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An Annotated Bibliography of the Paipo Board

Table of Contents

On-Line Hawaiian Dictionaries || Authors: Scott Anthony | David Aguirre | Jim Allen | Dick Ash | Vernon Bartlett | H. Beattie | Mark Blackburn |   John R. K. Clark | Trevor Cralle | Timothy DeLaVega | Peter Dixon | Lázaro Echegaray Eizaguirre | P. Ellam | El Paipo | J.C. Elwell | Midget Farrelly | Ben R. Finney | Ronald S. Funnell | Robert Gardner | Thomas Hickenbottom | Joseph James | Mark Jury | Duke Kahanamoku & Joe Brennan | Drew Kampion | John Kelly | H. Arthur Klein | Beatrice Krauss | Cameron Kirk | Peter Kreeft | G.W. Kuhns | Lindsay Lord | Margan & Finney | Mary L. Martin | Guy Motil | Desmond Muirhead | William Desmond Nelson | Max Nodaway | Charles Nordhoff | José de Olivares | George Orbelian | Otto B. Patterson | Steve Pike | John Severson | Tina Skinner and Mary Martin | St. Pierre, BrianThomas Thrum | Herb Torrens | Michael Walker | Wayne Warwick | Unknown authors | 

Anthony, Scott, and Oliver Green. 2012. British aviation posters: art, design and flight. Farnham, Surrey: Lund Humphries.
p. 135

Paipo significance: a poster promoting BOAC and Qantas airlines features a bathing beauty sporting a bellyboard (also called a surfboard in the U.K. and Australia before the 1970s).

In the on-line article promoting the book there appears to be a slight discrepancy on the date of the poster.
Above the poster the article states, "...a 1958 poster depicts a bikini-clad, surfboard-holding blonde below the words “Australia – Fly there by BOAC and Qantas”.

Below the poster the caption states, "Australia - Fly There by BOAC and Qantas. Designer: Hayes. BOAC poster in association with Qantas, c1956"
Image sourced from the on-line article: Business Traveller. (2012, July 16) BA launches aviation poster book - Business Traveller. Retrieved May 04, 2013, from

The bottom of the poster in the book states, "British Overseas Airways Corporation in Association with Qantas Empire Airways Limited - South African Airways - Tasman Empire Airways Limited"

Thanks to Philip Zibin for the article referral.
Overall observation
A couple of questions about dating of the poster -- 1956 or 1958 -- and the woman is certainly not wearing a bikini!

The book cites the poster as c.1956.

Aguirre, David. 2007. Waterman's eye: Emil Sigler--surfing San Diego to San Onofre, 1928-1940. San Diego: Tabler and Wood.

This book contains one image with a paipo/bellyboard pictured in the foreground (see below).

Photo caption:

"A crowded surfing contest at San Onofre in 1938. Five years before this, there had only been a handful of surfers at San Onofre. The Old Mission Beach gang did not compete, but watched carefully to see how the other guys surfed. The San Diegans' boards, which had only 1 inch fins, were not well suited to competition." Click on the photo for a close-up snippet of the board.
Photo on p. 77

Overall observation
Unusual photo of an early paipo board, ca. 1938.

Allen, Jim Lovic. 1970. Locked in: Surfing for life. South Brunswick: A.S. Barnes.
Title page and Contents
[PDF] and Introductory Chapters

This book on surfing for life is written by an older man, especially for the late-1960s era. Allen states, "I am a 41-year-old family man, a respected community member, and a university professor who holds the Ph.D. degree. I am also a confirmed surfer." This is in contrast to the youthful, rebel stereotypes of the era. He goes on to state, "...most older men look upon surfing as either a frivolous waste of time or an activity appropriate only for youngsters - if for anyone at all." He also talks about surfing as a fad, the increasing commercialism of the sport and paradoxically the high degree of conformity within the surfing community.
Ch. 9, pp. 130-133, Body Surfng and Bellyboarding
Of the four pages devoted to body surfing and bellyboarding, 2.5 pages cover body surfing and 1.5 pages are on bellyboarding. No section covers hand boarding or kneeboarding. Key passages include:
  • it has been asserted that because their low position also decreases wind resistance, some bellyboard riders have been known to outrace riders on standard surfboards in large surf.
  • Bellyboard riders can, and do, more often exploit waves that break gradually from one side to the other. Thus they, like standard board surfers, can and do trim across waves.
  • The board is held with one arm on the front of the board, with elbow and wrist crooked arowld its front edge. The board is mostly under the rider's chest at this point. The other arm is used to stroke as the wave approaches, and the feet add propulsion with the swim fins. Once the surfer feels the wave lift him and propel his board, he pulls himself further up on the board so that it is, literally, mostly under his belly.
  • There are various kinds of bellyboards, or paipo (pie-po) boards as they are called in Hawaii, ranging from $40 or $50 custom jobs made of foam and fiberglass like surfboards, down to unadorned slabs of plywood cut to suitable size. In between are both the molded or dish-shaped plywood boards that cost from $15 to $25 and the homemade plywood boards so popular with kids in Hawaii, each with its owner's own specially planned shape and size, carefully mounted skeg, and elegantly painted decor.
  • Dyed-in-the-wool body surfers and bellyboard surfers are a special breed. They take their sport as seriously as board surfers, if not more seriously.
Overall observation
Although published in 1970, the first edition is mostly written in a mid-1960s flavor with a longboard orientation except in the chapter "The Boards." There are tons of photos but none of bellyboarder/paipo riders. The terms bellyboard and paipo ("as they are called in Hawaii) are both used. In the glossary defines paipo, but not bellyboard, "Paipo: the Hawaiian term for a bellyboard. See Chapter 9." There is no real discussion of board lengths, widths, thickness or plan shapes.

Ash, Dick. 1994. Bellybogger: The fastest way to get your guts across a wave. Byron Bay NSW, Australia: The Author.
Short Booklet
A few snippets from the booklet:
I realise that the Bellybogger is not everyone's answer to surfing. But, I believe there's a small group of enthusiasts out there who still know what the art of bellyboarding and bodysurfing is all about.

The difference between a Bellybogger and a 'boogie' board is the sensation of speed.

The name came from 'belly' as in bellyboard, and 'bagger' which was the nickname for bodysurfers.

Download and read the 12-page booklet here. [PDF, 3.5MB]
Overall observation
The Bellybogger inventor and author of the booklet establishes early on that the Bellybogger bellyboard/paipo is not for everyone but that it is the board of choice for many. In the booklet, Dick Ash describes the evolution of the Bellybogger and compares and contrasts it with the boogieboard. He explains how the board has been designed for speed.

Bartlett, Vernon, and Maurice Bartlett. 1953. You and Your Surfboard. London: The Author. (With additional illustrations by Maurice Bartlett.)
Pages 3 & 4, selected excerpts
Booklet in PDF: You may download the booklet here. Note that in the quotes below that there is no reference to stand-up surfboards. [
  • "But surf-riding has certain advantages over most other sports. You need no expensive equipment. Any kind of board--your landlady's tea-tray, if you can find nothing better..."
  • "A word of warning. The first time you find yourself running back into the sea for the next wave, you will know that the fever has caught you. For the rest of your life, every other kind of bathing will seem a little tame. You will welcome gales that keep other people moping indoors."
  • "Some of the best and boldest surfing I have ever seen was by men in Durban who either used no boards at all or had boards about half the size of yours."
Editor's Note
The pictured boards appear to be about 50 inches long. It would be interesting to know the length and width of Bartlett's boards and the dimensions of the boards used in Durban, South Africa.
Overall observation
An enjoyable read. The illustrations and writing are sure to bring a smile to your face as you browse through this book about one's joy in surf riding. The title may be a little misleading since the booklet is about waveriding with a bellyboard (paipo) and not the "surfboard" ridden in the erect style, such as on a longboard or shortboard. This booklet may be the first documented riding of paipos in the far reaches of the world, including the shores of England, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), South Africa (Natal and Cape Town) and West Africa. This booklet was privately printed around 1950, with a couple of editions. Through much diligence over quite a few years a copy was finally acquired by Henry Marfleet (known as "bluey" on the paipo forums). Bluey says, "It was well worth the wait."

Beattie, H. 1919. Traditions and legends. Collected from the natives of Murihiku. (Southland, New Zealand) Part XI. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 28(112), 212-225. For access to the article on the Internet click here.
Pages 221-222.

At least four of the old men mentioned the sport of surfing, as follows:—“The young Maoris would swim out with a short board, put it under the chest and shoot in on the waves. I remember round at Kakararua (Hunt's Beach, Westland) we were at it, and a white man named Baker would try it. He was a big, heavy man, and when he came in his board struck the shore and almost stunned him. His chest was rather severely hurt.”

“The board used in surfing was called a papa, and it requires certain practice to use it. You must keep the end of it up just as you reach the beach or it will dig into the sand and perhaps break your ribs. The board was about four feet long perhaps, and came in like an arrow. I was round at the West Coast diggings, and the beaches there are very suitable for it. Another sport was when the boys would take a tawai (a kind of canoe) out and come in through the surf. They would capsize sometimes but that was all the more fun.”

“I never saw the sport of surfing, but know that a papa or surf-board was used. I have heard that in the whaling days old Takata-huruhuru went surfing in the bay at Port Molyneux. He was a descendant of the people who came south in the Makawhiu canoe.”

The late Tare te Maiharoa said:—“Take kelp off the rocks and dry it as for pohas or kelp bags [to preserve birds in]. Take two of these bags and tie them together about two feet apart. Blow them up, and having got them out beyond the surf, put one on each side of you from the armpits to the hips, lie on the flax connecting them, and come in with the breakers. It is fine sport and you cannot drown. This was an old pastime at Moeraki, Waikouaiti, and other good beaches, and was called para. (He pronounced it pālă.) In the old Maori days there were very few sharks about—they have only come in any numbers since the European fishermen throw the fish-heads back into the sea.”

The names papa and para are interesting. The collector looked up Tregear's Dictionary, and in it he notes that in Hawaii a surf-board is called papa, and in Tahiti it is named papahoro. As for para the nearest appropriate meaning seems to be “the half of a tree which has been split down the middle” (and hence may be cut down into a surf-board) but perhaps Maori scholars could help to explain the term para.
Overall observation
Two interesting observations: (1) the Maori rode a form of paipo board, the papa and (2) a form of surf mat, the para.

Methodology question as to when the interview(s) were conducted, the ages of the people, and a specific time reference, per "The question of acquatic sports cropped up in conversation with the old men, and here is what they said... ." on page 221. One person cited on p. 222, Tare te Maiharoa, had recently passed away (see p. 225). When were
the whaling days old Takata-huruhuru?

Blackburn, Mark. 2000. Hula girls & surfer boys, 1870-1940. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publ.
Cover and About the book.

About the book:
Powerful portrayals of Hula and surfing in the past represent the quintessential Hawaiian experience. Over 270 original photographs and post card images are presented chronologically from 1870 to 1940 to portray the evolving styles and popularity of these icons of Hawai`i. The Hula and surfing traditions both are deeply rooted in legend and myth and Hula dancing was actually outlawed for over 60 years. Surfboards were highly prized by the ancients and the sport became reserved for Hawai`i's kings. These enchanting images include famous personalities including Duke Kahanamoku as well as unknown practitioners of their arts. [inside cover]
Preface / Introduction

The author's introductory statement on the Hula and surfriding are on pages five and six [text only]. The preface begins, "When you hear the word Hawai`i, one of the first things that comes to mind for most people is the image of Hula girls and Surfer boys. It iswith this concept that this image-driven book has come forth."

p. 9

Pictured below is a popular pose of a native holding a surf board with the scenic Diamond Head in the background. This image is of significance in the paipo surfing world because the man is holding a paipo and not an alaia surfing board. The board in this photograph appears to be around 48 inches long with a very parallel planshape compared to the typical board shown in these images that measures at least 5-foot long and is wider overall (especially so in the nose). For example, see the image below from p. 28.

Native With Surf Board

The sourcing of this image is: Davey Photo. Co., “9 Native With Surf Board, Honolulu, H.I.,” Hawaiian Historical Society Historical Photograph Collection, accessed July 1, 2013, In Timothy Tovar DeLaVega's Surfing in Hawai'i 1778-1930 [p. 32], he notes that London-born Frank Davey, Davey Photo Co., was very prolific, although Davey only documented Hawai`i from 1897 to 1901.

p. 28

Native holding an Alaia-style surfing board.

Snippet from Postcard, "Native with Swimming Board, Hawaii." Copyright 1908 by Franz Huld Company, New York.

p. 36

p. 96

Another common scene showing kids prone riding the waves onto the shore is shown below.

Two surfriders riding kipapa-style on their alaia or paipo boards.

This post cards appears on the bottom half of p. 96.

Overall observation
Hula Girls & Surfer Boys is rich in photographic and post card history documenting two important components of Hawai`ian history and culture. Maybe my eyes were not sufficiently open before but there is a treasure trove of Hula-related images in this excellent book. The post card image on page 9, is significant in showing a person holding a paipo instead of an alaia surfriding board.

Clark, John R. K. 1977. The Beaches of O'ahu. (A Kolowalu book).  (Rod's Note: I have not seen the 2005 revised edition.)
Page 9, in the section  titled "Paipo Board Surfing"
JPG (300KB)
PDF (600KB)

Origins of a word: The first paragraph reads: "In the days of old, Hawaiians referred to bodysurfing as kaha (or kaha nalu) and pae (or paepo`o). During the early 1900s, the term paepo`o was commonly used in Waikiki, and it meant riding a wave with only the body. After World War II, this particular word took on an alternate definition, referring to bodysurfing with a small board. The pronunciation of the original word, paepo`o, was altered, and now even the spelling is changed to paipo. Today "to paipo" means to go bodysurfing with a "bellyboard." The board itself is called a paipo board."

The second paragraph describes paipos and paipo riding: "Paipo board surfing is an intermediate development between bodysurfing and surfboard riding. The paipo board is small (3 to 4 feet long), thin (about 1/4 inch thick), and usually made of plywood that is protected by paint or some other waterproofing. The shapes and sizes vary according to individual preferences. Because paipos usually are ridden in a prone position, some spectators call them "bellyboards." The paipo board rider has much more speed and freedom of movement than does a bodysurfer and often catches much longer rides. 

Some paipo riders prefer to kneel on their boards, a technique that reduces their speed but allows them maximum maneuverability in the critical sections of the wave. The big outside breaks at Makapu`u attract some of the best paipo riders on O'ahu, and it is well worth the drive to watch them perform on a good day."

The third paragraph describes mat surfing: "A variation of paipo board riding is "mat surfing." Instead of a board, the rider surfs on a small, air-filled, canvas mattress. However, several shortcomings have kept mat surfing from gaining widespread popularity. The mats are very buoyant, which makes them hard to take out through incoming surf; they are reluctant to go in any direction other than straight toward shore; and finally, they deflate when punctured. In spite of these drawbacks, mat surfing still remains a very enjoyable sport."
Overall observation

Clark, John R. K. 2002. Hawaiʻi Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.
Page 302 from the story about the beach named Pololū
Origins of a word: The term "paipo" may be derived from the clandestine Hawaiian word, paepō, as told in the following mo‘olelo (or, story) by Alfred Solomon to John Clark: "I was born on September 15, 1905, and I'm a cousin of Bill Sproat... I have two papa paepō in my artifact collection. They're two small concave boards about 1/4-inch by 1 foot by 3 feet made of wiliwili, and they were used for spying. The spies selected a night with rough seas and then surfed in to gather information about various activities. The boards were easily concealed. I heard this from the old people and they said that's why the boards were called paepō, "night landing." - Alfred Solomon, June 25, 1982
Overall observation
John Clark does a wonderful job documenting and describing the names and uses of beaches in the Hawaiian islands by interviewing people who lived and used them. One of his styles of interviewing is through the collection of stories (mo‘olelo) of a beach. As Clark states in the preface, "One of the important rules about place names in the Hawaiian language is that you never know the true meaning of a name unless you know the mo‘olelo, or story, that goes with it."

Clark, John R. K. 2011. Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions From the Past. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.
TBD. See Wally Froiseth paipo board logo.

See the New York Times op-ed article here. Lawrence Downes. (2011, July 7). Big Boards, Banana Stalks and Everybody in the Waves [book review of "Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions from the Past" and "Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in Twentieth-Century Hawaii"]. The New York Times, p. A22. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from

Origins of a word: John Clark's forthcoming book identifies and describes the types of surfing that native Hawaiians did, one of which was pae po'o, or prone board riding. He notes that while it's true that "paepo" can be translated as "night landing" (as noted in the mo‘olelo by Alfred Solomon), Clark has since learned that the original word was actually "pae po'o". The following is from the manuscript:

"In the earliest descriptions of surfboards by Hawaiian scholars, the smallest boards, those that were shorter than six feet in length, were generically called papa li`ili`i, or "small boards." During the early 1900s, the name papa li`ili`i was changed on two fronts with non-Hawaiian surfers calling them bellyboards, because they were most often ridden prone, the rider laying on his or her "belly," and with Hawaiian surfers in Waikiki calling them pae po`o boards.

Pae po`o is an interesting word. It does not appear in any Hawaiian dictionaries, Hawaiian language newspapers, or writings of the prominent Hawaiian scholars of the 1800s, such as `I`i, Kamakau, Kepelino, and Malo, who described traditional Hawaiian surf sports. The term appears to have been coined by Hawaiian surfers in Waikiki circa 1900, where it was commonly used to mean bodysurfing or bodysurfing with a small wooden bodyboard. The literal translation of pae po`o is "ride [a wave] head-first", or in other words, bodysurf, and a papa pae po`o was a bodysurfing board, or what surfers today call a bodyboard.

In everyday conversation, pae po`o was often shortened to pae po, which is common among Hawaiian words that end with double "o's," such as Napo`opo`o on the island of Hawai`i, which is often pronounced Napopo. The popular spelling used today, paipo, was coined by Hawaiian surfing legend Wally Froiseth, who, besides being an excellent surfer, was an exceptional paipo board rider who was famous for standing on his twin-fin board while riding big waves. From 1956 to 1986, Froiseth made approximately 150 paipo boards, which he sold to friends and other surfers, putting a decal on each board to identify it as his product. No one before him, however, had ever spelled pae po, so without the benefit of seeing the word in print, Froiseth spelled it as he heard it, pai po. His decals read, "Hawaiian Pai Po Board. Mfg. by Froiseth." Froiseth sold some of his boards to surfers from California, which helped to introduce the word and its spelling outside of Hawai`i, and today paipo is the accepted term for wooden bodyboards."
Overall observation
Historic documentation for the word, paipo.

Cralle, Trevor. 2001. The Surfin'ary: A Dictionary of Surfing Terms and Surfspeak. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. (2nd Ed.)
Road Map to Sources
Listed below are several of the terms related to prone riding that are listed in The Surfin'ary:

alaia board
n. An ancient Hawaiian board for bodysurfing. (DM)

belly board
or belly board n. A small surfboard used primarily to ride the waves on your stomach, but It can also be ridden kneeling or standing. (MF) Same as PAIPO BOARD.

n. Bodysurfing with the aid of a planing device, such as a small hand-held kickboard or surfboard.

bodyboard n. Originally a BOOGIE BOARD, but now includes soft foam boards with a hard plastic or fiberglass covering.

bodyboarder n. Someone who surfs using a bodyboard.

bodyboarding n. Riding a bodyboard in the surf. Bodyboarders originally rode lying down, but now they occasionally stand up. See BOOGIE BOARD.

bodysurfer n. 1) A surfer who rides the waves with the body alone; swim fins are sometimes used to help propel the bodysurfer through the wave. 2) Someone who uses the body as a wave vehicle.

bodysurfing or body surfing or body-surfing n. The art of riding the waves without a surfboard, using the body as a planing surface.

Side caption on page 51: Bodysurfing is considered by some to be the purest form of surfing. The sport was invented by marine mammals such as dolphins, seals and sea lions. Unlike their marine counterparts, however, humans occasionally need to wear swim fins to help them generate enough speed to catch a wave.

boogie board n. A soft, flexible foam bodyboard, which can be used in flagged areas. (MW) The original Boogie Board (a brand name) was invented by Tom Morey in 1971. The most widely used surf riding implememt of all time, ridden prone and with or without swim fins.

Coolite n. 1) An Australian brand-name for a Styrofoam trainee surfboard. (MW)  2) The first board of most Australian grommets, including MR, Rabbit, and Barton Lynch. (SFG, 1989)

This picture appears on the page describing the hollow surfboard. The caption reads:

hollow surfboard
Steve "Kine Kahuna" Malipin
with rare Tom Blake
hollow bellyboard
Photo: Trevor Cralle

kneeboard n. A surfboard, usually short (fIve to six feet In length), ridden on the knees. (NAT, 1985)

kneeboarder n. A surfer who rides a kneeboard.

kneeboarding n. Surfing on the knees on a specialized board. The rider can maintain a compact and stable position, good for quick, radical maneuvers, and tube riding.

lay down surfing n. BODYBOARDING

Lilo (lie-low) n. Australian brand name for an inflatable vinyl SURF MAT. No Aussie ever talks about a raft.

McDonald's tray n. Cafeteria-type plastic tray used for bodysurfing planing aide. First used by Hawaiians in Waikiki and now used by many a surfer around the world. On Oahu, frequent "borrowIng" of these trays caused the fast-food restaurants to drill holes into them.

Morey Boogie n. The original Boogie Board invented by Tom Morey in the 1970s; developed from aircraft foam. See

paipo, paipo board (PAY-po) n. A small polyurethane-foam bellyboard used in the Hawaiian Islands.

skimboard or skim board n. A rounded plywood or fiberglass board two or three feet across, used to slide over the shallow water at the water's edge.

skimboarding, skimming n. Standing up on a flat board and riding it along the shoreline on top of a thin layer of water. Also called SANDSLIDING.

skitter board n. 1) A fast, finless, flat-bottomed bellyboard or paipo board about farly-two Inches long and thirty inches wide and around three-eighths of an inch thick--one of the fastest wave-riding devices. 2) An old term for SKIMBOARD.

surf-o-plan n. [Note: I neglected to copy this one down.]
Ancient Hawaiian Terms (PDF, 360KB)
The Surfin'ary provides a good, concise collection of ancient Hawaiian surfing terms terms. The list relies heavily on secondary sources, such as the listing of terms in the excellent Ben Finney and James D. Houston book, Surfing--The Sport of Hawaiian Kings, and the lexicon in the Gary Fairmont R. Filosa II book, "The Surfer's  Almanac: An International Surfing Guide." The list of terms relies less on a close review of original source material such as the seminal dictionary by Lorrin Andrews, "A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language To Which Is Appended an English-Hawaiian Vocabulary and a Chronological Table of Remarkable Events [1865]." For example, conspicously missing from this listing are two terms, pae (to be carried along by the surf towards the shore; to play on the surf-board) and aupapa (losing one's board, or "wipe-out"). Nonetheless, this is probably one of the best consolidated listings of ancient Hawaiian surfing terms one will readily find.
Overall observation
My optimism on the overall potential of this book disappeared as I read and browsed through it. Some of the definitions related to prone surfing are almost hilarious, but upon a second glance would simply benefit from a refreshing update. The book appears to be heavily influenced by the author/editor's California and "pure, stand-up" roots. For example, this passage from early in the book, "What is Surfing?"
"Surfing is a thrilling water sport for persons of all ages thaI has been practiced for centuries. The act itself involves riding across the face of a wave toward the shore while standing on a special board, called a surfboard. Modern surfboards are made of foam and fiberglass and come in various shapes and sizes, from short boards to longboards and everything in between.

Although the above definition describes surfing at its purest, the sport takes several forms: bodysurfing, the simplest variation, wilh just a body and a wave (some people wear fins or use a hand-planing device, such as a swimmer's klckboard); bellyboardlng, with, a small wooden or plastic board; bodyboarding (also called boogie boarding), with a flexible foam board; mat surfing, with inflated rubber surf mats; and kneeboarding, using a smaller, specialized surfboard. Surfers also ride the waves on wave skis, surf skis, and paddleboards and do boat surfing with dories, canoes, sea kayaks, and catamarans."
A close attention to the ancient history of surfing reveals a rich history of bodysurfing and board riding prone, kneeling, and sitting, in addition to standing. There is nothing "pure" about riding a board in the stand-up position. It also strikes me as peculiar, or even naive, to call a kneeboard a "specialized surfboard." There are probably about twenty derogatory terms for bodyboarding sprinkled throughout the dictionary plus a special section in the appendix, but there is no such attention to detail for "stand-up statue riders." Nonetheless, there are several highlights sprinkled throughout.

Note: I have not reviewed the first edition.

