A Paipo Interview with Don Long
January 30 and February 21, 2011 - Colorado (USA)
E-mail interview by Bob Green
Photos courtesy of Don Long
Don and his son, David, both ride paipo boards. Now living in Colorado, Don skis
in winter and fly fishes in summer. He is a collector of not only
paipo boards, but also swim fins and snow boards.
1. How did you get into riding
paipo boards? When and where was this?
In 1966, I was living
on the "B" Row in the hip southern California beach town of Surfside
Colony (south of Seal Beach, CA) while working and attending nearby Long
Beach State College. Rent: $120 per month. A few of us in the colony
were riding paipo boards instead of bulky surfboards and loving this
type of surfing.
2. Who made the board that you
first rode? What was it like?
at San Clemente with his Noll 'Egg' and other boards.
by David Long.
One of my Surfside
roommates, Bruce Williams, designed my first custom, very fast, plywood
paipo. Bruce learned how to make the boards while living on the North
Shore of Oahu. This particular paipo had small cut out handles on both
sides of the 44" board. Prior to 1966, I rode waves via small, home made
plywood paipos or hand guns. In 1963, there was a surfboard rental shack
at the Cliffs in Huntington Beach where I rented belly boards, canvas
surf mats, or beat up surfboards. Tom Morey had not yet invented the
Morey Boogie. When I wasn't riding my paipo I was body surfing.
3. Who did you surf with? How
long did you ride these boards for?
I surfed with a few
Pasadena High School buddies and fellow body surfers who as
"flat-landers" actually believed we dominated the groins of Newport
Beach during the summer months and on weekends. We'd venture further
south and sneak into Trestles where the Marines would run us off if we
slept on the beach. Our cars would be towed and the powers that be
threatened us with jail time for surfing the restricted stretch of
beach with near perfect waves. In my late 30's, I returned to Newport
Beach where I was an integral part of the Newport Beach 40th Street
body boarding crew. "Dr. 360" was at the helm along with Gary Bear, Steve
Conklin, and two dozen other riders who enjoyed the strict Blackball
restrictions. Once in a while Mike Stewart and Pat Caldwell would show
up and put on a show for us. When I moved to San Clemente in 1994, I
surfed with the T-Street crew (too many to name), and continued to surf
up and down the coast with my son David and his best friend, Stanley
Ohara. David and I picked up a few sponsors after we were the only
father/son team to ever finish in the finals of the Morey Boogie
Nationals held in Oceanside. I loved the annual Big Dogs clothing
allotment and the discounted wet suits from the Frog House in Newport
Beach. David won a ton of body boards and fins over the years. Whenever
I judged various surfing events I would get free boards.
4. Where else have you ridden
paipo? When was this? What board were you riding at this time?
I discovered the
coves of Laguna Beach during the summer of 1963, when my Dad was transferred
back to the Los Angeles office from the Midwest. He had been riding Laguna
Beach waves since the early 1940's with his best friend Ben Herpick who
owned a summer beach house in Laguna. Ben's two sons were best friends
with Tom Morey at the time. The three teenage surfers used to take me
down to the main beach where they placed me on their surfboards in the
calm white water when I was 4 years old. I hooked up with Tom Morey and
one of the Herpick brothers again in late 1999, while living in San
Clemente. All of us had come full circle so to speak.
5. Did you see other paipo
I've ridden paipos from Lower Baja to Santa Cruz and just about every
beach break in-between, from 1963 through 2001. I prefer the El Paipo Knee
Machine 54, or a hand gun. I'll take the Noll Egg out in glassy shore
break; however, I'd hate to damage the board in huge set waves. The Noll
Egg continues to deserve a prominent wall space in my home office.
Greg Noll 'Egg' and Grand Master Bodyboard Division Gold medals awarded
at Police and Fire Games
courtesy Don Long.
I think the first
time I ever saw George Greenough on his spoon at Rincon Point in the
early 1960s, made me realize just how much faster a paipo was than a
surfboard. I'd try to minic his speed run. It was rare to see other
paipo riders in the early 1960's. Joey Higgs, Gary Bear, and the true
Master of the paipo, Guy Lewis (see Note 1), were
the riders I recall tearing up waves from southern California to Hawaii. I can
still visualize the late Mr. Guy Lewis, getting consistent 5 to 8 second
tube rides on one of his vintage paipos while surfing the shore break
at Zuma Beach. Guy taught so many of us timing and wave position. His
son Kevin and David get together in Santa Cruz whenever possible. The
two of them have been catching waves together since they were both
competing in the 12-under division of the Morey Boogie Body Board
6. What has been your contact
with Black Sheep Paipo?
Lewis relaxing at Zeroes, 1989.
courtesy Kevin Lewis.
David met Rick
Boufford in Orange County after I moved to Colorado in 2001. Rick and
he talked paipos and during their second meeting, Rick presented David
with a small hand gun and two Black Sheep Paipos (BSP) for our family collection.
David loves to ride his BSP at Pt. Mugu. I'd love to hook up with Rick
for the first time during my next visit to Southern CA. The Black Sheep
Paipos are truly a positive extention of the sport. Thank you, Rick. I
look forward to paddling out with you during the summer of 2011.
