|Skip Briggs Paipo Interview
December 31, 2009. Costa Mesa, California
Telephone interview by Rod Rodgers, Questions developed by Bob Green
R.I.P. June 19, 2017
Chuck Gardner mentioned that you were one of the first guys to ride
Wedge on a bellyboard. When was this and what got you started on a
started riding the waves in 1950, at 6 years old, bodysurfing and then
mats. I started surfing Wedge in 1958. Started stand-up surfing about a
year later on a Gordie. I was an all around surfer, riding everything.
Bodysurfing was one of my favorites and then I really got into
kneeboarding. Also liked bellyboarding but hitting some backwash
screwed up my back.2. What were your first boards like? Who made them?
One of the early riders at Wedge included Joe Quigg (a legendary surfer and surfboard manufacturer – see more info here http://www.legendarysurfers.com/surf/legends/ls14.shtml).
Before Joe Quigg, earlier than him and one of the first was Carter
Pyle, a body surfer – saw him destroy a bellyboard on a guy that
dropped in on him. Pyle invented the P-Cat (a catamaran).
first bellyboard was made of yucca, a wood kind of like balsa, but
heavier, in 1959. Made the bellyboards for myself. Made all kinds of
boards -- knee, belly and surf boards. The only boards I bought were
the Gordie, a Joe Quigg, and then a Holden.3. Did you have any early influences or did you have to work it out for yourself how to ride a bellyboard?
The bellyboard was 3’2” and shaped mostly like front end of a long
board with a crescent like tail, some concave and twin fins. Sometimes
I rode it as a kneeboard. Rode the bellyboards everywhere, but made
them for Wedge.
Also sold lots of kneeboards, Alabama Kneeboards, probably 35 of them.
Made a mold off Ron Romanosky’s spoon and started making spoons. Liked
the way they hugged the wave because of the flex. The Porsche of
surfboards. Really need a good wave, not a mushy wave. Rode the
kneeboards from San Diego to Rincon: Tijuana Sloughs, Swamis, Trestles,
Churches, you name it. Ron Romanosky broke the nose on one of the early
boards. I used big Duck feet, the UDTs. [Update from Ron Romanosky:
Romanosky severely broke his nose when one of the early mold-made
spoons broke in half after a take-off, when its nose hit him square in
the middle of his face."]
guy with the yucca was one my early influences. Started surfing Newport
Beach 17th St. (aka the “California Pipeline”) and 22nd St (also known
Besides Wedge, Newport is associated with the El Paipo and Newport
Paipo boards. What was the story behind these boards? Were they always
ridden as a kneeboard?
Paipo worker, Mike Smith, also about 65. He was also a kneeboarder. I
remember the El Paipo board company but not Newport Paipo.
5. What's it like riding Wedge?
No place like it. Favorite way to ride it was kneeboarding because you
were a little higher off the wave and could still get in the tube – bad
back so couldn’t bellyboard.
6. How long did you ride bellyboards for?
Stopped in the 1970s and turned to kneeboarding. Boogie boarded in the 1990s. The last time I bodysurfed was in 1999.7. I've read a story about a guy nick-named Mackman riding Wedge in 1962 on a twin-finned wood paipo. Do you recall this guy?
8. What can you tell us of Jack of Jack’s Surfboards?
published a couple of issues of the “California Wave” bimonthly in
1976. Jack bought an advertisement. Jack has an incredible collection
9. Are you still surfing?
Can’t surf anymore – two artificial hips and herniated vertebra put an end to that.
Any other comments?
made a surfing film in the early 70s, Wedge 74, with a soundtrack from
the Who’s Who’s Next album. The film was shot with Super 8 using a
custom underwater housing that I made. There is some good footage of
I consider surfing a religion more than anything else. A contest is
simply somebody’s opinion, but surfing really feels like God is with
Skip Briggs passed away on June 19, 2017.
The "King of the Wedge" will be released into the ocean on Sunday July 23, 2017.
The ceremony will begin at 6:30 pm.