DeLaVega, Timothy Tovar. 2011. Surfing in Hawai'i 1778-1930. Arcadia Pub. 
Title page and Contents and
ments [PDF]

The publisher describes the book, "In this volume, Kauai resident and surf historian Timothy DeLaVega has orchestrated a worldwide team of surfing historians, who have compiled surfing images that span the centuries from ancient petroglyphs (rock etchings) to the first modern surfing boom at Waikiki. These images offer a unique and historical perspective, with many never-before-seen images of surfing in Hawai'i."

In the acknowledgments, DeLaVega states, "This project was done to properly identify the early photographers/artists as well as establish a proper timeline of early surfing images. We hope you enjoy our discoveries and that this will promote future research. This book could never have been accomplished without a worldwide TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) of dedicated surfing fanatics who have again combined energy to create our third project in 10 years. This book is an example of aloha (affection, love, and peace), as each door I knocked on was opened wide with warmth and love."

p.11, heiau. Although not paipo-specific, this photograph is relevant to all of us as it is the heiau for surf-riding.

papa li`ili`i. This photograph has been widely distributed throughout the surfing literature. What differentiates it here from others is the caption that uses the term papa li`ili`i, the origin of the word, paipo, seldom seen until John Clark's research and book, Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions From the Past (2011).

p.22, Mark Twain. This figure from Mark Twain's Roughing It, is also widely distributed. From a paipo history perspective is that it features three women (not children!) riding kipapa-style on their papa li`ili`i. It is not clear in the accompanying figure whether or not Mark Twain's wipe-out is from attempting to ride prone or stand-up.

p.50, Postcard (1909). The two surfboarders on the right appear to be riding prone.

p.120, ca. 1930 paipo boards. Note the distinct outlines of these two boards, both with crescent tails and the larger board with  cutouts towards the nose.

Overall observation
Since John Clark's recent publication, Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions From the Past (2011), this is the first book, to my knowledge, to use the term papa li`ili`i, the origins of the word, paipo. DeLaVega does a fine job once again in putting together a book intended for people with an appreciation of wave riding history and traditions, and a love for he`e nalu (wave sliding). A solid addition to any collection of surfing books.

Dixon, Peter L. 1965. The Complete Book of Surfing. New York: Coward-McCann.
Dixon, Peter L. 1967. The Complete Book of Surfing. New York: Coward-McCann. (2nd Ed.)

Cover, Note & Contents.

Ch. 1, The History of Surfing

Just for the record. Click here for the Table of Contents, (100KB, PDF).

Chapter 1, The History of Surfing
  • p.12: There is a picture of boards from the Bishop Museum but none are identified as alaia, paipo or bodyboards, only as olo.
  • pp. 17-18: Small cameos of body surfing, mat surfing, boat surfing, bellyboard surfing, skim boarding and wake surfing.
    • "Bellyboard Surfing. An enjoyable ride can be had with a small wooden or plastic board about the size of an adult's chest. Right slides, left slides, and fast straight-ahead rides are easily made with a bellyboard."
From Chapter 11, Surf mats, Bellyboards, and Dories (800KB, PDF)
Paragraph two reads, "Bellyboards are really little surfboards. Several types are now in use--some are simply flat pieces of wood with a rounded nose and others have one or two skegs. The modern commercially made bellyboard is like a full-size surfboard, except the dimensions have been scaled down. Both mats and bellyboards are propelled with swim fins on feet and arms paddling." (See the mat surfing pictures from p. 137.)

"The Bellyboard" section of the chapter begins on page 139, "The bellyboard is really just a short surfboard. Years ago bellyboards were short wooden planks with rounded ends. Surfers made the start while standing on the bottom and always rode the bellyboard in the white water. The modern bellyboard has grown a skeg, a covering of fiberglass and an inner core of foam. These are very fast, and on the right wave they can go faster than a surfboard. In Hawaii the bellyboards are called paipos and are ridden right along with surfboards, even in the big surf at Sunset Beach."

Note the comment in paragraph two, "On medium-size, well-formed waves the little boards are ideal; in fact they're almost as much fun as riding a conventional surfboard." [Editor's Note: Also as fun???]

Picture on page 141.

Glossary (260KB)
  • Bellyboard - A short surfboard propelled mainly by swimfins. Called a piapo in Hawaii. (sp?)
  • Paipo Board - The Hawaiian term for bellyboard, a short surfboard.
Overall observation
The book is written in a "popular-style" for a wide audience that covers many of the bases for introducing standup surfing and other various forms of waveriding, in particular mat surfing and dory surfing. The 2nd edition uses the terms bellyboard and refers to the Hawaiin name, paipo board.

The 1st edition appears to be virtually the same as the 2nd edtition. No material to add or change.

Dixon, Peter L. 1966. Men and waves; a treasury of surfing. New York: Coward-McCann. 
Cover & Contents.
Overall observation. An excellent compendium of exceprts from surf-related publications by several well known authors including James Michener, Jack London, Tom Blake and Willard Bascom. In the introduction, Peter Dixon writes, "This book, then, is a colorful collection of man's relations with the surf as written and photographed by surfers and those splashed by the waves' spray. The profesSional writers have alsobeen inspired by the spectacle and experience of surfing."

This book about surfing is divided into five sections: 1) the history; 2) the science of sea, waves, and beaches; 3) stories of the people who surf; 4) the adventures of man against the waves; and in the center section, 5) the photographs.

The book is a good read but unfortunately is light on other forms of waveriding, including bodysurfing, paipo boarding and kneeboarding (and others). There is one picture of a bodysurfer and no mention of paipo or bellyboarding. The book includess a citations page, but no other bibliography or index.

Dixon, Peter L. 2001. The complete guide to surfing. Guilford, Conn: Lyons Press.  
Title page and Contents

Excerpt from the book description on WorldCat:
"This comprehensive how-to book explains the technique, etiquette, and secrets of surfing to any wave rider, be he absolute beginner or seasoned pro. Written by a fifty-year veteran, it first takes the reader step-by-step through such basics as paddling out and judging waves, and goes on to explore such topics as surf-board design, surfing hazards, and radical surfing. Additional chapters survey the world's best surfing areas, examine new sports such as body surfing and surfing Boogie Boards, and even supply tips on how to build your own board."
Illustrated with more than 150 color photographs and illustrations.

In Chapter 1, "Surfing 's Rich Legacy," the author writes on page 6:
"Longer, better-riding boards and the best surfing breaks were reserved for members of the ruling class, the alii. These long boards, called olos, could reach 16 feet and weigh as much as 150 pounds. Commoners used shorter boards, called akaias, which were about eight feet long. Children surfed little planks called paipos, similar to today's bodyboards."  [Note: The alaia is misspelled as akaia. Paipos were widely surfed by all ages and genders, not just children].
Ch. 9, pp. 166-175, "Bodyboarding"
Most of the 10-page chapter is dedicated to modern bodyboarding (the soft foam core style of bodyboard invented by Tom Morey). Key passages and my comments are below.
  • "Everyone can enjoy bodyboarding. It's pure fun and a wonderful transition to standup surfing. For some, riding a wave lying on a bodyboard is sufficient challenge. Others, as their skills improve, learn to ride on one or both knees. For many, learning to ride a bodyboard becomes a fast-track to board surfing and understanding wave dynamics." p. 167. [The author gets one thing very right here: "It's pure fun..." Then the author digresses off course in stating, "For some, riding a wave lying on a bodyboard is sufficient challenge."]
On the next page the author gets it right on the money:
"Many of us who began bodyboarding some years back still call them Boogie Boards. I use the term "boogie" interchangeably with "bodyboard," to refer to the same small and simple, ride-on-your-chest, all-time fun, wave-surfing machine. Bodyboarders are also called "spongers," and the board itself, a "sponge." A skilled bodyboarder on a soft, three- to five-foot-Iong, five-pound boogie, helped along by swim fins, can perform almost every surfing maneuver--and a few more beyond the ability of stand-up surfers." p. 168.

"For some it's a first step toward riding a conventional surfboard, but many world-class surfers are quile content to remain bodyboarders." p. 168.
Subchapter, "Bodyboards, Past and Present," pp. 169-170:
"Before today's flexible foam bodyboard became universally adopted in the late 1970s, there were several variations of these short, prone- or knee-riding surfboards. Bodyboards have always had three major advantages over traditional surfboards: They're easy to learn to ride, they cost much less than surfboards, and they're much more portable."

"In the past, bodyboarders rode wooden-finned mini-surfboards, called bellyboards or kneeboards, either prone or on their knees. These were an evolution of the early Hawaiian flat-bottomed, three- to four-foot-long wooden paipos surfed by commoners. The rigid, flat-bottomed wooden planks worked fine if the rider was skilled and didn't pearl in shallow water. If they did nose in, and the board hit the sand, the back end of the paipo would slam into the rider's abdomen with the force of a boxer's punch. Though paipos were heavy, they could be ridden straight off or angled. A variation of the paipo, the short, maneuverable kneeboard, is still a popular wave-riding machine that skilled surf seekers enjoy. Kneeboards are between four and five feet long and shaped like mini-surfboards. People with knee or leg disabilities find that kneeboards allow them to paddle out and catch waves." p. 169. [Note: In a generic sense this paragraph provides an adequate broad brush description. But, the devil is in the details based upon what we know now. Mini-surfboards is an apt description for readers more familiar with foot boards but these earlier
boards, ridden kipapa-style and on the knees, used fins made of wood and other materials. The ancient paipos also used "planks" that were more sophisticated than just being completely rockerless or without concave or convex bottom surfaces. And the paipo/bellyboard had not been completely displaced by the boogie board style board and survived by only the kneeboard, but were much less common. The statement that kneeboards allow people with knee or leg disabilities to paddle and catcnh waves is patently misinformed. Of special note is the passage "paipos surfed by commoners" replacing the most commonly found, but inaccurate statement, "paipos surfed by children."
"Many older surfers and beachgoers started sliding waves in the 1940s and 1950s aboard those old air-filled canvas-and-rubber surf mats rented by the hour at beach concession stands. Mats were fun to ride and in experienced hands they could outperform a boogie. A lot of parents pushed their kids into the whitewater and sent them surfing for shore on those inflated floaters. In the 1970s the company that produced quality surf mats went out of business, but the concept of a high-performance surf mat didn't die. Surfing innovators George Greenough and Paul Gross filled the void by creating a truly awesome wave-riding mat. Designed by Gross, the fantastic flexible inflated "4th Gear Flyer" was the result of Greenough test-piloting more than 50 nylon prototypes until the pair was satisfied. The final model was made without handgrips or fins and had three inflated air chambers. Greenough quickly discovered that the mat performed best and would go faster when kept soft. In big surf he would grab the front corners and warp the shape for speed. When Greenough went into "4th Gear," maximum speed, he would pull in front of board surfers and make waves that were impossible for standup riders. These flexible surf mats where a great success. Sadly, the costly, handmade 4th Gear Flyers are no longer produced. If you ever sight one on a wave in the hands of an expert, you'll witness a truly fantastic surf machine. If a Flyer shows up at a garage sale, buy it fast." p.170. [Note: The 4th Gear Flyer surf mats are currently in production after having suspended commercial production in the 1990s. According to the Fourth Gear Flyer Surfmats website, the surf mat that was phased out of production in the 1970s was the "the beloved Hodgman Converse" (see].
The remainder of the chapter discusses the invention of the boogie board by Tom Morey, the board's general shape and contour, its widespread availability and accesories and equipment used in riding the "bodyboard." A subchapter of general interest is "Boogie Board Swim Fins," part of which states:
"Bodyboarders use the same type fins as bodysurfers (see a discussion on fins on page 153 in chapter 8). Since bodyboarders seem to enjoy the more technical side of the sport, several variations of the classic swim fin have been developed and marketed. You'll have a choice of the traditional Churchills, Viper Duckfoots, the Redley fins favored by competitive bodyboarders, and an evolution of the Churchill called a"Slasherfin." Prices range from $35 to $ 75 a pair." pp.174-5. [Note: According to Fred Simpson, founder and owner of Viper Swimfins, there were never a "Viper Duckfoot." Duckfeet were marketed by Voit. It is a stretch to state Redley fins were favored by competitive bodyboarders.]
In the next subchapter, "Let's Boogie," the author is spot on in his description of bodyboarding (and paipo/bellyboarding):
"Once you've learned the basics, it's easy to catch waves with a bodyboard. Riding a Boogie provides a great workout that's truly fun. And, when the lifeguards raise the black ball flag (no surfing), bodyboarders can keep on riding." p. 175. [Note: Riding kipapa-style is a great workout that's truly fun!]
The glossary is a bit more extensive with several "boogie board" related terms. The definition for paipo remains virtually the same but no longer included is the term "bellyboard."
  • bodyboard. Short foam or wood wave-riding vehicles, usually ridden prone and propelled by paddling and swim fins.
  • boogie. A term often used in place of bodyboard. Derived from original Morey Boogie.
  • drop knee stance. Riding a body board with one knee on the deck.
  • handgun. A hand-held mini bodyboard that aids a bodysurfer in getting longer rides.
  • paipo. The Hawaiian term for a short, solid surfboard.
  • sponger. Someone who rides a foam bodyboard. 
Overall observation
This book is largely an updated, modernized version of The Complete Book of Surfing (first and second editions, 1965 and 1967, respectively), including numerous color photographs of shortboarding and more photographs of surf breaks from around the world. The book has several chapters that appear in the earlier books that cover everything from "how to surf" to safety and equipment. There is no bibliography or use of footnotes but sources are incorporated in the text in some places. The book includes a glossary of surfing terms and an index.

This 2001 edition replaces the 1960s chapter title of "Surf mats, Bellyboards, and Dories" with a streamlined "Bodyboarding," which covers early bodyboarding (paipos), boogie boarding and mat surfing. The chapter includes several very good bodyboarding color photographs but no photos of paipos or bellyboards. I was a bit disappointed in the inaccuracy of some of the information. Missed not reading a reference of surfing by Mark Twain (for example, see
Twain, Mark. 1872. Roughing It, Part 8, Chapter LXXIII, "Surf Bathing." Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Co.).

Dixon, Peter L. 2001. Men who ride mountains: Incredible true tales of legendary surfers. Guilford, Conn: Lyons Press. (see first edition [1969] note below. 
Cover & Contents.

Short excerpts.

Ch. 8, The History of Surfing

Ch. 8, The Aussies, and Ch. 10, The Competitors, are two short acknowledgments of George Greenough's impact on the world of waveriding. There are several references to Greenough's belly board, but I suspect this is a kneeboard - no mention is made of Greenough belly riding or knee riding. For example, on page 121, "The Aussies couldn't fathom George at first. They were expecting some sort of cool American cat, polished and citified, which George is not. They were also troubled by the fact that George didn't ride a surfboard, but only his radical, self-designed fiberglass belly boards." Later on page 164, Skip Frye is quoted saying, "Then Greenough came back from Australia with his mind blown free of all preconceptions and he started a lot of us looking in new directions. Greenough stressed surfing on anything people could ride - mats, belly boards, boats, anything that could capture a wave and slide fast. George designs surfingvehicles. It's as simple as that."

See the excepts here [PDF file].
Overall observation
Excellent book on surfing from the early modern years through the shortboard revolution of the late-60s with other selective updating of the original 1969 edition, in this 2001 new edition. Well worth the read for general wave riding history, but very little on the prone riding world of surfing except the references to "belly boarding" above.

Note: Bob Green,
Paipo Research Project, reviewed the first edition (1969) and did not see any references to paipo or bellyboarding.

Echegaray Eizaguirre, Lázaro, and Mikel Troitiño Berasategi. 2007. What the waves brought in: a history of surfing in Zarautz. Zarautz: Ayuntamiento de Zarautz, Departamento de Cultura. [Also published in Spanish and Basque -- see the Paipo Bibliography.]
Title page and Contents
[PDF] and Introductory Chapters


Cover page goes here. This book documents the origins of surfing in Zarautz, a coastal town located in the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country, northern Spain. In it is a chapter on "bodyboarding." The first chapter summarizes the beginning of bodyboarding in this area:
"The bodyboard came to Zarautz by way of a local carpenter, Marcelo Linazasoro, in the early 1950's. He had seen them on the French coast, at the Cote des Basques, in Biarritz, and he thought it would be a good idea to make some in Zarautz and rent them out on the beach next to the canoes. The French called it bodysurf, and some theories believe that this was the first form of surfing to reach Europe. It was used to catch waves lying down on top of the thing. It was a piece of wood that looked like an ironing board, but shorter, wider and slightly raised at the nose. For a long time, this was one of the most outstanding activities at the beach, competing with the "aspirin," also made of wood and similar to the bodyboard, but completely flat, rounder, and used to skim across the fine layer of water left on the shore after the wave retreated." [p.21]
Eventually, swin fins enable more varied surfriding:
"At the beginning ofthe 70's, kids started wearing swim fins and looking for the peak. Before this time, they would normally ride the white water onto shore. The swim fins allowed for them to catch the bigger waves." 
The sport of waveriding prone and the boards continued to evolve:
"The kids would paint thelll with their favourite colors and designs, they would put fins and leashes on them, which were basically a piece of rope wrapped in plastic and with a wristband at the end. They even tried putting cork plaques onthe bottom so they would float more."
The four-page chapter contained several interesting photographs of the materials used to form the bodyboard, or txampero in Basque (see a couple of sample figures below).
Chapter on   Bodyboarding, pp. 20-23

Homemade bodyboard press

Source: pages 20 and 23.
Overall observation
Local paipo boarding began after watching surfing on similar planks in southern France.

I did not review the book in its entirety so do not know to what extent other forms of prone surfriding craft were included. The English version in this chapter did not use the term txampero that was used in our interviews with area surfriders (e.g., see
Green, Bob. (2011, September 20). A Paipo Interview with Javier Arteche: El Txampero in Spain. Accessed at, February 13, 2012.

Ellam, Patrick. 1956. The sportsman's guide to the Caribbean. New York: Barnes.

Chapter 2 section on surfing.

In the Forward the author notes, "The aim of this book is to give an accurate account of the sporting facilities that are available throughout the islands of the Caribbean; to show where they are, what they are like, who runs them and what equipment they have."

Chapter 2, Participation Sports, in the section titled "Surf Riding," the following:


Where to go: There is only one place where the surf riding is good and that is at Trinidad. They have a good beach facing directly into the Trade Winds with either side of it a headland running well out to sea, forming a deep V-shaped bay.

In the middle of the bay the Atlantic rollers pile up on a series of sand bars and  travel for some distance before they break, providing just the right conditions for a good ride.

No instructors are available, but it is quite easy to learn on your own and once you get the hang of it you will find it a safe, pleasant and rather romantic sport that somehow fulfils the dreams one has on cold winter nights of far-away tropic islands.

The beach: It is called Maraccas Bay and lies on the North shore of the island about 14 miles from Port of Spain. To get there you either rent a car or take ataxi, making a deal with the driver for the round trip before you start.

But first you call at a timber yard in town and get them to make you a board each. They use the short type there so that all you need is a 4-foot length of cedar or similar wood about 15 inches wide, not too heavy and rounded off at one end (the front).

Any yard will make them for you in a few minutes while you wait and the usual charge is about 60 cents each, but make sure that they do not leave any rough edges or splinters.

The road from town climbs up over the mountains and drops sharply down on the other side, providing one of the most scenic drives in the whole Caribbean, while Maraccas Bay itself is strictly glamorous, with the sweeping curve of white beach and the high green headlands stretching away on either side.

On weekends there will be a line of cars parked under the palm trees and everyone from town will be out there but at other times it is quiet, with just a few other people around.

Using a surf board the trick is to get started. In the beginning it is best to wade out to the first sand bar, where the water is no more than waist deep, face the beach and wait for a wave that is just about to break as it reaches you.

Then you give a little jump and launch yourself down its steep front face, keeping the rear end of the board at your waist and the front end as flat on the surface of the water as you can without actually letting it go under.

To avoid collisions with other bathers you can steer to a limited extent by tipping the board down on one side and as you get better at it you can start further out to get a longer ride, but be careful as the sea is definitely rough.

What it costs:
About 60 cents per board and your car ride out there.

Get one board each in town before you go.

Do not go out beyond your depth in the breakers unless you are a strong swimmer. Take drinks and sandwiches with you.
Overall observation
General Observation: Basic paipo boarding in the south Caribbean. The question one must ask is for how long has the sport been practised and to what extent?

Special thanks to John Hughes of the Cocoa Beach Surfing Museum for finding and sharing this story.

El Paipo. ca. 1971. El Paipo KneeboardsNewport Beach, CA: El Paipo Company.
The brochure (PDF format)
Pictured to the left is an excerpt from the front page of this ca.1971 brochure. The figure captures the full transition of the El Paipo company from a bellyboarding/paipo board builder to a kneeboarding design and build company.

Four designs are featured in this 5-page brochure, the: (1) El Paipo Standard Model, (2) Fish Family, (3)  Gun, and
(4)  Pocket Mouse. All except the Pocket Mouse are kneeboards. The Pocket Mouse is a large handboard (28 inches). All four boards feature scooped out decks, deck handle(s). and a Fins Unlimited fin box (except for the finless Pocket Mouse).
The El Paipo brochure ca.1971, on El Paipo Kneeboards was provided by Bill Baldwin, a former shop manager at El Paipo (1970-1972) and shaper and rider at House of Paipo (1968-1970).

Elwell, John C., Schmauss, J., and California Surf Museum. 2007. Surfing in San Diego. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub.
Snippet of cover.

Great effort by the authors and the Californaia Surf Museum in publishing this pictorial history with words. Of relevance to the world of paipo riding are two pictures and captions of bellyboard/paipo boards.

This picture features a young girl with a very small board, most likely a kipapa-style (prone riding) board.
These boards were most likely used for paipo riding as they are rather long and heavy for skim boarding. San Diego County in 1924.

Farrelly, Midget, and Craig McGregor. 1967. The Surfing Life, As Told to Craig McGregor. New York: Arco Pub. Co.
McGregor, Craig., & Midget Farrelly. 1965. This surfing life. London and Adelaide: Angus & Robertson in association with Rigby.

Cover, Note & Contents (1.7MB)
Just for the record. Editor's Note: I obtained a copy of the 1965 edition some months after the 1967 edition, and will make notations as appropriate. The author's Note is about half as long but the Contents are the same. The Title page includes the same photograph. Pagination is different, horizontal rather than vertical.
Page 142 from the chapter, The Story of Surfing (600KB)
The chapter/story begins, "Where did surfing begin? Nobody knows for sure. Ricky Grigg believes that it originated in the southern islands near Tahiti, where the islanders found they could ride the waves lying on small wooden boards or kneeling on them." No citations or further discussion on Ricky Grigg's belief.
Ch. 15, Other Surfing Methods, including, Mat Riding, Handboards, Belly Boards, The Peipo, and Fins (3.5MB)
Items of note
  • Caption for picture on p.177, "Belly-board surfing--and a young surfer kneels on the board as the top of tbe wave loops over him." Note that terms for bodysurfing, bodyboarding, kneeboarding and surfing are still intermingled.
  • p.180, Mat Riding. Two terms for mat riding are used: "The mat, or surfoplane... ."
  • p.183, Belly Boards. "The belly board, as the name implies, is rather larger, and is designed to be ridden face down. It is usually about four feet long, a little under two feet wide, and can be made out of anything that floats well." There is no mention whether or not these boards have skegs (fins).
  • p.188, The Peipo. "The most advanced form of belly board I have seen is the peipo, which has been developed in Hawaii. It's a thin board, usually made of plywood or fibreglass; it has no fins, is only three or four feet long, sometimes even shorter, and is wider at the back than at the front. It has a square tail, and a rounded nose that is lifted radically and dished out..." and "The first principle of the peipo is the flat surface, which gives it its speed. Peipos have on occasions travelled faster than surfboards, for they have hardly any resistance to the water, and quite often become airborne."
Glossary (1MB)
The following paipo/bellyboard-related terms are listed in the glossary:
  • Belly board: half-size surfboard which is most commonly ridden lying on your belly but can be ridden kneeling or standing.
  • Mat: rubber float or surf-o-plane
  • Peipo: form of belly board
  • Surf-o-plane: inflatable rubber mat
Overall observation
The book is written in a "popular-style" for a wide audience, but covers all the bases rather well, written from the Australian experience. Chapter (7 pages) is dedicated to body surfing. Note the spelling of "peipo" and that the peipo is classified as a type of belly board. No other changes detected in review of paipo surfing.

Ben R. Finney, a leading surfing historican and scholar, published his seminal scholarly work in 1959, and followed that with several scholarly journal articles in multiple languages. In 1966, Dr. Finney wrote his first commercial book on the sport of surfing in conjunction with James D. Houston. Below are a list of surfing-related publications.

