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A Paipo Interview with Jeff Quam

Jeff Quam's Excellent Paipo Adventure
The Quest To Refine A Design

A Paipo Interview with Jeff Quam
E-mail and letter interview by Robert Moynier, May 31 - June 5, 2013, Laguna Beach, California (U.S.A)
Supplementary questions by Bob Green, July 7 and 10, 2013
Art Brewer photographs by permission. All rights retained.
(Click on images to view a larger version)

Jeff grew up in Laguna Beach, California, an area with a history of riding paipo boards. His history of experimenting with board designs begins with necessity, then in response to taunting, and more recently by seeking to refine a style originally made by Wally Froiseth, of Hawaii. Jeff has ridden paipo boards for many years. His relationship with a range of talented shapers is part of a continuing quest to enjoy surfing and the ocean.

1. So some background... when and where did you start your surfing adventure?

I grew up in Laguna Beach, California, and so did my Mom. The beach was the best for providing hours of entertainment for me and the 14 brothers and sisters I grew up with. I spent most of my free time there and got my first waves body whomping the shore pound all over North Laguna. The local corner store sold Styrofoam boards about 3-foot long that I started riding and I really got hooked on catching and riding the face of a wave. The styro boards were shaped a lot like the boards of today, but they had really long runners on the bottom similar to what some boats have. One of the first things I did was to cut off about three-quarters of the leading edge so it was more like a surfboard fin. That helped, but the biggest drawback was the belly rash which meant wearing a T-shirt which I thought was a look for kooks only. So I started looking around for something to coat the deck to smooth it out. I sprayed the board with dime store spray paint which melted the outside down leaving it smooth to lay on, and hardened the board so that they didn't break so much. Those boards were it for quite a while until I discovered mat surfing, which was a stand up skill for us.

Jeff and Jill Quam.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Quam.

2. Talk about the Laguna Beach surfing scene back then. Who were the players: surfers shapers, lifeguards and others that you surfed with or look up to, and how did paipo boarding fit into the picture?
My Dad and the guys he worked with felt that the beach scene was something you protected your family from because of the drug usage down there. He wouldn't let me surf (don't ask). When my oldest sister married the Laguna Lifeguard Captain about four of the guards cornered him at the reception and asked him to let me surf. A day or two later I was granted the okay and I promptly walked down the street and pulled out the surfboard I had been hiding in the bushes... a castoff 8'6" pig, and took it home. I naturally gravitated to the lifeguard population and all of them were into teaching the young guys about the ocean and waves
[see Note 1]. Surfwise Jack Linke was the best. He loved the water and was the guy who would take me before, after, anytime  to surf spots south of Laguna... we had many a surf session together. The paipo was a very key piece of surfing equipment at that time in Southern California when every city beach was black balled during the summer (no surfing). Paipos were allowed however in most swimming/body surf areas. Laguna had a type of paipo that was unique, the Wally Froiseth-style design, and had several people that were expert at riding them.

Jeff, you mentioned that "Laguna had a type of paipo that was unique." Please expand on that, describe it, and some info about the other folks that were riding them like the
Gordon Theisz, Art Brewer, Mike Armstrong (Army), the Calhouns, and others.

The only other belly boards I saw at that time were the ones that looked like the "tanker" long boards, had a big single fin, pretty narrow square tail and a constant curve to the outline. I saw them ridden mostly at Huntington Beach. I noticed a big difference in the performance between the Wally Froiseth design found in Laguna and this version. Thinking about it now I think it was like watching the body surfing that I saw in the late-1950s and 1960s. The guys would take the drop straight off and lots of time get rolled up onto the sand. Then sometime in the 1960s the art of riding the face of the wave came forward, which the Wally Froiseth design really excelled at.

Two 1965-era paipo boards, (left) a curvy "tanker board" with a large single-fin and (right) a "Laguna-style" board with relatively parallel rails, wide tail, two fins and a handle. The Wardy Surfboards advertisement for an Hawaiian Belly-Board shows the Wally Froiseth influence in Laguna Beach—a paipo board design seldom seen in surfing magazine advertisements of the 1960s (click on the images to see full advertisements). 

(Above left) Val Surf [Advertisement]. (1965, June). International Surfing, 1(4), p. 03.
(Above right)
Wardy Surfboards [Advertisement]. (1965, October/November). Surfer Magazine, 6(5), p. 20.

(Below left) The Froiseth-style boards line-up at Oak Street, Laguna Beach, in 1964-1965. The board on the left belonged to Dave Watkins; the center board belonged to Candy Calhoun; and, the board on the right belonging to Gordon Theisz was made by Wally Froiseth. Around 1967-1968, Art Brewer bought the center board from Candy Calhoun and rode that for a few years. 

