s. g w. benjamin
riding at hilo, 1880
S. G. W. Benjamin :
Surf Riding at Hilo, 1880.
Benjamin, S. G.
or, Sketches of Life, Scenery, and Climate in noted
D. Appleton and
Company, New York,1880, pages 217-219
One of many accounts of surfboard riding at Hilo Bay where there were a
number of quality surf breaks and in ancient times its
reputation was only surpassed by Waikiki.
Given that the book
is compilation from diverse sources, it is not suprising that
of surfboard riding at Hilo is resembles several other earlier
for example Charles Nordhoff's Surfriding
at Hilo (1873).
Wheeler account is
for the brief, but succinct, analysis of the dynamics of
wave riding, possibly
describing the actions of a point break.
As (a breaker) takes the ground (it)
... it is only
possible when the waves roll in obliquely toward the
As one part of the comber touches the shore and
breaks and dissolves,
the continually repeated
action sends the board forward as well as side-wise.
Samuel Greene Wheeler
Also by S. G. W.
Benjamin. The Multitudinous Seas, D. Appleton, 1879
of the Hawaiian islanders have long been famous, not only for
but for long endurance and the power to sustain themselves
many hours at
the surface ; and women as well as men excel in this useful
learn to swim before they are able to walk.
It is among
rollers at Hilo, on the island of Hawaii, that one sees
what is probably the most extraordinary skill ever exercised
by man in
practicing the powers of flotation.
play is an ancient custom of the islands, but there is
evidence that it
is gradually going out of use.
to this sport is a high sea, causing rollers combing over with
is a bread-fruit-tree plank, ten to twenty feet in length and
Taking this in
his hands, the swimmer cleaves his way to the first line of
his opportunity, he dives under a coming sea, and is carried
by the undertow
some distance from the shore, when he rises to the surface and
Soon a breaker
of more than usual size heaves up, and as it takes the ground
and with a speed of forty miles an hour rushes toward the
At once the
throws himself on his board, and, keeping on the smooth slope
of the mighty
breaker just under the curling crest, is swept with lightning
to the shore.
swimmer of unusual hardihood and skill stands upon the surf-
on his balancing powers to escape the fury of the seething
surge that ever
threatens to swallow him up.
The sight is
character, and one is not surprised to learn that sometimes
adventurer loses his life for his audacity. The philosophy of
seems to be that it is only possible when the waves roll in
As one part of
the comber touches the shore and breaks and dissolves, the
repeated action sends the board forward as well as side-wise ;
between forces acting in a tangent the swimmer is impelled
one would suppose only destruction could be his fate.
likely that the discovery of the possibility of thus gliding
slope of a breaker was due to accident, like so many other
As (a breaker) takes the
ground (it) curls upward
... it is
only possible when the waves roll in
obliquely toward the land.
As one part of the comber touches the shore
and breaks and dissolves,
continually repeated action sends the board
forward as well as side-wise.
Mill in Hilo District (Wainaku).
Geography of the Hawaiian
Book Company, New York,
Rev.edition, page 75.
Geoff Cater (2012-2017) : S.
G. W. Benjamin
: Surf-riding at Hilo, 1880.