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A Paipo Interview with Nels Norene

Publisher and editor of vagabond surf amongst other things

March 16, 2010, updated June 8, 2010. Ventura County, California, USA
Questions and
e-Mail Interview by Bob Green
Photographs courtesy of Nels Norene

1. What’s in your quiver and which surf craft are you surfing at the moment?
My active quiver at the start of 2010: Duck Feet and Churchill Slasher swin fins; Morey Wedge model bodyboard; Neumatic Surfcraft mat; soft kneeboard by Rob DiStefano (semi-retired); 1 fairly traditional paipo (Alien Gonzalez); 1 mini-paipo; 1 Victoria Skimboards handboard; 2-5 home-built handboards; 7'10" Morning Star hybrid surfboard built by David Pu'u in 1995; 8'3" "Billy Board" shaped by Bill Hubina of the Ventura Surf Shop; Doyle "Kids" softboard 5'5". Plus a few odds and ends mostly for reference.
Most often and recently ridden equipment: bodysurfing, handboards, bodyboard.
2. What influences which mode of surfing you select on any day?
I should establish early here that for me surfing is the act of riding waves. I have an almost autistic inability to consider "surfing" to be one or another specific, exclusive form of riding waves.

What influences my choice of method on any given day: surf x crowd x transportation vehicle x weather x what else needs to be accomplished that day. I am subject to a myriad of influences, practically everything except cell phones and peer pressure.

Nels Norene at Zuma photo shoot 2007.
Fast forward some 35 years... it goes quick! How can one describe that much time in a short space? Impossible. By this era in my surfing career I primarily bodysurfed. If I got on a plane I took my Neumatic surfmat. I sought to be unencumbered. I would watch huge SUVs park at the beach and disgorge several surfers and thousands of dollars worth of equipment and just wonder what they were actually getting out of the experience. The more I saw of that the less I wanted to drag with me.


Short Quiver: Forgot the Neumatic surf mat & couldn't find the Victoria handboard this day.
Left the surfboards in their bags.




3. You have described handboards as mini-paipo. What do you see as the connection between body-surfing, handboards and paipo? Is there much cross-over in technique between these modes of surfing?

You have to understand that, fortunately, for now there is no book of standards and practices defining and regulating the acts of riding waves.

Personally I define the term "handboard" to be something which is strapped to or held on or by a single hand.

I coined the term mini-paipo specifically to describe a board I built called "597" (named for the $5.97 total cost of the materials). It is in fact a shrunken paipo which requires two hands to hold and control. It had no cutouts to grasp or strap to be held by.

Model 597 Mini Paipo. I bought a small piece of pine shelving at Home Depot. It even had routed-out grooves along the bottom for something. I left a flat at the front and drew the rest of the curve off the nose of a longboard a friend had left with me for safekeeping. A diamond tail seemed natural (old California point surfer). I determined the length off my hand to elbow distance. The whole thing is as unscientific as possible. I wrote it up and put it on vagabondsurf.com. The first person who responded was Roger Wayland, who was far ahead of me in what became a decade-long journey into low tech equipment. The grooves in the bottom are functional channels. There is no flex in this board though. It's absolutely bombproof, to my surprise.



As to connections between bodysurfing, handboards of any type, and paipos: depending on circumstance you can get more speed and distance by adding planing surfaces to your body. That said, I consider handboards, as I define them, to be part of bodysurfing.


Handboard, bottom and top




Handboard art detail from above boards




A 2' x 4' piece of birch ply, a quart of MinWax Polyurethane, and an inkjet printer...raw hippie decoupage skills. This handboard has been to Mexico and all over my part of Southern California. For about $20-$25 USD I can make a dozen of them, just about as low-skill and low-tech as it gets, more fun than a trip to the Action Sports Retailer show. Below: Unfinished handboard detail.


Wood handboards, finished and not


I finished off the earlier ones on the right, the ones with straps. My early ones had buckles but by this time I just screwed them down. If the board was too thin for the screws I would glue "runners" on the bottom where the straps would go and screw them through. I fully expected them to pull out in a couple of sessions, but to date I've had no failures with the ones I've kept. I'm really easy on equipment though, and I rotate what I use a lot.
4. When did you start bodysurfing? Where was this? How about handboards and paipo – when did you start with these?
I started bodysurfing as soon as I could go in the ocean on my own. This was in Ventura, California, in the early 1960s.