(Below right) Gordon Theisz in 1966, with two of the boards he shaped. The board on the left weighed 14 lbs. and for some reason pearled all the time. The one on the right weighed 19 lbs. Note the large twin fins near the tail.

Photos and caption information courtesy of Art Brewer. See additional information in Special Notes on Art Brewer.

The surfing area in Laguna at that time was really divided into two or three areas. Oak Street, which included Brooks Street, was where all the great surfers of the day would be. I was down the beach at St. Ann Street where it was lower key. My exposure to the older crowd for me was, "Don't make eye contact, stay at least a block away, or there could be a price to pay." This meant I could watch, from a distance, but questions were too close. This may have been mostly in my head, but it was a very safe position, which was important at the time for me. I was able to watch the action a lot as my main entertainment at that time was the beach. I was in awe of the talent down at that end of the beach. Two guys who really stood out as far as water skills and riding waves were John Parlette and Spyder Wills. They were the best
. They had such a feeling for anything having to do with the beach skills. [For more information on Parlette and Wills, see Note 2 and Note 3, respectively.] I thought they could do anything from Frisbee disk, body surfing, paipo boarding, skin diving, I thought they could do anything. Surfing was exciting to me but it almost felt one-sided compared to what John and Spyder could do with very little. 

Below left: John Parlette's 5'0" board used for stand-up surfing. He built the board in 1970.

Below right: Spyder Wills with a 5'2" knee board shaped and glassed by Art Brewer in 1970. It was built from a stripped down blank. The thickest part was 1-1/2 inches. It featured a scooped out deck and a 15" wide tail. It was a great board and Brewer got to ride it with Greenough at 6 to 8 foot Rincon twice.

Photos by: Jeff Quam (left) and Brad Barrett (right) and caption information from Art Brewer.

(Left) Spyder at Brook Street Laguna in 1966 and (right) at inside Oak Street during Summer 1967.

Photos and captions courtesy of Art Brewer.
3. When did you start riding paipos and what kind of boards were you and the other prone people riding?
The first paipo I got to ride belonged to my friend Bill Curland. Bill Curland's Dad owned a car lot on Coast Hwy 1, by the beach. Bill and I went to the same primary school together. His Dad turned up with an early paipo board (from some car deal or something) which we had use of. I believe it was made by John Parlette as it had his lobster logo on the tail. Color work, pinline, handle, really a great looking board. Bill and I would take turns carrying it to the beach as we were little guys about 13-years-old and the thing was heavy (15 pounds or more). We had no idea how to ride this board—the tide was usually low as we had no clue how to call the tide—the rocks would be sticking up, no shape to waves and we would try and try to get a ride. After seeing John do his thing at high tide Brooks St—standing up on his paipo—we went at it the same way. Mostly it was a very good thing the board had a double 10 oz. glass job which made for somewhat of a match for the low tide rocks we were constantly pearling into.

From there it was back to styro boards and onward to regular stand-up boards until the early-1980s, when I was living in Central California and became friends with Candy Calhoun [see Note 4]. She loved to taunt me and tell me I was a one trick shortboard rider and couldn't possibly ride a paipo board. When I had had enough of that I grabbed her favorite board (shaped by Gordon Theisz) and put her taunting to rest. The paipo feeling stayed in the back of my head and about 10 years later I had my first modern paipo shaped.

Gordon Theisz testing a new wetsuit at San Onofre, in 1965, with his Wally Froiseth board he brought back from Hawaii. 


Photo by Spyder Wills, courtesy of Art Brewer. Caption information by Art Brewer.

Gordon Theisz riding a Brook Street winter south swell, ca. 1966. Captured from Spyder Wills's 8mm movie frame.

Photo and caption information courtesy of Art Brewer by permission of Spyder Wills.

What year did you ride Candy Calhoun's board and describe that board and your first board. Who shaped it, what was it, and all?

After that try I got myself a styro foam board from the dime store that I rode laying down for a while with fins that I loved until it met the fate of most styro boards of this time, broken. I think I rode Candy's board somewhere in the early-1980s. I believe the board I rode was a Gordon Theisz shape that Candy really liked. I think she gave me her favorite board so I wouldn't have any excuses if I totally sucked.

(Below left) Candy Calhoun riding in Peru on her Wally Froiseth built paipo board and (below right) Candy Calhoun holding her Gordon Theisz-shaped bellyboard.

