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Gaylord Miller's Early 1960s Paipo Foil

In the fall of 1960, when I first arrived Scripps Institution of Oceanography, several guys had hydrofoil paipo boards.  As I recall, they were Gaylord Miller's design. Anyhow, I built a copy as my first wave-riding vehicle (not counting my camping air mattress that I went out with for my first few adventures). But the combination of learning both to surf and to ride a hydrofoil board at the same time was just too big a step for me, so I soon gave up and bought a used Yater surfboard.

Later I gave my hydrofoil board to Steve Lis and Stan Pleskunas to play with back around 1969-70. I contacted Stan about 5 yrs ago, but he no longer had any idea where it went. So it was great to run into Niel (the current owner of the board in the photos) in Costco. One of the topics of conversation was hydrofoil wavecraft and Gaylord Miller's design at Scripps Institution of Oceanography back in the 60's. He mentioned that he had one of those boards (as documented in "Scripps Stories -Days to Remember" [see reference below] )... but that it hadn't been used in years.

Neil didn't know for sure when it had been built, but he does remember that it was prior to 1965 as that's when a friend of his (who had received his Ph.D. and was leaving Scripps) gave it to him. Anyhow, Saturday I finally made it over to his place and got a couple of photos of it (which I've
attached). It looks pretty similar to what I recall (and to the sketch that I think I drew for you some time ago--except that the vertical fin doesn't extend as deeply as I had thought).

Terry Hendricks
14 Aug 2002

(Click on pic for a larger view.)
Gaylord_Miller_paipo2.jpg Gaylord_Miller_paipo3.jpg Gaylord_Miller_paipo4.jpg

Kuhns, Kittie Kerr and Betty Shor, eds.
Scripps Stories: Days to Remember in Celebration of 90 Years.
(La Jolla, Calif.: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California)
San Diego, CA  92093
October 1993
S.I.O. Reference #93-35

It is a series of stories, each told by someone who worked (or works) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
about experiences they had, or witnessed, during the history of SIO. The pertinent story in this case is written
by Don Miller and is entitled: "The Good Old Days" (pp. 84-85). In part:

"I started working at SIO/IGPP in November of 1960..." After I worked here
for awhile I started to eat my lunch while seated on the small bluff overlooking
the ocean and beach. What I became aware of was that there was a certain
group of employees who would go bodysurfing every day, winter or summer.

Some of that group which I remember included Ted Foster, Gaylord Miller, Stu
Smith, George Matson, Jim Maggert, and later, George Sharman. Finally I
could stand it no longer and slowly taught myself to swim and to develop the
technique to get through the waves and become an accomplished surfer.

There were board surfers (longboards) then but no belly boards except for a
device which Gaylord developed and used exclusively. It looked like a small
present-day surfboard but it also had a small hydrofoil which extended
eighteen inches below the underside of the board. On big waves Gaylord's
device would lift his entire 200-pount-plus body and board out of the water
and he would be screaming down the face of the biggest of waves with only
his "skeg" in the water.

Some of that group were so avid that once, on a day of waves which were so
big that no one could swim out, three of them went out to the end of the old
pier and jumped in, surfed for forty minutes or so, then one couldn't get
back in because of exhaustion. One got in, called the lifeguard, and the
rescue helicopter pulled the other two out. They went back out the next day.
Lately, I see Stu Smith out there now and  then. Is there a new group of
bodysurfers or are they all up on boards now?"

One thing I found interesting in reading this is that Don Miller's description seems to at least to be
consistent with my contention (and recollection) that because of the sensitivity of the board to pitch
angle (when used as a hydrofoil), it was essentially ridden not as a true hydrofoil, but rather as a board
with a separate planing surface below the board proper:
"...On big waves Gaylord's device would lift his entire 200-pound-plus body
and board out of the water and he would be screaming down the face of the
biggest of waves with ONLY HIS "SKEG" IN THE WATER..."
(my emphasis--and check the drawing that I sent with my earlier e-mail for
the foil/skeg configuration)
I hope this helps. I'll let you know when I get more information about the book from my contact.

Terry Hendricks
8 Jul 2001

Gaylord Miller Paipo Information Courtesy of Terry Hendricks

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