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browne  : surf riding in hawaii, 1899 

G. Waldo Browne : Surf Riding in Hawaii, 1899.

Extract from
Browne, G. Waldo:
Two American Boys in Hawaii - the Boys Own Authors Series.
Illustrations by Louis Meynell
Dana Eskes and Company, Boston, 1899.

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A junior fiction book, the account of surf riding is probably collated from previously published works.
Page 166

Afar stretched the blue Pacific, farther than the gaze could reach, calm and placid,  its warm brow cooled by the northern wind.
But it was neither to the right nor ahead, nor yet out over old ocean, that Lew's sight was directed by his companion.

They were here in plain view of the shore, from whose surging tide rose a continual roar that filled their ears, and it was there Ned pointed.
The scene was such that it was no wonder the boys in their anxiety to go on should pause for a moment to admire.
It was nothing less than a score  or more of natives enjoying their morning exercises in the  warm water.
The surf at that place was favourable for the sport of the Hawaiians, though more timid swimmers (page 167) might well have hesitated before venturing into a tide which rose and broke in such swells.

There were young men and old, women, boys, and girls, many of them carrying in their hands that inseparable assistant of the Hawaiian swimmer, the surf board.
This was a thick but light plank about two feet wide at the middle, tapering toward the ends, and six to eight feet in length.

" Isn't it a sight worth looking on ? " asked Ned.
" I do not believe the Hawaiian has his equal in the world when in the water.
Look at that big, fat, gray-headed man !
How he handles his Papa-he-nula, as their wave-shaped boards are called in their language.
They are made from the wood of the breadfruit-tree, are kept well oiled and cared for, as you may well imagine.
Watch that little fellow on the right.
See him wading out from that rock so as to get into the line breakers ; now he dives, and you won't see him again unless you look for him through a glass some time from now on the smooth water half a mile out to sea.
But if you keep watch for him he will return in a way which will amaze you."

Lew watched the scene with enchanted gaze.
He had never seen anything like it.
Nor were he and Ned the only spectators, as the shore was lined with people who had come out thus early to witness the morning's pastime.
After seeing the fat swimmer ride the swells safely in to disappear mysteriously under the tide, just as the wave was about to
break on the shore, he looked for the reappearance of the boy swimmer, who seemed bent on showing off to his best advantage.

" There he comes', with half a dozen others ! " cried Ned.
" Look for him on the left."

Lew had already seen the youthful expert, as at that (page 168) moment he rode into sight on the crest of a high roller, lying face downward on his board.
Then, as the wave sped on, he went down into the trough until lost to sight, huge combers fretting the top of the wave as his board struck the ground.
An instant later he reappeared, poising himself on the front guard of the oncoming breaker, by dexterous movements of hands and feet always keeping just on the verge of the brink, as if ready to dive, carried on by the power of the swell behind him at the rate of fifty miles an hour.
Borne on this matchless steed, the brave young Hawaiian sprang nimbly to his feet in the midst of his exciting race, and, waving his hands to the delighted lookers-on, he uttered loud shouts of triumph.
Seeming every moment about to be engulfed by the pursuing breaker, whose white crest over- topped him, at the instant when that seemed inevitable he slipped from off his board and darted under the surf.
Later he was back to the smooth sea ready to repeat his daring exploit or try some new feat.
What he had done half a dozen companions had accomplished, though not many of them with the daring and agility of this boy of the surf.

"The undertow helps them to return," said Ned.
"The great secret of their success is in mounting the breaker or roller at the right moment, and to keep exactly on the curl when it breaks.
It is wonderful how they do it.
Look to that fellow on the left, who is flung bruised and senseless on the beach, as a result of missing his calculation."

As pretty and thrilling as was the sight, the boys had not the time to spare to watch it, and, leaving the careless surf riders to their sport, they rode on their way, the ponies moving at what Lew considered a " dog trot."

Browne, G. Waldo:
Two American Boys in Hawaii - the Boys Own Authors Series
Illustrations by Louis Meynell
Dana Eskes and Company, Boston, 1899.

Internet Archive

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Geoff Cater (2012-2016) : G. Waldo Browne : Two American Boys in Hawaii, 1899.