Original caption: "Paipo Nui has been used all over the world. Candy Calhoun in Peru." In the next edition, Candy Calhoun wrote to the magazine correcting the caption noting the board was not a Paipo Nui, but instead "my bellyboard, made by Wallace Froiseth." Source: Calhoun, Candy. [Letter to Editor] (1965, December). International Surfing Magazine, 2(1), 71.

(Above left) Valentine, Val. (1965, October). Paipo Nui. International Surfing Magazine, 1(6), 51, photo by Rich Harbour.
(Above right)
Unknown. (1964, May/June). Wake-Surfing Revisited. Surf Guide, 2(5), 26, photographer not identified.
4. As far as that initial scene at Laguna, it seems that the paipos in use by the more involved surfers were variations or replicas of the Wally Froiseth board that he made for Marge Calhoun in the late-1950s, that she brought home from Hawaii to Laguna. Is that about right and, if so, was it pretty much common knowledge where the design came from?
At that time I had no idea where any of these designs came from. I think I must have thought that they were always around appearing in the surf shops from "someplace back there." I had had no idea about any of the past or current surf stars, only the ones I had direct contact with, mostly my own age group or a little older. My parents, mostly my Dad, felt that surfing was something to resist. This left me with no information about surf stars, surf magazines, all of it.

Below left: Oak Street board quiver. From left to right are a (1) Wally Froiseth paipo, (2) Paipo California shaped by Gordon Theisz, (3) Mouse belly board with a handle added later, and (4) Paipo Nui 1964.

Below right:  Gordon Theisz (right) and Dewy (left) with new wetsuits, San Onofre, Calif., ca. 1965. Dewy has a Paipo California board built by Gordon Theisz. 

The slit in the blue Froiseth paipo board was part
of a speedometer Froiseth had attached.

Photos and caption information from Art Brewer.
5. You mentioned that Gordon Theisz shaped some boards for Hobie Surfboards. What was the connection?
Hobie Alter, Gordon Theisz and Marge Calhoun were all from Laguna Beach. Gordon and Hobie collaborated on a few paipo boards based on Wally Froiseth's design, maybe a half-dozen paipo boards altogether. The board shown below was built for Marge Calhoun. I stumbled across the Theisz shaped Hobie Paipo board somewhat by accident.

The story begins when I went up to the home of Jeff and Pete Trestle's parents, in Laguna, to show off my new stick based on the Theisz design. Then Pete Trestle pulled out the Theisz Hobie from the rafters in the garage and gave it to me (the board shown below). I was blown away by this turn of events and rode it a little, mostly at San Onofre, a rolling type wave since the board really didn't suit the beach break type waves (pounders, top-to-bottom). Pete told me that the board had been sitting in the rack at the Hobie Dana Point Surf Shop in the corner, a lost soul. He bought it for Jeff's Mom to ride at San Onofre. He also told me the board had belonged to Marge Calhoun which she later confirmed remembering the green color. Anyway, I had it in my collection, kind of fearful about riding it too much when I heard it may be the only one left. Jeff came over from Australia, where he now lives, and I thought the rightful place for this piece was with the Trestle family so I handed it off to him at that time.

Jeff Trestle holding a Gordon Theisz-shaped Hobie-labeled paipo board originally built for Marge Calhoun.

Photo by Bob Green, caption information by Jeff Quam.
6. After Candy Calhoun shamed you back into paipos, did you keep up with it as part of your overall surfing repertoire and what type of boards (both paipo and stand-up) were you riding?
After the time with Candy, I moved back to Southern California from Central California and was really into short board surfing, and bigger surf when it showed up. During this time the Trestle surf break in San Clemente hadn't hit the limelight so it was still possible to surf there with a small group on most days. You had to be able to read the signs about the surf so a lot of days went uncrowded. Paipo boarding took a back seat to these pursuits. This all changed when my friends Pete and Punkin knew I was interested in paipo boards and Pete took me out to the garage and pulled out a vintage Hobie paipo which once belonged to Candy's Mom, Marge Calhoun. As soon as I rode this board at classic San Onofre I was really hooked. I searched and searched for Gordon Theisz to have a board made and finally found him just a bit south of me. We got together and he showed me the latest model he had made which he was kind enough to loan me. He told me he wasn't interested in making any more, that I should take it to my shaper and have one made.
7. From then to now, you've collaborated with a number of shapers on various paipo designs: Gordon Theisz, Midget Smith, Terry Martin, Donnie Brink and others [see Note 5]. Tell me about those experiences. What did each shaper bring to your paipo board knowledge and how did they differ?
My friend and great shaper, Midget Smith, who I had gotten many great boards from, looked at what I had in my hands made a few dry humor comments that he was famous for ("where's the rest of the board, you only want the nose of a long board?") and off we went to shape the first one, from the nose of a spare long board blank no less! We made 6 to 7 paipo boards together and started to change the design, just little tweaks at a time. The first was the weight of the boards. The original guys felt the boards had to have some weight to them to have the "right feel." This was the same as the long boards of the day, Tankers. They got going with the weight behind them and they almost have a mind of their own and the rider hangs on. When we cut the weight of the board down it felt more controllable.