Finney, Ben R. (1959). Hawaiian surfing, a study of cultural change. Honolulu: University of Hawaii, pp. 135. [thesis].
"This work, an exercise to obtain a Master's Degree, was my first major research on any topic. Although some of my professors were skeptical that I could find enough material or survive to write a thesis, in fact I found loads of stuff on ancient legends, in explorers reports and missionary diatribes, as well as talking with the old timers from Hawai'i, California, Australia and Peru."

Finney, Ben R. (1959). The Surfing Community: Contrasting Values Between the Local and California Surfers in Hawaii. Social Process in Hawaii, 23, 73-76. "As a "Coast Haole" from Windansea and Steamer Lane I noted the cultural differences between California and Hawaiian surfers."

Finney, Ben R. (1959). Surfboarding in Oceania: its pre-European distribution. Vólkerkundliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft in der Anthropologischen Gesell schaft in Wien. (Viennese Ethnological Bulletin), 2, pp. 23-36.
Vienna, Austria. (See below.) "The summer after I received my M.A. I was studying German in Vienna, in preparation for my PhD studies which required that I be able to read at least two other scientific languages besides English. Anyway the editors of the "Viennese Ethnological Bulletin" asked me for an article from my thesis, so I wrote this one about the distribution of surfing around the entire Pacific, not just Hawai'i and Polynesia."

Finney, Ben R. (1959, June-September). Ancient surfriding in Tahiti. Bulletin de la Societe des Etudes Oceaniennes, 127 and 128, 53-56. Papeete, Tahiti. Translated from French. <>. See notes for rest of the translation credits.

Finney, Ben R. (1959, December). Surfing in Ancient Hawaii. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 68(4), 327-347. Accessed from the journal on the Internet. "I wrote this analysis of ancient Hawaiian surfing for the Journal of the Polynesian Society, a New Zealand publication that is one of the oldest anthropology journals in the world still being published."

Finney, Ben R.
(1960, December). The Development and Diffusion of Modern Hawaiian Surfing. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 69(4), pp. 314-331. Accessed from the journal on the Internet. In this article, based on work which he undertook for the degree of M.A. at the University of Hawaii, Mr. Finney traces the decline and subsequent revival of surfing in modern Hawaii and discusses the diffusion of the sport to other countries in and bordering the Pacific.

Finney, Ben. (1962). Surfboarding in West Africa. Wiener Volkerkundliche Mitteilungen, 5:41-42. No copy available.

Finney, Ben R., and James D. Houston. (1966). Surfing, the Sport of Hawaiian Kings. Rutland, Vt: C.E. Tuttle Co. (See below.)

Finney, Ben R., & James D. 
Houston. (1969, August-September). Polynesian Surfing. Natural History, 78(7), Cover, Table of Contents, 4,  26-35, 62, 75. Additionally, "About the Authors" and "Recommended Reading."

Margan, Frank, and Ben R. Finney. (1970). A Pictorial History of Surfing. Sydney: Hamlyn. (See below.)

Finney, Ben R. and James D. Houston. (1996). Surfing: A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks. (See below.)

Lemarie, Jeremy. (2017, May 29). Interview with Ben Finney • A Tribute [special editing by John Clark]. The Surf Blurb. Retrieved May 30,
2017, from The Surf Blurb is a weekly email magazine, originally created by Joe Tabler and now produced by Jeremy Lemarie. For more information visit the website.

Beginning of Entry xxxx

Finney, Ben R. (1959). Surfboarding in Oceania: its pre-European distribution. Vólkerkundliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft in der Anthropologischen Gesell schaft in Wien. (Viennese Ethnological Bulletin), 2, pp. 23-36. Vienna, Austria. 
Title page and Contents
[PDF] and Introductory Chapters


"The summer after I received my M.A. I was studying German in Vienna, in preparation for my PhD studies which required that I be able to read at least two other scientific languages besides English. Anyway the editors of the "Viennese Ethnological Bulletin" asked me for an article from my thesis, so I wrote this one about the distribution of surfing around the entire Pacific, not just Hawai'i and Polynesia."
Ch. 9, pp. 130-133, Body Surfng and Bellyboarding
xxx Of the four pages devoted to body surfing and bellyboarding, 2.5 pages cover body surfing and 1.5 pages are on bellyboarding. No section covers hand boarding or kneeboarding. Key passages include:
  • it has been asserted that because their low position also decreases wind resistance, some bellyboard riders have been known to outrace riders on standard surfboards in large surf.
  • Bellyboard riders can, and do, more often exploit waves that break gradually from one side to the other. Thus they, like standard board surfers, can and do trim across waves.
Overall observation
xxx Although published in 1970, the first edition is mostly written in a mid-1960s flavor with a longboard orientation except in the chapter "The Boards." There are tons of photos but none of bellyboarder/paipo riders. The terms bellyboard and paipo ("as they are called in Hawaii) are both used. In the glossary defines paipo, but not bellyboard, "Paipo: the Hawaiian term for a bellyboard. See Chapter 9." There is no real discussion of board lengths, widths, thickness or plan shapes.
End of Entry xxxx

Finney, Ben R. 1959. Surfing in ancient Hawaii. Wellington, N.Z.: Polynesian Society.

Finney, Ben R., and James D. Houston. (1966). Surfing, the Sport of Hawaiian Kings. Rutland, Vt: C.E. Tuttle Co.
Title & Contents (200KB)



Just for the record. (Note: most of the scanned PDF files below range from 60KB to 420KB.)

"No one knows who first realized the possibilities of riding the swells that had always been so much a part of island life. It may have been a weary swimmer bounced all the way to the beach in a white boil, or a canoe full of fishermen straining to make shore in heavy seas, who first knew the thrill of racing across the rising slopes. As for when it happened, we can only guess. Simple surfing with a body-board may be several thousand years old, as old perhaps as the settling of the Pacific islands."

Terms cited from early European observors included, "wave riding," "surf-riding," or "surf boarding."
chapter 2, Pacific Origins
"With one exception, moreover, it is doubtful that wave-riding as a popular recreation existed anywhere beyond Oceania before the 19th Century. That one exception is the West Coast of Africa, in areas of Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Near Dakar, Senegal, for example, African youths and young fishermen regularly body-surf, ride body-boards and catch waves while standing erect on boards about six feet long. These Atlantic skills seem in no way connected with the Pacific, either historically or prehistorically. Evidently it's an old pastime in west Africa; young Africans were seen riding waves while lying prone on light wooden planks, as long ago as 1838, long before surfing began to spread from Hawaii."

"Two basic board types are used in the surf. A bodyboard or belly-board is usually from two to four feet long and used as an auxiliary aid in sliding across a wave. The surfer is actually swimming and holding the board in front of him as a planing surface. This is commonly a children's pastime, not an adult sport. True surfing requires a full-sized board, usually eight feet or longer, that can support the rider entirely, allowing him to ride prone, kneeling or standing. Early accounts mention long boards specifically in only two island groups-New Zealand and Hawaii. Some New Zealand boards were six feet long, but because they were only nine inches wide they probably didn't support an erect rider and were ridden prone. Morrison says boards of "any length" were used in Tahiti. Four-foot boards were known in the Marquesas. In early accounts of surfing in Melanesia, Micronesia and western Polynesia, all boards which were mentioned are only a few feet long."
Some figures from ch.3, Ali`i, Olo & Alaia and ch.5, The Revival
1- Tahitian boy surfing on a belly board (click here)
2- Ancient Hawaiian surfboards on display at the Bishop Museum
(click here)
3- The Bishop Museum has the world's largest collection of ancient Hawaiian surfboards (click here)
4- Diagram of surfboards since 1907, arranged chronologically (click here)
5- Diagram of five ancient Hawaiian surfboards (bodyboards, alaias and an olo) (click here)

Shown here are two of the figures, a diagram and a display, of ancient Hawaiian surfboards
(click on pic for a larger image)

Of interest in these two figures is the typology for describing the boards. The figure on the left describes three types of boards, bodyboard, alaia and olo. The figure on the right describes only two types of boards, alaia and olo. However, the figure on the right displays one olo, many alaia and at least two bodyboards - the larger boards lined up on the right could be ridden as stand-up style alaia or or prone style bodyboards (kioe).
pp.63-64 from ch.4, The Touch of Civilization
"Today all that remains is an occasional youngster skimming through small waves on a body-board. Not a surfboard is seen on the waves that break around this fabled south sea island. The changes wrought by western civilization virtually eliminated a once popular recreation. In recent years a few surfers have travelled there with modern boards and have discovered good waves on many beaches. Tahitians are often encouraged to try a board or to build their own, but their reaction is almost always the same. It is a children's pastime, they say. No one seems interested."
p.82 from ch.5, The Revival
The author espouses a certain superior air of stand-up surfing over riding prone, "During the ride itself the technique of lala, angling, is still the most skillful, and standing is of course the only acceptable way to ride. Although sitting, kneeling and prone riding positions were all popular formerly, such postures are now used only for novelty, amusement or by those who cannot stand." And, "From nineteenth century reports, early surfers seemed content to paddle, catch the wave, stand up and then speed ahead in one direction. New boards and modern imagination have changed this. ... An experienced surfer can thus play the wave as he rides it-speed up, slow down, turn, swerve, change direction, ride in the trough or shoot along its thin crest. He can turn to the left by shifting right foot behind left. He can swerve to the right by placing his foot on the board's right edge and lean in that direction. He can stall by stepping back on the board, or speed forward by walking tothe nose. " Funny that these examples espoused as superior were shortly thereafter trumpted by people riding prone or on their knees, riding tightly in the curl, inside the tube, spinning 360s and el rollos, moving faster across wave faces and performing other more radical maneuvers. Oh well, this was the page that I call the "paipo slam" (a play on words for the Zuma Slam).
pp.96-98 from ch.6, Surfing Goes International
"In New Zealand, for instance, the revival of a long-dead pastime was due to Australia's influence. As we have seen, surf sports were known to early Maoris. Canoe surfing, body-board surfing and body-surfing, known collectively as whakarerere, were all popular pastimes. They declined and have virtually disappeared, however; and modern surfing in New Zealand dates from the 1930's when Australian Surf Lifesavers arrived with skis and cigar boxes."

"In 1953 the surf-lifesaving movement was established in England, and, with the unique safety methods came the surfboard, surf-ski and all the oceanic skills developed on Australia's beaches. With its time-honored reputation for fog, foul weather and the frigid English Channel, England seems an unlikely spot for a traditionally warm weather sport like surfing. But the southwest coasts of Devon and Cornwall boast the mildest summer climates in the British Isles... Body-board surfing has been known there since the early years of this century."
Glossary, Endnote Citations and Bibliography (500KB)
The appendix is a glossary of ancient Hawaiian surfing terms. Of direct interest are the following terms:
  • kaha, to surf or body-surf, and kaha nalu, body-surfing;
  • kioe, a small surf board; and,
  • kipapa, the prone riding position.
Overall observation
The book is written in a "scholarly-style" for a wide audience. Finney's academic research credentials are clearly evident as he broke ground in becoming a "surfer surfing scholar dude" and collaborated with several noted scholars and researchers in Hawaii. Although Finney demonstrates a clear bias towards stand-up surfing this doesn't interfere with documenting the genesis of prone style riding and its dispersion throughout the world. What is absent however is any mention of the term "paipo" (or any of the derivatives of the word such as paepo) despite a number of adults practicing the sport during the 1950s and early 1960s in Hawaii (e.g., Wally Froiseth making Pai Po boards in the 1950s).

Editor's Note: These PDF files were scanned at 150 dpi resulting in smaller file sizes but also of lesser quality.

Margan, Frank, and Ben R. Finney. 1970. A pictorial history of surfing. Sydney: Hamlyn. (see entry under Margan, F., & Finney, B.R.)

Finney, Ben R. and James D. Houston. Surfing: A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1996.
Contents and excerpt from the Forward
From the Forward, "This was the first book to chart surfing's Pacific origins in the context of Polynesian culture. Its main outline was conceived and developed by Ben Finney as his master's thesis in anthropology at the University of Hawai'i. Much of the material was revised by James D. Houston, who also added new details and interpretations. For this thirtieth anniversary edition, a number of seldom seen drawings and early photos have been added, along with appendixes of vintage writings on the subject," including Lt. James King (Capt. Cook voyages), Jack London, Mark Twain and others. "A few historical and cultural details have been updated (e.g., pronunciation marks for Hawaiian terms and the use of Polynesian place names, such as Rapa Nui and Aotearoa in lieu of Easter Island and New Zealand)."
pp.13, from ch. 1, The Wave, the Board, and the Surfer
"Hawai`i's gift to the world of sport is surfing-sliding down the slope of a breaking wave on a surfboard. Long before Captain Cook sailed into Kealakekua Bay, Hawaiians had mastered the art of standing erect while speeding toward shore. Riding prone on a wave with the aid of a short bodyboard was practiced throughout the Pacific Islands, primarily by youngsters, and probably dates back thousands of years. The Hawaiians took this ancestral habit, lengthened the boards, refined their shapes, and developed techniques that moved Lt. James King, in the first published account of surfing, to exclaim,
"The boldness and address with which I saw them perform these difficult and dangerous manoeuvers was altogether astonishing and is scarcely to be believed." [quote is from Lt. James King in Cook 1784, 3: 147.]
pp.21-25,  from ch. 2, Pacific Origins
"No one knows who first realized the possibilities of riding the swells that had always been so much a part of island life. It may have been a weary swimmer, bounced all the way to the beach in a white boil, or a fisherman in a canoe, straining to make shore in heavy seas, or simply a youngster playing in the waves who first knew the thrill of racing across the rising slopes. Simple board-surfing -- in which a swimmer uses a short plank or other aid to ride a wave just for the fun of it -- was practiced throughout the Pacific Islands. Recreational wave-riding was probably part of the general marine adaptation pioneered by the first people to enter the open Pacific. That would date the beginnings of the sport back to almost 2000 B.C., when the ancestors of the Polynesians and other Pacific islanders started moving eastward from Southeast Asia to explore and colonize this vast oceanic region. Recent archaeological finds suggest that the first canoes reached Hawai'i by at least A.D. 400. Those first settlers were probably already skilled in simple surfing, and perhaps after several hundred years of riding Hawai`i's big waves they began to develop the big boards, the art of standing up while riding diagonally across a wave front, and other features of this uniquely Hawai`ian form of the sport. A cautious guess would then date Hawaiian surfing back at least a thousand years."

"The other points of comparison -- board size and riding position -- are closely related, since a board's shape and length determine how one rides it. Two basic board types are used in the surf. A bodyboard (also known as a belly board or a paipo board) is usually from two to four feet long and is used as an auxiliary aid in sliding across a wave. Surfers using bodyboards actually swim, holding the boards in front of themselves as planing surfaces. This is commonly a children's pastime. True surfing requires a fullI-sized board, usually six feet or longer and at least around eighteen inches wide, that can support the rider entirely, allowing him or her to ride prone, kneeling or standing. Early accounts specifically mention long boards in only two island groups: Hawai`i and Aotearoa. Aotearoa boards are described as reaching six feet in length, but because they were only some nine inches wide they probably did not allow a rider to stand up. Morrison says boards of "any length" were used in Tahiti and that the more expert Tahitians could stand up while surfing, which implies that some of the Tahitian boards were approaching surfboard size. The next largest boards in Polynesia -- four-foot planks in the Marquesas and long reed bundles from Rapa Nui (where because of deforestation there was little wood available) -- apparently did not allow the riders to stand up. Elsewhere in Polynesia and the rest of the Pacific island region the boards were short bodyboards, and there is no mention of riders sitting, kneeling, or standing erect."

[Editor's Note: None of waveriders pictured appear to be youths.]

"Was board-surfing limited to the Pacific islands? In all the world, we have found only two other places where surfing may have developed independently from the Pacific island sport: West Africa and northern Peru. From Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Ghana come reports of bodyboard surfing, which, particularly since they date back to the 1830s, may indicate that African youths along this coast independently hit upon the idea of using planks to ride the waves. From northern Peru there are descriptions of fishermen who fish offshore sitting on reed bundles, which they call caballitos (little horses). When done fishing, they paddle back to shore (using a wooden paddle) and catch a wave or two coming in through the surf, a practice that may be of great antiquity since fishermen sitting astride and paddling their cabaIlitos are featured in pre-Columbian pottery. However, in neither of these cases did surfing develop into anything like Hawaiian surfing."
From ch.3, Ali`i, Olo & Alaia
"The alaia boards are round-nosed with a squared-off tail and very thin. The larger alaia boards in the Bishop's collection range from seven to twelve feet long, average eighteen inches in width, and are from a half inch to an inch and a half thick. (The museum's shorter alaia-shaped boards, which can be classified as bodyboards because of their lack of buoyancy, are similarly proportioned.) Most alaia boards that have survived are made from koa (Acacia koa), a fine-grained Hawaiian hardwood, although various writers state that alaia were also made from such light woods as breadfruit( Artocarpus altila) and wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis)."

pp.52, from ch.4, The Touch of Civilization
This photograph below is often times incorrectly captioned as a "surfer with a paipo board." The photograph is correctly captioned in Finney's book as a surfer with an alaia board. The surfer may have ridden the board in the prone, kneeling, sitting or standing positions.

pp.60-61, from ch.5, The Revival

Two pictures used in the book that I downloaded from, Twain, Mark. Roughing It, Part 8, Chapter LXXIII, "Surf Bathing." Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company, 1872.


pp.85-86 from ch.6, Surfing Goes International
Notes from various countries:
  • Australia. Discusses bodysurfing, stand-up surfing, boat surfing and use of the surf ski but there is no explicit discussion of any form of prone board riding.
  • New Zealand (Aotearoa). The Maori were credited with canoe surfing, bodyboarding and body-surfing.
    • Surfing By the 1930s, however; traditional surfing apparently had declined significantly in popularity. During that decade, Australian Surf Lifesavers introduced their revision of the sport with surf-skis and "cigar boxes."received a further boost in the late 1950s when Californians brought the first balsa boards to Aotearoa, and since then interest in the newequipment and riding skills has been growing rapidly.
  • South Africa. No mention of prone board riding. Although West Africans may still ride the waves as their ancestors did in centuries past, their sport does not appear to be linked historically with surfing around the Cape of Good Hope.  The Surf Life Saving movement was already established by 1938 when the first surf-ski was built and development continued. "More recentlybalsa and foam boards have arrived so that today South African surfersare mastering modem riding techniques on Indian Ocean swells."
  • England. "Bodyboard surfing has been known there since the early years of this century." And, "In 1953 the Surf Life Saving movement was established in England, and with the unique safety methods came the surfboard, surf-ski, andall the oceanic skills developed on Australia's beaches."
  • Israel, France and Peru: No use of prone riding craft was mentioned in this section of the chapter.
Glossary, Endnotes, and Bibliography
Appendix A is a list of Hawaiian Surfing Terms that includes some new entries, uses diacritical marks and includes word sources. A couple of words relevant to prone board riding:
  • kīoe : a small surfboard (PE, p. 153)
  • papa : prone position on a surfboard; to surf prone (PE, p. 154); a style of riding (T, p. 110)
The Notes are abbreviated references used throughout the book

The Bibliography lists the books and articles cited in the text, along with research publications on surfing by Ben Finney, which include more extensive documentation than given here. Several new citations have been added in this 30th anniversary update of the earlier book.
Overall observation
The book is an updated, coffee table style version of the Finney and Houston book of 30 years earlier. It maintains its  easy reading scholarly approach in a wide page, glossy format.

On special interest is the introduction of the term "paipo" although there is no mention of 20th century prone board riding despite a number of adults practicing the sport during the 1950s and early 1960s in Hawaii (e.g., Wally Froiseth making Pai Po boards in the 1950s).

Several observations in the book would seem to limit the riding of bodyboards (paipo boards) to youngsters. However, the general writings and sketches of the period would seem to indicate widespread use of men and women of all ages (e.g., see sketching earlier in this section).

The authors provide an excellent discussion on the decline of surfing early
in the 19th century and the rebirth of surfing at in the early 20th century, in Hawai`i and elsewhere. The discussion does a good job of discussing the evolution of stand-up surf boards used during this 100 years and into the 1960s. Absent, however, is a record of bodyboarding. Did bodyboarding disappear for a hundred years only to reapper in the mid-1950s?

Many thanks to Finney and Houston for their scholarly contributions to the surfing world.

Funnell, Ronald Spencer. 1953. Surf-riding on the Atlantic Coast. R.S. Funnell.

Funnell, Ronald Spencer. 1953. The Art of Surf-Riding on the Cornish Coast. R.S. Funnell. [Note: This is the same 1953 book by Funnell, titled on the title page as
Surf-Riding on the Atlantic Coast.]

Cover and Title pages

[PDF] and Introductory Chapters

Source(s): SDSU.

Note the cover and title page variation in titles.

Towards the bottom of the title page :

Ronald S. Funnell
Author of:-
The Art of Surf-riding.
1934 edition.
Guide to Newquay and North Cornwall.
Rambles in and around Bournemouth.

In the 1953 booklet's introduction the author notes, "This is an improved edition of a booklet compiled by the present author and which rapidly became a best seller, resulting in the first edition being quickly sold out."
This is one of the three known books/monographs on the distinctive form of U.K. bellyboarding -- also see:
  • Bartlett, Vernon, and Maurice Bartlett. You and Your Surfboard. London: The Author, 1953. (With additional illustrations by Maurice Bartlett.)
  • A practical guide to surfing: choice of board, selecting the wave, correct stance and procedure [Booklet]. (unknown year). South Molton, Devon: Charles Pearce & Son.
These three booklets served as guides and promoted the primary form of "surf riding" and "surf boarding" in the United Kingdom (including Wales, Australia, South Africa, India and elsewhere) until the middle of the 20th century and the introduction around xxxx year of surfboards used for riding waves while standing up. Nonetheless, the Brits have taken to calling bellyboards "chicken run boards." This booklet covers England and Wales.

The term "surf-rider" and "surf board" in this booklet, and the other two, refer to belly boarding (and the distinct form of U.K. bellyboard at that -- narrow ply boards with a flipped up nose -- see photograph below from p. 35).

Another view of the U.K.-style board - courtesy
The Original Surfboard Company.

As the booklet's introduction states, "That there is a definite art or technique in surf-riding will become paramount at once, to any novice who goes out into the breakers armed with a surf-board for the first time." The author cautions on page 5 that this booklet's form of "surf-riding" is not to be confused with "the amazing feats of expert surf-riders who are towed at high speed on boards (upon which they stand upright with legs astride), behind fast moving motor boats as they 'ride the surf.' "
  • "A new and exhilarating sport is rapidly gaining many' fans' in England--surf-riding..."
  • "The keen interest in surf-riding has become intensified during the last three years owing to the excellent photographs which have appeared from time to time in the Daily Mirror. Some of which are reproduced in this little booklet, and which give one a good idea of the sheer enjoyment and thrills experienced by the expert surf-rider."
  • "Further publicity was given to this excellent summer sport by the Picture Post issue of July 26th, 1952, with an article on the subject "A girl learns to surf-ride" together with a series of illustrations of two young ladies enjoying this sport."
  • "As this article rightly pointed out, all you need are smooth sands, good creamy rollers, and a wide beach where these rollers sweep right inshore, before curling to break. (Plus of course a surf-board and the right technique.)"
The introduction concludes,
"This is an improved edition of a booklet compiled by the present author and which rapidly became a best seller, resulting in the first edition being quickly sold out.

The increasing number of visitors who now come to Newquay and the Atlantic Coast resorts every year, so many of whom are anxious to become proficient at surf-riding, made it desirable that the booklet should be re-printed, with certain additions.

That there is a definite art or technique in surf-riding will become paramount at once, to any novice who goes out into the breakers armed with a surf-board for the first time."

Surf-Riding on the Atlantic Coast of Cornwall and Devon,  pp. 5-8.

Selected snippets-
  • "Surfriding on the Atlantic Coast of Cornwall and Devon is the ... enjoyable art of solo surf-riding on a board controlled and guided by yourself, assisted only by the power of the Atlantic breakers."
  • "The author has spoken to Australian lifeguards, who have sampled surf-riding on the Atlantic Coast of England and who compare it very favourably with the type of sport they get, when solo surf-riding on their own beaches."
  • "Namely the really ideal facilities afforded for surf-riding. These ideal facilities are, the wide stretches of level sand, free from pebbles and rocks, and the long lines of huge Atlantic breakers combining to afford the expert surfrider with safe, yet wonderful thrills."
  • " would, to say the least, be unpleasant if one's shins and feet were continually injured on stones and shingle. It would be equally unpleasant to have one's board (a costly item these days) crack or split on shingle or crash into a hidden rock."
  • "Now let us assume you have never, tried surf-riding before. Rest assured that once initial nervousness of the breakers is overcome, all that is required to make YOU quickly proficient is confidence, the right type of surf board, [emphasis added] and a little knowledge, when you will soon become expert in this exhilarating and healthy pastime."
pp. 8-10, "The Right Type of Board."

