duke : surfboard riding, part 1, 1911
AT WAIKIKI BEACH,
HONOLULU, TERRITORY OF HAWAII.
Copyright 1910 A.R. Gurrey Jr.
RIDING THE SURFBOARD
By DUKE PAOA.
Duke Paoa was born on the island of Oahu, within sound of the surf, and has
spent half of his waking hours from early childhood battling the waves for sport.
He is now 21 years of age, and is the recognized native Hawaiian champion surf rider.
Duke and the members of the Hui Nalu, an organization of professional surfers at Waikiki,
have supplied the material for this article on the national sport of Hawaii.
never seen snow and do not know what winter means.
I have never coasted down a hill of frozen rain, but every day of the year, where the water is 76, day and night, and the waves roll high, I take my sled, without runners, and coast down the face of the big waves that roll in at Waikik!.
you like to stand like a god before the crest of a monster
billow, always rushing to the bottom of a hill and never
reaching its base, and to come rushing in for half a mile at
speed, in graceful attitude, of course, until you reach the beach and step easily from the wave to the strand?
Find the locality, as we Hawaiians did,- here the rollers are long in forming, slow to break, and then run for a great distance over a flat, level bottom, and the rest is possible.
ideal surfing stretch in all the world is at Waikiki beach,
near Honolulu, Hawaii.
Here centuries ago was born the sport of running foot races upon the crests of the billows, and here bronze skinned men and women vie today with the white man for honors in aquatic sports once exclusively Hawaiian, but in which the white man now rivals the native.
I mastered the art of riding the surf-board in the warm Hawaiian waters when I was a very small child, and I never gaze out upon the ocean in any part of the island that I do not figure out how far each wave, as it comes rolling in, would carry me standing on its crest.
There are great, long, regular, sweeping billows, after a storm at Waikiki that have carried me from more than a mile out at sea right up to the beach; there are rollers after a big kona storm that sweep across Hilo Bay, on the Big Island of Hawaii, and carry native surfboard riders five miles at a run, and on the Island of Niihau there are even more wonderful surfboard feats performed.
is easy to make.
Mine is about the size and shape of the ordinary kitchen ironing board.
In the old days the natives were wont to use cocoanut logs in the big surf off Diamond Head, and sometimes six of them ...
favorite pastimes of ancient Hawaiians that of surfriding
was a most prominent and popular one with all classes.
In favored localities throughout the group for the practice and exhibition of the sport, "high car- nival" was frequently held at the spirited contests between rivals in this aquatic sport, to witness which the people would gather from near and far; especially if a famous surf-rider from another district, or island, was seeking to wrest honors from their own champion.
legends abound with the exploits of those who attained
distinction among their fellows by their skill and daring in
this sport; indulged in alike by both sexes. Necessary work
for the maintenance of the family, such as farming, fishing,
mat and kapa making and such other house- hold duties
required and needing attention, by either head of the family
were often neglected for the prosecution of the sport.
Betting was made an accompaniment thereof, both by the chiefs and the common people.
Canoes, nets, fishing lines, kapas, swine, poultry and all other property were staked, and in some instances life itself was put up as wagers, the property changing hands, and personal liberty, or even life itself sacrificed, ...
(Photograph, page 4b, Headstand.)
tinted version from
only three kinds of trees known to be used for making boards
for surfriding, viz.: the wiliwili (Erythrina monosperma),
ulu, or bread-fruit (Artocarpus incisa), and koa (Acacia
The uninitiated were naturally careless, or indifferent as to the method of cutting the chosen tree, but among those who desired success upon their lahors the following rites were carefully observed:
Upon the selection of a suitable tree, a red fish called kumu was first procured, which was placed at its trunk.
The tree was then cut down, after which a hole was dug at its root and the fish placed therein, with a prayer, as an offering in payment therefor.
After this ceremony was performed, then the tree trunk was chipped away from each side until reduced to a board approximately of the dimensions desired, when it was pulled down to the beach and placed in the halau (canoe house) or other suitable place convenient for its finishing work.