I'm a second-generation surfer - my mother surfed in Hawaii when her family lived there for several years in the early 1930s. I heard her stories. I have no memory of ever not wanting to surf. However, riding koa and redwood boards in the 1930s left her with a deep conviction that I had to be a good swimmer and meet some very stringent requirements before I would be allowed to get a surfboard. Remember this was in the early- to mid-1960s - surfboards were huge, the wetsuit was a short john if anything, no leashes, and money and credit were not tossed around like they have been in recent years. She wanted me to know how to avoid trouble and be able to get myself out if it found me.

She saw to it I got to the beach all year long. That said, this wasn't some modern yuppie Little League junior-pro thing - she got me down once a week in winter if nothing else was going on, at her schedule, no wetsuits etc. In summer it was more often as parents could take turns driving the neighborhood kids. When you have little you use what you can. For little kids of that place and era this meant finless bodysurfing, canvas mats, or styrofoam bellyboards. Every day was wild adventure. I have a very clear memory, for example, of paddling into an unbroken wave for the first time... the 2009 phrase "game changer" comes to mind.

My first handboard was a Hand-Surfa from Australia, which made a brief run in the U.S. in the mid-1960s. It was then and remains my favorite handboard, providing even finless bodysurfing on open wave faces. I still have it.

Technically, I was riding a paipo when I was using those finless styrofoam bellyboards. Traditional paipos were made and ridden but my sphere of reference was those horrid, round plywood skimboards of the day, so I never partook of their wave-riding cousins.


The Original Hand-Surfa





Click on pics for a larger images.




Homemade plexiglass handboard similar to the Hand-Surfa



A late 1990's toy, one of the first handboards I made. The shape is roughly off my ancient Hand-Surfa. I coated it top and bottom with resin full of glitter from the craft store. It looked okay in the sun but I felt a bit lame. Then last summer at a hot rod show I saw a van with glitter in the paint sprayed on the front. It looked okay in the sun etc.
5. When did you first see or hear about paipo? What got you started riding a paipo?
I guess to hijack the question a bit we should play with the notion of "what is a paipo?" If we can agree on the idea of paipo = bellyboards of any type then my answer would be in the early 1960s. Traditional Hawaiian wood paipos I probably saw on the Stan Richard's TV show "Surf's Up." I recall they would play bits of surf movies. But, as I said earlier, the plywood thing had zero interest for me.

I started reading Surfer Magazine in 1967, when I saw a copy at the local grocery store. $0.75 cents was serious money then when you consider 75 cents would buy 2-3 gallons of gas, not that I needed to buy gas at that point. Seeing that magazine was another game changer, and it had ads for Newport Paipo and others. That's where the notion of bellyboards achieved significance and validity for me.

   
Newport Paipo Concave Vector. When these boards were being made I was insane to standup surf, but these ads more than anything (with the possible exception of the psychedelic-colored eye-candy) drew my attention like magnets. Fast, wild, and exciting. Very portable.

Given my family history with Hawaii, I was also enthralled with all things Hawaiian. I immediately equated the beautiful and exotic word "paipo" with all forms of bellyboarding and continue to use it today, for the sheer enjoyment of the term.

Technically my first meaningful wave-riding assisted experiences were on solid prone surfcraft. Surfmats of the day were awful sandpapery affairs.
6. Both paipo and bodyboards are ridden prone. For you, what are the major differences between a paipo and a bodyboard? Do these differences make for much difference in how you surf these craft?
The major differences are in the materials and what the materials allow for in construction and wave-riding performance. Almost 40 years after the invention of the bodyboard, materials and methods have made bodyboards and foam/fiberglass bellyboards pretty much interchangeable as far as capabilities. Design seems to be all that separates those now. It is a constant source of wonder for me that stand-up surfboards don't make significant use of soft tech. Bodyboard design... has changed so very little over 4 decades compared to standup surfboards. This has been a source of frustration for me but recently I have been considering the possibility that the original bodyboard was maybe seventy-five percent perfect at inception. Which is a bit of a mind-boggler, really.

I got a Morey Boogie kit and built it over Memorial Day weekend at the start of the North American summer of 1977. The first time I rode it, at Zuma Beach, in Malibu, was another peak experience. I distinctly recall telling friends that it felt like laying down on a fish, firm but fleshy. There was not, nor had there ever been, a comparable feeling on a surfcraft before those boards.

I would have to say the soft materials give a feeling of safety, both personal and financial, that have both taken me to places I would not have otherwise attempted, and also got me into the ocean on many, many days that I otherwise would have skipped.