The next shaper was this young guy just learning to shape. I showed him the paipo I had at the time and then took it back and told him to put his ideas into the board. He changed the outline to have a break towards the tail which allowed the board to redirect or break the straight line much more. We also cut the weight some on that board which helped with turning quality. The trade off with this type of change meant that the board went slower in a straight line but you could get to places on the wave that were steeper and made the board and me hanging on going fast in a different way. Terry Martin and I had talked about paipo design a lot and had talked about making some, but we ran out of time (so many boards,so little time). We had worked on some Min-finned boards (see below) that had some special bottom/rail configurations that were the next step. Terry introduced me to this young guy, Donnie Brink, and we worked on some of the ideas for the performance model. Josh Martin then entered the shaping arena having been fully trained and worked alongside his Dad. Josh was a natural for shaping the paipos as he can blend, just like his Dad, all the information and make a wonderful board. Josh really enjoys the art of the hand shape and has some experience bodysurfing and paipo boarding himself.

What are Min-finned boards?

The Min-fin boards are a design that Terry Martin and I were working on later seeing the footage of Derek Hynd at Jeffreys' Bay. We choose to add some contour to the bottom surface by adding small, long shapes to the bottom (1/2" high x 12" long) to help the board control-wise which was different in that we didn't shape anything into the bottom just added them later, which I could change very easily. The basic bottom design (concave running the length of the board) is the same we use for the high-performance, lightweight paipo design. The bottom of the board in Robert's hands down at the beach has the through-board concave feature (see figures below).

Jeff and Robert confer. Jeff holding the Bonzer, Robert holding the Quam-designed Brink paipo. Note the concave bottom (right photo).


Photo Jill Quam.

Did the Min-fins theory ride well in practice?

The Min-fins worked well if I had a bigger budget to have more time to put into the situation. The whole situation was seat-of-the-pants engineering. I feel if I had lots of cash to throw at it and Donny Brink's wild artistic eye a lot could have been discovered. We were on a completely different track from Derek Hynd in that we were interested in a board that wouldn't slide so much and would make maneuvers under the lip, on top of the lip, not usually seen with everyday surfing. The hang-up around here was the number of surfers around here and not being able to make radical changes to the angle of attack to avoid other surfers. The overall feeling of riding with just the rail as fin is very nice but the sliding doing spinners didn't really fit into what we had in mind. Donny Brink and I are working on a design right now that will bring this to paipo riding. More to come—we are shaping the first one next week to see how it goes.

(Below left) The waffle bottom experiment with Donald Brink. (Below right) The Terry Martin finless collaboration.

(Above) The "waffle" was an attempt at balancing out the asymmetrical plane shape—to slow the water down on one side of the board. The board worked very good on waves that were fairly slow (e.g., Trestle). When I rode it on a drivey beach break the thing drifted wildly, making for some very interesting positions on the wave. Drift, baby, drift. More info here.

(Right) Terry Martin finless. Terry is on the right.

Photo source: Brink, Donald. (2011, August 15) Introducing the midget Martin Waffle Bottom. Blog Brink. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from
8. How about materials? You've been active in exploring different core processes, particularly blanks, including poly foam, EPS, epoxy, balsa, and others. What were some experiments that went right... or wrong?
I have felt this way for a long time and I think it fits for paipo boarding too: the board can only do what it has been designed to do—are you able to get the most from the design? I have never ridden a paipo board that I walked away from unhappy. The materials have to blend with what you are trying to achieve with the design. My personal boards range from light 3 to 4 pound EPS/Epoxy boards to old school boards easily twice that weight. The EPS light ones have gotten my attention lately, but I really have a great time on all of them. My latest one is a chambered balsa old school model that is a beautiful piece of surf art that I can hardly wait to ride.

