. There are also more fins. On our paipo boards we just had one big fin. Boards now are also lighter, they have less fiberglass so they are lighter and also weaker."In those days, Kevin Mokuahi said, his uncle would cut a piece of plywood and tell kids, "Here, take this out and catch some waves." The "piper board," as kids called it then, was the forerunner of the boogie board and much more difficult to use, he said."
from the Wedge Guestbook Entries [The Wedge] posting by mike, the mackman, Location: Seattle, WA. USA, September 27, 1997ache for the ocean,,,, in 1962 I had made a paipo board with 2 skegs out of wood. When we were kicked out at 11 for no surf times, I would go back in with fins and my original paipo. No one else had one. September of 62 we had a huge swell. closing out every where but the wedge. I went out with my paipo. Was I the first to boogie board the wedge. Morey's didn't come out till 63 or 64. Would love to know. I think I was. I would start on the left backwash and cut across the bowl,,, a little dangerous but you hit the bowl with enough speed to blow out over the top on the other side.,,,,,,,anyone know,,, the macman,,, ps still surfing,,,from the Mike Stewart Guestbook, posting by Don Andrade, on 08/24/99I can't tell you how stoked I'd be if there were a possibility of getting one of your boards in a custom length. I've been riding body boards and body surfed since I was a little kid in southern California, I remember the first "body board" I ever rode; it was a thing my brother had called a Paipo board, and it looked to have been the front end of a long board, cut off with two skegs attached to the bottom at the time. I realized later on that this thing was made that way, it was a lot of fun and needless to say totally lethal, I quit riding it after it whacked me for the fifth or sixth time & continued to mostly body surf the beach break between Bolona creek and Hermosa. I am thirty-one and still enjoy charging nice waves & currently live on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, in a little town called Los Osos. We get some pretty nice waves in here for body boarding, and surfing. I currently ride a 46" custom Turbo board and am pretty stoked on it, it's a lot different from an old Turbo I had in the early 80's, however it is a really good big wave board. I've gone through quite a few of our local Toobs boards and would like to try something with a little more snap to it, something that the Turbo has only in big swell. So let me know if it is at all possible to have one of your boards made special for me. Thank you, sincerely Don P.S. I really wish I knew where that 'ol Paipo board went, it would be a cool thing to hang on my wall and look at & remember the beginning of this sport.from the Mike Stewart Guestbook,, posting by Allen "wrench" Pantaleon, on 12/28/99Aloha again Mike. Got cut off. I need some help from the "best". I'm seriously thinking of purchasing a new bodyboard but confused as to which one is best for me. No laugh now. I have surfed for over 35 years on paipo, shortboards, and longboards at mostly on the Westside of Oahu. I've also been an amateur competitor in the local HSA, HSF, and HASA surf meets. I was a member of the old Makaha Surfing Association and Makaha Surf Team along with Rell Sunn, Bird Mahelona, Johnny Boy Gomes, Sunny Garcia, etc. My trademark surfing maneuver was and is the "Allen Wrench" which uncle Buff named after he first saw me doing it back in the Eighty's. But now I'm fully into bodyboarding and having sooooo much fun. I'm 52 years old now and have been bodyboarding about a year now and still learning. Most of my surfing buddies think I'm crazy or I got hurt surfing. But really I know I'm getting an all around physical workout; every wave is overhead; almost every wave is potentially a barrel; and I don't have to worry too much about skegs and pointed noses of my own. I'm 5'6"; 140lbs; and have been using an original Lance Ronquillo Morey 42.5 x 12.5 x 22 x 18.5 board. It has a few wrinkles on the bottom and rails are separating a little where my hands are at. I still like it but I think I'm ready to go to the next levels of this sport. Please help me out with some of your best respected ideas. Allen "Wrench".from The Surf Connection, an excerpt from "One Step Beyond (Hanging Five in the Tube, on Short and Big, Loose Boards)" by John Orr"...I I was born and grew up in Hawaii (Oahu), started surfing or paipo boarding (like a Boogie Board, but made from, like a 1/2" plywood, usually with a single or twin fins) at the Wall, by the Zoo, in Waikiki. I remember paipo boarding with Eddie Aikau, his brothers (Sol and Clyde, etc.), Hawaiian, Palakiko and Val Ching, they were standing up on little plywood boards, and surfing good, at the Wall (before they surfed on regular Big surfboards). My brother Ron and I finally got into standing up and surfing our little paipos, too. About that time my brother talked my Dad into buying us a couple of new pop out Velzy's. ... ."from a alt.surfing autobiographical posting about when "Doc" saw the light, "Re: Selling Out To The Man (Long)" by Doc, on 1999/11/02<slice> Going back further...from "Surf's been up for 40 years," an article in The Florida Times-Union, 07/19/2000, by columnist Bill Longernecker
I learned waves back in about 1966...with one of those heavy single fin boards. A 9'6" or bigger, depending on what I could borrow. Anything smaller...didn't exist. For kids and girls, 9'6" was as small as it got. Real, full grown guys used bigger boards.
It wouldn't turn. Leash? We didn't have them, and I have El Roca to back me up on that. Takeoffs were...interesting...on hollow days, as early as we could make it into them because those %$#@&!! pigs wouldn't turn fast enough. Eat it and hanging onto your board was a dicey proposition, lose it and 40+ pounds of round railed thing loose and moving got respect from peers and elders all right, stark bleeding terror more like it 'cause that THING was coming with a wave behind it and if they didn't get the hell out of the way they were dead meat.
Elegance? Naah. Slow. Hell, an elephant looks elegant if it's slow enough...and they often are. Range of motion was point it and trim, that's all. No other choices.
You ever think about the old, double-glassed boards you see, with ding repairs in 'em? What it would take to ding one of those suckers that would only star a bit if you smashed a baseball bat into it? And what that would do to your gourd if it smacked you?
We thought about it a lot. The fixed dings you see on those things came from other boards. Meat isn't hard enough to make a ding in one. One of the first boards I used had an aluminum plate for a skeg...I won't attempt to call it a fin, it was a skeg, a not especially blunt instrument that would do a very nice job of slicing and dicing or just plain ax murder with that heavy, ugly, unmaneuverable bloody THING it was attached to.
Uh huh.... and that, my friend, was no golden age. That was the stone age. Getting munched by dinosaurs. The thrill of surfing wasn't from the waves, it was from coming out undamaged. But, we didn't have anything else. Until....
One day, I may have been thirteen or fourteen, 120 lbs, if I'm lucky, walking up a cliff with a 9'6" double glassed Spoiler under my arm...and on my back...and under my other arm...and..... I watched somebody coming down the cliff with a paipo.
Little bitty thing. How's he gonna paddle it? Fins...TWO fins? Whassat? Lemme siddown a minute and watch this. (and I can set down this GODDAMNED HEAVY TANK for a GODDAMNED MINUTE!).
The guy goes out....and I'm watching....and he goes for a wave ...and I'm watching.....and I wanna yell HEY BUDDY, TOO LATE........and he GOES LIKE HELL! He gets to the end of the wave where any good longboarder is gonna just head straight for a while and wait for the mush so he can do his poses for the beach crowd, what they called a 'cutback', then....WOW! He RIPPED that turn! He's headed BACK? INTO IT? And now he's gonna make ANOTHER GODDAMNED TURN! Just RIPPING IT UP!!!