Here the author describes the wrong kind of board (without nose rocker) and the right kind of board (with pronounced flip up nose rocker as shown in the above figures):
It cannot be too strongly emphasised that the 'would-be surf-rider,' who wishes to become proficient quickly, should refrain from the temptation to purchase a cheap surf-board. The trouble with many so-called surf-boards, is that they are made of 6 in. widths of coarse wood, neither water-proofed, nor curved, and screwed together with battens; with a result that they are most unsuitable and not at all easy to manipulate.

Incidentally, they often lead to a certain amount of bruising. Moreover with a board that is straight in design, one is often prevented from experiencing the long rides, right in-shore...

Again, curved boards made of Oak are too heavy and easily split. Chestnut boards are ." wormy," and surf-boards made of Tupelo are over pliable, and after a few immersions in salt water and exposure to sunshine, lose .their shape.

Should they ever become available again in this Country, visitors are recommended to pay a little more and purchase a Featherweight 'Crest Rider.'

The difficulty was, to find a suitable timber which, whilst retaining the shape to which it was moulded, would be sufficiently light, yet durable, and at the same time waterproof.

This difficulty was overcome by the use of a particular type of "Gaboon" timber, subjected to certain processes. Gaboon is the district on the West Coast of Africa where the trees grow, the timber of which is used for making 'Crest Rider' surf-boards. Rather interesting to note that Surf-riding is popular in South Africa, and the timber for the Surfboards comes from the West Coast of the same continent. [Editor's Note: Gaboon, also spelled Gabon, is located on the Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west.]

Unfortunately, owmg to freightage charges, carriage, and purchase tax, these 'Crest Rider' boards are not now marketed in this Country. See therefore the announcements on pages 16 and 30.
pp. 11-18, excepts from "The Hold, and Control of the Surf-board" and "The Choice of a Breaker" and "Timing the Take Off."

This section describes the proper and incorrect ways to hold the board when catching a wave in the breakers:
"Turn to the artist's sketch on the cover of the book. Note that the young girl standing waist deep is getting her board into position to place into her groin. The correct hold of the board is so essential because if a novice were to badly time the "take-off" of an exceptionally powerful breaker, a loosely and wrongly held board might well give him or her a nasty jab in the pit of the stomach, or crack their knees."

"Now wait for a wave that looks" healthy," preferably one which you estimate will break as it reaches you. Stand with your back to the on-coming breaker (but with your head turned slightly backwards watching the on-coming waves), holding the surf-board (as already indicated) with arms out straight, two feet from the curved end, the other end resting against the lower part of the body."

"Now we have arrived at the crucial moment. Just before the wave as it breaksfall gently on to the surf-board with a leaping forward movement, simultaneously with the cresting breaker, sliding the hands up, so that the chest, and upper part of the body (from the abdomen) are lying on the board. The arms should be reaching out to the tip of the board, with the hands resting palm downwards at the extreme end, the legs straight out behind. Now allow yourself to be carried forward by the momentum of the waves."

"Another hint: --After you become proficient you may find it helps you to "catch" a difficult or tricky roller, as it is in the act of breaking, by holding the board firmly with one hand only and propelling or paddling with the other."

The author notes about the
surf-riding illustration below, " take a good look at the young man in the forefront. It will be observed that he has had a clean ride, right into the shore and is still in motion. Notice the position of his hands and that the upward curve of the board prevents the top end from becoming embedded in the sands. This picture although taken some 20 years ago gives one quite a good idea of surfing and the distance it is necessary to walk out to meet suitable breakers. The wave on the extreme right of the illustration which is curling to break would have been a good one to have 'caught.' " 

Rod's Note: In the description above of "surf-riding, or bellyboarding as we call it today, that neither swim fins are used nor is catching wave in deeper waters where the surf rider paddles for the wave by kicking one's feet and paddling with both arms.
A list of surfing beaches in England on the Atlantic coast appear on pp. 21-22.
The effects and potential dangers of tides on pp. 24-28.

Bevy of surf-riders racing towards the beach from p. 31

Some "surf-riding" advertisements appearing in the booklet

Advertisement for “Solarbo Balsa Boards for Surfing” from p. 16

Advertisement for “Westlake's Surf-Board” or "New Solarbo Balsa Boards" from p. 30

Advertisement for "Solarbo Water Boards" that don't need a curved prow, from p. 32

Follow-up leads:
These items bear further research:
  • Picture Post magazine issue of July 26th, 1952, with an article on the subject "A girl learns to surf-ride" together with a series of illustrations of two young ladies enjoying this sport.
  • Daily Mirror photos in preceding 3 years (that would be 1949-1953?)
  • an article on "How to surf-ride" last summer in a National weekly magazine
  • 1934 edition of the booklet
Overall observation
An interesting historical piece on U.K.-style bellyboarding, or what I might call traditional European-style bellyboarding, or paipo boarding. Of curious note are the three Solarbo advertisements that advertise the adequacy of their "straight boards" made of balsa while the author advocates "the right type of surf board" with a pronounced curvature in the nose and of a wood from Gabon (the wood type is not identified) along with another make of board, theFeatherweight 'Crest Rider.'. Also of note is the style of riding is close to shore where the riders push themselves into waves from a standing positon and seldom, if ever, paddle out into what contemporary paipo boarding considers the "line-up."

Gardner, Robert. 1972. The art of body surfing. Philadelphia: Chilton.
Cover page, Contents and Author Note

some history from Ch. 1,  the "Reckless Breed"

From page 2:
Let's get one thing clear immediately. Big surf body surfing is an art apart. People who go to the ocean in the summer number in the millions. Board surfers number in the hundreds of thousands. But there aren't a hundred proficient big surf body surfers in the world. They are a small , select world--a skilled, talented, and reckless breed of men.

History does not disclose the identity of the first man who look advantage of the onrushing surf to get to the beach faster than he could swim. Neither does it identify that first daredevil with the "Hey, Mom, watch me" attitude who dropped down the face of a giant breaker to lie (temporarily, we hope) on the bottom of the ocean, while tons of seawater attempted to flatten him by natural hydraulic action. But we do know that from time immemorial, puny man has been trying to bend the surf to his will by many means -- by surfboards, outrigger canoes, surfboats, belly boards, kayaks, even by air mattresses.

But to the surfing purist, body surfing will always be the supreme test of man's age·old struggle to conquer his most ruthless, dangerous, and implacable enemy -- the sea. This is because the body surfer challenges the sea at its most violent moment -- the thunderous breaker -- and he does it without artificial help or assistance. As Candy Calhoun, one of the very few good female body surfers, once said, "Body surfing is the ultimate in onesmanship." Or to quote [from page 3] Mickey Munoz, one of body surfing's immortals, in a more earthly approach, "It's just you and that damned wave."
Swim Fins
From page 6:
The history of body surfing falls into Ihree rather sharply defined parts, or periods -- pre·swim-fin, post-swim-fin, and the present.

In the pre-swim·fin days - roughly prior 10 World War II -- the art of body surfing was severely limited by the inability of the surfer, no matter how skilled, to generate enough quick speed to control the wave. Thus, in the 1920s and the 1930s, it was "straight off" or "over the falls," with a reckless disregard of consequences, a fine arch of the back, a great gasp from the crowd on the beach, and inevitably--disaster.

But with the invention of swim fins, body surfing developed into a true art. Now the body surfer can develop enough speed to cut across the face of the breaker on the diagonal, or get on a shoulder of green water and stay jusl ahead of the soup or white water, or "hot dog" it with all of the modern tricks and techniques of spinners, outriggers, and layouts.
From page 11:
It is not historically accurate to pick World War II as the advent of the swim fin. Fins had been developed several years before, and the body surfers had grabbed them instantly, realizing their great contribution to the art. But it was during World War II , and particularly through the use of fins by the Amphibious Scouts and Raiders and the underwater demolition teams of the United States Navy, that their popularity began to spread.

And so it was that by the late 1940s and early 1950s, swim fins were becoming widely used. Still, the technique was basically the same -- straight off. Fins were great for transportation -- to get out of the trough, to catch a wave from outside -- but the surfer still went straight off.
From pages 24-25:
Next, we come to the most important part of a body surfer's equipment -- his swim fins. The fin is here to stay. Its existence makes body surfing so much easier.

Probably the most popular fins in body·surfing circles are Duck Feet. These are the long, slim fins with a strap over the heel. They are manufactured by a number of companies, but those made by the Voit Company seem to be the ones seen most on experienced body surfers. Probably 8 out of 10 body surfers at the Wedge wear Voits. Duck Feet, when properly fitted, are comfortable and secure (in everything but big surf), but be sure to get a pair that fits. If they are too big, you lose them; if they are too small, your feet will cramp, and it's no fun floundering around in the trough trying to pull a cramp out of your foot. So don't be embarrassed. Make the clerk open the boxes and try the fins on until you get a size that fits. Don't let him tell you that because you wear size 10 shoes you automatically wear fins of a certain size.

Another popular fin is the Churchill -- triangular in shape, rather than oblong as in the case of Duck Feet. These fit just like Duck Feet, with a strap over the heel, and it's just a matter of personal choice between the two. A few years ago everybody wore Churchills. Now, most surfers seem to be using Duck Feet, although those who use Churchills swear by them.

Another popular type is the shoe fin, in which the entire foot is enclosed -- like a pair of loafers with fins attached. The most popular of these kinds is the Italian·made Cressi·Rondine, ordinarily called [page 25] Cressis. These have great thrust, but for the body surfer, they come off too easily. Just about the time you are screaming down the face of a good wave, water gets in the shoes and the fins pop off. However, there is a rubber gadget, which goes by the trade name of Fixe-Palm, that fits over the instep and under the sole of the fin. This will keep the fin on. Its use is strongly suggested for anyone using the Cressi-type of fin for body surfing, otherwise he is going to spend most of his time diving for his fins. In big surf a Fixe-Palm is a good idea for Duck Feet or Churchills, too. Big surf will tear off the best.fitting fins. Some people secure their Duck Feet or Churchills by shoelaces through the strap and around the ankle (for obvious reasons, you can't do that to a Cressi). It's a good idea in big surf to secure the fins by one means or another. There must be dozens of fins floating around the bottom after a big day. They are supposed to float, but none seems to float very well. They appear for a moment in the soup and then disappear, and they don't reappear until they wash up on the beach the next day. It's a pretty good idea to be the first person on the beach the morning after a big day. Most of the fins eventually wash in and the pickings are good. Unhappily, people who have drowned the day before have a tendency to drift in the next morning too, but, you get your name in the paper if you find a body.
Overall observation
The discussion on swim fins was included because of its special relationship in riding paipo boards  Note the reference to UDT (underwater demolition team). The belly board is mentioned as one means of bending the surf to the rider's will.

James, Joseph Allston. 1972. Surfer magazine: a content analysis.
Title page and Contents
[PDF] and Introductory Chapter

An excerpt of the author's methodology and some definitions is spelled out in the introductory chapter on page 1:
Before proceeding further, basic definitions of surfing and Surfer are necessary. Surfing is a sport in which the participant on a vehicle rides an ocean wave toward shore. Although there are several methods that can be used to ride a wave, the one this paper primarily is concerned with is surfboard riding, the most widely practiced method. Surfer occasionally deals with the body surfing and bellyboard methods, but its primary concern is with surfboard riding.

Surfer, a bi-monthly magazine devoted entirely to the subject of surfing, is published by Surfer Publications, Inc., Dana Point, California.

Ch. 3, Findings, from pp. 45-6

The following section provides perspective on Sufer Magazine editorial policies, a resulting boycott by the mainstream surfboard manufacturers prior to January 1971, and the potential impact of the economic on advertising purchased by the surf industry. [See pp. 45-6.]
"With the development of new construction materials and the creation of improved surfboard designs, Surfer began to include more and more technical articles in its issues. See Table 3."

"As the table indicates, Surfer published more technical articles on surfboards during 1968-1970 than in any other three-year period. In fact, more articles on surfboards were published during that period than in all other years combined.

Surfer placed the credit for the new boards with the individual board builders, the non-manufacturer designers.
Originally, it was the individual designer alone who jumped onto the new thing, and quite understandably. He had nothing to lose...Surfing had become stagnated by its lack of imagination... They (the small shop builders) woke the manufacturers up.45
It was this editorial philosophy that aroused the manufacturers. In the January 1971 issue, Surfer described the situation as follows:
The Surfboard Manufacturers Association boycotted Surfer for several issues to show displeasure with articles dealing with non-affiliated freedom and "soul" surfers, anti-contest stories, as well as our continued printing of technical information on surfboards.46
Steve Pezman explained that actually a good portion of the two-issue boycott was based on economic reasons as well as the reasons listed above."

Overall observation
Caveat for Rod's analysis of Surfer Magazine: check for related trends in drop-off of paipo/bellyboarding related advertisements, stories, editorial content and other mentions.

The author uses the term bellyboard, but none of the others. He also inaccurately describes surfing as riding a vehicle (unless one considers a person's body to be a vehicle ridden upon! No, the body rides the wave.).

Hickenbottom, Thomas, Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society, and Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. (2009). Surfing in Santa Cruz. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub.
This book does not have any information relevant to paipo boarding. There is one pic of someone riding a matt with the following caption, "A mat rider braces for a hard landing at the bottom of a reeling Steamer Lane slot wave. Mat surfing was popular in the 1960s as an alternative to board surfing. Sometimes on huge high-tide Middle Peak days, the only takers in the water were mat surfers and bodysurfers." The book was 100 percent stand-up, mostly longboarding. Thanks to Kim Green of Santa Cruz for reviewing this book in a special room of Californiana.

Jury, Mark. 1989. Surfing in southern Africa: including Mauritius and Reunion. Cape Town: Struik.
Title page and Contents [JPG]

A description of the book adapted from the back cover:

The book provides a guide to predicting surf conditions including the "when" and "where" details on more than 250 individual surf spots on the coasts of Southern Africa, Mauritius and Reunion. The book "will appeal to anybody who utilizes the waves along our coastline
surfers, boardsailors, bodyboarders, paddle-skiers, kneeboarders, bodysurfersin fact, anybody who "surfs" in any way. Surfing In Southern Africa is for both the serious surfer and the recreational or weekend surferhotshot and grommet alike!" The book includes close on 100 great colour surfing photographs, as well as a couple of "collector's item" shots dating as far back as the late-1940s. See the Contents for a complete list of topics covered.
Historical notes from the following two chapters: History of Surfing and Western Cape-Surf Spots

Published in 1989, the book presents the facts as they were generally understood at that time.

In the chapter,
History of Surfing, two historical notes of interest are made:
  • By 1915, Duke had also introduced the Aussies to surfing.
  • Exactly how and when surfing caught on in South Africa is not certain, but earliest records of surfing can be traced back to the late 1940s. Durban, 1949, and guys like Anthony Heard, Derek Jardine, and Windham Woodford were out surfing Durban's North Beach on great barges between 12 and 14 ft long.
In the chapter, Western Cape-Surf Spots, in the Muizenberg entry, the book states, "Surfing first caught on here in the early 1960s, and Muizenberg is still a main hangout, and a good place to learn the basics of surfing."

Reference Map of the Cape

This map is a good reference point for understanding the Cape Peninsula geographically and in particular, False Bay.
Overall observation
Since the book was published back in 1989, much more has been learned about the early years of surfing in South Africa. In particular, the series of historical books by Michael Walker on the False Cape communities of Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and St. James, show that surfing (paipo/belly board surfing on "surf-boards") began by 1910, and was introduced by "an Australian whilst passing through Cape Town visited the "Sands of Muizenberg". There he noticed a plank of wood on the beach, which he picked up and showed the locals how to catch a wave."

Overall the book is an easy read with tons of valuable wave forecasting tips, charts, site descriptions and other areas of interest to a surfer in general, especially if planning a trip or living in South Africa.

Kahanamoku, Duke, and Joseph Brennan. 1968. Duke Kahanamoku's world of surfing. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
Contents [PDF]

This book was written by the "Father of Modern Surfing" with the assistance of Joseph Brennan.
Ch.1, pp. 17-26, Ancient Surfng

Untitled figure: In the foreground are three men foot surfing and two women in drop-knee and seated surfing positions. Given the forward foot placement they appear to be riding alaia boards.

Selected excerpts discussing surfing and board types:
The ancient art of riding the sea's waves was developed and refined by the Polynesians who first came to Hawaii in an age long gone by... Those Islanders were expert body surfers, calling it kaha nalu (kaha, the body; nalu, the surf). But surfing with a board was their ultimate in joy and dexterity. [pp. 17-18]

Two kinds of boards were used to ride the forward slopes of high waves; there was the shorter one called the alaia, and the longer one termed the olo... There were exceptions to this rule as evidenced by some of the boards currently on display at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The Museum's fine collection of some twenty-odd surfboards runs the gamut from a youngster's breadfruit wood board of 34-1/2 inches in length, weighing about three pounds, to an adult's redwood board over seventeen feet long and weighing 174 pounds. [p. 18]
The chapter provides a very good overview of the origins of in Polynesia and Hawaii. Nonetheless, one must acknowledge that this book was written in 1968, so the reader must keep that in mind based upon what is now known about surfing in the early-20th century and earlier milleniums. For example, the following statement no longer is supported by the facts (e.g., see the figure to the left):
The short alaia boards were used mostly by women and children, and the riding was done on waves close in to shore. [p. 23]

Ch. 3, New Horizons
In discussing the preference for solid redwood and balsa boards over the hollow paddleboard:
The experiments were predicated on the belief that faster rides would be generated by heavier boards. But the turning problem became bigger with the size of the board; a prone surfer was compelled to drag one foot in the water on the inside of the turn, and this only contributed to loss of forward speed. If standing, he had to drag an arm over the side, and with the same result of diminishing momentum. [pp. 38-39]
On the following page [p. 40], which continues a discussion of paddleboards, the figure below appears in the page margin. Note it is not called a paipo or a sand board.

Skim or Belly Board

Ch.8, On Selecting a Board

In this chapter are two items of interest: (1) bodysurfing & paipo word affinity and (2) characterization of the preferred bodysurfing/paipo wave.
It isn't always that one can be lucky enough to find a surf with the fast breaking sections or steep. hollow peaks that board surfers most love. Too often there is only the body-surfing (paipo) type of wave, which is a rolling, cresting break that merges into a long, hopeless wall of water in the shorebreak. But it is the former type of surf we have in mind now while helping you to judge a board. [p. 82]
Roughly unrelated to paipo surfing, but still of special interest:
The light nine-foot boards with slim sterns will do well at famous Makaha Beach. They make for quick, responsive steering, and are sensitive to the rugged contour of the front Makaha wave slopes. The long olo board so popular at Waikiki can spell trouble on the bulky Makaha waves with their uneven front slopes. The strong cross currents which run at Makaha too often cause the nose of the board to pearl, sending the rider into the well-known sprawl. [p. 83]
Ch. 16, Body Surfing, pp. 159-167

Good discussion of body surfing, but silent on paipo surfing,
Glossary (pp. 169-179) and Index

Fins - Rubber or synthetic foot-flippers for swimming, skin-diving, etc. Often used in body surfing. [p. 172]

Paipo board - Hawaiian Islander's term for bellyboard; a very short board. [p. 175, Note: paipo was not italicized]

The terms bellyboard and paipo were not listed in the Index. No mention of kneeboarding in the book.
Overall observation
Good enjoyable read and great expression of Hawaiian aloha and surfriding emotion throughout the book. The kipapa-style content is minimal but related references appear in a few places. It was odd that the figure of the "guitar pic" paipo, a shaped popularized as the Paipo Nui, and later as the Hawaii Paipo Designs (HPD), is labeled as a "skim or belly board" and not as a paipo (or pae po`o).

Kampion, Drew. 1997. Stoked: A History of Surf Culture. Santa Monica, CA: General Pub. Group.
Kampion, Drew. 2003. Stoked!: A History of Surf Culture. Salt Lake City: G. Smith.
Page 34 from the chapter, Seed Culture
The second edition has a sidebar titled, "Olo, Alaia and Paipo" and a picture of olo, alaia, and paipo boards that are displayed in the Hawaiian Hall of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The first edition did not include the paipo or this picture.
Pages 37, from the chapter, Seed Culture
One of the infamous historic pictures of a waverider holding a board in Waikiki gazing out to the surf with Diamondhead in the background. Part of the caption reads, "This turn-of-the-century photo of a lone surfer with his short paipo board at Waikiki speaks volumes." [Rod Note: Whether this board is a paipo or not could be a subject of debate. The two ancient forms of Hawaiian surfing boards were the olo and the alaia, classified as such based upon the shapes of the riding plank and the boards' cross-sections and their thickness. The alaia was usually a shorter board and for this reason is often called a paipo. Additionally, the alaia was much thinner than the olo and was the ancient day equivelent of a performance short board. The alaia was often times ridden prone style.]
Overall observation
A nice glossy, coffee table survey of surfing history and culture through the ages. Loaded with rich color pictures.

There are a couple of short references to "soft belly board," "boogie board," and "volksurf board" usually accompanied with a discussion of Tom Morey's invention of the "boogie board," now commonly called a bodyboard.

Kelly, John M. 1965. Surf and Sea. New York: A.S. Barnes. (PDF files unless otherwide noted and range from 600KB to 2MB.)
Cover page, Forward and Contents

Chapter 2.

Credits include paipo rider, Val Valentine. Note chapter titled, Body, Mat and Belly Board Surfing.

Page 18 from chapter 2, Riding Waves, sets the stage for what is to follow.
Pages 50-53, from Chapter 4, Body, Mat and Belly Board Surfing
The chapter begins, "Tales of bodysurfing and belly board (paipo) surfing abound in the ancient legends of Oceania." Much of this section focuses on bodysurfing although a reference is made to using mom's halved wooden ironing board as a paipo for first-timers.
Pages 62-66, from Chapter 4, Body, Mat and Belly Board Surfing
These pages include sections called, Fast Belly Boards, Mat Surfing, and Safety Hints. The belly board section begins, "Surfers riding conventional boards not only have to contend with slower bodysurfers nowadays, but with faster belly board riders as well. A new belly board that skims the surface has put in its appearance, first in Hawaii and now spreading to other parts of the world. Developed and perfected by John Waidelich and Jim Growney, it has speed capabilities in excess of the fastest gun surfboard." [Rod's Note: This "fast belly board" has a shape similar to those made by Hawaii Paipo Designs and is referred to as a "skim board." It is made of plywood with a fiberglass and resin coating. The original paipo nui bellyboard initially developed by Val Valentine. See the Paipo Interviews.]

The chapter concludes on the right note, "Bodysurfing, mat surfing and belly board surfing are safer, easier, and more fun when the rider uses swim fins. All three are among the most healthful of water sports. At their simplest, you need only baggies or a bikini, some waves and a little free time to have just loads of good clean fun."
Pages 152-153 and 156-157, from Chapter 7, Surfboards
These pages include excerpts on board design features. Page 157 includes the passage, "Support for this view was given when the fast skim boards of John Waidelich and Jim Growney began passing guns in Hawaii's big north shore surf in 1961-62." What has since evolved into the Hawaii Paipo Designs shape was referred to as a skim board.
Page 193 photograph.

Cher Pendarvis in a July 6, 2011 e-mail, confirmed the identity of the paipo rider as Uncle Val Ching, who she knows personally and wrote an article about in The Surfer's Journal
19(6), 38-47.

Photo of Uncle Val Ching riding a paipo being standup style. Photo by Val Valentine.

Val Ching's story about the above photograph as told to Cher Pendarvis, follows:
The photo shoot was a last minute project organized by Clarence Maki. In early November 1963, a large south swell showed on the South Shore. Val had graduated that spring and was working construction, when one afternoon his dad came to the job site. He said the surf "was boiling" in Waikiki and Val Valentine and Clarence Maki wanted to shoot that afternoon.

A strong south swell this late in the season was unusual. Val was more excited about the surprise big surf and lack of a crowd than the photo shoot session. He went straight to the beach from work. His board and Taki surf shorts were stashed at a friend's dry cleaning business across from the Wall on Kalakaua Ave. When he arrived he found his shorts gone . . .  they had been stolen . . .  so he cut his work jeans and surfed in them. As the evening went on, the shorts kept tearing along the sides till they resembled a miniskirt. To the delight of Clarence Maki and Val Valentine, Val Ching surfed for almost three hours till it was dark.