Jeff Quam "Old School" paipo.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Quam, caption Robert Moynier.
9. You've recently been building boards with Josh Martin (Terry Martin's son). Generally they seem to be about 3'8" to 4'2" (44 to 50 in.), twin-finned, very light, and equipped with handles. What are some of the characteristics you feel a good functional paipo will have in terms of template, foil, rails, thickness and weight that you feel are universal? Or, is it still a constant process of discovery and/or personal preference?
Josh Martin and I have a great time every time we get together, much like when his Dad was alive. They both get it as far as the shaper/surfer relationship. One thing is very important: to give the surfer what they want. Blending the vision with the numbers and a certain amount of magic, too. The paipo is very different from other types of surf sticks. The shaper has to give up, as well as the rider, a lot of the "stuff" they might have considered basic to a board. Powering a 51.5 x 21 inch board into a wave sounds like a big chore but with swim fins and some experience it takes on a whole different understanding. We had to look at all kinds of information about body position, where the power was generating from, things that are unique to paipo boarding.

Burying the rail, clean wall and coming around the corner.

Photos by Jill Quam.

In your view, where does the power come from when riding a paipo? Any other differences between paipo and stand-up board design characteristics you'd like to comment on?

My idea where the power comes from in paipo has to do with the straightness of the outline and how flat the rocker is. Both of these things really make a board that flies, or maybe you just feel like that as you are so close to the action. NOT!!!! The difference between stand-up and paipo is very wide. I really love both of them, almost like which one of your kids do you like the most? The closeness to the elements and to the water are right up there to actually ripping a hard bottom turn off standing-up. For me the high point of surfing has always been to blend with the wave itself, being as fluid as possible to match the wave. With stand-up surfing this can only be done with the interaction of board and wave. With a paipo, where you are down in the water, you have all body surfaces in contact with the fluidness. You have to be fluid or else the wave lets you know right away, very personal and immediately.

Speed run

Photos by Mike Chapin and caption by Robert Moynier.

A key aspect for actually riding a paipo board such as these was the interaction of the handle on the deck to the fins on the bottom. This connection between the two is very powerful and may be the key to why this particular paipo design works. I am always amazed at how things keep moving ahead design wise and how untapped this paipo design remains. The example for me is when I rode Robert's Bonzer bottom paipo board, and right away I could feel the difference from the twins I have, and in some wave conditions this difference would be fantastic.


Photo by Jill Quam.

I'd like to hear more on the interaction between the handle and the board's fins
? How do you use the fins when surfing?

I think the interaction between the handle and the fins to be very important. The handle to hang on to with your forearms on the deck of the board creates a whole bunch of torque for turning and making any number of adjustments while underway on a wave (in all kinds of directions, both up and down, side to side, and everything in between. Similar to the feeling of traction on a slippery surface but more three dimensional: push, pull, up, down. (See the rock climber going up the rock using every surface to move forward.) This solid connection with the board allows the rider to "hang it all out", as it used to be said, to put yourself in positions on a wave without a solid connection puts the rider struggling to hang on. With fins on the bottom and a solid handle you can place the fins at extreme angles to the face of the wave, cutting into the face and you get pulled along deep in the tube hopefully!

One of Jeff's handles which he makes from a hardwood such as teak, mahogany, Baltic birch plywood or Divincell.

Photo by Jeff Quam.
10. As part of your project with Josh Martin you are starting to share some of your designs with the general surfing population through your new company Laguna Paipos. Tell me about that—what kinds of boards are you putting out there and what prompted this move?
What inspired me to move in that direction was the people I'd meet at the beach. They would see a board they had never seen and maybe see me ride a wave or two, too small for a guy my size (6'2" x 190 lbs.) to catch and get barreled on, let's say a knee high wave, come up the beach with a big smile on my face and they naturally want to know what was going on. The other was the volume of guys that had to stop stand-up surfing for one reason or another, usually back problems, and they never could see themselves on a boogie. But, when they see my paipo with a wood handle, hard surface, fins on the bottom, they can relate much easier to this idea. I have four general models that are part of my newly established Laguna Paipo line. These models are not set-in-stone, just guidelines. The small First/Second Reef Model (3'6" or so) is for juniors and for when you want to get very tight in the tube. The Second Reef Model is an old school model that is very similar to Wally Froiseth's design. The Third Reef Model is made of balsa wood. The fourth model, the Honey Buns, is made of very light high-performance EPS foam.  
11. I think it was Jeff Chamberlain who (correctly) observed that the paipo world has sort of self-divided itself into two camps, i.e., (1) the wood/ply alaia-type boards, including HPD, which are typically finless, very thin, and offer little in the way of flotation, and (2) the foam and glass group, which can include EPS/epoxy as basic core materials, and design wise are finned, relatively thicker, and involve a more complex building process. Zealots on both sides claim superior results utilizing their particular board choice and some will claim that only their board style is a "real paipo." What do you think about all this and have you had much experience with the alaia-style paipo or seen much of it in action?
Well... This is a very tricky question, not wanting to get some angry responses, but here it goes. I do agree with Jeff's remark in that things have gotten divided along those lines. I have been around the straight wood ply crowd and everyone seemed to be having a great time. I think about what the early riders would have thought, "Piece of ply or foam and fiberglass?" Personally, I would always change to some material that proves to have some benefit for performance. Having said that I have always believed that paipo riding should always be inclusive and not exclusive and can't we all just get along?
12. In the overall context of the surfing world and experience... Where do you think paipo now sit... Where do you think paipos will evolve to... Will paipo surfing remain, e.g., a rare niche activity for the surfing purist... Or, are we on the verge of some sort of paipo resurgence?
When I started to ride paipos the second time, consistently, the only comments I got were mostly from guys I had surfed with. They would ask, "Did you get hurt?" or "Do you always knee board?" or "You really just ride laying down all the time?" I think now the interest in different riding styles is at an all-time high and other points of view are accepted more easily.
13. What kinds of waves do you enjoy the most and which kinds are your boards best suited?
The variation of what you can ride on any paipo is pretty amazing even here in mega-packed Southern California [see Note 6], but my ideal would have to be sand bottom point waves. I'm not so sure this has changed any in the last fifty or so years of my waveriding but now with the paipo board being my main focus the tube meter seems to be clocking up a lot more time! In these type of waves the old school boards with flatter rocker have an advantage over the other designs as they go straight line in the tube very well.