I carried the GODDAMNED HEAVY TANK to the top, later. Much later. Never wasted my time with another one. Scored me a paipo, later a kneeboard. Nat had hit the scene, Greenough. It all changed. It came alive.
The Stone Age was dead.
"Forty years ago, a part of my growth was stunted. Finding surf became a consuming passion. In 1960, I strapped on a pair of swim fins and took a 5-foot slab of wood out into a northeaster and became a surfer. Wooden boards like that were called paipo boards. I still have my original board. Today, they are called belly boards and boogie boards, and are made of soft foam. My definition for a "surfer" is anyone who rides waves, not just one who stands up."
from "The Original Surfboard Company," sourced from book citations, on July 28, 2008:"Long before people started to stand up on ‘Malibu’ surf boards in Britain in the 1960s, they surfed the Atlantic rollers lying down on thin flat wooden boards - a design based on the ancient Hawaiin “paipo” boards (paipo - meaning short or small board).from the Team FLI Blog, "Wood is Good!," posted by Charl van Rensburg on February 18, 2009, excerpts:
They are more often called belly boards these days, but originally they were called surf boards or surf-riding boards. Until recently a number of surf historians claimed that this type of surfing began in Britain in 1918 when the first world war veterans returned home - but The British Surfing Museum has recently discovered the existence of a photograph of a man with a short board in 1904.
In "The Art of Surf-riding" (1934 edition) author Ronald S. Funnell writes ‘ A new and exhilerating sport is rapidly gaining many fans in England - surf-riding and deservedly so, for its health giving as well as invigorating relaxation and pastime. The 1953 ‘Coronation edition’ claims that “the keen interest in surf-riding has become intensified owing to excellent photographs” which had appeared in recent years in the national press."
"I have been bodyboarding for almost 20 years now, and I must admit, about 12 – 18 months ago, I just got so jaded with the sport… I’d find more reasons not to go Bodyboarding than to actually paddle out, you know that “been there done that” feeling. This prompted me to start looking around at what is currently going on in the Surfing World / Industry, and in so doing have found some inspiration, and with it have started exploring some alternative wave-riding craft... this inspiration has not come from line-ups packed with kids who have sun-bleached hair, industry Sponsorships and a lot of attitude. My lifeline for Bodyboarding came from the periphery, the edge, the place where Heretics, Hippies and Intelligentsia reside (or have been banished to).from Paipo Days: Paipoboarding, Bodysurfing and Brotherhood, by the brothers Malcolm & Frank Orrall, excerpts:
One of the most inspiring short-films I have seen recently is “The Life of Ply” by Ocean Motion Pictures. I just love the stoke of the person in the clip, it resonates with wave-riders all over the world. Dot, featured in the clip, lives in the UK and I recently met someone who knows her, named Sally Parkin. Sally owns a company called 'The Original Surfboard Company' ( http://www.originalsurfboards.co.uk ), a UK based business manufacturing traditional plywood boards. In the pic above, my Son Neo is holding an Original Surboard. Wow, they are amazing to ride. Not made for tricks, just down the line speed and pure joy. I now ride waves all the way to the beach." (read the PDF file of "Wood is Good!".)
"Our family grew up walking distance from the ocean in Hawai'i Kai in the 60's and 70's, back when there where still pig farms out there. The ocean was our playground, & my brother Malcolm taught me how to body surf at Sandys, Makapu'u and Waimea. I used to love to follow what he was up to 'cause he was always doing cool stuff in the ocean like; spear fish diving, cliff fishing, surfing, riding Paipo & paddling canoe. I asked Malcolm if he would write about this period, and specifically about body surfing and Paipo boarding, which are two of the most classic, mystical & soulful styles of surfing.from the MyPaipoBoards Forums, by HIpaipo, posted on October 26, 2009:
My love of wooden paipoboarding began like it did for many other kids in Hawaii, as a wave-riding sport you could engage in for little or no money. Surfboards were so expensive, and all you needed to paipo was a piece of exterior plywood, a borrowed jigsaw, and maybe a resin finish coat or some glass if you were patient enough to wait for it to dry. It is the perfect wave riding sport for the masses. And since it is one of the best kept secrets about surfing, there is a kind of mystique about it to me, and a connection with the real old style Hawaiian wave riding that you don’t see represented in surfing culture in general."
"My first experiences riding a board of anysort was a morey bodyboard in the 90's. Like all kids here in hawaii that came after the Boogie Board Era, I would play by the shore, catching the soup by pushing off the bottom when the wave came (like British Bellyboarding) at White Plains Beach. After growing up to the age of about 11, and getting tired of occasionally getting drilled into the sand face first (the result of not bottom turning), I moved on, going out to the line up with my Morey Bodyboard from Costco, and my old pair of blue and black Duckfeet I used for snorkeling. It was out in the lineup, in slightly more serious waves, I learned the concept of bottom turning.....the hard way. However, I could never dive the bodyboard really well, and one day at White Plains stands out: I had just caught a wave and was headed back out to the line up(because there are no channels at White Plains to go back out through, you must dive under every wave on the way back out) and a seemingly endless set came in, I kept diving and kicking forward, only to get pushed back. The set finally ended, and I eventually got back to the lineup. This went on until I was about 14 and a half years old, and I saw my mom and dad's old guitar pick style paipos when my dad and I were cleaning out the garage. I asked about it, and he told me it was an old skool bodyboard. I handled it, noticing how heavy and thin it was. I was skeptical, and thought it would never work. Curiosity got the better of me, and I brought my mother's paipo with us one day we went to the beach. Paddling out felt odd, and everyone looked at the board trying to figure out what it was (I love when people do this Laughing ). I tried for a couple of waves, and missed them, but I didn't give up, and finally caught one. I was amazed by the speed once I got on the wave, and when my ride finally ended, I noticed how easy it was to dive under waves. I was hooked. I made a wood board for me a couple of months later (my "bullet" board), and currently at the age of 16 still have and ride my "bullet" board and a HPD SR flex paipo, and usually ride at White Plains, Big Rights, Cunhas, and The Wall (Walls)."from comments on an article by Neal Miyake, "Alternative Waveriding Methods," by Bob Sanchez, posted on February 11, 2004:
"I was happy to read your article. I have been an avid waterman my whole life. My dad was a police officer and my mom worked in town. Living in Waianae my family made friends with neighbors who had a built a place on Makua beach across from the Army Shooting range. We surfed at Makaha and body surfed Pray for Sex and Yokohama. When I went to high school I bodysurfed Sandy Beach and Makapu'u regularly and knew everyone. We used McDonalds trays from the McDonalds in Hawaii Kai. As I am 36 now its been YEARS since I have been in the water like I was in my youth but I remember bodysurfing, using home made hand boards, paipo boards and yes, the McDonald's trays. I actually was in competition against Mike Stewart and that guy totally rips bodysurfing and he won that contest. I also met Mark Cunningham before he won the Pipe contest. Thank you for letting me remember how fun it was."another comment on the "Alternative Waveriding Methods" article, by Katoanui, posted on February 20, 2004:
"I could not stop laughing about the Mcdonald's tray. It brought back so much memories when I used to be a 'Waikiki Wall Rat'. I remember Mcdonalds yelling at us for taking their trays. It even escalated to the point where they would have people watching to make sure none of us 'wall rats' would make a run for the simple but effective hand boards. Great stories and pictures! I enjoy the pics very much as my background! Keep it coming!!" and Neal's reply, "Katoanui: Glad the story brought back memories. I remember people used to even put leashes on their trays. So funny when you think about it."another comment on the "Alternative Waveriding Methods" article, by Bobby Thompson, posted on April 30, 2004:
"I stumbled on this site and took me back to small kid time. Our weekly drive from Kalihi valley over the pali (the old road) to Bellows field in waimanalo. The waves weren't big but the rides were long and fun on our home made plywood paipo boards. I was probably 8 years old when I started- this was our ritual until I was about 12 years old. this was over 45 years ago. I now live in louisiana... mahalo for the memories."from the Swaylocks Forums, "Why I ride prone," by idler, posted on February 28, 2010:
"I have surfed for roughly twenty seven years. I started as a ten year old in Durban, South Africa, riding a five foot Spider Murphy shaped Safari twin-fin. I soon graduated to thrusters, since that was what everyone was riding. We had a 6'6 single-fin pop-out sitting in the garage for years and one day I pulled it out because the surf was small but really clean. It felt like a mal to me, and I loved it. This was the day I realised the joy of playing around with different types of surf equipment.another comment from the thread on the Swaylocks Forums, "Why I ride prone," by unclegrumpy, posted on February 28, 2010:
Fast forward 26 years, I'm living in Australia now. I've been building and riding alaia's almost exclusively for nearly four years, although I still love my big nose rider and my 6'6 Bluebird single-fin. One day I grabbed a 6ft alaia, and a pair of flippers, and waded out into some clean 2ft ankle-snappers. There was a small crowd of local hot-shot shortboarders out, and I could feel the stares of derision as I kicked my way out into the line-up.