Figure to the right: The first Morey boogie advertisement in Surfer Magazine appeared
in the November 1974 issue (vol. 15, no. 1, p. 14). Click here for a PDF version.
    

7. What is the attraction for you of riding a paipo and what sorts of conditions best suit a paipo?
This is, for me, a massively complicated and all-inclusive question. The short answer for me is that the attraction comes from the equipment allowing me to increase my chances of finding a decent surfing experience in contemporary south-central California. It may be telling that I think I'm pushing 2 years since the last time I stood on a surfboard.
8. Pictures of your Alien Gonzalez board have been posted on-line. Can you describe its dimensions and construction? What inspired its shape?
Alien Gonzalez was built to play with flex and give a go to a traditional Hawaiian paipo design. It was built out of 1/4" birch ply from Home Depot. Corners were drawn off a bowl or pan lid. Length determined by the distance between my bellybutton and the ground. Artwork influence is obvious on one side. I painted it with cheap acrylic paint and sealed it with several coats of polyurethane. It's a fun board. It was fun to make and is fun to ride.

Alien Gonzalez Paipo. Quarter inch (0.25") birch ply, painted with acrylic craft paint, and sealed with several coats of Minwax Polyurethane. Never meant to last but on it goes, benefitting from my roaming mind... I just haven't ridden it to death.




9. In on-line forums you have mused about the application of mini-Simmons and fish paipo. Have you had a chance to make or ride either? Are you still interested in these concepts?
Ultimately, a fish paipo does not interest me much. Twin points at stomach or groin levels are not so attractive. The mini-Simmons thing, however, just appears made for use as a paipo. I live north of Los Angeles, and the Malibu-to-Santa Barbara area is a historical, as well as current hotbed, of hull activity. Plus, I recently came across my copy of an old Surfing magazine that has one of the paipo articles, and it mentioned a Simmons twin fin paipo as being an influence on the Newport Paipo boards... that old gem has probably been rolling around in my head for a long time.

Once the population of the point breaks passed any reasonable hope of civil expectations my interest in them passed. I'm cursed with the ability to turn my head to the left and right, which drastically reduces wave count. The mini-Simmons design reawakened certain longings. I have seen some including several at the Spring 2009 Sacred Craft Expo in Ventura. Going to that show knocked me into a lethargic pondering. Do I hack my own crude attempt out, look for a small one used, or order a new one from someone with way more skills and experience with construction an the particular design?

These decisions as well as all others involved in my surfing life are greatly influenced by the other 97% of my life.

I hadn't made any move on this when Soulglider posted photos of his mini-Simmons and hull paipos. I love looking at those, and I loved the notion that others were thinking along similar lines... or well beyond them. Oddly enough though seeing those photos seems to have satisfied something for me in regards to this design area. The heat seems off for me to participate at the moment.

Soulglider's Black Magic Simmons-Inspired Paipo. Soulglider commented on the Paipo Forums, "The board is 4'4 x 19.5 x 1.5 inches thick. These dimensions won't get you the board -- the rails and bottom configuration are really intricate. Just to slap "Mini Simmons" on this hybrid doesn't do it justice. Lots of R&D went into making this board. It is a conglomerate of about 10 different boards, what makes them fast, etc., but that shouldn't stop you from starting out on this wonderful journey of trial and error. This board is totally built for me, my style of riding, and what i want out of a board. We've messed around with wide spots, rockers, rails, thicknesses, bottom contours and the like... good luck and sweet journey!"





Source: The Paipo Forums, courtesy of Soulglider.
10. Do you ride fiberglass paipo boards? What sorts of paipo boards have you experimented with?
I do not currently ride fiberglass paipos. I have ridden them in the past and expect that the next boards will be foam and fiberglass. Again, I've held off while pondering the benefits of homecrafting or supporting established craftspeople. Economics is also part of the equation.
11. Kneeboards as paipo – what type of kneeboard works best as a paipo? What are your thoughts on the 1960s/1970s knee/bellyboards produced in the US?
I love the multipurpose, utilitarian notion of a combo-board... I just love that notion. Virtually every true craftsman who has opinions I value has advised me that such craft usually won't do any one specific thing well at all. When I see photos of those Shoe-like boards I still get all excited for their promise. I'm not sure what a contemporary version would look like. The only things I'm aware of currently exploring that range are the Morey/Catchsurf related boards (the One, The Beater).
12. You have described riding a DiStefano kneeboard – with and without fins. What difference do fins make?
Rob DiStefano is one of the great "unsung" craftsmen of surfing. It was probably 1998-1999, when I came across him on the Internet. As I recall he lived in New Jersey. He was making tremendous, excellent quality bodyboards and kneeboards using bodyboard technology and materials. I think it was a total garage or basement operation done after work - just classic surfer crafting. We started communicating and eventually he finished up a project board for me. It has twin O'Fishel fin boxes. On my first session I found out that my right knee is apparently shot enough that even kneeling on a softboard was going to be too painful. I went to the doctor and had it checked out... it's been so long ago I don't recall exactly what they told me but it was something like "housemaid knee" and probably wouldn't get better. So I had this wonderful board that I really couldn't ride on my knees.