High speed barrel chasing

Photos by McDaniel Boys and caption by Robert Moynier.
14. What boards are in the current Jeff Quam paipo quiver?

Jeff Quam's quiver, numbered 1 through 9, left to right. All boards are twin-fins except for #5 (Simmons quad-fin  stand-up board) and #6 (Brink tri-fin).

#1 Third Reef Model, balsa, unridden, 48 x 20.5 x 2.75 in.; #2 Old School Model, standard poly, 48 x 21 x 1.5 in.; #3 Half Reef Model, EPS foam and epoxy resin, ~3+ lbs, 42 x 19 x 1.625 in.; #4 Hunny Buns Model, EPS foam and epoxy, ~4lbs +or-, 48 x 20 x 1.5 in.; #5 Simmons-inspired stand-up board (check similarities between this board and #4), 65 in.; #6 Donny Brink Model, poly foam, 48 x 20 x 1.625 in.; #7 Ryan Franz Model, 48 x 20 x 1.625 in.; #8 Midget Smith Model (first one-off of the Gordon Thiesz board), 48 x 21 x 1.625 in.; #9 Big Boy Model (SanO Special), thick floater for big guys, 50 x 21 x 3 in.

#1 Third Reef Model, balsa, unridden, 48 x 20.5 x 2.75 in.; #2 Old School Model, standard poly, 48 x 21 x 1.5 in.; #3 Half Reef Model, EPS foam and epoxy resin, ~3+ lbs, 42 x 19 x 1.625 in.; #4 Hunny Buns Model, EPS foam and epoxy, ~4lbs +or-, 48 x 20 x 1.5 in.; #5 Simmons-inspired stand-up board (check similarities between this board and #4), 65 in.; #6 Donny Brink Model, poly foam, 48 x 20 x 1.625 in.; #7 Ryan Franz Model, 48 x 20 x 1.625 in.; #8 Midget Smith Model (first one-off of the Gordon Thiesz board), 48 x 21 x 1.625 in.; #9 Big Boy Model (SanO Special), thick floater for big guys, 50 x 21 x 3 in.
#1 Third Reef Model, balsa, unridden, 48 x 20.5 x 2.75 in.
#2 Old School Model, standard poly, 48 x 21 x 1.5 in.
#3 Half Reef Model, EPS foam and epoxy resin, ~3+ lbs, 42 x 19 x 1.625 in.
#4 Hunny Buns Model, EPS foam and epoxy, ~4lbs +or-, 48 x 20 x 1.5 in.
#5 Simmons-inspired stand-up board (check similarities between this board and #4), 65 in.
#6 Donny Brink Model, poly foam, 48 x 20 x 1.625 in.
#7 Ryan Franz Model, 48 x 20 x 1.625 in.
#8 Midget Smith Model (first one-off of the Gordon Theisz board), 48 x 21 x 1.625 in.
#9 Big Boy Model (SanO Special),* thick floater for big guys, 50 x 21 x 3 in.

* SanO is a Southern California surfer colloquialism for San Onofre. It is commonly understood to mean a break called Old Man's, a series of easy breaking sandbar waves. The area is steeped in Southern California surfing lore and culture.