I stroked into a small wave, and woosh......I flew along the glassy face! Being prone, the water felt like it was inches from my chin, and the perspective was beautiful. It was like being disembodied, or like a gull gliding above the water. It also felt really.....symmetrical. Instead of standing and moving toward a preferred, or less preferred and awkward SIDE, I was almost flying, stretched out, and FORWARD in the true sense of the word.
I had ridden boogie boards as a kid, but they always felt slow and awkward to me. I couldn't figure out why people would lie down given the option of standing up? But it seemed I had missed something. Prone surfing has swallowed me up completely. I wouldn't say I've retired from standing up, but with the options of ply bellyboards, wooden and fiberglass paipo's, surfmats, handplanes, cubit boards and plain old bodysurfing, I just don't seem to have the urge or time to ride my old boards!
There is also a sense of stepping off the grid once you embrace prone surfing. The decision to choose the less popular and less flashy surf-style is almost instantly rewarded by a plethora of new surf spots too small, too steep or too shallow for a finned stand up board. The amount of time spent in the barrel is multiplied tenfold, and your entire quiver can fit under the seat of your car!
All I can say is.......JOY!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Bring forth the Mollusk...."
"I'm with you Idler! I started surfing back in the mid 60's but neck and shoulder problems for several years have prevented me from paddling overarm so my surfing is now limited to prone riding. I certainly don't feel it's a handicap. Like yourself , I have mats, old fashion belly boards, Hawaiian Paipo, home made alaia, hand boards and even a couple boogers.The alaia is getting the most water time these days and it's just amazing how fun a basic little plank can be. For me, the simple fact that we are actually in the wave, makes for a more enjoyable experience. Proud to be Prone."
PAIPOS IN THE MEDIA: MOVIES, VIDEOS, BOOKS, POST CARDS, JIGSAW PUZZLES, POETRY
Random Citations of Paipo Riding Captured Live
The History of Paipo Boarding:
The history of paipo boarding (aka bellyboarding) has been captured and documented in many manners and forms. Boards are in museums and personal collections. Books, journals, magazines, monographs, pamphlets, photographs and figures, web pages, blogs and a host of other media capture bits and pieces of the history, but very few of these sources provide a unified message of the sport of paipo boarding. More often than not these media capture a glimpse, or a snapshot in time, of the paipo, usually as a subset of sport of waveriding (aka surfing). Usually the written word on paipo riding (or bellyboarding) consists of a small article in a surf magazine or maybe even a small chapter in a book of surfing. These are all very important contributions and not to be minimized. They are the building blocks of paipo history. In the list below you will find some histories of the paipo as we understand it today.
- Paipo and belly boarding in Australia: The 1950s and beyond (includes online links to pre-1950 photos from Australia and New Zealand), by Bob Green [citation]
- Planky: Bellyboarding in Europe, by Bob Green [citation]
- History of wooden bodyboards & belly boards, by Sally Parkin [focusing on the U.K. traditional style of belly board riding]
- An Evolving History of Surfing and Paipo Riding in Japan, by Nobuhito "Nobby" Ohkawa. Also see a short YouTube video history (板子乗り). in Japan the indigenous term for paipo board is itako.
- The History of Surfing in South Africa [on-line], by Surfing Heritage South Africa.
See a listing of books and journal articles, organized by author, that include references to or provide insights to the sport of paipo boarding, in An Annotated Bibliography of the Paipo Board.
Surfing Magazines and Other Magazines:
See the developing list of magazine articles and advertisements. (A work-in-progress.)
- Gordon, Mike. (2009, December 13). Soul Surfers: North Shore waves a lifestyle for some devoted residents. The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved December 14, 2009, from this link. You can also read the article in the MyPaipoBoards.org John Galera Paipo Interview.
The first addition to this on-line collection features bodyboarding along coastal North Carolina, USA, in 1907. See more in the Paipo Postcards.
The first addition to this on-line collection is from a South African series of jigsaw puzzles dating to the 1920s. See the Paipo Jigsaw Puzzles.
The Paipo Research Project started interviewing "paipo people" during 2009. Interviews from earlier times will be added as they are made available. Click on this link for the The Paipo Interviews. Many thanks to our worldwide volunteer community of paipo historians, researchers and fans.
Videos on the Internet:
A very large collection of paipo videos are listed at WritersTip.com. Many thanks to jbw for sharing this on the Paipo Forums (June 4, 2012).
Movies and Videos (in order of year released):
- Kovar, John (Malaroo). (2015, November 29). Another paipo adventure, parts I and II. Bob Green went on a surf trip south of Sydney with two boards, a new finless board and a twin fin. Part I features the finless board, made by Huie, in action: https://youtu.be/WlvHCGMeh8U. It handled steep take-offs, turns and has some speed. He tended not to take it out at spots that needed a long paddle, but it did catch waves well. Part II features the twin fin, made by Chris Garrett, in different waves, different board: https://youtu.be/lFjqLZDCYzI.
- Yerobi, Mikel. (2014) Egurraren Gizona. Retrieved July 7, 2014, from https://vimeo.com/89525318. Building and then riding a wood paipo at Mundaka.