Coral of the corrugated variety, termed pohaku puna, which could be gathered in abundance along the sea beach, and a rough kind of stone called 'oahi, were the commonly used articles for reducing and smoothing the rough surfaces of the board until all marks of the stone adze were obliterated.
As a finishing stain the root of the ti plant (Cordyline terminalis), called mole ki, or the pounded bark of the kukui (Aleurites moluccana), called hili, was the mordant used for a paint, made with the root of burned kukui nut.
This furnished a durable glossy black finish, far preferable to that made with the ashes of burned cane leaves, or amau fern, which had neither body nor gloss.
Before using the board there were other rites or ceremonies to be performed for its dedication, and, among those who followed the making of surf-boards as a trade, they were religiously observed.
two kinds of boards for surfriding; one is called the olo
and the other the a-la-ia, known also as i omo.
The olo was made of wiliwili- a very light, buoyant wood-some three fathoms long, two to three feet wide, and from six to eight inches thick along the middle of the board, lengthwise, but rounding toward the edges on both upper and lower sides.
It is well known that the olo was only for the use of the chiefs; none of the common people used it. They used the a-la-ia, which was made of koa, or ulu.
Its length and width was similar to the olo, except in thickness, it being but of one and a half to two inches thick along its center.
The line of breakers is the place where the surf rises and breaks at ...
5b, Four Boardriders, Diamond Head.)
The Real Thing.
only two kinds of surf in which riding is indulged; these
are called kakala, known also as lauloa, or long surf, and
the ohu, sometimes called opuu.
The former is a surf that rises, covering the whole distance from one end of a beach to the other. This, at times, forms in successive waves that roll in with high, threatening crest, finally falling over bodily.
The first of a series of surf waves usually partakes of this character, and is never taken by a rider, as will be mentioned later.
The ohu is a very small comber that rises up without breaking, but of such strength that it sends the board on speedily.
This is considered the best, being low and smooth and the riding thereon easy and pleasant, and is therefore preferred by ordinary surf-riders.
The lower portion of the breaker is called honua, or foundation, and the portion near a cresting wave is tremed the muku side, while the distant, or clear side, as some have expressed it, is known as the lala.
During calm weather, when there was 'no surf, there were two ",ways of making or coaxing it practiced by the ancient Hawaiians, the generally adopted method being for a swimming party to take several strands of the sea convolvulus vine and swinging it around the head lash it down unitedly upon the water until the desired result was obtained.
swimmer, taking position at the line of breakers waits for
the proper surf.
As before mentioned, the first one is allowed to pass by.
It is never ridden, because its front is rough.
If the second comber is seen to be a good one, it is sometimes taken, but usually the third or fourth is the best, both from the regularity of its breaking and the foam calmed surface of the sea through the travel of its predecessors.
with the olo or thick board, the board is pointed landward
and the rider, mounting it, paddles with his hands and
impels with his feet to give the board a forward movement,
and when it receives the momentum of the surf and begins to
rush downward, the skilled rider will guide his course
straight, or obliquely, apparently at will, according to the
spending character of the surf ridden, ...
|Taking It Easy.|
In the use
of the olo the rider had to swim around the line of surf to
obtain position, or be conveyed thither by canoe.
To swim out through the surf with such a buoyant bulk was not possible, though it was sometimes done with the thin boards, the a-la-ia.
These latter are good for riding all kinds of surf, and are much easier to handle than the olo.
Kaha nalu is the term used for surf- swimming without the use of the board, and was done with the body only.
The swimmer, as with a board, would go out for the position and, watching his opportunity, would strike out with ha;nds and feet to obtain headway as the approaching comber with its breaking crest would catch him, and with his rapid swimming powers bear him onward with swift momentum" the body being submerged in the foam; the head and shoulders only being seen.
Kaha experts could ride on the lala or top of the surf as if riding with a board.
I hope I shall be forgiven if I quote ...
7b, 7c, Diamond Head.)
In the Big Surf.
... largely from the writings of others, as I am not a writer myself, but know when I read a description of surfing whether or not it is correct.
riding is an art easy of accomplishment to the few and
difficult to the many.