Photo courtesy Jeff Quam.
15. Any new additions to the Jeff Quam paipo board quiver?
Yes! I just took delivery of my newest board. It is a five-fin Bonzer shaped by Malcolm Campbell. I love the way it is riding. It is going to work great in large waves.

A Bonzer design shaped by Malcolm Campbell, July 2013.

(Numbers in inches unless otherwise stated)

Length: 51
Width: 20.625
Thickness: 1.75
Width one-foot from the nose: 19.25
Width one-foot from the tail: 19.75
Tail width: 17.75
Rocker nose: 1.25
Rocker tail: 0.25
Depth of V's in Bonzer: 0.1875

Fins: a standard 5-fin Bonzer configuration
Forward pair leading edge: 19.25
Forward pair trailing edge: 14.25
Trailing tip edge of second set: 9

Side fins:
  Forward set: base, 4.5; height 2.25
  Rear set: base, 5.75; height 2.5
Center fin:
  Pictured is the True Ames Bonzer Signature fin, almost identical to the Wide-base Brewer fin.
  Jeff replaced it with a Cheyne Horan "banana" fin, or the Samurai: height, 6.5; base, 3.5; and rake, 7.5.

Extreme double-barrel concaves in rear third of the board.
This is a shorter than normal Bonzer paipo, shorter than Malcolm Campbell
is accustomed  to building because Jeff doesn't favor a super floaty board.

Photos of the board courtesy of Jeff Quam.

Jeff Quam proudly holding his brand new Bonzer paipo, Capistrano Beach, Calif., July 2013.

Photo courtesy of Kirby Clark.
16. What's next for the Jeff Quam paipo experience?
I plan on spreading the paipo love to as many seekers as I can come in contact with and try to move the performance level ahead. Thanks Robert, and I'll see you in the tube!

Jeff contemplating Reality, and the deeper meaning of Existence. There's only one answer: go back out!

Photo by Mike Chapin and caption by Robert Moynier.

Note 1: Jeff Quam wrote in more detail about his Laguna lifeguard experiences in an August 12, 2009, blog piece, Ocean Godfathers, in the Old Laguna Lifeguard blog. Click here to read the letter: Ocean Godfathers.

Note 2: Learn more about John Parlette in a 1994 article appearing in the Los Angeles Times: Washburn, Jim. (1994, September 20). The Caveman of Laguna Beach. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from

Note 3: Surfer and filmmaker Spyder Wills was featured in the following article: Kampion, Drew. (1969, September). One Step Beyond... The Legend of Spyder Wills. Surfer Magazine, 10(4), 100-103. Read it at:

Note 4: Candy Calhoun, along with her sister Robin and mother Marge Calhoun, were prominent fixtures in the California surfing scene of the early- through late-1960s. All were accomplished surfers with a string of contest results including Candy's win at the Huntington championships in 1963, and her 3rd place showing at the World Championships held in Peru, in 1965. Candy was also known as a top body surfer and is credited with being the first woman to bodysurf, and master, both the Wedge and Pipeline. Through it all, she was a talented and fearless paipo rider and continued to ride Gordon Theisz design boards up until the 1990s.

Note 5. Some Internet links of interest for the following board builders:
  • Midget Smith
  • Terry Martin
    • Hobie Surfboards Shaper Terry Martin, video by anonymous, at:
  • Donald Brink
  • Mike Armstrong
    • O’Sullivan, Kevin. (2013, August/September). Before the Herd. The Surfer’s Journal, 22(4). The article summary on the TSJ website states, "In the early ’70s, Mike Armstrong departed from the North Shore with little explanation, despite logging standout performances at Pipeline. Writer Kevin O’Sullivan caught up with Armstrong on his 860-acre ranch, five miles inland from Morro Bay, where keeping things “country” isn’t a bumper sticker, but a way of life." Retrieved August 02, 2013.
Note 6. It's not all fun and games in sunny SoCal. The first shot sees Jeff negotiating cross town traffic, sublimely unaware of the frother that took off in the soup behind him is gaining speed and closing in. By the sixth picture, Jeff is fully aware he has a maniac on his hands and enters into a spirited conversation with same. The next two shots show the end of the line and the opportunity to continue his discourse with his new found surfing partner.

Crowd Fun. (View sequence from top to bottom starting with the left column - click on image for a larger view.)

Photos by Mike Chapin.

Special Notes on Art Brewer. Art Brewer provided early photographs of paipo surfing to Robert Moynier with permission for these photographs to be displayed in this interview. Brewer retains all rights.