- Clark, John. (2013, June 9). 板子乗り- Japanese Traditional Surf Riding at Waikiki - YouTube. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NbFigfXH5Yg. John Clark tells us that Japanese surfing culture dates back to the 1800s, and possibly earlier. The surfing board is called an itako. Clark demonstrates waveriding on an Itako in Waikiki. See the video here: http://youtu.be/NbFigfXH5Yg
- Blair, Milton. (Director). (1967, July 18 [released]). Blue Surf-ari excerpt uploaded to YouTube entitled Greg Noll Ricky Griggs Surfing Hawaii 1967 Piapo Board. StarrFilms.com. Uploaded to YouTube on January 23, 2011. Video excerpt from the surf movie, Blue Surf-ari. Short snippet features Frenchie on his paipo board riding Sunset Beach on a large day with Ricky Grigg in the water and Greg Noll watching from the shore. Paipo action starts around 6:15. Milton Blair - Director, Don Brown - Editor, Don Brown - Cinematographer, Don Brown - Producer. Soundtrack by The Blazers. Thanks to Jeremy Oxenden for the tip. See the poster. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az7dseB4DN0
- Howard-Jones, Phil. (Producer & Editor). (2012, May 10). Polzeath Beach 1936. A Wonderful World Presentation. Vanessa MacMahon 2012. All rights reserved. Short clip entitled "Surfing," that show bellyboarding UK-style boards in 1936, probably some of the oldest footage around for UK-style bellyboarding. Video summary: A beautifully nostalgic look back in time to halcyon days and a wonderful family summer holiday at Polzeath, Cornwall August 1936. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX481AAt6l0.
- Unknown. (Director). (1947). Riders of the California Surf. Hermosa Pix, An American Miniature. [Film short.] Summation by Paipo Forums' OG-AZN: Mostly solid wood stand up riding in this, but there's wood paipo / belly board riding, bodysurfing, and mat riding at the beginning. Also a segment on making redwood & balsa boards. Surprised to see a lot of people using (swim) fins that early. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQzXlnYUhAg.
- British Pathé. (1968). Surfing - Devon 1968. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from http://www.britishpathe.com/. Poster's description: North Devon. Big GV long beach on North Devon coast, with holiday makers. Various shots children and adults playing on surf boards in the small waves off the beach. One woman wears a red swimsuit and a pink pixie swim hat. Deckchair attendant sits at his post. Various shots of lifeguards (some with big beards) looking seawards for swimmers in trouble. My comments: Traditional UK bellyboard surfing in the shorebreak. Of special interest is the beach bellyboard vendor at 2:12 (for example, see this snippet).
- Clark, John R. K. (2012, November 12). The Six Types of Hawaiian Surfing. Surfing Heritage Foundation - YouTube.com. Retrieved November 23, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MFN-XdBbGA&hd=1. John Clark discusses the six types of Hawaiian surfing: 1. He'e Nalu (board surfing); 2. Pakaka Nalu (outrigger canoe surfing); 3. Kaha Nalu (bodysurfing); 4. Pae Po'o (bodyboarding); 5. He'e One (sand sliding or skimboarding); and 6. He'e Pu'e Wai (river surfing). A short slide lecture at a Hawaiian Historical Society meeting in the Kamakakookalani Auditorium, drawing on materials from his book, Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions From the Past.
- Cornwall Tourist Board. (2011). Bellyboarding: A digital postcard from Cornwall. YouTube.com. Uploaded to YouTube on December 20, 2011. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hChI5TzKSrU. Producer: Sideways Collective http://www.sidewayscornwall.co.uk/. Old school surfing at it's very best: no wetsuits, no leashes, a bit of wood and a swimsuit is all you need! Hosted by the National Trust, don't miss this annual event on Chapel Porth beach on the North Cornwall coast.
- xxxwall Tourist Board. (2011, August 15). Creation Plantation- Wooden Bodyboards (Japanese & English). YouTube.com. Uploaded by longboarder8899 on Aug 21, 2011. Retrieved May21, 2012, from http://youtu.be/QJ9ul1hc_e8. Poster's comment: The wood body boards had a hey day from the 1920's to the 1960's. The are GREAT fun and actually very advanced in the way they use flex to ride the wave. I highly recomment trying one. Tom Wegener and Nobbywoods.
- Morris, Steven. (2011, December 1). Surfing in Britain: earliest known footage discovered. The Guardian. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/dec/01/surfing-britain-earliest-known-footage. From the article, "Video from 1929 shows Lewis Rosenberg taking to the waves off Newquay on a board he carved himself out of balsa wood The equipment may be rudimentary and the technique suspect, but the pioneering spirit shines through. The earliest known footage of surfing off the chilly shores of the UK has been discovered in an attic and is being hailed as a national treasure." The video beings with surfing prone on a "half-board" before moving on and trying to stand on a surfing board like in Australia. Read more here and watch the video at: http://gu.com/p/33njg. [Note: another article appeared with an updated publication date of December 2, 2011: Allen, Emily. (2011, December 1). Lewis Rosenberg: First UK surfer filmed in Newquay on home-made board in 1929. Daily Mail. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/.
Subtitle: "Tally ho chaps! First-ever British surfer caught on film taking to waves on home-made board... in 1929." This is a more extensive article than the one appearing in The Guardian. The film was donated to the Museum of British Surfing. Peter Robinson, founder of the museum in Braunton, Devon, said: 'When Maxine visited one of our exhibitions and told us the family had film of surfing exploits on a wooden longboard in the late 20s we were totally blown away. We knew that belly boarding was happening at this time but this film is very significant. Lewis and his friends appear to have seen standing up surfing on a newsreel from Australia and just thought, 'we would like to have a go at that." Slightly different film footage than what appears on The Guardian is posted here: http://bcove.me/5r491yha. The original source, the Museum of British Surfing, has an article on their website: http://www.museumofbritishsurfing.org.uk/2011/06/30/standing-proud/.
- Wilhoite, J. (Director), & Wilhoite, J. (Producer). (1965). Stop the Wave, I Want to Get Off [Motion picture on YouTube.]. USA.
See a poster here. This snippet of a film features some paipo boarding at about the 6 minute mark. Thanks to Paul Gross for bringing this one to my attention. Stars: Stoney Burke, Steve Cabell and Candy Calhoun. 90 minutes; $29.95. Available at Haleiwa Strong Current. From the Star Bulletin archives is a film synopsis and story: "In a fortuitous sequence of events, North Shore surfer Bernie Baker discovered and resurrected a gem of a surf film that was created in the early '60s and shown to a limited audience, before fading into oblivion. When Baker and his wife, Marie, joined a Rocky Point potluck party hosted by longtime friends from his hometown of Carpinteria, he found them watching a surf video that Baker quickly placed in the '60s. Baker was intrigued. The sound track was professional, cool jazz, the narration was witty, and he absolutely could not recognize the footage from any of the many surf movies he has memorized. But when Baker saw footage of a young George Downing surfing perfect Laniakea and other Hawaii late greats, still-living greats and California surfing legends ripping up the North Shore on old longboards, he had to know what he was looking at. It turns out his friends Stan and Wendy Cowan, had found a film that Wendy's father, Jim Wilhoite, had made on a trip to Hawaii in the early '60s, and had converted it to VHS videotape format. Wilhoite had shown it commercially in California, but it was buried by the megahit Endless Summer. So he shelved the film. "It was such a gold mine find," says Baker. "I wouldn't let Wendy leave Hawaii with the tape ... when I showed it to my friends, they said it was like finding King Tut's treasure." Wilhoite, now retired and living in Palm Springs. gave Baker permission to market the video and send him the profits. "I promised Wendy that her father would never have to buy golf balls or gasoline again," he says. Now anyone can rediscover the lost footage. "It's time traveling at its best," says Baker." Made available on YouTube by Scott Starr, Surf/Skate/Snow Photographer/Historian. See a snippet of the film here: http://youtu.be/LgmenGSYw0M.