I popped the fins out and used it as a 54" bodyboard/bellyboard/paipo. It is much more akin to a bellyboard than it is a bodyboard. The thing flew, especially compared to a bodyboard (42" rockered bodyboard vs. 54" flat stiff kneeboard). With the fins in, it tracked nicely in ways that allowed the making of sections that conventional bodyboards often could not (at least at my skill levels on the particular waves I was riding). If I were to change anything on that board I would have rather had a single fin with maybe a couple of removable side bite fins. Interestingly also is that with fins in the board one doesn't need fins on the feet to effectively ride. Trying to arm paddle a 54" board is a bugger though. I'm much more of a cruiser. I've had that board for over a decade and it still looks great.

DiStephano kneeboard. 54" and almost in as good shape today as when I got it in the late 1990's. Which is saying a lot as it has had more action and neglect than any other piece of surfing equipment I've owned in that period. Rob was the builder behind Omega Bodyboards (I think it was) back then. I like it better without the fins. Absolutely one of the best boards I've ever had.




13. Mats and paipos have an ability to flex, as do some alaia. What are your thoughts about flex in surfcraft?
Mats are their own creatures. More experienced mat riders might phrase this differently, or disagree altogether, but I would say mats don't flex so much as they shape shift. This is compared to flex in fiberglass or wood, which has rebound projection.

I am sure that flex, in relation to projection for increased speed, is a good thing. I suppose it has max value for surfcraft which are ridden on the knees or standing, as dragging legs or whatnot negates a lot of speed. I can't imagine that lifting your legs out of the water once on the wave would make too much difference overall. Flex in handboards seems pointless to me.
14. For a number of years you maintained the Vagabond website – what was the idea behind the site?
Vagabondsurf.com was created in what we now call a D.I.Y. spirit, as a reaction to the DotCom thing of the late-1990s. Back then there was a period of huge upheaval with surf media, when websites like Surfline, Bluetorch, and others were created and money was thrown at surf magazine staffers to lure them to the electronic frontiers. I had contributed to many surf magazines in the 1980s and thought I might have something to offer. I received no response of any kind from anybody I contacted, and watched from the sidelines as the New Media Age became nothing more than an electronic version of the worst of print magazines. It was the same old stuff delivered much quicker, as they didn't have the printing lead times to hold them back. The surf magazines would have died had the DotCom bubble not burst. Not that they seemed to learn much from the experience. I'm sure there is enough backstory about that period to fill a book.

Vagabondsurf.com was set up so anybody could contribute using whatever technology they had. The only ones to do so in any significant numbers were older surfers. Think about it - the people spending the most time on computers aren't teenagers... it's the adults at work! That seems obvious to me, and anybody I've spoken to who has had a regular job, but I couldn't convince the surf industry. While ultimately the website never paid for itself it has been tremendously rewarding in terms of people I've come to know through it. There are fantastic individuals out there, on the fringes as well as deep inside the contemporary surf culture.

Ultimately its purpose was undone by internet forums, which allowed instant contributions. Evolution, eh? That has been a beautiful, seamless mutation. For the final active period of the website it was basically a blog. And then blogs were invented...
15. You have been asked in an e-mail if you and Roger Wayland were the same person. On Vagabondsurf.com you described
Roger as a “Renaissance waterman.” Can you give some background about Roger, as well as his attitude toward surfing and surfcraft?

Roger Wayland deserves a write-up of his own... and I guess actually he had a chance to do that himself with the website contributions. Vagabondsurf.com had been running for a couple of years when one night he sent an email with a few photos. This was years before the whole wooden board thing. Out in the combo hinterland/hotbed of Long Beach, California, Roger was living a D.I.Y. surfing experience few could match.