Art Brewer has a long connection with prone surf craft. In an email to Robert Moynier, he noted:
"I started surfing in 1963, and continued until about 2000, when I broke my elbow and with the screws and loss of full extension started to hinder how quick I could get to my feet. I also grew up riding air mattress and paipo boards until I met George Greenough and Steve Bigler—they got me riding knee boards that I continued to do along with surfing until 1977, when I ruined my right knee skiing. While still in high school I shaped and glassed El Paipo knee and body boards for Bud Hulst, the original owner. El Paipo boards were produced for El Paipo by both Steve Bigler (Machine Scene) in Laguna and Roy Petrillo of Petrillo Surfboards in Costa Mesa. I personally didn't like their designs and the boards I were riding were more like Greenough spoons, some just fiberglass, and others very thin foam and fiberglass boards." (Art Brewer, personal email to Robert Moynier, February 21, 2012.)
Art Brewer is recently back in the water with two new Froiseth-inspired design paipos and has ordered a new Bonzer paipo shaped by Malcolm Campbell. Needless to say, Art is a stoked surfin' kid again!

(Below left) Art Brewer with a Machine Scene kneeboard with a scooped deck shaped by Steve Bigler, at Thalia St. in 1967. The board measured 6 ft. x 20 in. x 1.25 in. The board had a small, wide-base Greenough 8 in. fin deep and was ridden kneeling and as a stand-up until 8 to 10 inches of the tail broke off. The break was just cleaned up and Art continued to ride it.

(Below right) Art Brewer again riding a mat at Val's Reef, inside Sunset Beach, ca. 1971.

Photos by  Brad Barrett (left) and Bernie Baker (right). Caption information by Art Brewer.

Other Items of Note:

  • If you are interested in contacting Josh Martin about any of the paipo models discussed in Question 10, you may reach him via email at:, or by calling 949-533-7641. A website will be appearing soon.
Some related paipo interviews are listed below.
  • Wes "Bulldog" Humpston Interview by Bob Green. Questions and e-mail interview by Bob Green. October 31, 2009. Oceanside, California, USA. Skater, surfer and creative artist. Wes discusses the boards he and his buddies designed, painted and rode; the transition from fiberglass/foam to wood and back again; the distinctive wooden handles on the boards that he and his Dogtown friends rode; and the continuing evolution of belly/paipo boards.
  • Robert Moynier Interview by Bob Green. Questions and e-mail interview by Bob Green. July 5, 2010. Cambria, California, USA. "From Curl Curl to Cambria." From growing up riding the shorebreak at Curl Curl Robert has returned to riding prone boards, but with a few twists. He has spent his surfing life looking for the connections between the paipo/kneeboarding experience and high performance stand up surfboards.
  • Robert Moynier & Malcolm Campbell Interviews by Bob Green and Robert Moynier. Questions and e-mail interviews by Bob Green and Robert Moynier, September 22, 2011 and October 24, 2011, respectively. Cambria and Oxnard, California, USA. "The Bonzer paipo: two classic designs revisited." Robert Moynier was interviewed a year ago and at that time was riding stand-up and at times prone, on bonzer boards ranging in length from 7'8" to 9'. In his collection he had a short paipo from the 1980s made by Gordon Theisz. He decided to revisit the design of this board with the assistance of Malcolm Campbell. The result: two bonzer paipos. Robert describes his surfing experiences and thoughts on these new boards which, while modern designs, also have strong links to the past, going back to Wally Froiseth. Malcolm provides insights into his board design experience and Moynier's boards. See Part I of the Moynier paipo interviews above.

(Left) Jeff's first Josh Martin paipo board, an "Old School" model.
(Far right) Another Josh Martin board that now belongs to the McDaniel Boys.


See question #9, for a close-up image of the handle, or click here.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Robert Moynier (left) and Jeff Quam (right).

Jeff Quam and Kirby Clark, Oceanside Beach, Calif., ca. July 2013.

Photo courtesy of Kirby Clark.

Jeff Quam driving left under the lip on the Half Reef Model paipo built by Josh Martin, Oceanside Beach, Calif., ca. July 2013.

Photo courtesy of Kirby Clark.

Jeff Quam paipo boarding some small waves at Salt Creek, ca. June 2013. In the video Jeff is riding two different paipo boards, the Half Reef Model and the Hunny Bun Model.

Jeff Quam Riding Two of His Paipos at Salt Creek on a Small Day (June 2013) from rodndtube on Vimeo.

Video by Jill Quam.

Feel free to send me suggestions, comments and additional information to: The Paipo Interviews.

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Last updated on: 03/28/14