- Pesce, Adam. (Director). (2011). Splinters [Motion picture]. USA: In Effect Films. [Trailer, film in release.]
Producer's movie summary. "Splinters is the first feature-length documentary film about the evolution of indigenous surfing in the developing nation of Papua New Guinea. In the 1980s, a pilot left behind a surfboard in a remote seaside village in Papua New Guinea, a land known for cargo cults and cannibalism. Twenty years later, the sport of surfing is splintering Vanimo Village. For select surfing talent, it’s a way out to compete in the “whiteman’s” world. Personal and clan rivalries emerge as hopefuls claw for this prestigious position. The countercultural sport is also a unique catalyst for social change as women gain newfound status in a violent, patriarchal community. The surfing experiment comes to a head when four village surfers compete in the country's first-ever national surfing titles. As the village grapples with its identity, these young heroes dream their surfboards will carry them to a better life." My brief take from having watched only the trailer is that it shows people having tons of fun belly surfing, but when the stand-up surfboard enters the scene it becomes competition-oriented and more aggressive. Long live the funsters! See the film trailer here: http://player.vimeo.com/video/22277325.
- O'Roarty, Ian. (2011). Paipo segue to next dimension. Uploaded by Blackwatersurfer on May 25, 2011. Greg Betz, buzzing at his peak. His focus in his last year on earth was pure: surf, spend quality time with friends and family, create art, and love. He was unaccepting of anything that was trivial. This video is also a tribute to original Paipo man RIP Ray Hookano, kind and inspiring Hawaiian paipo man. Aloha nui loa Ray. There's alot of wisdom to be gleaned from what these two guys had in common. This footage is from his time working on the Hydrodynamica project as still photographer with Cher Pendarvis (producer) Richard Kenvin (Director) and Ryan Field (DP) . Here he is coming home to his roots in Oahu and relivingchildhood memories at the "Wall." See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLSLCFTqaFQ&feature=youtu.be
- John Kovar. (2011, February 24). Footage from Bob Green's recent surf trip. From somewhere in Australia.
- Start of the trip and a new spot. This board was made by Chris Garrett on specifications supplied by Larry Goddard, the creator of the design. The board is based on Larry's Makaha Master design. Although designed as a twin fin it is being ridden finless. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQaAPe5R9os
- Surfing includes David Guy and John Kovar on malaroo made by John. BG is riding a Galera nofin paipo. Fun can be had even on real small days.. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbikeQ6qNl4
- A bit windy but some fun ones came through. This board was made by Chris Garrett on specifications supplied by Larry Goddard, the creator of the design. The board is based on Larry's Makaha Master design. Although designed as a twin fin it is being ridden finless. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbcseXmkYkA
- Start of the trip and a new spot. This board was made by Chris Garrett on specifications supplied by Larry Goddard, the creator of the design. The board is based on Larry's Makaha Master design. Although designed as a twin fin it is being ridden finless. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTSsxx0CU6g
- BBC. (Late-1950s/early-1960s?). John Betjeman bodyboarding. Posted by Lightw81. Video clip of people enjoying English-style belllyboarding. Best guess is the footage is likely to be Polzeath from the late-1950s or early-1960s. It was taken from a BBC documentary on Betjeman and was presumable a home movie shot at Polzeath, North Cornwall. You can probably access the original video in the U.K., searching for the 3-part series, Stein, Rick. (2006). Betjeman and Me – Rick Stein’s Story. BBC TV. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whW5exlFoc4.
- Barry McGuigan. (2011, February 24). 1964 Hawaii paipo footage of Leigh Tingle. Edited by Bob Green. Barry MGuigan shot footage on a 1964 trip to Hawaii. Included is footage of Leigh Tingle from Sydney. Tingle's board can be seen in a group shot - notable is the wood hand grip. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBmAqQ_64u0
- Paipo Agogo (OG-AZN). (2011, February 11). Fun with some homemade plywood paipo boards... . The critics say,"Wow! Very enjoyable. Some of the best paipo footage I've seen. I particularly like some of the shots near the end with the camera reversed. Artistic and really gives the feeling of what it's like to ride a paipo. This should be the first thing people look at when they want to know what it's like to ride paipo. Four stars!" See the video here: http://vimeo.com/19824895
- Paipo Surfing 1958-1965. (2010, February 25) Home movie by Stig Waidelich, filmed by Val Valentine. 9 minutes. The surfers are Stig's father, John Waidelich, and Jim Growney, who John Clark interviewed ( read the interview). Click here to see the video: http://vimeo.com/9742493
- Proto Kneelos: History of Kneeboarding in Santa Cruz, the Early Years. Home movie by Bob DuBois, film by Scott Wessling and posted by babybonzais. This segment has a thing about oldskool kneeboarding and has a nice bit about paipo-riding. Appearances include John Manss, Gordie, Bob Du Bois. Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S58kY5jsLTI
- Plywood Paipo Surfing. Posted by bawean3w. Free your mind and the plywood will follow! Click this link to view the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAGhZuxNnpk
- Bailey, Christiaan. (2011, February 24). The Life of Ply. Ocean Motion Pictures. Posted to Youtube.com by Oceanmotionpictureson on Nov 15, 2008. From the Prone to Belly blogspot: The Life of Ply, a film by Christiaan Bailey, featuring the talents of Dorothy (aka: Dot) and Peter Long, was voted the "Most Inspirational Film" of the Board Shorts screening event as part of the Cornwall Film Festival. The prize, sponsored by Leap (www.leapmedia.co.uk) and awarded by a panel of highly respected judges, was accepted by Dorothy Long from Mark Kermode (BBC, Respected Film Critic), on behalf of Ocean Motion Pictures and Christiaan Bailey, to a tremendous clamour of cheers, clapping, wolf whistles (Dot's still got the magic!), and hoots from the very appreciative crowd. The award winning film will be available to view on this blog very soon!Stay stoked everyone!" [Rod's Note: My favorite line by Dot is, "...if you don't surf, you can't understand it, but when you do surf you can't explain it...I've been surfing for 60 years..." See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmSi5_tXe3w
- There's also this one about Tom Wegeners alais (somewhere towards the middle): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7T1Io7_Cwk
- Bellyboarding 1964 by Barry McGuigan. Video editing by Bob Green. Bellyboarding and paipo. Surfers include Leigh Tingle. Click this link to view the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lss-QILYwGc
- Point Panic Hawaii Bodysurf and Paipo Surfing. Posted by bevertw. Free your mind and the plywood will follow! Click this link to view the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnzMMWMMYfg
- Pipeline video, Patagonia Surf Video: Talkin' Pipe w/ Gerry Lopez Pt. 3, includes a radical paipo shot at Pipeline at the very end of the talk (minute 7:50). Believe it is Sean Ross they are referring to in the picture. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHTeBFQAUKo
- Traying Sickness, traygnar, posted by Barnslice. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lBkN8XDTLY
- Making and riding a wood paipo, Chad Waldren Paipo pt. 1 and Pt. 2, posted by Barnslice. Using simple handtools and piece of paulownia wood, filmmaker Chad Waldron makes a bodyboard-style paipo for he and his friends. Posted on: September 18, 2009. Link for part 1: http://www.korduroy.tv/2009/waldron-bros-paipos-1; Link for part 2 http://www.korduroy.tv/2009/waldron-bros-paipos-2
- Big Island Surf, posted by PaipoTed on Feb. 13, 2010. Ted says, "I left the camcorder running on the shore Thursday afternoon (Feb 11, 2010) and got some decent, but distant, video of some Austin Paipo rides. First ride going right is the Austin Paipo; second ride going left is my buddy on his sponge. I did get a nice RH barrel, but the tape had run out. (Honest.)" See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUl5VrpRLmE
- Thomas Patrick Surfboards T-Belly. Shaper/Surfer Thomas Haugh discusses with customer Jay Golien, from Slider Magazine, the T-Belly Belly Board that is modeled after one of Larry Goddard's designs, the "Twin Fin Hustler" (learn more about the Goddard designs in The Paipo Interviews). The first half of the video discusses a longboard shape before transitioning to the important stuff, the T-Belly. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwtgnXEmg4c&feature=player_embedded
- John Kovar Rides the Malaroo. This footage provides an unedited view of the Malaroo being ridden stand-up and prone. The Malaroo is a foam & fiberglass paipo (bellyboard). Read more about it in the Paipo Interview with John Kovar: Geometry, tubes & the Malaroo. Click here for the link to the video.