He did work in foam and fiberglass but, in my opinion, hit his stride with wood. He would see something like the hydrofoils and have a wood prototype in the water within the week. He'd have an idea for a paipo or handboard and could be in the water using it the next day. That just wasn't possible in the standup world (Roger board-surfed too). He tried Neumatic surfmats, Cleary kneeboards, eventually added saltwater fly fishing in the surf, and then surf kayaking, all on a low budget, all while working fulltime, greatly enjoying his family, and exploring the world in every manner. This was during the height of the surf school/Blue Crush surf population explosion.

An example: much of our near-daily communication had been about water issues (which he got very deep into studying), interspersed with forays into current National Geographic articles, art exhibits, Huntington Beach/Orange Curtain/surf industry fun and games, etc. This might go on for a week. Then a quick pondering or comment about airbrushing .25" lauan plywood ("Would the paint survive the flex?") resulted in 6-8 photos arriving within hours, of handboards and paipos I'd never seen before with airbrush jobs... completed projects which he'd never mentioned.

Those days were great. I never knew what would pop up. ...and made the hate e-mail tolerable...

Following are a few photos of the bottoms of some Wayland handboards and paipos. All were ridden. Sadly no photos to my knowledge of them "in-flight." These were all built prior to 2004.

Roger Wayland single- and double-fin handboards



Photos by Roger Wayland, from vagabondsurf.com.
16. On the Vagabond.com site, Roger described being “absolutely mesmerized” by paipo and handboards. What is your understanding of what Roger meant?
Without the rather extensive minimum requirements a stand-up board requires, paipos and handboards allowed Roger to inexpensively create and experiment at will. Within the framework of a full-time job, wife and two teenaged children, wide-awake interest in the world around him, and as hardcore a surfing addiction as anyone... he could have an idea, get materials quickly and cheaply, design, make and finish a surfcraft and have it in the water in hours or days. He often tried a design as a handboard, and if it worked well enough he would make adjustments and transfer it to a paipo. He loved the freedom of expression and the freedom of creating in that D.I.Y. environment.

Roger Wayland "tubes" handboard



Photos by Roger Wayland, from vagabondsurf.com.
17. Did you ever try Roger’s hydrofoil or quad-channel paipo?
Alas, I never met Roger in the flesh or had a chance to ride any of his surfcraft. We were both in busy family and work situations. I've kept Vagabondsurf.com up for the past couple of years, in part, as a bit of a tribute to him and a few others I got to know through it.

Roger Wayland hydrofoil mini-wing paipo



Photos by Roger Wayland, from vagabondsurf.com.
18. Are there any other people who impress you in relation to their surfing, design or experimentation?
I have been greatly influenced by the work and lifestyle/philosophies of Tom Morey and  Mike Doyle. Rob DiStefano and Dale Solomonson also, along with their verifying that you don't have to be an accepted member of the Southern California surf mafia to do world class work. Greenough is an obvious call, especially given the area I live in, but he was, if anything, a little too advanced and intense to actually affect the course of my life - but impressive as hell. Currently I would have to say the Kenvin/Hydrodynamica/Swift Movement thing captures my interest, as does the Morey/Catchsurf group.

Fall 2009, Nels Norene with Doyle Kids board. My brain gets overstimulated very easily. I had been in the Beach House in Santa Barbara and was looking at boards until my eyes glazed over and my grey matter started to melt. I took a pass through the used board section to cool down and saw a few Doyles, including one of these. I remember thinking that for what I was interested in at that point one of these might be enough. A few weeks later I caught this on Craigslist. Summer was over and I took it out at Zuma on clean days to satisfy some questions about bellyboard length and three fins. I still like the construction of soft boards, although that avenue has never been significantly explored with financial success in a performance-oriented manner. I expected to hack away at this board to see what I could come up with but now think it I'll pass it along as is. Maybe.