"The surf was just so perfect, one of the best sessions of my life. It was 4 to 5 in front of the Wall, the tide was up and the swell was was strong. There were maybe no more than 15 to 20 guys in the water and most were chasing the bigger waves farther out. It was like dream, I stayed inside and took off on the last (third) breaks with no one to hamper my take-offs and the guys shooting me," says Val.
Source: Pendarvis, Cher. (2012, January 31). Story behind Val Ching's photo in John Kelly's book [E-mail to Rod Rodgers]. Information obtained in conversations between Val Ching and Cher Pendarvis in 2011.
Glossary of Terms (excerpts)
Terms such as belloomer, board, paipo, skim or skitter board are defined. It notes that the term paipo is from popular usage but may stem from pae, to ride a wave to shore, and pu, the sea at midtide (Hawaiian). Several other treats are included in these pages such as bluebird, bone yard, box seat, sea pussy and surf chaser.
Overall observation
This is a well-written book that includes two major parts, the sport and the sea. The chapter titled "Surfboards" includes lots of good information on board design. Well worth taking some time to read through this book.

I loved the references to "catching a wave in the box seat," "edge takeoffs," and "catching a blue bird" (large wave). The box seat is the most critical part of the wave. "Catching the wave in the box seat enables the rider to develop his speed which he uses to beat the break and get into trim for sliding in the slot of the wave. But from the edge take-off, a rider risks, on his drop, a collision course with riders who have already caught the wave at the box seat and are on an angular course across the wave."

Further research areas include Oceania history and culture for insights to the sport of paipo board wave riding.

Kirk, Cameron, and Zack Hanle. 1968. The surfer's handbook. New York: Dell Pub. Co.
Cover page & Contents

p. 109. Many forms of surfing are discussed, e.g., body surfing, dory racing and catamaran surfing. However, there is no mention of bellyboarding, paipo surfing or kneeboarding.

  • belly board: a small board, usually less than three feet long (p. 136).
  • Paipo board: Hawaiian bellyboard or short surfboard (p. 142).
Overall observation. This book was written during the pre-shortboard era. It contains lots of good information for a novice surfer or as an introduction to stand up surfing. Topics covered include how to pick a surfboard (long board), surf wax, how to surf, tricks, weather and surfing and tides. No paipo or belly board information except for brief mentions in the glossary.

Klein, H. Arthur. 1965. Surfing. Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Cover page & Contents and Set I, Wave B, Brief Introduction
"Surfing includes every kind of surf-propelled motion, ranging from body-surfing to group surf-riding in the largest outrigger canoes or surf boats."

"Surfing for many has meant only "stand-up" surfing on boards. This kind is best known, and generally the most spectacular. For some readers it may continue to seem the only kind worth mentioning or learning. Those readers are urged especially to concentrate on the sections of the book leading up to board-surfing and to try in the surf what they learn there."

"The book seeks to emphasize what seems likely to be lasting in surfing rather than that which may be temporary and faddish. It also stresses safety -- not as an unfortunate concession to integrity of life and limb but as an essential ingredient of sound, skillful surfing."

Rod's Note
Jim Growney has advised us about the cover shot on the book, "Makaha – 1962 – John Waidelich dropping in on an unidentified surfer. The surfer is being followed by Wally Froiseth and George Downing." A larger version of this photo is also inside the book and shown below.
Set II, Reviewing the Past

Wave F - Fins, Finders and Founders, pp. 41-46.

On page 43, in Wave F, Fins, Finders and Founders, Kleim makes a interesting proposition: "We can suggest here a sort of Surfing Law of Lightness: 'The lighter a surfboard is, compared to the weight of its rider, the greater the role of fin area in providing either course stability or ease of turning.'

There are inevitable limits to efficient fin area. The bigger a fin, the greater its skin friction, or drag, when the board moves fast over the water. Tom Blake recently warned that fins in general have become too big, for "they hold the rider back when he needs speed to beat a fast break."

In fact, fin areas have noticeably decreased on the popular "gun," or "elephant-gun," boards designed especially for big-wave riding. The gun boards are not only longer, heavier, and narrower (especially toward the tail) than the Malibu or hot-dogging boards, but also their fins are far smaller, more tapered, less obtrusive. They sacrifice the maneuverability suited to smaller, slower waves in a beach-type surf for the speed essential to escape a wipe-out when the white water threatens to pour down from the crests of truly big waves.

A few advanced surfboard designs now permit interchangeable fins and enable the surfer to adapt his board to the particular type of surf awaiting him."
Photo by Dr. Don James. [Rod's Note on the photo (also shown below): Jim Growney provided us this information about this photo, "Makaha – 1962 – Jim Growney about two rockets away from an unidentified surfer on a glass smooth day." Some have said Makaha, others have said Sunset. All good regardless of which break.]
Set III, Know Your Surf:

Wave L - List of Swimming Skills for Surfers pp. 85-87.

From Wave, L: "This section also introduces a most useful supplement to these basic swimming abilities -- a supplement commonly called "swim fins." These can add greatly to ease and enjoyment in mat-surfing, belly-board-surfing, and body-surfing. (Fins are not suitable for full-board surfing.)

What hind of fins for surfing? Anyone about to buy, beg, or borrow a pair of fins for surfing should try to get a pair suited not only to his foot size but also to actual surf conditions. Unless he is a very special case, he will probably do best with rubber fins that are fairly flexible and fairly short.

Long, deeply ribbed, and rigid fins such as trained frogmen wear in TV productions are not suitable for surf. They are tiring because they impose a heavy strain on leg muscles; they are clumsy in a turbulent swash; and they are not suited to the short, sharp sprints the surfer will want to develop for wave take-offs.

A pair of fins whose tips project no longer than 6-1/2 or 7 inches beyond the big toe are best. When checking fins for flexibility, the surfer should note whether or not the fins return to their original shape when releasef from tension. Good surfing fins may be quite "floppy" -- but they shouldn't be "sloppy" in the sense of remaining distorted or bent. And, of course, they should fit snugly but not tightly.

The best all-around surfing fins, in the author's opinion and the opinion of many people he respects, were once made by the Voit Rubber Company and bore the identifying name of the designer, "Owen Churchill, Los Angeles." Regrettably, the past tense is necessary: for some reason this particular model is no longer offered. The same manufacturer makes other fin models, but none nearly so well suited to the surf."
Set IV, First Things First
This section features three parts: Wave M, Making the Most of Surf Mats and Floats; Wave N, Not-Quite-Full-Size Boards; and Wave O, Only a Body to Surf With - But It Suffices. Interestingingly, bodysurfing gets 21 pages of coverage, surf mats get 14 pages and paipo boards get 11 pages.

Wave M, Making the Most of Surf Mats and Floats (excerpts): "Real surf-ridding starts here on a modest but admirable "vehicle." It consists mostly of air, s lightly compressed and retained by a leakproof skin, usually of stout rubberized cotton fabric. Though its appearance probably is familiar, it is known by various names in different surf areas. Sometimes it is called a surf "mattress," sometimes merely a "mat." Along the Atlantic coast it is more likely to be known as a "float." In Australia the fancier name of "surfoplane" is used. And sometimes it is referred to as a "raft."

Many of these mat maneuvers, including a genuine headstand, were shown in photographs taken at Redondo Beach in 1963. They illustrated an article appropriately entitled "Here Come the Matresses" in the first issue of Surfing magazine that year.

Some truly stellar performers have spent substantial parts of their surfing apprenticeship on mats. One instance among many is Bud Browne, now known as the pioneer photographer and producer of major genuine surfing movies. Before he assembled his first cinematic surfing thriller, he had twice won the mat-surfing championship at famed Makaha Beach, on the western shore of the island of Oahu.

Wave N, Not-Quite-Full-Size Boards (excerpts): "Board-surfing begins now in a form somewhat abbreviated but ancient, honorable, and admirable. For here we find the less-than-full-size boards. These are the surf vehicles that lack the size and buoyancy to enable a rider to float entirely free of the water when he paddles, or when he simply rests while waiting for a wave.

Names for such boards differ according to size, shape, and the part of' the world in which they are used. Some common names are "arm boards," "belly boards," "half-boards," "paipo boards" (a Hawaiian name), "kneel boards," and so forth.

The entire family could be called simply "semi-boards." This may be understood as applying to anything from the smallest arm board to the largest kneel board, which in everything but length may resemble rather closely a full-sized foam-plastic surfboard of modern design.

Many readers, like the writer, grew up using the plain old name, "belly board." This can be confusing because some people think that " belly" is a rather vulgar way to refer to the abdomen. However, it means the front part of the human body, extending from the breastbone to the pelvic region. Therefore, it could be said that most riders do "belly" on such boards.

A striking photograph by Dr. Don James, which appears on the jacket of this book and again on p. 56 (shown below), shows four surfers riding at Sunset Beach, on Oahu. Three stand on full boards. Above them rides the fourth, on a paipo semi-board. He is at the moment above and behind the full boards. Yet a few moments later he may be farther down the wave than his companions, for his board is small and, above all, swift. Surfers call a slow board "mushy." There's nothing mushy about a paipo or a modern belly board when it is handled by a master.

Another of' Dr. James' great surfing photographs on page 110 (see below) reveals a basic secret of paipo speed under big-wave conditions -- once again at Hawaii's famed Sunset Beach. The paipo rider's body is completely clear of the water. He has arched his body like a swan-diver, so that his legs and even the fins on his feet ride clear of the surface. The speed of his slide is marked by the wake of white foam leading all the way back to the peak.

Small as his board is -- and its thin forward edge is easily seen -- it is skimming so fast that not over two thirds of its undersurface is actually in contact with the water. It seems almost as though it might take off and fly fully free of the wave. The rider's reason for angling to his right is clear. The peak from which he shot downward lies to his left, and already the crest from that peak has spilled down the wave front a distance as great as the paipoboardsman has descended, but it is safely separated from him. (His gesture of exuberance -- lifting his left arm -- is not essential to his sliding form. It's more like the traditional hat-holding gesture of rodeo riders, who seem to be fanning the ears of their bucking steeds.)

The weight of a modern belly or paipo semi-board thus may be held to as little as 7 to 10 pounds, and that of a larger kneel board to around 12 or 14 pounds.

Here again we see the great lightness and buoyancy of new foam plastic materials. A 10-pound semi-board of such construction, including a protective fiberglass and resin jacket plus a fin of suitable size, should be capable of supporting about 75 or 80 pounds additional weight before it is forced under the surface of the sea. A 14-pound semiboard should support correspondingly greater added weight. Yet the board's inherent buoyancy is not the main factor that enables it to uphold most or even all the body weight of its rider during the swiftest part of his ride. The main factor is the hydroplaning effect created as the bottom of the board slides over the water.

On page 113 (see below), this effect is seen again in another classic photograph by Dr. James, also taken at Sunset Beach. The paipo board (right) appears to be about three quarters out of the water as it and also the standard surfboard (left) slide in a race to escape the mountainous white water.

Since speed is so essential in surfing on big, steep waves, the subject of hydroplane action deserves closer consideration.

Hydroplane action in board-surfing. Recent years have taught millions what wonders of weight-carrying can be accomplished by small wood or metal surfaces if they are forced to move fast enough through water. The swiftly growing sport of water-skiing supplies the best known instances. A heavy water skier, plus a "passenger" posing ornamentally on his shoulders, may ride on a single ski of moderate size, provided it and they are pulled along at sufficient speed. The ski may be formed of aluminum or iron. It need not float. In action, its hydroplane "lift," not its buoyancy, does the work.

From Piraeus, the port of Athens, Greece, to Aegina, Ydra, and other history-rich islands of the Aegean Sea, passengers now ride a motor vessel with metal fins, or hydroplanes. mounted below its hull. At sufficient speed, the entire heavy vessel simply rises above the blue sea waters, supported entirely on these small hydroplane surfaces.

Similar effects are at work when a semi-board moves fast enough over the water. The surf mat is, so to speak, the balloon of surfing vehicles. Thanks to its great buoyancy, it floats and bears weight, motionless or moving. The semi-board, however, is more like the airplane. It generates lift as a result of its motion.

Conceivably, a semi-board could be built of a heavy solid, dense enough to sink in sea water if not otherwise supported. It would not be a very practical piece of hardware, for it would often be lost to its rider and he would have to turn diver in an effort to recover it. However, even such a board, with its negative rather than positive buoyancy, could provide strong lifting effect if properly handled during a swift surfing ride.

Speed through the water is what makes the difference. For a deeper understanding of surfin g, both on semi-boards and full-sized boards, let us consider the subject of speed. [Editor's Note: see the text of the document to read more.]

The modern paipo board and its somewhat larger cousin, the kneel board, show notably less surface friction in the water than do full-size boards. A full plastic-foam surfboard may have as much as 10 to 15 square feet wet at the slow start of a ride. Its fin, which has two sides in the water, may add to the total a full square foot or even a bit more.

In contrast, a modern paipo or belly-style semi-board probably has no more than 5 square feet in the water, and its small fin presents not more than half a square foot additional surface. The somewhat larger kneel board is likely to tot al no more than about 7 square feet of surface in the water, including fin.

When big surf runs and waves break fast, the smaller resistance of the semi-boards may give them that extra speed which makes the difference between a narrow escape, followed by a getaway -- or a wipeout.

Considerations such as this make it ridiculous to regard all semiboards as if they were simply "kids tuff." It is a fact, however, that their use at this time is relatively limited on the beaches of the continental United States. They come into their own more definitely under conditions found especially at great surfing areas of the Hawaiian Islands. However, signs of a belly-board "revival" appear rather distinctly now on the surfing horizon.

Many paipo or kneel boards are in important respects smaller examples of the construction used in full-size surfboards. Some of the best are even reinforced with a wooden stringer and are jacketed with as many as two layers of fiberglass fabric. However, any engineer knows that the breaking and twisting stresses are far smaller in boards 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 feet long than in those 8 to 10 feet long. Semi-boards of whatever material are relatively stronger (as well as lighter and smaller) than full boards of comparable proportions.
Overall observation
First, it should be noted that the author is a mat rider. Klein does a great job of covering the "world of surfing" organized in sets of waves, e.g., Set I is Preliminaries and Set II is Reviewing the Past. Set II includes 4 "waves" including Captain Cook Encounters Surfing and Dark Days Almost Wipe Out Surfing. Throughout the book the author emphasizes safety and fun.

You have to love the term Klein uses for hard surface wave riding boards that are not meant to be ridden stand-up style:
not-quite-full-size boards, less-than-full-size boards, semi-board or half-boards. Nonetheless, the most frequently used terms for these boards are belly board and paipo. It appears that whenever there is a reference to bellyboarding in Hawaii the term paipo is used.

Klein makes an interesting use of mathematics in discussing board displacements and fin (skeg) surfaces.

Of special note, Kleim mentions a hasake, an Israeli life guard's boat that is also used for waveriding but much smaller than a standard boat - more akin to an old style paddleboard or a stand-up paddleboard, but larger.

Krauss, B. H. 1993. Plants in Hawaiian culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Cover page and excerpt from Ch. 8, Games and Sports and an appendix, Description of Plants
Chapter 8 contains a two page discussion of the role of plants, i.e., the two principal trees used in the building of surfboards, the alaia and olo. Much of this section is taken from Surfing, the sport of Hawaiian kings, by Finney and Houston (1966).

See the
Description of Plants for more information on the koa and wiliwili trees used in the building of the alaia and olo boards, respectively.

Kreeft, P. 2008. I surf, therefore I am: A philosophy of surfing. South Bend, Ind: St. Augustine's Press.
Click here for  the Cover page & Contents and a Brief Introduction.
This book makes many claims but for me comes across as a cross between pop culture and pseudo philosophy with a surfing connection. The advertisement reads something like this: "This is the first book about surfing ever written by a philosopher." and "It gives ten compelling existential reasons why everyone should surf: reasons from the great philosophers: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus, Machiavelli, Freud, and George Morey. It explains how surfing is the easiest and most delightful way in the world to attain what you most deeply long for, for it can make you good, mystical, peaceful, wise, heavenly, happy, sexy, and even rich." Huh? The most intriguing aspect of this book is that it "contains a manifesto defending bodyboarding as true surfing, not “sponging.” Huh? Bodyboarding needs a manifesto defending the sport? Originally, I had read about "the bodyboarding manifesto" and thought this would be interesting, but a "defense?" NOT. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines manifesto as "a public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions, especially of a political nature."

No doubt the author is an accomplished scholar. Nonethelss this book comes up short except for a tidbit quoting Jack London's experience with surfing. "Like love, stoke is both indefinable and irresistible. Your first wave will hook you forever, like a fish. Listen to the classic account of how it happened to Jack London in Hawaii:
One after another they came, a mile long, with smoking crests ... these bull-mouthed monsters, and they weigh a thousand tons, and they charge into shore faster than a man can run . . .. I watched the little Kanaka boys. When a likely-looking breaker came along, they flopped upon their stomachs on their boards, kicked like mad with their feet, and rode the breaker into the beach. I tried to emulate them. I watched them, tried to do everything that they did, and failed utterly. The breaker swept past and I was not on it ... away the little rascals would scoot while I remained in disgust behind. I tried for a solid hour, and not one wave could I persuade to boost me shoreward.
Then, finally, at the end of the day, Jack caught his first wave, and (in his own words)
.. . from that moment I was lost." (See pages 16 and 17.)
A Defense of Bodyboarding: A Manifesto. Read it yourself and draw your own conclusions. I could quote excerpts but that would not do justice. For me it is a mixed bag.

Kuhns, G. W. 1963. On surfing. Rutland, Vt: C.E. Tuttle Co.
Title page and Contents
In the Foreward, Kuhns writes, "As a sport, surfing has no set of rules. In fact, the term "surfing" is nebulous in the respect that it is never quite clear as to what type of action constitutes the performance of the sport. What is considered surfing by one person may not be considered surfing by another.

Perhaps it should be made clear to the non-surfer that surfing does, however, entail more than j ust riding a wave to shore while standing on a surfboard. To say that the object of surfing is merely to ride a wave to shore would be like saying the object of a bull fight is simply to kill the bull. If this were true, it would be difficult to understand why the matador does not use a rifle from the press box. Actually, the test of the matador is how he kills the bull; and the test of the surfer is how he rides the wave."

The author writes, "It is the author's intention that this book should not only furnish the general information through which the reader may become acquainted with a new and remarkable sport, but that it will help establish in the surfer the skill and knowledge through which he will gain the maxirnurn satisfaction from the sport by making the wavemore a servant than a master."
Ch. 1, An Introduction to Surfing

Kuhns treats bodysurfing and paipo boarding as evolutionary steps to riding a surfboard while standing erect: "We can only theorize as to how the sport of sliding down a wave while standing on a somewhat buoyant object developed. Perhaps the idea was first conceived by some obscure islander as he watched driftwood being washed ashore; or, perhaps, the idea evolved from swimming to body-surfing to belly-boarding until, finally, the surfer was standing erect. It is quite understandable, though, that such a sport would be conceivedby a fun-loving and adventurous race of people such as the Polynesians."

There are no other discussions or photographs of paipo/bellyboarding.

  • belly-board: a small board used in body surfing to add buoyancy and maneuverability to the participant; usually a board that is less than three feet in length; sometimes a skim board.
  • skim boord: small rectangular or disk-shaped board, usually plywood, used to skim over the shallow water washed up the beach from the force of the wave; belly board.
Overall observation
An introductory book on surfing with scant mention of other forms of wave riding. The term "paipo" never appears throughout the book and the bellyboard and skim board are mostly treated as one and the same.

Lord, Lindsay. 1963. Naval architecture of planing hulls. Cambridge, Md: Cornell Maritime Press.
Cover page and Contents
Various comments and excerpts follow:
  • Convex forward sections can eliminate pounding. (See p. 4.)
  • While increasing speeds require the displacement hull to become progressively narrower, the planing hull moving at high speed requires the widest possible beam. (From the first part of Ch. 2, Aspect Ratios, see pp. 11-16.)
  • To simplify still further, the displacement hull can improve its speed only with added length; the planing hull requires added beam. (see pp. 12-13.)
  • "The first step toward such standardization of beam-length relationship must, of course, be an acceptable method of measurement which can he applied to all planing hulls with equal success. Such a measurement of the beam-length ratio is shown in Figure 4."  (see p. 13 and also see figure 4 below from p. 12.)

  • All of these characteristics show proportionate improvement in successively wider bottoms up to aspect ratio .4,  at which point wave-making resistance in rough water ceases to decline with the higher aspect ratio and begins to show an increase. While this fact rules out aspect ratios .5 and .6, as suitable shapes for seagoing bottoms, it is significant to note their continued decrease in total resistance for smooth-water operation." (see p. 15 and also see figure 7 below from p. 16.)

[Rod's Note: My two Austin boards have an aspect ratio of roughly .39, within the broad optimal range of .30 and .50 shown in the figure above.]

  • Limiting factors and speed-length ratios -- general observations: (1) Canoe-shaped sterns will have begun to settle, and the application of increased power will only increase the draft, even to the point of outright sinkage. (2) Flat buttocks ending at a broad stern form the characteristic hull shape fostering the tendency to lift and plane. Therefore, in that critical range of speed-length ratios between, say, 1.6 and 2.0, the hull with straight running lines and wide bearing aft will resist sinkage. Instead, it will lift and the flow beneath the hull will continue its laminar pattern for some distance aft of the hull. (3) At low speed-length ratios, even the planing hull is actually operating as a displacement craft and is therefore subject to the laws of bodies submerged at the surface. As such, its lines of flow are, at best, poorly shaped for low resistance at low speeds. However, some inefficiency at low speeds is a necessary corollary of any hull operating outside thescope of its fundamental design. (From the first part of Ch. 3, Speed Ratios, see pp. 21-23.)
  • The curve of identical speed in knots has been inserted to give graphic illustration of how the wider hulls, having greater lift, tend to get up and plane at appreciably lower speeds than narrower hulls. And also, "However, the shape of this rough-water curve clearly indicates that bottoms wider than an aspect ratio of around .4 begin to suffer fromthe impact of plunging head-on into steep waves." (From the later part of Ch. 3, Speed Ratios, see p. 30.)
  • In order thnt a plane shall have as nearly perfect monohedral relationship to the water as possible, it is necessary that a maximum of itsrunning lines shall be straight and parallel with each other.  (From the later part of Ch. 6, Lines, see pp. 71-72.) The figure also shows nose scoop, a concave bottom and twin keels.
Overall observation
An advanced, techical book on the theory and practice of designing high speed planing hulls. A hard-to-find book, which is unfortunate, since a novice like myself can not digest everything in one sitting and 2 weeks via InterLibrary Loan is simply not enough time to read, think, read again, think some more, talk... well, you get the picture. The book is available for $100 or more via Internet book buying/selling services.

Margan, F., &  Ben R. Finney. 1970. A pictorial history of surfing. Sydney: Hamlyn.
Cover page, Note and Contents
The title is a bit misleading. The title should probably be something more like this: A Pictorial and Narrative History of Australian Surfing, Its Roots and Influences. The book features tons of figures ranging from 18th century engravings to modern color photographs, from bodysurfing and boat surfing to modern shortboarding (ca 1970). The first couple of chapters cover the early beginnings of the waveriding sport and throughout the remaining chapters are bits and pieces of surfing from around the world [Finney]. However, this book is really a history of Australian surfing, and the factors influencing its development and how Austrialia externally influenced surfing, mostly countries of the former British empire [Margan]. There is a considerable amount of narrative and photographs dedicated to the documentation of the early beginnings of beach bathing and the formation and spread of the surf life saving movement.

The narrative and figures do not flow together (disjointed). Read the pictorial and narrative stories separately - you will never be able to match them up as you turn the pages.
Pages 13- 24 from ch. 1, Surfing's Hawaiian Past and ch. 2, and Surfing's 18th Century Peak.
"Three main ways have been developed to surf such waves: body-surfing, canoe surfing and surfboarding. Surfboarding was in ancient times and is again today the most popular, spectacular and exciting of the three. Kneeling or lying prone on a surfboard, the surfer uses his hands and arms to paddle out to where the surf peaks. Just before it breaks. he paddles before a moving wave until he has enough speed and the wave's slope is steep enough for him to slide free. The surfer then stands and manoeuvres the board with his body weight and footwork to stay at the edge of the breaking wave, darting in and out of its curling edge as he surfs toward shore.

The first step in developing this form of surfing may have been the discovery by a swimmer that a wooden plank held before a breaking wave was a handy device for speedily returning to shore. Such a discovery could have led to the simplest form of surfing -- belly-board surfing -- using a short board held against the belly or chest to ride prone on a wave. Because of its simplicity, belly-boarding may easily have been invented many times and at many places around the world, but there are only two areas where it was widely practised before modern times: along the shores of West Africa from Senegal to Nigeria, and along the beaches and reefs fringing the many islands of the Pacific. African surfing seems to have been independently developed by the water-loving Africans living along the Atlantic shores of that continent, though it never seems to have evolved much further than belly-boarding, or to have spread to other peoples.

