John Whetham Boddam-Whetham, b. 1843
Higher up the river are other waterfalls well worth seeing, but of a more ordinary kind than the one I have described.
The visitor at Hilo may enjoy the ...
Page 119 Surf Swimming.
... sport of surf-swimming
if he does not mind being drowned in the attempt. It is very amusing to
watch the natives indulging in this favourite game, especially when the
sea is rolling in heavily over the reef, and the breakers are large and
It requires a good seat and a light hand to ride on the top of a wave with a saddle consisting only of a long piece of wood, a mere plank, about two feet wide, twelve feet long, and rather pointed at one end.
Armed with these the natives swim out from the beach for a mile or so, dive under the breakers, and finally reach the smooth water beyond the surf.
Here they wait for a very high rolling swell ; as it approaches they balance themselves on their boards, sometimes standing erect, but generally lying or kneeling on them, and away they go on the crest of the wave, always just a little ahead of the breaker, with the speed of race-horses, and all the time enveloped in foam and spray.
the shore one expects to see them dashed on the rocks, but instead of that
they either slip off the board and fall behind the wave, or allow it to
pass over them, and in a few moments are far away outside, waiting for
another express roller.
The chief skill required for the successful performance of this feat is keeping the head and shoulders just ahead and clear of the great crested wave that rears itself high above and threatens every moment to bury the bold performer.
In fact, he may be said, figuratively, to ride on the neck of the white charger, while holding on by his mane.
I do not see why this attractive sport should ...
... not be introduced
into England in suitable localities - Brighton, for instance.
It is very exciting to look at, and requires a good deal of nerve, I should think, but I never tried it.
Sharks are prevalent at Hilo, which must add to the hazard and excitement of the game, as I know of nothing more likely to hurry one through the water than a shark at one's heels.
The surf-board does occasionally come back without its rider, one piercing shriek telling too plainly his sad fate.
Surf-swimming is one of the oldest of the ancient Hawaiian sports, but like all the others, it is fast dying out.
Old surf-riders will tell you that none of the present generation have the skill and courage displayed by their ancestors ; but who ever heard of the present generation approaching the past in anything ?
Pearls of the Pacific
Hurst and Blackett, London,1876.