It is at its best when the rollers are long in forming, slow to break, and, after they do, run for a great distance over a flat, level bottom, such as the coral beds at Waikiki, which is perhaps the all-year-round ideal surfboarding bit of water in the whole world.
There are three surfs at Waikiki: the "big surf" toward Diamond Head, in front of Queen Liliuokalani's summer residence, where the most expert surf-board riders and the native boys disport themselves; the "canoe" surf, nearly in front of the Moana Hotel, where the majority of those who stand on the board dispute rights with the outrigger canoes that come sliding in from a mile out at sea before the monster rollers; and the beginners, or cornucopia surf - a series of gentle rollers before the Outrigger Canoe Club's grounds and the Seaside Hotel.
Here, as a rule, beginners learn the art of balancing on the board.
The water for several hundred yards out is but waist deep, so that the malihini (new-comer) can stand beside his board, wait for a wave, give his board a forward push, jump on, and race in toward the beach before the foaming crest.
He quickly learns, lying down, to guide the board by moving his legs, like a rudder, from one side to the other.
There is nothing difficult in mastering this portion of the art of surfing, but out in the deep water it
is quite another proposition.
There you have no foothold from which to gain a start, which must now be given the board by the power of the hands.
It is half a mile out to the big waves, or "nalu nui," and a long "hoe," as the overhand windmill stroke that takes you out is termed.
The intending surfer launches his board by grasping it in both hands by the edges, so that it balances, rushes down the slightly sloping beach, and throws himself upon the board as he casts it upon the waters with a forward movement that gives it a good start and sends it beyond the first row of little breakers.
Then begins that constant, steady, windmill movement of the arms, the hands acting as paddles, and the six or seven-foot plank of light wood swiftly glides out to sea.
To the beginner the exercise soon tires to exhaustion; the neck and back ache, and the points of the ribs that touch the ...
seem to cut through the flesh.
Perseverance, however, overcomes all obstacles, and after a few days new muscle is developed and the stiffness is forgotten.
Out in the
deep surf, the board goes outward under the waves, a diving
tip being given the board just as it bucks each onrushing
Once out where the waves foam, the surfer sits on his board, which, of course, sinks until only an inch or so of the tip is above water, and waits for THE wave.
Several may pass, then afar off he notices the one he wants.
It is coming onward, a great green roller with a ridge of almost imperceptible spray along its entire length.
This is the wave that will curl and break to perfection, then rush on for hundreds of yards - a Niagara of foam.
The line of surfers prepares, and as the base of the mountain of water reaches them, there is vigorous and deft paddling with all the strength that skill can put into trained arms, and the great effort is made.
Some rise rapidly to the crest of the billow and sink behind it; they have lost the wave.
Others keep down in the hollow just before the wall of green.
It breaks, and these fortunates are lost in the foam, rise through it, standing on their board, are lifted to the top of the white crest, and by skillful balancing, and guiding their boards with their feet, send them down in the bias until once more they are in front of the on-rushing mass of water.
Some of the boards, of course, are divorced from their owners and go sailing in the air, while the surfer dives involuntarily toward coral.
Few, however, are the accidents of surfing, and it is doubtful if anyone has ever been seriously injured at this sport which has come down to the "haole" from the old kings of Hawaii.
years past the sport of surfing had been on the decline, for
as the vacant lots facing the beach at Waikiki were taken up
by private ownership, the small boy of Honolulu was forced
to give up his favorite sport.
It was on account of this injustice to the small boy that the Outrigger Club was formed in April, 1908.
The Club soon numbered several hundred members.
New members were taught to ride standing upon the surfboard, and so popular became the revival of the old Hawaiian sport that even the ladies began to take a deep interest in it.
A number of young girls have learned to stand upon their boards, riding the waves, and together with their mothers and older sisters have organized an auxiliary club.
Neither surfboarding, nor driving the big native canoes safely before the ...
The Crowning Stunt.
(Concluded in February Mid Pacific)
(Photograph, page 10b, Two riders.)
Reproduced in many subsequent editions.
Volume 1, Number1.
Published by Alexander Hume Ford,
Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii,
Volume 1, Number 1,
Published by Alexander Hume Ford,
Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii,
Volume 1 Number1.