- Val Ching Paipo Surfing. (2010, October 6). The Hydrodynamica Project. "The paipo board is the most ancient of the Planing Totems. There are historic accounts of these boards being ridden prone and while kneeling from West Africa to Tahiti and of course Hawaii. The Kuhio beach groin, known locally as “The Wall” became the epicenter of the paipo scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Standing on a paipo was the considered the ultimate at the Wall, and Hawaiian surfers like Valentine Ching mastered the art of stand-up paipo in the fifties."Click here to read more and to see the video: http://vimeo.com/15613761.
- Bondi Surfing in the 1960s. (2011, January 5). Posted and written by Gary Crockett, "A brief cut-and-pasting from a box load of 1960s 16mm footage shot by local artist and photographer Charles “Bill” Moseley at Bondi Beach, Sydney, along with a minute or two of surfing inside the harbour at Neilson Park, courtesy of his daughter Marilyn Moseley." Footage includes a nice close-up shot of a paipo board being carried into the surf and several paipo rides. See the video: http://vimeo.com/18489802.
- Richard Kenvin: Behind The Polyester Curtain. (Undated). A Series by Tyler Manson. The Surfer's Journal. Accessed on March 28, 2011. "Ripping La Jolla surfer, RK, walks us through his absolute obsession with the dynamic planing hulls of Bob Simmons, and the multitude of designs and shapers they inspired. In hallmark Journal fashion, the history of surfing isn't an artifact; it's a base to be built upon. Kenvin brings it all current with velocity and some beautiful surfing at Windansea. While the original boards are ancient, the current versions are stunningly modern. RK brought this movement to our attention in TSJ 17.6's "Remember the Future." Archival footage was provided by Richard Kenvin from the upcoming film, Hydrodynamica. Several references are made to the paipo heritage in all of surfing in addition to a few sequences. The board shown in this video is a 3'11" paipo designed by Valentine Ching and built by Valentine Ching and Tom Henry Scalletti. Click here to watch the video: http://www.surfersjournal.com/video/richard-kenvin-behind-polyester-curtain.
- Elwell, John, and Richard Kenvin. n.d. "Hydrodynamica › Planing Totem › Paipo." Hydrodynamica. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from http://hydrodynamica.com/totem/paipo. The paipo board is the most ancient of the Planing Totems. There are historic accounts of these boards being ridden prone and while kneeling from West Africa to Tahiti and of course Hawaii. The paipo’s main function was as a small board to swim and bodysurf with. In Hawaii the paipo was the first board kids rode when they began to surf. In Waikiki during the classic beach boy era from the 1920s through the 1960s paipo riding blossomed on plywood boards made from the surplus scrap wood of Honolulu’s 20th century construction boom. The Kuhio beach groin, known locally as “The Wall” became the epicenter of the paipo scene in the 1950s and 60s. Standing on a paipo was the considered the ultimate at the Wall, and Hawaiian surfers like Valentine Ching mastered the art of stand-up paipo in the fifties. From the Waikiki paipo school emerged some of the most influential surfers of the 20th century: Rabbit Kekai, Wally Froiseth, Donald Takayama, David Nuuhiwa, Reno Abellira, Eddie and Clyde Aikau, Jeff Ching, Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Larry Bertlemann, and many other Hawaiian surfers cut their teeth on paipo boards. This familiarity with short planing boards helped these surfers played a major role in the development of the surf/skate style that became prevalent in the 1970s. See the video here: http://vimeo.com/15032156.
- Brown, Bruce. (1962).Surfing Hollow Days. A paipo ride. Other surfing: The fourth movie Bruce Brown made travels to Mexico, California and Florida, along with a trip to Australia and Hawaii with Phil Edwards. Features a fifteen-foot shark checking the line-up at Rincon and the first wave ever ridden at Pipeline.
- Severson, John. (1963). Angry Sea. According to the Paipo Nui brochure this film has some paipo footage.
- Browne, Bud. (1964). Locked In. According to the Paipo Nui brochure this film has some paipo footage.
- MacGillivray, Greg. (1964). Cool Wave of Color, A. Paipo footage includes MacGillivray narrating, “There is Chuck Gardner, King of the Wedge, getting tubed.”
- Rohloff, Grant. (1964). For Surfer's Only. According to the Paipo Nui brochure this film has some paipo footage.
- Valentine, Val. (1964). The Call of the Surf. According to the Paipo Nui brochure this film has some paipo footage.
- MacGillivray, Greg and Jim Freeman. (1970). Waves of Change. (see below, The Sunshine Sea.)
- MacGillivray, Greg and Jim Freeman. (1971). Sunshine Sea, The. MacGillivray Freeman Films. Review by Nels Norene: Features some paipo riding in the first couple of minutes taken at the Waikiki Wall. The movie was from 1971, but the footage is probably a bit older. It was pre-boogie, pre-leash, smiling happy surfing... when surfing meant riding waves in any way, shape or form. There is mat surfing, bodysurfing, real traditional paipo surfing as well as the bulk of the show being what we now call "transition era" surfing. It ends (footage chronologically) with Lopez in ascendency at Pipeline. Pure paipo content is small Waikiki Wall... can't for the life of me remember if they show any paipo on the north shore. General synopsis: A Wedding of Nature and Man. In a world apparently bent on destruction of the natural environment, the surfer has established a harmony with nature. "The Sunshine Sea" is about the changes which have released the surfer from the limitations of the past to the freedom and harmony on the waves of today. World champion surfers Mark Martinson, Nat Young and David Nuuhiwa are shown living natural life in France, Portugal, California and Hawaii.Originally released in 1971 as Waves of Change.