Although it is impossible to say exactly when man first began to surf in the Pacific, the wide distribution of the sport throughout the islands of this vast ocean indicates a considerable antiquity for the sport. It probably dates as far back as three or four thousand years ago when the ancestors of the present-day Pacific Islanders were sailing from the shores of South Asia and surrounding archipelagos out into the Pacific to discover and settle new lands.

Practically everywhere these maritime people settled -- from, for example, the north coast of New Guinea to tiny Easter Island off the South American coast -- there is evidence of a presumably ancient surfing tradition. Surfing skills varied among the Pacific Island populations, however. Along the shores of New Guinea and the other islands of Melanesia, and on the islands of Micronesia and those of the western half of Polynesia, surfing remained in the simple belly-boarding stage. Boards were usually just a few feet long -- only big enough to allow a surfer to ride prone -- and typically only children and youths surfed. It was among the main islands of East Polynesia -- New Zealand, Tahiti, the Marquesas and Hawaii -- that  longer boards were developed and the sport became something more than just a casual recreation of the younger set. In Tahiti, for example, the first explorers found that Tahitians of all ages and social classes were enthusiastic and skilful surfers, and that mature men and women prided themselves on their surfing prowess. Captain William Bligh was able to watch Tahitian surfing first-hand when he anchored the Bounty at Matavai Bay on his ill-fated expedition to gather breadfruit in Tahiti, and wrote the following description of Tahitian surfing in his log:
'The heavy surf which has run on the shore for a few days past has given great amusement to many of the Natives, but is such as one would suppose would drown any European. The general plan of this diversion is for a number of them to advance with their paddles to where the Sea begins to break and placing the broad part under the Belly holding the other end with their Arms extended full length, they turn themselves to the surge and balancing themselves on the Paddles are carried to the shore with the greatest rapidity.'
Although it is not clear from Bligh's description how large the Tahitian boards, or 'paddles' as he called them, were, or in which position the Tahitians rode their boards, another early observer indicates that Tahitian surfing was considerably advanced in terms of boards and riding positions. James Morrison, the boatswain's mate on the Bounty who was stranded for several years on Tahiti after the mutineers took over the ship and sailed away to exile on Pitcairn Island, makes it clear in his description of Tahitian surfing that boards might be longer than a few feet in length, and that a few of the Tahitian experts were able to stand at least momentarily on their boards. These Tahitian surfing experts had their counterparts among the men who excelled at surfing in New Zealand and the Marquesas island groups where a similar trend toward the development of larger boards and more sophisticated surfing techniques was evident. But none of the Polynesian surfers from south of the Equator could ever have challenged the surfing champions of Hawaii who rode standing up on full-size surfboards and mastered the waves as no othe Polynesians or other Pacific Islanders ever had."
Selected figures from pp. 22-25, ch. 2, Surfing's 18th Century Peak.

Three Ways of Surfing: Standing, Prone and
Sitting (kneeling not portrayed in this figure)

Three Women Bellyboarding in the Surf
(note that they appear to be women, not children)

Hawaiian Woman Riding a Paipo Board
The book's caption reads, "An early painting of an Hawaiian girl riding a surlboard in the pre-missionary days"

Pgs. 44, 47, on surfboard types from Hawaii's past.
"A surfboard was a papa he`e nalu, a 'plank for wave-sliding', and the surfer had two main types of board to choose from, the short, thin alaia, and the long, narrow, olo. Each, as we shall see, was adapted to a particular type of surf and demanded a particular style of surfing.

As the first migrants to Hawaii, and their Hawaii-born descendants, began to concentrate their sporting energy on surfing, they developed boards that were larger and more finely designed than the short, simple bellyboards used elsewhere in Polynesia and the Pacific. They evolved the first true surfboards that allowed riders to stand and manoeuvre at will on the slope of a wave. The two main types of Hawaiian surfboards, the alaia and the olo, were thus the result of hundreds of years of experimentation and testing by generations of Hawaiians to develop boards suited for maximum performance in the surfing breaks around their islands.

The alaia boards remained closest to the original belly-boards in that they were fairly short, thin and probably could not fully support a rider until the board was planing on a wave. An average alaia board was perhaps six to eight feet long, fourteen to eighteen inches wide and an inch or so thick. The nose was usually wide and rounded. and the sides tapered towards a squared-off tail. In cross-section, both decks were apparently convex, meeting with narrow and sometimes sharp siderails.

Although some observers reported olo boards twenty-four feet in length, most were probably in the fourteen to eighteen-foot range."
Selected figures from pp. 137 & 138.
Surf mats were called "surf floats" in 1930s Australia.

Selected figures from pp. 152, 153, 154, 156, 224 and 309, looslely from the chapter, Styles of Riding

The first board riders outside California to try out the Malibu took it easily.

With a flipper to get momentum, a belly board -- a very short version of the Malibu -- proves highly menoeuvreable in good surfs.

A sight not often seen, body surfer and belly board rider on the same wave. The beaches of the world have become so crowded, board riders and body surfers are today in separate areas.

There's a crash coming, Two winter surfers get their lines crossed.

Screaming across the face of the wave on a belly board makes for exhilarating riding. [Rod's Note: This photo is also seen in Surfabout 2(6). The photo is of Leigh Tingle.]

Two belly board riders having fun as they skip down the face of a wave at Cronulla Point, N.S.W.

Trapped inside, a surfer about to go over the 'falls', while Ken Williams drops down the face of a big wave at Cronulla Point, N.S.W. [Editor: Looks like the paipo rider is in a critical position for a good ride if not for the longboarder dropping-in.]
Bonus Figure, p 167.
You won't find one of these on your paipo board!
Glossary of Terms, pp. 313-319. [PDF, 3.5MB]
Interesting notes: The terms bellyboard and bodyboard are not listed. However, "paipo board" is listed -- although this term is not used anywhere else in the book -- and defined as "a small bellyboard used in theHawaiian Islands."
Overall observation
This is a well-written book that includes two major parts, a history of the ancient sport of surfing (Finney) and a history of surfing in Australia (Margan). The Australian history provides an in-depth description of the sport's early beginnings, including the groundbreaking surf bathing (swimming), previously taboo during daylight hours, the beginnings and evolution of the surf life saving movements and its spread to other areas of the British Empire. The book has a huge collection of pictures of surf dories, surf skis and surf shooters (bodysurfers). Although published in 1970, the book has scant coverage of the shortboard movement.

Martin, Mary L. 2008. The ultimate collector's guide to surfing postcards. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub.
Title page and Contents
[PDF] and Introductory Chapters

Of special interest on pp. 4 and 5 are narrative and figure examples for dating postcards.
From the collection of photographs

Shown below is one example of the postcards related to paipo boarding. References to other figures follow below.
  • p. 08, "Some fun riding the waves here." This postcard pictures six boys standing next to their boards in Ocean City, New Jersey. The postcard is categorized as Pre-1940. Note the handles on the front of the boards for holding on as you ride the wave.
  • p. 12, "Famous Surf Riders." This is a variation on the famous figure of a surfer holding an alaia with Diamondhead in the background. This variation also features a rider standing while riding the crest of the wave near the shore. It is dated as Pre-1920.
  • p. 21, "Diamond Head and Surf Board Riding." This postcard is a common one seen with boys riding the shorebreak and others in the waters preparing to mount waves with Diamondhead in the background. It is dated as Pre-1920. Also see Paipos in the Media: Postcards.
  • p. 24, "Surf Board Riding. Cottages at Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, N.C." Shows a row of riders riding a breaking wave. It is dated as Pre-1940. Also see Also see Paipos in the Media: Postcards, "Bodyboarding North Carolina, ca. 1920s."
  • p. 25, "Pre 1940" (Surfing at Polzeath) and "Surf Bathing, Droskyn Point, Perranporth" [Cornwall, England, UK]. They are dated as Pre-1940. Also see Also see Paipos in the Media: Postcards, "Bodyboarding England, 1920s."
  • p. 28, "Surf riding at Waikiki, Honolulu." and "Surf Board Riding, Hawaii." They are dated as Pre-1930. Also see Also see Paipos in the Media: Postcards, "Surf Riding at Waikiki, Honolulu (ca. 1910-1915)."
  • p. 29, "Waikiki Beach by Moonlight." It is dated as Pre-1915. Also see Also see Paipos in the Media: Postcards, "Paipo Board Riding in Honolulu, ca. 1915."
Overall observation
Very nice collection of surfing postcards.

Motil, Guy. 2007. Surfboards. Guilford, Conn: Falcon Guides.  
Cover page and description

This is a large format coffee table style book on surfing and surfboards. The book features great photos of boards old and new, e.g., the hot curl. It is a shame that cameos of paipo boards and bellyboards are not included from the early days to the present. The book includes a two-page spread on the George Greenough spoon.
p. 22, on the early start of Motils' surfing experience
"I set about trying to talk Mom and Dad into buying a new surfboard. I was lucky, my parents were pretty cool by early '60s standards and soon my brother Gary and I werethe proud owners of a surfboard and a belly-board."
Overall observation
Nice book of surfing boards and photos but nothing of driving interest for the paipo brotherhood.

Muirhead, Desmond. 1962. Surfing in Hawaii: A personal memoir. Flagstaff, Az: Northland Press.
Title and Table of Contents
Book description: "First printing. This book interweaves a history of surfing on Hawaii with an account of his learning how to surf himself. While not a 'how-to" book, it includes a lot of helpful information on philosophy, technique, wipe-outs, choosing a board, and dealing with "The Big Surf." It also includes notes on Australia, California, Peru, and other surfing countries. Thirty-seven full-page black and white photographs, most by Dr. Don James , but a few by Muirhead himself. Small oblong format, measuring approximately 6 1/4 inches tall by 9 inches wide. Two appendices on California and Australian surfing beaches. Shortly after publishing this book, Muirhead went on to become one of the most influential and innovative golf course designers in the world; he is responsible for coining the term "golf course community" where the golf course shapes the development around it, and he emphasized the beauty and vistas which unfold on the golf course both for those using it, but also from the roads winding past it."
Pages 1, 2 & 10, Ch. 1, History of Surfing in Hawaii
"Surfing is a very old sport, so old that its actual beginning cannot be traced. In ancient Polynesia there was no written language, since both history and legend were handed down by word of mouth from parents to their children. This exchange was usually in the form of chants which were called meles in Hawaii. There is ample evidence, from the many references in these chants, that the art of surf-riding was one of the most widespread of the Polynesian sports, practiced in one form or another throughout the Pacific region, from New Zealand to Hawaii, and from Easter sland to New Guinea."

"On most of the Islands of Oceania, the boards used for surfing were small, less than five feet long, and the modern practice indicates that these would not support a man other than in the prone position; they were merely a gradation above what we call body surfing boards today. It is significant that boards greater than five feet in length were found only in New Zealand, Tahiti, and Hawaii, and it is  in Hawaiian chants alone that we find frequent reference to the positions of sitting, kneeling, and standing on the boards, as the surfers rode down the surfaces of the advancing waves."

"Sophia Cracroft and Lady Franklyn, the widow of the famous Arctic explorer, visited the Kona coast with Kalakaua just before he ascended the throne. In her letters to her family in England, Miss Cracroft describes a surfing meet. It is obvious from the text that Kalakaua had already started his campaign to revive Hawaiian sports and customs."

"At twelve we started in our litters to a bay a little way below this, to see some surf riding." And, "We alighted at a very nice native house belonging to a chief of the lower grade, a very good looking man whom Mr. Kalakaua had introduced to us yesterday. He is an excellent surf rider and joined in the succeeding sports, which was also witnessed by a great number of people belonging to the village, who clustered all round the house. I fear that I can hardly give you a correct idea of surf-riding but I will try."

[Description of riding paipo and erect style.] "A man or woman swims out to the line of breakers, having before him a thin board from 4 to 6 feet long and about 15 inches wide; this in swimming he carries before him with one arm, swimming with the other.The curling waves are nothing·to these swimmers - they either dive under them or ride up the face of the liquid wall and appear on the top of, or behind it. They choose their wave according to its height and the direction it will take in reaching the shore, and then instead of facing it they turn about, place the surfboard immediately in front, rise to the crest of the wave, and literally ride upon it with extended limbs until it has spent itself upon the beach. But if they perceive that it will cast itself against the rocks, then  they turn around again and stop short. It is a really wonderful sight, and some are so expert that during their flying progress they can spring upright on the surfboard and come in erect! We saw one man do this."
Page14, Ch. 2, Surfing in Modern Times
[Alaia and olo boards; alaia used for body surfing.] "The ancient Hawaiians used two types of  boards, the alaia (thin) board and the olo (thick) board. The alaia was used for body surfing but the olo might be 20 feet long and weigh 180 pounds. Large boards were needed to hold 400 pound chieftains. Boards were made from koa, the sickle-leaved Hawaiian acacia, from the breadfruit and from other species. The chiefs often had boards of a light, balsa-like wood called wili-wili, a Pacific relative of the Tiger's Claw, the symbolic tree of India."
Page106, Ch. 10, Larry Goes Fishing and Pupukea
[Bodysurfing and paipo boarding affinity. Could also be a reference to a hand board.] "After wipe-outs at Pupukea and other big wave beaches you will get plenty of opportunity to body surf, a form of entertainment much practised at Makapuu on the other side of Hawaii Kai where many enthusiasts use a small board and swim finsto help them."
Overall observation
Use of the term, "body surfing boards." Alaia boards for riding prone-style aka "body surfing." The book made scant use of footnotes and did not contain a bibliography.

Nelson, William Desmond. 1973. Surfing; a handbook. Philadelphia: Auerbach Publishers.
Cover, Title and Contents

Excerpt from Ch. 4, "The Surfboard," on  displacement and planing hulls

Special interest to note: "This book is dedicated to the weekend surfer." Despite this humble dedication this book provides quite a bit of technical information that is useful to the everyday accomplished waverider and the novice weekend warrior.

In pages 29-35, there is a good discussion on displacement and planing hulls taken from the author's interpretation of Lord Lindsay's Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls. Snippets follow:
"In the water, a surfboard has two different states, or personalities. It can be a displacement hull or a planing hull, or it can be a combination of the two. Most of the time it is a displacement hull... ." [p.29]

"When a surfboard is a displacement hull it is like a tugboat or an ocean liner. As the board floats, or moves at paddling speed in the water, it supports itself and the surfer with its buoyancy."

"Neglecting the weight of the board, a surfboard with a volume of two cubic feet can support a surfer weighing 120 pounds, and a board with a volume of three cubic feet can support a surfer weighing 180 pounds. If the 180-pound surfer lies on the two-cubic-foot board, the board will sink until 60 pounds of the surfer is underwater, while the remaining 120 pounds stays above the surface... This is the reason why getting a conventional, short knee board out to the break is such hard work You really don't paddle it out; you swim it out." [pp.29-30]

The Surfboard as a Planing Hull.
"The other state, or personality, of a surfboard is that of a planing hull. Planing is something we see outboard motorboats, fast yachts, and Navy P.T. boats do when they are going fast. The hull of the boat rises out of the water, the bow sticks up more than the stern, and the boat seems to skim on top of the water. A water ski is a good example of a planing hull. A water skier is entirely supported by planing action." [p.32]

"A displacement hull is a very limited thing. It can support only as much as it displaces, and it cannot go fast because the water around it resists being pushed aside quickly. On the other hand, a planing hull is a much freer thing, in that it can go as fast as you dare push it, and it will carry a wide range of weights, which depend on speed, planing area, planing width, planing angle, and drag."

"Instead of gliding through the water and pushing it to one side, a planing hull rides on top of the water and at a slight (2- to 5- degree) angle to the surface of the water."

"An important characteristic of the planing state is that the water does not close in around the stern of the hull or the tail of the surfboard. The water leaves as soon as it can disengage itself from the trailing edges (see Fig. 4-3), and closes in after it leaves the trailing edges... The sharper the trailing edges the more easily the water disengages and the lesser the drag. The water will not want to wrap around a sharp corner, but it will want to wrap around a blunt, or large-radius trailing edge. For this reason you will find that most surfboards have hard, down rails in the tail. (Please understand that I am talking about the rail shape and not whether the board has a round tail, pin tail, or square tail.)"
Nelson makes the observation on page 35, "Surfboard buoyancy is the single most important factor for the average surfer." [Note: even moreso for the average East Coast surfer.]
Excerpt from Ch. 13, "Technical Aspects of  Surfing," on  displacement and planing hulls
The importance of size...
"As I got into the writing of this book... Only two surfing publications show any understanding of the mechanics of planing. John Kelly's book, Surf and Sea, has an interesting chapter on the design of Hawaiian guns and semi-guns, in which he covers rail shapes and the use of a step. H. Arthur Klein's book on Surfing mentions hydroplaning in relation to paipos." [p.145]

"Other books, as well as the magazines, will tell what various experts think happens and what is supposed to happen. But none of them tell you why. Knowing why didn't matter until the small boards appeared and swept the market."
  • belly board - A small (3- to 4-foot) board used to ride waves on your belly; same as a paipo [p.219]
  • paipo - See belly board [p.223]
Overall observation
The index does not include entries for belly board or paipo. Excellent book for its time; the years and decades have not diminished its relevancy. Errata note: This book has information geared specifically to the East Coast USA surfer. Not surprising since Nelson is also from the East Coast.

Nodaway, Max. 1908. Rollo in Hawaii. Chicago: Thompson & Thomas.
Title page

"A Tale of thrilling adventures, amid Volcanoes, fire fountains and tropical wonderlands; into which is woven a vivid description of those mystic Isles, where fire and water have built up a delirium of chaos and beauty." -- t.p.

Note the paipo rider on the bottom right of the cover for this book. Maybe the earliest book cover which features, or includes, a paipo rider?

pp. 30-32
Some context for the cover appears on these pages:
Now we're off for Waikiki and a surf ride. ... Now let us go surf-riding like the Kanakas. See, there's a heavy swell coming into the bay. [p.30]

On reaching the cocoanut groves of the shore, they found Kalani, a gray-headed Hawaiian, with an out-rigger canoe, about to start out fishing. He supplied them with surf-boards and paddled them out to where the breakers were rolling the highest. Two Kanaka boys, about twelve years of age, accompanied them. "Why, the surf boards are very much like my mother's ironing board," said Rollo. "I always thought they were miniature canoes." [pp. 30-31]

Well, I guess a surf-board beats a sea horse and all the other water craft for difficulty to handle. Ah! there go the little heathens and Barney, too, plunk into the sea, and breast down on their boards. Here's a big roller; it breaks! and they're off right in front of it! Hurray!"  [p. 31]
Notable takeaways include: (1) the board riders paddled out and caught waves in a good-sized swell in Waikiki sans swim fins, (2) the boards were ridden "breast down," or prone, and (3) boards were betweenn 4 to five feet long ("like my mother's ironing board").

p. 107

A surf--board and and outrigger canoe.

Note: The surfboard pictured above appears to be an alaia-style surfboard intended for foot, knee or prone riding.

Overall observation
Maybe the earliest book cover which features, or includes, a paipo rider?

Nordhoff, Charles. (1873, August). Hawaii-Nei. Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 47(279), 382-402.
Cover and Contents
[PDF], first page of the article,

 and Introductory Chapters


There are two parts to this article, Hawaii-Nei and Hawaii-Nei II, published in successive months, August and September, 1873. Timothy DeLaVega notes in 200 Years of Surfing Literature, that only part one described surfing. DeLaVega also notes that the woodblock, "Surf Bathing," is attributed to Commander William Bainbridge Hoff, of the flagship California.

p. 399 engraving

The engraving clearly shows two surf riders on alaia sized boards, one paddling beyond the breakers and the other riding over the top of a wave in a prone position. It can not be determined from the engraving alone whether the rider intended to ride prone or stand-up. A third surf swimmer is showed separated from his board in a position that would suggest he was pushing his board through the wave while paddling out.

p. 402, surfing is described

In the last page of the article, the author describes surfing:

"where you can see a truly royal sport--the surf-board." Continuing, "The surf-board is a tough plank about two feet wide and from six to twenty feet long..." [Rod's Note: Which would easily describe an alaia board and maybe an ono board.]

"...muscular natives swim out to the first line of breakers, and, watching their chance to duck under this, make their way finally, by the help of the under-tow, into the smooth water far off beyond all the surf."
[Rod's Note: Hence the use of the term "surf swimming." Also note the use of rip tides to aid in paddling out to what we now call the line-up position.]

Continuing, "Here they bob up and down on the swell like so many ducks, watching their opportunity. What they seek is a very high swell, before which they place themselves, lying or kneeling on the surf-board. The great wave dashes onward, but as its bottom strikes the ground, the top, unretarded in its speed and force, breaks into a huge comber, and directly before this the surf-board swimmer is propelled with a speed which we timed and found to exceed forty miles per hour. In fact, he goes like lightning, always just ahead of the breaker, and apparently down hill, propelled by the vehement impulse of the roaring wave behind him, yet seeming to have a speed and motion of his own." [Emphasis added.] [
Rod's Note: Also appears to describe an alaia-style board ridden at an angle to the face of the wave rather mostly straight in on a gradually sloping wave as an ono board would be ridden.]

"They look, kneeling or lying on their long surf-boards, more like some curious and swift-swimming fish-like dolphins racing, as it seemed to me-than like men."

"Occasionally a man would stand erect upon his surf-board, balancing himself in the boiling water without apparent difficulty."

"The surf-board play is one of the ancient sports of Hawaii. I am told that few of the younger generation are capable of it, and that it is thought to require great nerve and coolness even among these admirable swimmers, and to be not without danger."
Overall observation
In this article the author documents surf riders lying, kneeling, and occasionally standing erect. The surf-boards are described as being long (6 to 20 foot) and the riders are called "surf-board swimmers." Also note the engraving is titled, "Surf Bathing."

[Is this article referred to in the YouTube comment about a white man?]

Olivares, José de, and William Smith Bryan. 1899. Our islands and their people as seen with camera and pencil. St. Louis: N.D. Thompson Pub. Co.
Title page [JPG]. No Table of Contents seen.

Full title: Our islands and their people as seen with camera and pencil; introduced by Major-General Joseph Wheeler. With special descriptive matter and narratives by José de Olivares. Edited and arranged by William S. Bryan. Photographs by Walter B. Townsend. Two volumes. Issued in 24 parts. Number of pages: 776.

Description: "Embracing perfect photographic and descriptive representations of the people and the islands lately acquired from Spain, including Hawaii and the Philippines; also their material resources and productions, homes of the people, their customs and general appearance, with many hundred views of landscapes, rivers, valleys, hills and mountains, so complete as to practically transfer the islands and their people to the pictured page."

Other Islands include Cuba, Puerto Rico, Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam (?). A quite facinating read for myself having been raised in Puerto Rico, in addition to the coverage of Hawaii and the other island.

p. 22.

Did Cuba need the Surfrider Foundation? Read the following snippet regarding the Havana, Cuba, beach area:
"The Prado has been aptly referred to as the Champs Elysées of Havana and on frequent occasions presents quite as brilliant an appearance as the celebrated Parisian promenade. On the beach near its terminus are located the Baños del Mar, a popular bathing resort. Surf bathing, however, in the immediate vicinity of Havana, is a decidedly perilous luxury. The reason for this is the pestilential condition of the water, rendered so by the refuse from the city's sewers, which empty into the harbor and gulf at various points. It is largely to this fact that the city owes its reputation for being one of the most unhealthy places in the world; and this it must continue to be until some modern plan is devised for a proper disposition of the city's sewage."
It is not clear what the meaning of "surf bathing" in this context means. Swimming and wading at the beach and the ocean waters or does it include body surfing and surf board riding.

p. 426

A NATIVE AND HIS SURF-BOARD: The native sits or stetches at full length on the board and rides the surf with perfect ease and safety. The mild climate makes sea-bathing a pleasant sport all the year round, and the natives become so expert in the use of these boards that they have been known to ride the surf for a distance of half a mile or more.

p. 527
In a section on the love for gambling the text states, "Boxing was their favorite national sport, and many thousands of intensely interested and excited people attended its frequent exhibitions." Then the book transitions to surf riding, or as it was called, surf-bathing and surf-riding:
But the most popular of all their sports, and the one still practiced by all ages, sexes and conditions, is surf-bathing. This is performed by the use of a flat board, about eight feet long by one and a half wide, and polished until it is as glossy as the surface of a pane of glass. With these boards they boldly swim out to sea, diving under the incoming waves, until they reach the line of deep water; then lying flat down upon their boards, they balance themselves on the crest of a breaker and ride it shoreward with almost incredible speed. It would be impossible to conceive of a more inspiring or exciting sport, and it is apparently attended with but little risk. Surf-riding seems to be peculiar to the Hawaiians, and all visitors who witness it are charmed by the grace and daring of the performers. Some of the most beautiful native women of Hawaii are expert surf-riders, and may be seen disporting themselves in the waves at their popular seaside resorts any month in the year. Even little children, of both sexes, are passionately fond of these thrilling races in the surf of the sea, and, being affectionately guarded by their elders, rarely meet with accident or injury. All visitors are fascinated by the sport, but few have the courage to essay it, and it is not likely ever to become popular away from its native home.

