: surf-riding at waikiki, 1900
Chamberlin : Surf-riding at Waikiki, 1900.Chamberlin, Wilbur
J.: Ordered to China; letters of Wilbur J.
Chamberlin, written from China
while under commission from the New York Sun during the Boxer uprising of 1900 and the
international complications which followed.
F. A. Stokes Company, New York, 1903.
Introduction Seven years before Alexander Hume Ford "resurrected"
surf-riding with the formation of the Outrigger Canoe Club, Chamberlin observed hundreds in bathing
at Waikiki, and nearly all of them had surf-boards.
J., 1866-1901. Page 12
S.S. CITY OF
PEKING, Monday, August 20, 1900.
On the road again, traveling west. In my letter to you
Sunday morning I said that the Peking was to sail
That was the time she should have sailed, and I cut my
But she did not sail until nearly 12 o'clock last night.
It took until that time to load up with coal to carry her
on to Yokohama.
It was about as dull an afternoon on the ship as could be
put in, and so, with five other passengers, I went off to
Waikiki, the seashore, again, and had another swim in the
We all had dinner at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and got
back on board the Peking about 10 o'clock in the evening.
I promised to give you the details of the trip about
After the ride we all went to the beach.
The water here is only four or five feet deep clear out a
half-mile from the shore, and that makes a beautiful line
There were hundreds in bathing.
Nearly all of them had surf-boards, and the natives were
particularly expert in using them.
A surf-board is a flat board about the length of a man's
body, and to ride on it you must flop down on your stomach
at exactly the moment a wave catches up with you.
Then, keeping your feet and legs going like a threshing
machine, you ride ahead of the wave until you lose your
You have no idea of the speed with which the wave comes.
You don't begin to realize it until you see a man riding a
surf-board ahead of it.
The most expert of the natives were able to ride a while
on the boards on their stomachs, and then to climb up and
balance themselves, standing on the board and riding clear
in to the shore.
It is a more difficult trick than walking a tight rope,
and a good deal more interesting to look at.
Besides the surf-boards, there were surf-boats.
These were long, curved, with two arms out one side, and a
sort of rider at the end of the arms to make a better
Two natives would take one passenger away out in one of
these boats, and then swing the canoe around, and have it
caught by a wave just as the surf-board was caught.
Then they'd all come kiting in to the shore at what seemed
a mile-a-minute gait, the spray dashing up in front and
all about them. It looked like the finest kind of sport,
but I didn't try it.
After our bath, our party had dinner with C. in the hotel
annex at the seashore.
Wilbur J.: Ordered to China; letters of Wilbur
J. Chamberlin, written
from China while under commission from the New
York Sun during the Boxer uprising of 1900 and
the international complications which followed.
F. A. Stokes
Company, New York, 1903.