- Kenvin, Richard. (Forthcoming, 2011?). Hydrodynamica. There should be some paipo action in this one.
- Belly Board Beat by The Music Convention (1968). The Music Convention also recorded the soundtrack to one of New Zealand’s first surf movies, Children Of The Sun. Listen to a 30-second sample here.
- Untitled paipo poem posted in the signature line on the Paipo Forums by Uncle GrumpyPaipo surfer in repose,Errata:
Nose on the nose,
No grunting he-man pose.
See how fast he goes!
What is it he knows?
George Bernard Shaw with Bellyboard
"Playwright George Bernard Shaw was a surfer in the early 1930s and possibly before. He was a 'secret photographer' & clearly a beach lover from the early 1900s. The National Trust & London School of Economics are preserving and showing his wonderful photographic work." Picture to the right courtesy of Pete Robinson, Museum of British Surfing.
George Bernard Shaw was a famous Irish playwright and writer that also won a Nobel prize. Perhaps the most famous paipo rider of all time?
Far right: Source: South African Travel News. Thanks to Hilton Teper for providing this scanned copy.
Agatha Christie rides the waves, 1922
Excerpt from the Museum of British Surfing surf history archives of Jul 27, 2011.
Acclaimed crime writer Agatha Christie spent her teenage years on the south coast of England around Torquay where sea bathing was a common practice in the early 1900s – but in 1922 she would become one of Britain’s earliest “stand-up” surfers.
“In fact, on a rough day I enjoyed the sea even more,” she said.
After the First World War her husband Archie was offered a position to help organise a world tour to promote the British Empire Exhibition to be held in London in 1924. The couple left England in January 1922, leaving their baby daughter in the care of Agatha’s mother and sister.
They arrived in Cape Town, South Africa in early February and immediately took to sea bathing at Durban, and were soon introduced to prone surfboard riding at the popular Muizenberg beach. She would write about her experience in her novel published two years later The Man in the Brown Suit.
Also see an article from The Guardian, published on July 29, 2011, and extensive research piece at: Cater, Geoff. (2011). Agatha Christie: Torquay, Muizenberg, and Waikiki, 1922. http://www.surfresearch.com.au/.
Photo courtesy of surfresearch.com.au and facing page 286, per Geoff Cater.
Candy Calhoun Article by Dr. Robert Moynier
Some memories of Candy Calhoun and her highly evolved paipo riding.
Children bathing in the surf: Gold Coast colony, Ghana ca. 1910.
Source: Schomburg General Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. (1910). Children bathing in the surf: Gold Coast colony. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-e5e7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99, by way of Geoff Cater and The Surf Blurb. Additional information on the source: Names: Johnston, Harry Hamilton, Sir (1858-1927) (Author) and Hincks, T. C. (Photographer). Collection: Britain across the seas: Africa; a history and description of the British Empire in Africa. Dates/Origin: Date Issued: 1910. Place Term: London. Publisher: National Society's Depository. On the location: The Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957. (Wikipedia).
by Malcolm Gault-Williams
|The Surf Blurb
is a weekly surf magazine that started in the early 2000s by Joe Tabler
in San Diego, California. Growing through word-of-mouth for 15 years,
the Surf Blurb has gathered a tight-knit community of famous surfers,
professionals and aficionados.
||pods for primates:
surfboards in australia since 1900,
by Geoff Cater
by Paul Lindbergh - Hilo, The Big Island, Hawaii
|Austin Surfboards by
Austin Saunders. Austin stated making custom paipo boards during the Summer of 2007. Building his first paipo for me, he
"cloned" my design and made a paipo for his father, and then proceeded
to make paipos for himself and his glasser. More were built and orders
continue to trickle in. More on Austin's paipos on
MyPaipoBoards and More....
Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. Austin ceased surfcraft building in late-2015.
has picture of a number of old craft ranging
from surf mats to paipos to kneeboards
Kneeboard - Soft
Soft kneeboards by Rob DiStefano. For more info click here.
Hydrodynamica is an independent film project dedicated to exploring and acknowledging the work of Bob Simmons, including his groundbreaking surfboard designs structured around hydrodynamic planing hulls.
Gus Acosta makes a paipo in Hawaii that "is a mini trimaran or a triple hull outrigger. By defining the three hulls two channels were created and the three hulls appear." Learn much more about his board design and story at:
Location: Hawi, Big Island, Hawaii
an open forum for the entire surfing world, featuring articles and
of alternative surf riding vehicles and an alternative view of the
industry. During November 2016, the historical website was transferred
to MyPaipoBoards.org for maintaining an important historical record of
alternative surfcraft and surfriding; and, other items of surfing and
alternative thoughts as recorded by the site's originator, Nels Norene.
League of Lamaroos - is a club for
paipos, bellyboards, surfmats and other alternative
prone-riding craft that are shared at periodic paloozas.
The League of Lamaroos is dedicated to promoting camraderie and a spirit of experimentation amongst
Wings Memorial Website -
The purpose of the Redwings
Memorial World Championships
Events is to promote the bodysurfing,
handboarding and paipo sports
among the people.
|Swaylocks is the premier
waveriding design forum on the Internet, covering anything and
everything used for riding the waves.
|J.Blair Professional Surfboards
365 N. Hwy 101
Solana Beach, CA 92075
For inquiries contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Blair crafts a Rocket Boogie Quad Fin.
Since 2005, Bick Paipo Boards has been buidling hollow paipo, or bodyboards,
using plywood, glass cloth and epoxy. These boards are lighter than the traditional
solid wood boards. Also see the PaipoGlide Blog. Located in the U.K.
Paipos, along with Alaias, were the wave riding craft of surfers in preeuropean contact Hawaii. Short, wide and fast, these bodyboards became the punk rock of surfing in the twentieth century. Surfers like Valentine Chang rode them standing up in the fifties. A surfing style of the distant future. Video footage of the big wave pioneers riding giant Waimea show locals flying past the haole heroes at twice their speed on little Paipos. Our Paipos come both finned (based on boards ridden by Valentine Chang) or finless. Wawa Wooden Surfboards, Muizenberg, South Africa.
GZB Paipo Surfboards. From Griz's website, "Custom made hardwood paipo belly board surfboards. I shape boards from a variety of hardwoods laminated together to form interesting designs. I can make any length of belly board . The prefered size is around 48 inches long and 15 wide. I do variations on this and make smaller, wider or longer boards."
Museums, Surf Shops and Such
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
The State Museum of Natural and Cultural History
1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96817
Collection of ancient paipo boards and other surfing artifacts.
Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum
Address: 411 Olive Avenue, Huntington Beach, California 92648.