In considering the customs of the Hawaiians, it will not be forgotten that most of those described in this article are no longer practiced. It was our purpose merely to mention such as prevailed during the pagan era. The Hawaiians of the present time are a civilized and educated people. They are thoroughly Christian in their belief, and many of them are as polished in their manners as any of the men and women that you will meet in the leading centers of American and European civilization.
Comment: The best quote is, "...and it [surf-riding] is not likely ever to become popular away from its native home."

Overall observation
These alaia-style boards were used for riding kipapa-style (prone), kneeling and sitting and for standing and riding lala-style (diagonal to the wave). Notice the slightly upturned nose for preventing pearl diving. Many early descriptions of alaia-type boards have them flat, without rocker, such that either side is ridable.

Note term used for the board, surf-board, used for riding prone or in a sitting position, as described by the author.

No other mentions of surf-riding, except in very general passing, found via word search and skimming of many materials, although a more careful reading of oceanian islands other than Hawaii would be merited.

Orbelian, George. 1987. Essential surfing. San Francisco, Calif: Orbelian Arts.
Title page and Contents
[PDF] and Introductory Chapters


This book has been described by some as "the Bible of Surfing." Author George Orbelian, a proponent of measurement controlled shaping, created the Design Forum while Surfboard Design Editor for Surfer Magazine.

Review by Jeffrey Rosbrugh (Wilmington, NC, September 17, 2000, on "Outstanding book. I have read it several times over. Although it is a bit dated technology wise (materials), the dynamics and mechanics involved in the physics behind the sport have remianed unchanged. The author explains how different designs (template, tails, bottoms, rails, etc.) affect a board's performance characteristics. I really enjoy reading the book. In fact, it was my companion in arms when I shaped my own surfboard recently and applied all the lamination. The board came out perfect, and I attribute most of the sucess to this book."

George Orbelian's website,

The author describes seven forms of surfing: bodysurfing, belly/bodyboarding, kneeboardlng, surfing, tandem surfing, windsurfing, and skimboarding. [Rod's Note: Not included here, probably in part due to the year the book was written, are kite board surfing, stand-up paddleboard surfing and canoe surfing.]
Bodysurfing - Just a body and a wave. Usually bodysurfing is done with the aid of swim fins to help the bodysurfer generate the necessary speed to catch the wave. Once the wave has been caught the body actually becomes the planing surface. Skillful bodysurfers are capable of extraordinary rides and maneuvers. Some masters can actually ride the "energy" just beneath the face of the wave, without ever actually protruding out of the wave. You may come across seals or dolphins enjoying waves by bodysurfing with their uncanny skill. [p. 1]

- Bodysurfing with the aid of a planing device. The planing device may be small and hand held, planing out once the bodysurfer catches a wave. The larger, soft, flexible bodyboards have inspired a new sport. The bodyboard is small and easy to manage while afording substantial floatation and planing ability. These qualities assist the prone, swim fin assisted rider in catching and riding waves. Bodyboards come in a wide variety of shapes, with varying degrees of flex/stiffness and many different fin /rail configurations. Expert bodyboarders are capable of amazing rides. Their prone position lends them stability as well as allowing them to fit in the tight confines of a deep tube. Occasionally they kneel or stand on their bodyboards while performing a particular maneuver. The best riders go out and rip at Pipeline - their potential should not be underestimated.

Note: Both bodysurfing and bellyboarding are excellent presurfing interests. They familiarize one with the ocean and waves. Wave judgement is the most difficult aspect of surfing to master. The actual balance of riding a board isn't that difficult for people to learn, but before you can ride waves you have to catch waves. Every surf spot will have its own characteristic wave which will change according to tide, swell, and wind. It takes years to accumulate the experience needed to deal with the multitude of situations the sea is capable of. You may find that bodysurfing and belly boarding provide you with the thrill you were searching for. If you decide to kneeboard or surf, the wave judgement learned while bodysurfing or bellyboarding wiil be an invaluable asset to your progress. [p. 1]
[Rod's Note: This book was written after the ascendency of the Morey Boogie Board style bodyboard and virtual disappearance of the paipo/bellyboard, although this type of bodyboard continued to be ridden in the continental USA and elsewhere, and the wooden paepo-style board regularly ridden in Hawaii. Note the grouping of the handboard with the bellyboard rather than with the bodysurfing style of surfing. Comment on note: So, is bellyboarding "surfing" or "presurfing?" Funny because in my case I surfed a longboard before surfing a bellyboard, but found the paipo more adept than a longboard at wave breaks such as Gas Chambers, in Puerto Rico. So, my longboard was "presurfing" for my paipo!]
Kneeboarding - A type of surfing where the surfer rides a specialized board on his knees. Most kneeboards are tri or quad fin designs between five and six feet in length. Padded chest or double knee wells are utilized on some knee boards to improve control and surfing performance. Swim fins are worn to help propel the small boards into waves. Kneeboarding allows the rider to get into a very compact and stable position. The small board and stance of the kneeboarder make this type of surfing very suitable for steep drops, quick radical maneuvers and tube riding. [pp. 1-2]
[Rod's Note:  It isn't clear to this reader how the kneeboard is more specialized than the bellyboard. The only real differentiating characteristic in the description above appears to be the number of fins. However, bellyboard/paipo boards use anywhere from 0 to 4 fins and boards made of many different types of materials.]
Surfing - Surfing is the sport of riding across the face of a wave while standing on a specialized board. Surfing takes place on waves from one foot to over thirty feet in height. [p. 2, excerpt]

Personal preference, wave conditions, and the objectives of one's surfing dictate the type of approach and equipment most suitable.
[p. 2, excerpt] 
[Rod's Note:  Again we have the comment of the specialized board! And for the first time a range of wave heights. The only true differntiation in surfing is the stance -- standing while riding. The multi-paragraph section on "Surfing" ends with the most salient observation of them all: "Personal preference..."]
Chapters on Surfboard Design, pp. 5-63

Clark Foam Literature, pp. 164-199

The board design section contains tons of good information on surfboard design technical information and diagrams, e.g., templates/planshapes, rails, rockers, thickness flow, tails, fins and more (see the table of contents). Since publication of this book in 1987, the discussions on any number of these topics has evolved but the basics contained in this relatively brief 50+ pages are still relevant. Reading this section will certainly help you in being on the same page as your shaper when it is time for ordering a custom board. What is missing is a discussion of the cores, coverings and adhesives (e.g., foams, glasses and resins) being used widely in the 21st century. The remaining sections of the book  contain good information for the beginning and always learning waverider (e.g., waves, winds, tides, wipeouts and much more). All of this information can be adapted to the needs of the prone riding surfer (albeit with some consideration to the unique waveriding characteristics of the prone rider vs. the longboarder or shortboarder).

The chapter, Clark Foam Literature, also contains an informative discussion of board construction. The chapter also contains a section, Analysis of Future Trends in Surfboard / Sailboard Construction
(see link, pp. 171-3).

[Rod's Note: An interesting side note for the 1958 entry on the first molded polyurethane blank -- the first experiments were conducted using a blank for a bellyboard (see Pezman, Steve. (2009, August-September). Hobie's Story - Chapters from His Early Years. The Surfer’s Journal, 18(4)54-55.), and Paipos in the Media.]
Overall observation
An excellent addition to a wave rider's library. No mention of prone boards other than in the introductory pages discussed above. Awkward phasing in the bellyboard description, "Both bodysurfing and bellyboarding are excellent presurfing interests."

Patterson, Otto B. 1960 Surf-Riding, Its Thrills and Techniques. Rutland, Vt: C.E. Tuttle Co.
Page 31 from chapter 2, Building Your Board

In the first paragraph of the chapter: "In 1957, the Bishop Museum in Honolulu displayed fifteen surfboards covering a century of surfing in Hawaii. One of these collectors' items, probably the oldest surfboard in existence, was a small body-surfing board said to be several hundred years old." Also of note is the following, "In early times there were two types of surfboards generally made in Hawaii. The alaia (thin) board, made of koa or breadfruit wood was considered to be for body-surfing. The olo (thick) board, a log-type such as that used by Chief Paki were generally made of lightweight wood." [Rod Note: Other sources will show that the alaia was used for "performance" surfing, i.e., sliding sideways on the wave whereas the olo was hard to maneuver and usually ridden straight in towards the shore.]
Pages 123-133 from the chapter, Ancient Surfing Legends
A couple of stories. Of mystery are the references to two konane boards in the poem beginning on page 124 (konane is a game of Hawaiian checkers):
The small konane board is at Hono-kau-pu,
My friend on the highest point of the surf.
There is a good surf for us.
My love has gone away.
Smooth is the floor of Kou,
Fine is the breeze from the mountains.
and on page 125:
From the top of the tossing surf waves,
The eyes of the day and the night are forgotten.
Kou has the large konane board.
In The Legend of Kelea, there are two references to what might now be called body boarding, or paipo riding, in surf-bathing and surf-swimmer:
"...and enjoying the cool breezes of that district, and the pleasure of surf-bathing; and that with him was his sister Kelea, the most beautiful woman on Maui and the most accomplished surf-swimmer." and "...the messengers offered to ride the canoe through the surf--a sport as exciting as that of swimming on the surfboard."
Overall observation
Not a bad book to pick up and read. Sprinkled with Hawaiian terms such as malihini (newcomer, or beginner) and pukas (holes, or dings in the board).

Pike, Steve. (2007). Surfing South Africa. Cape Town: Double Storey.

This is a follow-up to the classic South African guide, Surfing in South Africa (see above). This book is packed with information on South African surf spots, lore, history and culture, and illustrated by excellent photos and art. There are over one hundred pages on surf spots covering almost 3,000 km of coast. Many sections are co-authored. Book also contains sections on travel, oceanography (very well done), and a Surfrican slang glossary.
Ch. 1, History
Muizenberg was the birthplace of surfing in South Africa. The book recounts this story:
One of the earliest memories of someone standing on a surfboard in South Africa was unearthed in the early 2000s. Cape Town surfer Ross Lindsay was in Zimbabwe visiting his wife's great aunt, Heather Price, who was almost 100 years old. The old lady's face lit up when he mentioned that he was a surfer. She hauled out photographs taken at Muizenberg during the First World War. The pictures showed her surfing with American marines, who had brought their boards with them on US Navy ships stopping off in Cape Town. There may be other sepia snaps, dog-eared and musty, buried beneath old papers in attics somewhere, but this is the first known experience of surfing in South Africa . [p. 12]
The following page shows the photograph of Heather Price riding a longboard in the whitewater onto the sand [p. 13]

Other information of interest: "Harry Bold became editor of the first surfing magazine, South African Surfer, which appeared in 1965. The magazine folded three years later, but it played a critical role in documenting the early days of modern surfing. Some of the older guys, like Derick Jardine (see his paipo interview) and Bold, are the proud owners of every issue - a valuable collection of memories." There are also a couple of photographs of Jardine. [p. 18]

Overall observation
Paipo perspective: Stunningly missing are any mentions of the formative years of waveriding in South Africa, mainly Muizenberg, where surf-boarding on bellyboard type planks was popularized by 1910 (see series of books by Michael Walker below). An otherwise fine book.

Severson, John. 1967. Great surfing: photos, stories, essays, reminiscences, and poems. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. [Note: many photographs were torn out of my review copy -- need to check another copy to see if there are any paipo-related ones.]
Title page


Glossary entries:
  • bellyboard - a small-sized surfboard or flat piece of wood used to ride the waves while lying on your stomach. (p. 152)
  • paipo board - a small bellyboard used in the Hawaiian Islands. (p. 156)
Elsewhere, Byron is mentioned as an enthusiastic bodysurfer.
Photo array appearing after page 128

"Surfing is" includes two paipo/bellyboarding-related photos, two mat surfers in the left photo and a kneeboarder on the right captioned "bellyboarding..."

Overall observation
The captions in the above photo array show how the terms kneeboarding and bellyboarding were often used interchageably in the 1960s. No bellyboarding/paipo-specific photos. Severson defines surfing as a wide range of waveriding activities as portrayed in the photo array.

Lord Byron is mentioned as an enthusiastic bodysurfer -- follow-up for future research as a potential UK-Style "bellyboarder."

Severson, John Hugh. 1964. Modern Surfing Around the World. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.

pp. 15-16 from chapter 1, Surfing Today

p. 19 from chapter 2, How It All Started

Just for the record. (Note: most of the scanned PDF files below range from 60KB to 420KB.)

"Although surfing is considered a new sport, it's actually an old one experiencing a renaissance. It is generally believed that the ancient Polynesians were the first to surf and introduced surfng to the Hawaiian Islands. Peruvian artifacts show that the Incas were also surf-conscious and that they practiced the sport of surfing on reed mats in the surf of Miraflores, near Lima, where surfing was again introduced in the 1940s by Carlos Dogny, a Peruvian, uponhis return from a visit to Hawaii." [pp. 15-16]

"The fraternity of surfboard riders and surfers is growing each year and what used to be a desolate beach is now someone's favorite surf spot. An even closer look will reveal that not all surfers ride surfboards. There are quite a number of different methods of riding the surf and each method has its own group of devoted followers who will swear and argue the point that their particular type of surfing is the only way. The popular ways of riding waves include surfboarding; mat surfing (with air-inflated rubber mattresses); bellyboarding, paipo boarding; riding kayaks, canoes, and low-powered craft; and body surfing." [p. 19]

pp. 130-131 from chapter 15, Different Kinds of Surfing and A Note on Equipment
Caption: The art of hanging five (fingers) on a bellyboard is demonstrated by John Severson while riding at San Clemente Pier. Where surfing "hours" are imposed, the bellyboarders can take advantage of the unused waves."

"A popular misconception of the beginning surfer is that surfing is riding the surf with a surfboard only. This is not true though a great many surfers know only board surfing and have never had the thrill of bellyboarding, mat surfing, or body surfing and have never enjoyed the unequaled pleasures ofbeating the curl in a kayak, canoe, or catamaran."
BELLYBOARDING: The name bellyboard comes from the way in which you ride the board - on your stomach. The boards are made in a variety of sizes, shapes, and designs, ranging from the surfboard construction on down to the simple sheet of plywood. In Hawaii these small boards are known as paipo boards. The bellyboarder catches the wave by holding on to the nose of the bellyboard with one hand and paddling hard with the other hand. At the same time he kicks furiously, usually with fins. If the bellyboard is large enough, sometimes two-arm paddling can be used. However, if one-arm paddling is used, it's desirable to paddle with the arm on the side in which you wish to angle. For example, if you're going to take a right slide you would paddle with your right arm. When riding in the curl or on the shoulder of the wave, it's sometimes advisable to have a small skeg or rudder on your board. Some bellyboarders prefer a small skeg on both rails. If you are riding without a skeg and wish to stay "locked in," dragging your leg in the wave may keep you from sideslipping. Turning is done by shifting your body weight and dragging a leg on either side. On many beaches, small bellyboards are allowed where surfboards have stricter hours. It might be a wise idea to include a bellyboard and a pair of fins with your surfing equipment. With more and more beaches closed during the "rush hours," you can take advantage of a few of the previously wasted waves."
pp. 165, 172, 175, Surfing Terminology (excerpts)

  • bellyboard - a small-sized surfboard or flat piece of wood used to ride the waves while lying on your stomach.
  • body surfer - a surfer who rides the waves with his body alone. Occasionally uses swim fins to help propel into the wave.
  • mat - a rubber mattress inflated and used to ride the waves. Some of the newer mats are constructed of plastic foam.
  • mat surfer - a surfer who rides waves with a rubber surf mat.
  • paipo board - a small bellyboard used in the Hawaiian Islands.
Overall observation
A concisely written book that covers a wide range of topics and does it fairly well. Severson apparently rode a paipo (see above photograph).

Skinner, Tina, Mary L. Martin, and Nathaniel Wolfgang-Price. 2004. Hawaii remembered: postcards from paradise. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub.
See the Contents.

Of reference note is a short history of the postcard in the United States on pp. 222-223. On page 27 is a favorite post card, the "Aloha Poem."
Items showing paipo riding or boards

References to paipo-related figures are referenced below:
  • p. 106, "Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach, Honolulu." This postcard also appears in the Mary Martin postcard book of 2008, a common postcard and photo scene with boys riding the shorebreak and others in the waters preparing to mount waves with Diamondhead in the background. It is dated as Pre-1915. Also see Paipos in the Media: Postcards.
  • p. 107, "Surf riding at Waikiki, Honolulu." This is a 3-figure display on one card. This card is dated as Pre-1915. Also see Paipos in the Media: Postcards, "Surf Riding at Waikiki, Honolulu (ca. 1910-1915)."
Overall observation
Note that the post card dates cited above are earlier than for the same postcards cited in the Mary Martin book of 2008.

St. Pierre, Brian. 1969. The fantastic plastic voyage; across the South Pacific with surfers and a camera. New York: Coward-McCann.
Title and Table of Contents

Discussion about George Greenough, pp. 177-185

On George Greenough in the chapter, "Australia," a comment about the board Greenough rides -- is it a paipo/bellyboard or is it a kneeboard? Is it surfing? Nat Young's comments follow.
"Personally, I respect him as the most logical surf rider I have come in contact with. He is an extremely good surfer, although he has never stood up on a surfboard in his life. He rides a highly technical belly board with a flexible back, designed to bend with every contour of the wave. and it's hollowed on top. which virtually makes the board wrap up around him and gives the board a low center of gravity. It looks a little like a modified spoon."

"To any surfer the name 'Greenough' is synonymous with a new fin design that has been appearing on surfboards more and more. This fin was designed specifically for George's new belly board. However, after modifications, he came up with a standard fin which is now being used on many surfboards around the world."

"Where does he stand with regard to the evolution in design?"

"He was the one who put the basic ideas into McTavish's head, you see. Much of Bob's thinking was stimulated from talking with Greenough and also with a guy named Bob Cooper, another Californian."

"Even though he is just a belly boarder, in effect you're saying he's the best surfer in the world."

"Certainly. Certainly!"

"Even though he never stands on the board, just kneels?"

"Well, this is it, see; it's not another phase, it's what you're looking for as an end result--this total involvement. I'm blatant enough to say that the end result of surfing is to be able to ride a wave, completely involved with the curl. And George achieves this at least seventy percent of the time."
Then the question is asked about whether bellyboards are a part of surfing (and the answer focuses on function not the style of riding, prone, knee or standup)
"Had you considered belly boards to be part of surfing up till two years ago, when you met George?"

"It's not so much of a clash here. Our boads are now getting more like belly boards. Look how small they've become."
The dialogue continues
"Yeah, he's working with something different from what I'm working with. I think we're both working toward a similar end result; it's just that George is a little closer to it than I am."


"Here he is, he's dealing with a thing that really isn't surfing. Most of the time you really can't see him riding a wave. There's some little animal back inside there yelling at you, you know, saying, 'This is pretty in here.' "
The author then writes
Nat, by the way, is wrong about one thing; George has stood up on a surfboard -- a couple of times; but he didn't think it was much fun. He prefers air mattresses and belly boards. Normally, this would get a guy laughed out of the water, but George is such a fantastic innovator and so committed out there in the water that he is respected by everyone.
Mickey Muñoz rides a bellyboard, p. 238
It isn't clear whether Muñoz was riding a bellyboard or what is now called a kneeboard or a Velo-style spoon kneeboard in this reference, "...and Mickey Munoz drew his usual share of amused attention when he took a bellyboard out and rode some waves, nearly acquiring a new nose a few times when he came too close to the rolling rocks."
Overall observation
Interesting story about the making of a surf film that focused on the short board revolution, Australians and their V-Bottom boards and effects on the venturing Americans that brought back their experiences to California in December 1967.

From a research and semantics standpoint the interchangable use of the term bellyboarding leaves the reader unclear whether the writer was referring to a bellyboard/paipo board or a kneeboard, or whether the board was ridden prone or on the knees, absent photographs or a personal discussion with the writer.

Thrum, Thomas G. [Compilation.] 2010. Hawaiian folk tales a collection of native legends. [S.l.]: General Books. [Note: Originally published in 1907. Reissued in various versions and editions.]
Title page and Contents

This book consists of a number of native legends. In it are a couple references to surf riding including the figure shown below. The following passage appears in the chapter with the Surf-Riding figure, but does not appear directly related to the figure:
The surf on that day was in fine sporting condition, and a number of young women were surf-riding, and Kahalaopuna longed to be with them. Forgetting the warning, as soon as her mother fell asleep she slipped out with one of her maids and swam out on a surf-board. [p. 131]
You may access various electronic versions of the Thrum compilation from The Internet Archives, at:
p. 130, from Chapter XI. Kahalaopuna, Princess of Manoa.
Mrs. E. M. Nakuina.

Caption: The Favorite Sport of Surf-Riding. [Rod: Note how the surfrider on the right appears to be a kipapa-style paipo rider with his left leg bent up. The rider on the right side of this wave also appears to be a paipo rider as the board does not appear to be very long.]

The figure is signed Hitchcock, possibly David Howard Hitchcock (1861–1943), an American painter of the Volcano School, known for his depictions of Hawaii, where he was born and died. Plan to follow-up by looking a figures in Maxon, Helen Hitchcock. 1987. D. Howard Hitchcock, islander. Honolulu, Hawaii: Topgallant Pub. Co.
Overall observation
The figure does not appear to match up with the text of the story other than to include a figure with a woman surfing. No shark chomping Princess Kahalaopuna in half!

Torrens, Herb. 2003. Paraffin chronicles. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford.
Title Page
A few passing, notable mentions of bellyboards are made in this book:
"Since the transition to short boards, everyone was always trying to push the envelope in design. Herbie Fletcher was shaping reverse tear-drops, a guy named Vinnie Bryant was riding these belly-board like creations with square rails!" [p. 166]

"As always, Hynson showed up that year with a quiver of new boards. And this time they were really new. By that I mean different. They were spear-like outline shapes, absolutely flat bottoms with the exception of a little V-line roundness in the tail. They also had the most radical rails anyone had ever seen. They were turned down hard all the way to the nose!

No one had seen such a departure in surfboard design since Vinnie Bryant and Bunker Sprekles had made those square-railed belly-boards."
[pp. 198-199]

"Somebody even organized a Honolua Bay surf contest. Actually, they had held one in a previous winter. Vinnie Bryant had won on his belly-board creation. But, nobody from Maui paid much attention. That first contest was held on a bad day, and not many of us would have gone out anyway."
[p. 204]
Overall observation
Sounds like bellyboards simply couldn't garner much respect with this crowd despite the revolution in surfboard designs and on-going experimentation! An enjoyable read of surfing life as remembered by one of the accomplished surfriders that lived it firsthand.

Note terms used: bellyboard and not paipo.

Michael Walker's series of historical books on the False Cape communities of Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and St. James, are shown below. Although the focus of the books is not on surfing but on the histories of the communities in False Bay, the books provide important surf history information. For information reference the map below from the Mark Jury book is included.
Reference Map of the Cape from p. 91 of Jury, Mark. 1989. Surfing in southern Africa: including Mauritius and Reunion. Cape Town: Struik.

Walker, Michael. 1997. The golden years: a postcard memoir of the Kalk Bay- Muizenberg municipality, 1895-1913. Cape Town: M. Walker. [First Published 1996. Revised Publication: February 1997. Limited Edition.]
Contents, Appendices and the back cover  description of the book.

This book contains several descriptions, mentions and figures of surf-board riding, which by all appearances is prone surfing on a traditional U.K.-style bellyboard, also called a surf-board in the U.K. The book dates surf-board riding in Muizenberg to the year 1910.

The Appendices include a section, Surf-Board riding at Muizenberg (pp. 150-152).

Map and other mentions or references to surfing in the main body of the book.

Map of Muizenberg and False Bay shows bellyboarding in the seas (p. 4). A zoomed view is on the right.


