|November 19, 2009 - Ewa Beach, Hawaii, USA
e-Mail interview completed by Devon and his parents, based on questions by Bob Green
Photos by Devon
|1. Devon, how old are you now and have long you been riding paipo?
Currently 16, and have been riding paipos for one and a half years.2. Describe the boards that you currently ride?
Hawaii Paipo Designs SR flex model made out of foam and fiberglass, and
a resined, wooden, bullet shaped paipo ("The Bullet”) with a red and
grey stripe on the bottom.
3. Does anyone else from school ride a paipo?
friend, who got into paipo boarding through me. He used to bodyboard
until I let him try my paipo one day. He now uses a board my father and
I made for his birthday.
Devon at the Wall on a small day in Waikiki
|4. I’ve read that you started out on a Morey Boogie?
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 with a bodyboard (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 that I used for snorkeling. It was
out in the line-up, in slightly more serious waves, where I learned the
concept of bottom turning... the hard way.
5. Why did you decide to give the paipo a try?
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, exhausted.
About a year and a half ago 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.
Mum's Old Paipo
6. What was it like riding the paipo the first time?
out felt odd, and everyone looked at the board trying to figure out
what it was. 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. My dad and I made a wood
board for me a couple of months later (my "bullet" board).
7. Where do you usually surf?
The "Bullet" Board
I usually ride at White Plains, Big Rights, Cunhas, and The Wall (Walls).
8. These spots have a lot of history for paipo riding? Do many other guys still ride paipo?
read that John Galera used to paipo at White Plains, but I’m the only
paipo boarder that I have seen there. The same goes for Big Rights, but
I think it’s mostly because Big Rights is more of a surfing spot. The
Wall usually has a handfull of paipo riders when a fair sized south
swell comes in. Cunhas only had one person (besides my friend and me) on
a paipo the day I went out. The only consistent paipo riders on Oahu I
know of are John Galera, Bud Scelsa, Larry Goddard, and a guy named
Harry, who uses a big orange paipo. I have seen him at Makapu’u and
9. There are no magazines or current movies with paipo riders – how are learning to ride a paipo?
trial and error pretty much. Sometimes I try to infuse bodyboarding and
surfing maneuvers, because paipo boarding to me is sort of like
bodyboarding (riding prone, fins on your feet), and sort of like
surfing (fast speed, hard board). But for me, it’s mostly thinking of
trying something new and crazy when I’m in the line-up waiting for
waves, and then trying it when the waves come. I have also started to
knee on my Hawaii Paipo Designs board, with mixed success.
You may not realise it, but you surf with some of Hawaii’s long time
paipo riders and builders. What is the attitude of older guys to you
riding a paipo?
seem to like it; I haven’t gotten any negative feelings from anyone.
I’ve had many older people tell me about how they used to make paipos
in wood shop class, and do all sorts of tricks, like 360’s. I suppose
they like that someone is carrying on paipo boarding.11. Do they give you any advice?
Not really, I guess they think I’ve got it down. 12. What do like most about riding a paipo?
duck diving ability. Like I said earlier, I could never dive a
bodyboard. When I eventually tried the paipo, I loved how easily you
could dive under waves. I think this has actually saved my butt a
couple of times when I thought I could handle the wave size.
13. Regarding your boards, how did you come up with the shape for your “bullet board”?
wanted a slightly wide tail, because I had heard that it holds the
board into the wave very well, but I didn't want a board that was too
wide, that I couldn't carry under my arm. I also wanted a streamlined
nose that would slice through the water.
Mum’s questions – Christine
1. How did you get into riding a paipo board?
My husband made me a paipo board, so I could go out with him.
2. When was this?
3. Where did you surf? Any surfs still stand out in your mind?
The Wall (Waikiki) and Makapu`u.
4. How long did you ride a paipo for? Why did you stop surfing?
For about 10 yrs – until we moved further away from our fav surf sites.
5. Were there many other women surfers and women paipo riders when you were surfing?
6. What did you enjoy about riding a paipo?
Fast; easy to transport and go under waves. Also prevented the younger kids on boogie boards from cutting you off!
7. Have you been tempted to get back on the paipo?
On occasion when I see my son out in the surf.
8. What did you think about Devon taking up paipo riding? I hope he isn’t neglecting school too much?
I’m glad he’s out in the water and not a couch potato. He knows, school work first before we can hit the beach.
Dad’s questions – Lionel
1. How did you get into riding a paipo board?
grew up in the 60’s before boogie boards were invented, so we used to
make our own boards, paipo boards, to ride the waves. Other kids showed
me how to make and use paipo boards.
2. When was this?
About 1963, when I was 10 years old.
3. Did you travel for surf much - where did you surf?
didn’t travel for surf much. I grew up in a little town called Hauula,
and because of my age at the time, I used to go to Kahana Bay, and in
1967, we moved to Hawaii Kai, and I surfed at China Walls, Seconds,
Turtles, Makapu`u, and The Wall in Waikiki.
4. Were there many others riding paipo boards? Who were the hot paipo riders when you started?
I don’t know of any hot paipo riders, but when I started, it was my friends and I.
5. What types of boards were being ridden then?
The boards were wooden and resin coated, in a guitar pick style.
6. What was the style of surfing back then? What was good ride?
The style was prone and a good ride was a long ride.
I’ve read that you made a board in school? Tell me a bit about the
board – how did you come up with the shape, what were they made of?
board was made in wood shop class. The shape was based on what I saw
everyone else ride. It was made out of plywood, and was resined, with a
single plywood skeg. The board was a half inch thick, and about 40
inches long, and 30 inches at the widest point.8. Did you ever ride or own one of the Paipo Nui boards? [if so – do you remember where you bought it and how much it cost?]
Dad's Old Board
No, all of my boards were homemade.
9. How long did you ride a paipo for? Why did you stop surfing?
I rode a paipo from 1963 to 1980. I stopped because I did not have time.
10. How did it feel to get back on a paipo?
It felt good.
11. What did you enjoy about riding a paipo?
Dad's New Board
12. What did you think about Devon taking up paipo riding?
I’m happy he has taken up paipo boarding, and together we have made paipo boards.
Devon's Concave Paipo Board
concave idea came from my dad's friend, who builds and repairs
outrigger canoes, makes paddles, and repairs boats. My dad told him I
was interested in Paipo boarding, and one day my dad brought me to his
shop. There I asked about how to make a scooped "spoon" wood paipo. He
did not know how to exactly do that, but came up with the idea of
bending the board to make it curved from the nose to the back.
Other Information: Vist Devon's website at: http://hipaipo.deviantart.com/