Hours: Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, 12 to 5 pm; Tue, 12 to 9 pm; Sat & Sun, 11 am to 6 pm
There is usually a paipo or two on display; revolving exhibits
Surfing Heritage Foundation
Address: 110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente, CA 92672
Hours: Visiting Hours: Mon-Sat, 1 pm to 4 pm; Business Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 am to 5pm
The Foundation has one of the largest and best paipo board collections.
California Surf Museum
Address: 308 North Pacific St., Oceanside, California 92054.
Hours: Open Daily 10am to 4pm, Thursdays until 8pm, except for some major holidays; Free for Museum Members, $3 Adults
The museum devotes a room to pay tribute to bodysurfing, paipo boarding and kneeboarding.
Address: 1144 N. Highway 101, Leucadia, California 92024
The shop is located in Leucadia (near Encinitis). Geoff Myers is the owner and paipo collector. He is currently selling off his great collection of paipo boards -- stop by the shop or call for more info. Seveal boards are also being listed on eBay (as of March 2011).
The World Wide Web of Paipo Boarders
"People who paipo"
WHERE TO GO
Oldest known postings to newsgroups citing a paipo:
|8/22/1996||Re: H.B. Surf Contest - Slater ditches board... surfs barefoot!||alt.surfing||Rick Ciaccio (uncensored language)|
|02/12/1997||my board (was: Re: Custom X rules)||alt.surfing.bodyboard||Doug Frick|
|07/07/1997||SURFING'S ORIGINS_6||alt.surfing||OOP (Malcolm Gault-Williams)|
|08/28/1996||Out of Focus -- sponge||alt.surfing||Neal Miyake|
Where to Ride?
Where are the paipo boarders riding the crests?
Where can you expect to find today's paipo boarders?
Where can you expect to find surfing competition for today's paipo boarders?
- The Wall in Waikiki, Oahu, is a favorite gathering spot of paipo boarders. Publics is another favorite.
- Makaha-All of the traditional and fun loving waveriders are welcome here--within limits. Also you'll find tandem riders and outriggers.
- Makapuu Beach-This is an excellent beach, some call it a "paradise," for body surfing, paipo and body boarding.
- The Canary Islands: "Surf. Este deporte, de origen hawaiano y de difusión americana que se implantó en las Islas hace 20 años ha crecido espectacularmente desde hace tres años. En sus diferentes estilos (surf, boogie y paipo) cuenta con más de 4.000 practicantes."
- The 1977 edition of The Beaches of O'ahu, lists several beaches around the island that were popular paipo boarding spots, including Wāwāmalu Beach Park, Sandy Beach, Kūhiō Beach Park, Mākaha, Yokohama Bay, 'Ehukai (next to Pipeline), Turtle Bay (Wild Beach), 'Aukai Beach Park, and Makapu‘u.
Redwings World Championships of Handboarding and Paepo Boarding
Annual Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic, at Makaha Beach, Oahu. In 1976, upon returning from the Hokulea's maiden voyage to Tahiti, Buffalo Keaulana wanted to do something to give back to his community and perpetuate his Hawaiian culture. That's when he started the Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic, now in it's 35th year (2011). Buffalo explains, “I wanted something for the old-timers to enjoy.” Buffalo wanted something to bring out those who don’t usually surf in contests, something that doesn’t rely so heavily on judgement calls, something that uses big boards (10 feet and over), and something that is fun. The first Classic, in 1977, had only a men’s open surfing division. As the event evolved, bodyboarding was added to the list of Classic events. There were solo divisions, but real ingenuity centered on a team event where two people shared a wave together. A weight division weighed-in for longboarding and bodyboarding to give the big guys (250 pounds and over) their time for fun. Even, a special bodyboard (bullyboard) was created by Gary Fischer of Wahoo International. Forms of surfing that had almost died out, also were revived: tandem, canoe, bodysurfing, paipo, Beachboy style (stand-up-paddle) surfing and, in 2009, the Alaia Board Division. This last division uses skegless, wood replicas of boards used by commoners during the Hawaiian Monarchy.
- June 25, 2000. Point Panic, O`ahu, The 1st Annual Royal Richard Memorial World Championships of Paipo Boarding
- June 2009. Some Pictures from the 8th Annual Royal Richard World Championships of Paepo Boarding
- April 9, 2011. Makapu`u Classic contest results and report.
Photos courtesy of the Buffalo Surfing Classic.
The Paipo Expression Session held during the annual Cocoa Beach Surf Museum Waterman's Challenge, in Cocoa Beach, FL, in early June. The Chris Harazda Memorial Paipo Expression Session is normally on Sunday morning, at 10am. Chris Harazda was known on the paipo forums as Tumak.
Chapel Porth, Cornwall, UK, where the 7th World Bellyboard Championships are due to take place on Sunday 6th September 2009. Visit the Website at: http://www.bellyboarding.co.uk/.
The World Belly Boarding Championship (WBBC) was first started in 2003, at Chapel Porth, by Martyn Ward (RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor) and Chris Ryan (Chapel Porth National Trust Car Park Attendant) as a memorial contest to the late Arthur Traveller, a Londoner who holidayed with his wooden board at Chapel Porth every year.
From its humble beginnings with only a handful of competitors it has now grown into the World Championships we see today with over 100 entrants. From the beginning it has been a very simple, back-to-basics comp – no wetsuits, no leashes and no swim fins. A bit of wood and a swimsuit is all you need, you don’t even need to bring money as the entry fee is free although a donation would be massively appreciated! Even parking is free if you’re a National Trust member, and there’s a free tea or coffee for each competitor thanks to Robin Ross of Chapel Porth Beach Café. Photos courtesy of http://www.bellyboarding.co.uk/.
See a picture sampling of the contestants, the boards and the 2009 bellyboarding festival site.
New! Read the 2010 contest on-line article by the Daily Mail Online [PDF file] and the short video by the sponsoring organization, The National Trust, at:
Check out the many boards and paipo riders fromThe Great Big Honking Paipo Gathering, July 31-August 2, 2009
in Big Sur, California
October 15-17, 2010 - in San Clemente, California at the San Clemente State Beach Campground
For more information see the Paipo Forums.
KSUSA 2012 Kneeboard Surfing USA Titles & Festival
January 27-28, 2012 - in Huntington Beach, California.
The paipo community has received some general feelers to be part of the kneeboarding titles during future events. In the meantime our community has been invited to attend this year's event and "partake in the evening festivities taking place at Sandy’s Beach Grill. This would be a good time to mingle and talk shop with other like-minded fined freaks."
Of special interest to paipo riders during the Kneeboarding Titles and Festival will be a kneeboard and paipo board exhibit at the HB International Surfing Museum that will run during the event and for about two months and host another event at the museum in February to showcase the exhibit.
More info here: http://www.ksusa.org/Forum/ksusa_titles_2012.php
Acknowledgments, Sources, Places, Citations, Contributors...
Many mahalos go out to the surfriders who made many of the contributions through original source material, sent suggestions, scanned articles, or assisted in some other way in helping me form this page for paipos. Please see the Bibliography for Research and My Annotated Bibliography for more information.
You may send submissions, comments, questions, and or other related items to me via e-mail at: MyPaipoBoards
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