A post card's caption reads, "Beach strolling was a regular pastime until surf-board riding became popular." The card is not dated nor does it provide a year when surf-board riding became popular. [p. 9]

Safety modifications to a beach pavillion were required for protecting surf-board riders, but does not mention when the modifications were made. "The pavilion was opened on the 29th of October 1910 by the Administrator of the Cape, Sir Frederick De Waal. It was raised from the beach sands on stilts which allowed the high tide waters to carry up the beach. This proved to be a problem with board surfers and a fence had to be erected between the pillars to avoid accidents." [p. 11]

The two postcards displayed on p. 12, show the popularity of surf-board riding.

Appendix, Surf-Board riding at Muizenberg
The appendix begins, "It is of interest to note that until about 1910, in spite of the magnificent beaches, local Capetonians and holiday-makers were not enthusiastic about sea bathing, let alone sun-tanning. Beach scenes show men and ladies, dressed to the nines with suits and long dresses." The first paragraph concludes, "Tidal rock pools were built for their protection, but it was the open surf of Muizenberg that held thegreat attraction." [p. 150]

Continuing, the beginning of surf-riding in Muizenberg and South Africa, is pegged at 1910:
It is unrecorded history circa 1910, that an Australian whilst passing through Cape Town visited the "Sands of Muizenberg". There he noticed a plank of wood on the beach, which he picked up and showed the locals how to catch a wave. Soon small boys came riding in on the waves clutching logs of wood and planks. The carpenters of Cape Town were kept busy turning out flat planed boards. These they soon refined to have turned-up ends, which meant less chance of a nose dive and a stray jab in the solar plexus. [p. 150]

Surfing made Muizenberg the most popular holiday resort in South Africa. Special fencing was placed around the pavilion to prevent surfers from being washed under the building at high tides. So popular did it become with parents and children that the Municipality became proprietor of several thousand surf-boards, which were hired out with costumes and towels to bathers. Soon the age-old problem - collisions with non-surfers began to arise. Separate areas were demarcated for surfing, and the South-West corner of Muizenberg beach, known as "Surfers Corner" became extremely popular. [pp. 150, 152]

"This new thrill of surf-board riding should bring many more visitors from up country, if they only knew about it", the publicity association considered. In the Cape Times of June 1913 they exhorted surfers to tum out in great numbers one Sunday at Muizenberg so that they could make a film of them, "bring this fascinating sport to the notice of up-country people who may not have visited Muizenberg". It was mid-winter so some encouragement was needed, and the annotation "It should be noted that the temperature of the water at present is quite high." was added.
[p. 152]

After the Great War the popularity of surf-board riding at Muizenberg increased tremendously. The boards became lighter, correspondence was entered into with Hawaii for more dimensions and details of the surf-boards on which the Hawaiians surfed and were renowned. This advice helped the local surfers to improve what now was a most popular form of bathing.
[p. 152]
Two postcards appear on p. 151. The captions on the postcards read,
  • Surfing at Muizenberg and Xmas Greetings: Surf-Bathing, Muizenberg.
Overall observation
This book dates surf-board riding to 1910, but notes it is unrecorded history, at least the part of "an Australian whilst passing through Cape Town visited the "Sands of Muizenberg". There he noticed a plank of wood on the beach, which he picked up and showed the locals how to catch a wave." The dating of bellyboarding is later firmly dated to 1913 in a publicity association statement. The postcards displayed in the book do not cite dates but do establish the popularity of in-shore bellyboarding (aka surf bathing and surf-board riding).

Walker, Michael. 1999. Coastal memories: Muizenberg, St. James, Kalk Bay, 1870-1920. [St. James, Cape Town]: M. Walker.
Contents and  Appendices and the back cover  description of the book.

This book contains several descriptions, mentions and figures of surf-board riding, which by all appearances is prone surfing on a traditional U.K.-style bellyboard, also called a surf-board in the U.K. The book dates surf-board riding in Muizenberg to the year 1910 and provides documentary evidence that surf-board riding was very popularized by 1911.

The Appendices include two important sections, Surf-Board Riding at Muizenberg and
A Chronology (1870-1920).

Map and other mentions or references to surfing in the main body of the book.

Map of Muizenberg and False Bay shows bellyboarding in the seas (p. 4). A zoomed view is on the right.


This appears to be the same map that appears in Michael Walker's earlier book, The Golden Years (Walker, 1997).

Two postcards appear on page 9. In the upper postcard there are faint images of people carrying surf-boards and a couple of people mounting or riding the crest of the waves. The lower postcard contains the caption, "Beach strolling was a regular pastime until surf-board riding became popular." The postcards are not dated.

Two more postcards appear on page 12, both featuring surfing. The lower postcard shows people carrying their surf-boards—the image below shows part of the postcard. The boards appear to be flat rockerless planks (without a nose scoop) and approximately 48 inches long and 12 to 14 inches wide.

At the bottom of p. 13, is a postcard titled, "The popularity of donkey-rides never waned." In the background at the water's edge and in the near shore ocean are faint images of surfing-boards and surfing. The cards are not dated.

Appendix, Surf-Board Riding at Muizenberg, pp. 208-210.
The first paragraph is the same as in Michael Walker's earlier book, The Golden Years (Walker, 1997). [p. 208]

The paragraphs that follow are unchaged from The Golden Years appendix from a surf-board riding perspective:
It is unrecorded history, that an Australian while passing through Cape Town, circa 1910, visited the "Sands of Muizenberg". There he noticed a plank of wood on the beach, which he picked up and showed the locals how to catch a wave. Soon small boys came riding in on the waves clutching logs of wood and planks. The carpenters of Cape Town were kept busy turning out flat planed boards. These they soon refined to have turned-up ends, which meant less chance of a nose dive and a stray jab in the solar plexus.

Surfing made Muizenberg the most popular holiday resort in South Africa. Special fencing was placed around the pavilion to prevent surfers from being washed under the building at high tides. So popular did surfing become with parents and children that the Municipality became proprietor of several thousand surf-boards, which were hired out with costumes, bathing caps, towels and later deck-chairs to bathers. Tenders were called annually for the supply of these items. [order info snipped]

Soon the age-old problem, collisions with non-surfers, began to arise. Separate areas were demarcated for surfing, and the south-west comer of Muizenberg beach, known as "Surfer's Corner," became extremely popular. [p. 208]
Two postcards appear on p. 209. The captions on the postcards read,
  • Surfing at Muizenberg and Xmas Greetings: Surf-Bathing, Muizenberg.
The lower card on p. 209 (Surf-Bathing) shows a surf-board feature not prominent on other postcards: crossbars forward and aft on the surf-board (see the below postcard snippet).

The appendix concludes with two paragraphs that are unchaged from The Golden Years appendix from a surf-board riding perspective (the text clarifies that The Great War is the First World War):
"This new thrill of surf-board riding should bring many more visitors from up-country, if they only knew about it", the publicity association considered. In the Cape Times of June 1913 they exhorted surfers to turn out in great numbers one Sunday at Muizenberg so that they could make a film of them, "bring this fascinating sport to the notice of up-country people who may not have visited Muizenberg". It was mid-winter so some encouragement was needed, and the annotation "It should be noted that the temperature of the water at present is quite high," was added.

After the First World War the popularity of surf-board riding at Muizenberg increased tremendously. The boards became lighter, and correspondence was entered into with Hawaii for more dimensions and details of the surf-boards on which the Hawaiians surfed and were renowned. This advice helped the local surfers to improve what now was a most popular form of bathing. [p 210]
This appendix is functionally unchaged from the appendix in The Golden Years except for the improved postcard reproductions which more clearly show the crossbars on the surfing-board shown above.
Appendix, A Chronology (1870-1920), pp 235-260.

In the Muizenberg section of the chronology, in 1911:
  • Surf-board riding popularized. Strict rules implemented by Council. [p. 245]
In the Kalk Bay section of the chronology, in 1910:
  • Establishment of the Kalk Bay - Muizenberg Advancement Society. A society to promote tourism and publicity for Muizenberg and Kalk Bay.
Overall observation
As in the 1997 publication, The Golden Years, this book dates surf-board riding to 1910, but notes it is unrecorded history, at least the part of "an Australian while passing through Cape Town, circa 1910, visited the "Sands of Muizenberg". There he noticed a plank of wood on the beach, which he picked up and showed the locals how to catch a wave."  However, the Chronology provides documentary evidence that surf-board riding existed to a sufficient extent in 1911, that the Council implemented strict rules.

The postcard images are much improved in this edition with increased clarity.

Walker, Michael. 2004. Kalk Bay, St. James: a brief history illustrated with postcards of a bygone era. St. James [South Africa]: M.J. Walker. [First edition.]

This book contains one discussion of surf-board riding but no postcard figures of surfing. In a discussion of tidal pools in Kalk Bay municipality, the book states the following:
Safe bathing was in public demand especially for children and the St. James tidal pool offered just that. Tidal pool bathing was very popular until c.1914 when as legend has it, an Australian troopship docked in Table Bay and a few of the soldiers ventured down to Muizenberg. Here they taught locals the art of surf-board riding and it was not long before it caught the fancy of many locals and visitors who now flocked to Muizenberg beach with a great variety of surf-boards. [p. 43]
The timeline of this story differs from the one conveyed above but the "legend" is similar (Michael Walker, 1997). Nonetheless, the 1997 book does cite a 1913 article in the Cape Times where the publicity association "exhorted surfers to tum out in great numbers one Sunday at Muizenberg."

p. 2

Map of Kalk Bay and False Bay may show bellyboarders in the seas in the area labeled "beach." A zoomed view is on the right.


Overall observation
Surf-board riding is not prominently featured in the towns of Kalk Bay and St. James. Based on my readings of the other Walker books the sport of surfing was most prominent in Muizenberg.

Walker, Michael. 2004. Muizenberg: the golden years. St. James: M.J. Walker. 

Cover and overview.

This book contains several descriptions, mentions and figures of surf-board riding, which by all appearances is prone surfing on a traditional U.K.-style bellyboard, also called a surf-board in the U.K.

The book dates surf-board riding in Muizenberg to the outbreak of WW I, but uses the qualifier "alleged." [The year would be 1914.]

A zoomed-in picture of surf-boarders in the bottom image of the front cover.

Map and other mentions or references to surfing in the main body of the book.

Map of Muizenberg and False Bay shows bellyboarding in the seas (p. 2). A zoomed view is on the right.


This map is very similar to the ones that appear in Michael Walker's earlier books (Walker, 1997 and 1999).

Two postcards appear on page 9. The postcards feature the old and new pavilions at Muizenberg. The upper postcard is the older pavilion (in use from 1911-1929). The lower postcard is of the new pavilion (in use 1929-1971). The lower postcard also shows two people holding surfing-boards each of a slightly different design (see below). The cards in the book are not dated.

Two postcards appear on p. 11. The book describes the images, "Beach fashions prior to the introduction of surfing were very formal as can be seen from the postcards."
The cards in the book are not dated.

Two postcards appear on p. 12. The upper card is divided into 4 rectangular sections with an oval inlay over them in the center. The two right rectangular sections each show surf-boarding. The upper right section, titled, "Surf Bathing," shows several board riders. The lower right section, titled "Sands" shows at least 3 people carrying surfing-boards. The cards in the book are not dated.

The two postcards  on p. 13 are captioned, "Trek-fishing boats and surf-board riders were a regular attraction at the beach." The lower postcard, Surfing at Muizenberg, shows scores of surf-boarders including some close-up insets. This postcard may be seen on the MyPaipoBoards site, courtesy of Hilton Teper. The cards in the book are not dated.

On the origins of surfing at Muizenberg the author writes,
Surfing, it is alleged, was first introduced to the young folk on Muizenberg beach by an Australian who was stationed here at the outbreak of World War I. He shaped a wooden board and demonstrated the skills of wave-surfing to an appreciative audience who 'soon took to the waves' in great numbers.
Note: This timeline does not square with the author's prior accounts.
Overall observation
Although published five years later than this book the language on the origins of surfing in Muizenberg are surrounded by uncertainty. However, the author's 1999 book has documentary evidence that surfing started before 1914. There are some good postcard prints.

Walker, Michael. 2009. Muizenberg - a forgotten story. St. James [South Africa]: M. Walker.

Cover and overview

Excerpt from the Preface

The cover is a painting of the First Pavilion and surfers, c. 1924 by G. Turner. (Courtesy of Muizenberg Historical and Conservation Society).
This book contains several descriptions, mentions and figures of surf-board riding, which by all appearances is prone surfing on a traditional U.K.-style bellyboard, also called a surf-board in the U.K. However, the author cites an Australian with introducing surfing to the Muizenberg & False Bay area around 1910, becoming very popular by 1911, and surging with popular after the Great War (1918). The boards were initally flat planned.

In the Preface:

In expressing the romance and delights of
Muizenberg, the Cape Peninsula Holiday
(1914), included a passage on surf-boarding,
It is the only cure-of-all-aches, there is nothing so tonic as a dip, nothing so exhilarating as a spell upon the surf-boards, and nothing so calculated to revive the sense of well-being than, after enjoying the sea, to spend lazy hours on the Muizenberg sands, to saunter among the white-clad dunes or stroll along her perfect beach. [Preface, p. iv]
The Cape Peninsula Publicity Association brochure of 1918 "emphasised the romance of Muizenberg with special focus on the benefits and joys of surfing." [p. v]

Map and other mentions or references to surfing in the main body of the book.

The Map of Muizenberg and False Bay no longer shows surf-board riding in the ocean (p. ix).


This map is a departure from the maps in the Michael Walker's earlier books (Walker, 1997, 1999, and 2004). Map by Joan Stephens.

In a discussing the pavillions' histories, the book noted this:
The Pavilion was opened on 16 December 1911 by the Administrator of the Cape, the Honourable Sir Frederic de Waal. It was raised from the beach sands on stilts, which allowed the high tide waters to wash up on to the beach. This proved to be a problem for board surfers, so a fence had to be erected between the pillars to avoid accidents. [pp. 32-33]
A Hillel College advertisement (Cape Times, May 29, 1931), "Educate and Build Sturdy, Healthy Boys at The College by the Sea," cites surfing as a special benefit: "Bathing, Surfing and the exhilirating Sea-breezes, combined with the liberal table of Hillen College, ensure sturdy, healthy boys with receptive  brains for the high standard of education offered by Hillel College." [p. 115] Note that the term "surfing" and not "surf-board" or "surf bathing" is used in the advertisement.
Chapter 14. Sport and Recreation: Surf-board Riding at Muizenberg
The first section of this chapter is titled, Surf-board Riding at Muizenberg, covering four pages of the 12-page chapter. The chapter begins,
It is interesting to note that until about 1910, in spite of the magnificent beaches, local Capetonians and holiday makers were not enthusiastic about sea bathing, let alone sun tanning. Beach scenes show men and ladies dressed to the nines with suits and long dresses. One has only to study the range of 'bathing gowns' then available at the local shops to appreciate this trend. The next generation founded Cape Town's sea-bathing tradition. Tidal rock pools had been built for their protection, but it was mainly the open surf of Muizenberg that attracted their attention. [p. 117]
Continuing in the next paragraph,
It is unrecorded history that an Australian, while passing through Cape Town, circa 1910, visited Muizenberg. He noticed a plank of wood on the beach, picked it up, and showed the locals how to catch a wave. Before long small boys came riding in on the waves, clutching logs of wood and planks. The carpenters of Cape Town were later kept busy turning out flat-planed boards. These they soon refined to have curved ends, which meant less chance of a nose-dive. [p. 117]
[Note: The curved ends must refer to the plan shape and not the bottom shape as very little, if any, rocker can be seen in the postcards featuring or including surf-boarding or surf-bathing. The one exception seems to be the 1924 painting on the book's cover where the surf-boarder in the foreground is riding a surf-board with a scooped nose.]

One postcard appears on the bottom of p. 117,  Surfing at Muizenberg. The postcard appears to feature the same scenes as the postcard provided courtesy of Hilton Teper:

Other excerpts follow:
Surf-boarding made Muizenberg the most popular holiday resort in South Africa. Special fencing was placed around the pavilion to prevent surf-boarders from being washed under the building at high tides. So popular did surf-boarding become that the Municipality became proprietor of several thousand surf-boards, which were hired out together with  costumes, bathing caps, towels and later deck chairs. [p. 118]

The Cape Times of 15 June 1913 exhorted surfers to turn out in great numbers one Sunday at Muizenberg so that they could film them to bring this fascinating sport to the notice of up-country people who may not have visited Muizenberg. It was mid-winter, so some encouragement was needed, and the annotation It should be noted that the temperature of the water at present is quite high, was added. The Publicity Association at the same lime stated This new thrill of surf-board riding should bring many more visitors from up-country, if they only knew about it. [p. 118]

The Cape Peninsula Publicity Association brochure of 1918 further promoted the joys of surfing: Ask a man who has enjoyed a season at Muizenberg what he considers its greatest attraction to be, and, after due reflection, he will reply "The surf bathing." It is - with the surfboards - a practically new sport so far as South Africa is concerned; but it has gripped everybody who has tried it. The wild exhilaration of it is infectious. In the Pacific the islanders have made it an art. At the Cape it has become a cult. All classes of the community men, women and children enjoy its exhilarating pleasures in hundreds day after day.
[p. 118]

Muizenberg is peculiarly adapted for the sport. The beach is beautifully clean and possesses the great advantage of a very gentle slope, so that the bather may wade out a long way before being immersed to the shoulders. The sand is firm, and there is a complete absence of danger from strong undercurrents and back-washes, factors in bathing that have cost many people their lives on the South African coast. Anybody can become a proficient surfer; of whatever sex or age. It is no infrequent sight to see a couple of hundred ardent men, women and children jumping and hurtling through the surf at Muizenberg. And the crowd gathered on the sands enjoys the sport as much as the enthusiast in the water does. To see it done is to wish to do it, and Muizenberg is the place at which to do it best.
[p. 118]

But surf bathing is not only to be looked upon as a sport. It has a definite and beneficial effect upon the health of the jaded man and woman. The bathing alone is healthy as any physician will tell you, but surfing is doubly so. The exhilaration and excitement forbids worry and thought, other than how to go faster and gain greater pleasure. It steadies the nerves, exercises the muscles, and makes the enthusiast clear headed and clear eyed. Life and good spirits are the outstanding and dominant qualities of the surf bather.
[p. 118]

After The Great War (1914-1918) the popularity of surf-board riding at Muizenberg increased tremendously. The boards became lighter, and correspondence was entered into with Hawaii for dimensions and details of the surf-boards which Hawaiians used. This advice helped the local surfers to improve what was now a most popular pastime. [pp. 118-119]
[Note: It is not clear from the text what form of surfing this is, prone or standing. None of the old postcards and jig-saw puzzles feature stand-up surfboarding.]

Steve Pike, author of Surfing South Africa, states that surfing first started in Muizenberg, and not in Durban, as most people believe. [p. 119]

Photographs of a woman surfing at Muizenberg at the end of The Great War are believed to be one of the earliest known photographs of surfing in South Africa. The pictures appear in Surfing South Africa, thanks to Cape Town big-wave surfer Ross Lindsay, who uncovered them while visiting his wife's great aunt, Heather Price, in Zimbabwe in 2003. When Lindsay mentioned he was a surfer, the old lady's face lit up. She produced photographs taken at Muizenberg during or just after the end of The Great War. The pictures show her surfing with American marines who had brought their boards with them on US Navy ships, stopping off in Cape Town on their way back to the United States. [pp. 119-120] [Note: It is not clear from the text what form of surfing this is, prone or standing.]
Appendix, Chronology

In the chronology, in 1911:
  • Surf-board riding popularised. Strict rules implemented by Council. [p. 154]
Overall observation
This is the fifth in a series of postcard-based history books on the False Bay & Muizenberg area. Through the years the books expanded beyond the postcard-based theme alone. Although not intended to be a history of early surfing in South Africa these books provide a historical foundation for the sport of surf-boarding near Cape Town. Although the books vary on the starting date of surf riding there is documentary evidence in a couple of the books that 1910 is when surf-boarding captured the love and attention of people living in or visiting the False Bay area.

Postcards, photographs, newspaper accounts, council meeting recoreds and tourist association brochures provide the basis of the surf-boarding history. The painting gracing the covers and spine of this book captures the essense of surf-boarding in Muizenberg.

Warwick, Wayne. 1968. Surfriding in New Zealand. Wellington: Seven Seas Pub. Pty.
Title page

This is the first edition of a series of "surfing in New Zealand" books written by Warwick. There is no color except for the front and back covers and no table of contents. Not even any page numbering! The book contains a short introduction and a small glossary of surfing terms as they are understood and used in New Zealand.

In the section titled, "Early Days," there is no mention of Maori surfriding nor of prone (paipo & bellyboard) surfing. This history of surfing section describes surfing as it was understood in the mid-1960s, in New Zealand (the book dates some information to 1967).

Note: A page appears to be missing in the "Stage Three of Learning Surfing" of the Surfing in General section. This section does have subsections discussing skegs, V-bottoms and pintail boards and other items.
Section on Surfing in General
The subsection on "Skegs" focuses on George Greenough, one of the innovators of "New Era Surfing,"
who developed what is now, known as the "Greenough Skeg," which is used on most boards built today. The ironical part of Greenough's design is that he built his skeg for a belly board which he rides more than a surfboard. [no page number]
The subsection describing other forms of surfing includes "Bellyboard riding." This subsection notes that
  • Bellyboard riding is as old as surfriding, and yet most surfriders have only a limited knowledge of how to ride one.
  • The bellyboard is usually three to four feet in length and fitted with either one or two skegs.
  • One may ride it lying down or kneeling, although a kneeling position is preferred by experienced riders.
  • A bellyboard rider should wear rubber flippers to reach the breakers and to gain sufficient speed to catch waves.
  • George Greenough from California USA is regarded as the foremost exponent of bellyboard riding today.
Two photographs appear below the text on bellyboard riding.

At Noose Point, Australia, rider G. Greenough.

Photo:  A. McAlpine. [Note: In an email to me, Apr. 22, 2016,  Bob Green noted, "The photos are definitely not Noosa Heads. Noosa is a series of right points, even if reversed I doubt these could be Noosa."]

Overall observation
Not much information on paipo/bellyboard surfing in this book. Seems like surfriding was still much in its infancy in New Zealand but it must have been an exciting time to be part of it. Kudos to G. Greenough -- he called his surfing style "bellyboarding" at that time even though he was knee riding a spoon and Velo -- terminology is one of the challenges in sifting through older and historical texts. [Note: Bob Green suggested that the two photos "At Noose Point," may be screen grabs from McAlpine's movie, Children of the Sun.]

Warwick, Wayne. 1978. A guide to surfriding in New Zealand. Wellington, N.Z.: Viking Sevenseas. 
Cover, Section on Kneeboard or Bellyboard riding in the chapter, Surfing Alternatives
The guide does not contain a table of contents or page numbers.

In the chapter named, "Surfing Alternatives," is a section named Kneeboard or Bellyboard riding. The section is virtually identical to the text in the 1968 edition except for the introduction of the term "kneeboard riding."

For example, a 1968 excerpt reads, "George Greenough from California USA is regarded as the foremost exponent of bellyboard riding today..." The 1978 edition reads, "George Greenough from California USA is regarded as the foremost exponent of Kneeboard riding today..."

No photos of paipo or kneeboard surfing noted.
Overall observation
The term "kneeboarding" had come into mainstream use by the time of publication distinguishing itself more clearly from bellyboard/paipo surfing. No other reference to bellyboard/paipo surfing.

Warwick, Wayne. 1995. A guide to surfriding in New Zealand. Paraparaumu, N.Z.: Viking Sevenseas NZ.
Cover and comments

This edition on surfriding in New Zealand does not contain any references to paipo/bellyboard surfing.

The book is a good looking guide for the local or visiting surfrider. It has an extensive section on weather charts and surf breaks for the north and south islands. It also contains a short history of surfing in New Zealand.

Unknown. (1950s?). Surf riding made easy - a sporting guide from the 1950s. Original publication date and location is unknown. Republished by The Original Surfboard Company, 2013.

Title page and Contents
[PDF] and Introductory Chapters


Rare 1950’s book back in print by The Original Surfboard Company. The company owner, Sally Parkins, states, "To give a vintage feel to the book the first 100 copies of "Surf Riding made easy" have been printed on straw paper and are individually numbered." This is the only original copy known—found by Sally Parkins in her pursuit of short board material.

NOTE: Due to limited availability of this publication any assistance in characterizing the booklet would be welcome, including orignal author, publication company, location and date, and content.

Overall observation
This is one of about four early publications on early surf riding (paipo/bellyboard surfing) in the U.K.

Feel free to send me suggestions for additions to: A Bibliography for MyPaipoBoards. recommends EasyBib for easily generating citations
EasyBib: the bibliography maker.

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Last updated on: 05/21/18