7. How did you get into
collecting paipo boards? What bellyboards have you had in your collection?
I started collecting
paipos in 1994, when my wife and I moved to San Clemente. I'd hit all
the garage sales every weekend and bought just about every bellyboard
and vintage long board I came across. My neighbor, John Urbanoski,
introduced me to the Longboard Collectors group that still holds a well
organized swap meet every December at Doheny State Beach. The group
would roast a pig and many of the legends of the surfing industry would
show up. Dozens of high priced surfboards and a few bellyboards would
end up for sale or display on the grassy area of the park. I noticed
the price of bellyboards and early paipos were increasing in price
every year. I decided early on that I could not let a significant piece
of surfing history disappear or fall into the hands of collectors who
had never even ridden a paipo board or a belly board. The hunt for
vintage or new paipos continues until this day.
8. Have you surfed each of
these boards? If so, what have been the best performers?
I've surfed my entire
collection at one time or another. I like to ride the Newport Beach El
Paipo on big glassy days. Hand gunning and paipo riding the left point
break next to the cliff at our favorite OC "secret spot" is truly a fun
9. In terms of a collector
what are your favourite paipo boards and why?
El Paipo Knee
by Don Long.
Again, I'll have to
defer to the Noll Egg since there are so few left. I believe Greg had a
North Shore surfer named Val Valentine make them and apply the Noll
logo. The concave design and the egg-shape of the board makes this
paipo a fast board to ride.
10. I believe you also collect
snowboards and swim fins (flippers). What are some of the fins you have
in your collection? Any favourites?
Older Duck Feet,
UDT's, and a few swim pool type models. I cherish the old green gum
rubber Churchill fins. I am always on the lookout for another pair of
these. Owen Churchill was a genius.
11. Do you still ride a paipo?
Where do you surf and what boards do you ride?
gum rubber green Churchill fins with the Gardena P.O. Box stamp and
by Don Long.
Since I live in
Colorado, I fly fish in the summer and ski during the winter. David and
I are headed to Molokai in October of 2011, so I'll ask him to pack a
Black Sheep Paipo in with the body boards.
12. Any waves or surfs stand
out over the years?
Yes. Most people who
travel to Puerto Escondido never catch the cove breaking at Playa
Carrizalillo which is north of town. David and I caught perfect 4-6 ft.
clean left and right point break for 3-4 days in a row. The wave seemed
to alternate every few hours. I will never forget taking off a little
deeper than I should have on a huge spitting Puerto Escondido tubular
wave in the early 1990's, and "making it" out the other side. The wave
jacked up all of a sudden and turned into a speed run over the rocks
below. Dig in and pray you make it. I was deep into the Green Room as
they say. Time stood still. David was paddling out and witnessed my
most memorable ride ever. We still laugh about it.
13. Any other comments?
Hot tip for
collectors: I'd be buying up all the Romanosky Spoons (fiber glass) I
could get my hands on. They are piece of art and a kick to ride. I know
Steve Pezman, of Surfer's Journal, had Ron make him one before I moved to
I'd like to thank retired
Judge Robert Gardner for showing this kid from Iowa how to really body
surf when I moved to Corona del Mar in 1967. You could always find Bob
and his daughter Nancy at Little Corona Beach catching the best little
tube rides or skin diving the rocky shore line. I visited with him at
his residence in 2001, and told him how much his advice had influenced
my career in law enforcement. He presented me with one of his very last
copies of his purist book, The Art of Bodysurfing. I understand Bob
passed on in 2005, at the age of 93. I am certain he is catching perfect
waves in heaven with his old friend, John Wayne.
A 13-year-old David Long on the left and Australia's "Wingnut" on the right.
courtesy Don Long.
Don's son, has been riding a boogie board for many years. In more
recent times he has been riding one of Rick Boufford's Black Sheep
paipo [see Note 2]. A few words from David
Bob Green: David,
I read that you also ride paipo. I'd also be interested to hear about
your experience riding a paipo and what you enjoy about it.
Being a body boarder
and body surfer the vast majority of my life, it was a smooth
transition to the paipo. No other vehicle provides you with such a
natural sensation as you're cranking a bottom turn into a wedging
section. It's quite a kick in the ass watching heads turn in the
lineup, trying to figure out what the heck you're riding.
In Southern California, I
have found the coves of Laguna to be best suited for paipo riding, as
well as Point Mugu. My old man got me into it years ago when we used to
take his Greg Noll egg out and let 'er buck. Good times!
David B. Long, 34, Santa
David at Wedge.
by Ron Romanosky.
David Long on his 1960s Wind N Sea paipo -- sequence at Pt. Mugu, CA.
by Ron Johnson.
Guy and Kevin Lewis with their vintage Morey collection
Photo courtesy Kevin Lewis.
Note 1: Guy was a high school teacher in Califronia, a
college championship swimmer, and also held long distance swimming
records while an over-55 competitor in southern CA open-ocean swimming
events. He lost a leg to a blood clot, had medical complications, and
died a few days later. A prince of a man.
Note 2. See the
Black Sheep Paipo Interview with Rick Boufford.