I think Steve Pezman and The Surfer's Journal need to be mentioned here as well. Through the years I have been a relentless "poo-pooer" of the notion that the 6'2" thruster is the "be-all" and especially the "end-all" of performance surfboard design. I haven't ridden a single fin since maybe 1987, so don't get me wrong on that part... there's just more to surfing. Today, active surfers all over the world are riding all kinds of designs, and in my opinion The Surfer's Journal may have played a huge part in opening up surfing to these changes through detailed historical articles, erudite revisiting of designs from bygone days, and in-depth interviews with very committed individuals. Most specifically I would like to point to the articles about kneeboarding, and later the article on surfmats, which I consider to perhaps be the genesis of the modern finless era. That got people interested, but as far as I can tell there were only a couple of people on earth with the experience of making custom surfmats at that time (Dale Solomonson and Paul Gross). I've seen Dale's manufacturing layout, and it looks decptively D.I.Y., but the design and materials that comprise his mats reflect a trial and error and advancement cycle that "backyarders" might find daunting. One would spend decades catching up to where those guys are. Even Greenough doesn't make his own mats, right? But wood is available everywhere, and the Internet makes info on standard board construction accessible.
19. Which surfers do you see having fun these days?
Contemporary surfing does not seem to be about having fun. The only people I see having fun riding waves are younger kids, loonies, and decrepit old men. It is very telling about a culture when one of the two most derisive terms applied within the complete range of surfcraft is "funboard."

I'm not saying nobody is having any fun in the water, but I just don't see it. I would hope everybody is having a great time. I could discuss this for hours and hours and pages and pages. It used to be easier to find the joy; now it must be aggressively sought out. Much of, if not most, of the alternative surf equipment in surfing today may come from people seeking... and that's a good thing.
20. Any surfs or waves still stand out for you, from over the years?
This question is too complicated, for me at least, to answer. There have been many memorable experiences, but it would take a book to put down all the contributing variables. Surfing has been my life, and it has been all-encompassing, while at the same time I have tried to have a full life outside the sport. Needless to say surfing that greatly influenced that part. It's the complete experience, far beyond single rides or trips or seasons. The writer and director, John Milius, once said in an interview that "surfing is my small town." I suspect all true surfers understand that comment.
21. Any other comments?
All my comments reflect the times and places where I was during my earlier years of surfing awareness and participation. My "imprint period" happened during what is now called the "transitional era" in surfing, when shortboards were revolutionizing the sport and minds were wide open (if sometimes melting). The location was Southern California, roughly between Malibu and Santa Barbara, primarily in the Ventura area. Visualize fairly uncrowded point surf.

Those days are dead and gone now, as old days must always fade away. I can accept that, but I have an impossible time accepting a crowing arrogance over lesser things. Emblematic of surfing in recent years is the notion that standing on a surfboard equals walking on water - in the Biblical sense. I'm appalled. Fortunately I have many alternatives to the pedestrian way of life.

The bright note is that apparently there are a lot of surfers who at least suspect that there is something beyond the crass materialism we are awash in. The whole mat/alaia/wood/handboard/paipo movement as well as the surfer/artist trip seem to me to be a direct D.I.Y. response to the corporate strangulation of the wave-riding experience. I have no idea where this is leading but it is quite possible that we are in another revolutionary period in surfing.

June 1973, somewhere on the S. Oregon coast, W.A.V.E. Hollow surfboard on the Valiant

Those boards were the product of Karl Pope and Bob Johnson I think his name was, started after Morey-Pope Surfboards dissolved. Ventura County, California really hasn't had the recognition for what has come out of there "back in the day". Morey-Pope, W.A.V.E. fin systems, the hollow boards, the Bonzer, filmmakers  and photographers like Allan Main, Dan Merkel, and Bill Delaney, Merv Larsen's surf skiis...lots of things. The early to mid 1970's were kind of a dark time in California surfing consciousness as localism was rampant, but minds were wide open when it came to equipment and materials beyond that black wetsuit, white board territorial mentality. Being so close to Santa Barbara we saw everything that those guys were playing with too. You never knew what you would see in the water.

Afternoon entertainment. Taken by Richard Claxton in 1979 or 1980. Maybe 1981.

We'd camp in the San Clemente area in the summers, sometimes for weeks at a time depending on work situations. Surf until about 8 in the morning, walk back to camp for breakfast while passing everybody just getting up. Then back to the beach until early afternoon. We'd entertain ourselves with lunch, naps, and refreshments until the late afternoon sessions. Back up for dinner, then back to the beach for the sunset. One summer we camped here and in the Sierras for about 6 weeks, no tent, no lantern, no flashlight...just sleeping bags, Coleman stove, and what you see in this picture. That kind of sheer freedom was fantastic, but sometimes it makes it hard to enjoy things today.

Self-portrait.
Taken around the start of the century, I used to use it as my avatar.
Surfing to me equals wild, exciting FUN!



Visit Nels Norene's website at vagabondsurf.com, a website "founded and handcrafted for
your pleasure with recycled aluminum can venture capital only!"

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



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