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 Duke Kahanamoku : 1914-1915

Source Documents
Australian Newspaper Extracts
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku's Australian Visit
Wonderful Surf Riding : Kahanamoku on the Board The Sun, Thursday 24th December 1914 page 6.
Surf-board Riding : Kahanamoku's Display   SMH, Friday 25th December 1914 page 7
Acrobatics in the Surf   The Daily Telegraph Friday 25th December 1914 page 7.
Kahanamoku, Duke With Brennan, Joe: 
1968 Duke Kahanamoku's World of Surfing
Angus and Robertson Publishers Sydney , Australia
Australia : pages 35 –36

The First Surf Board Rider in Australia
Duke Kahanamoku was not the first Boardrider in Australia.
There are several references that detail the use of surfboards before 1914 and close study of photographic evidence indicates that there was a healthy interest in boardriding in Australia pre -1914, which blossomed with the impact of Duke Kahanamoku's demonstrations.
The image below has seven (8) various surf craft, including Duke Kahanamoku's board' and not the reported Manly surf boat.
Photo 1.
Duke Kahanamoku leaves the water, Freshwater Beach 10 January 1915.
(Date is questionable)

Blown Up Images from the above photograph....
Young man and Hand board, Board #1
Young man and Belly board, Board #2

Young boy and hand board, Board #3 Young boy and hand board, Board #4 Young boy and hand board, Board #5
Man attempting to stand on surfboard, Board #6
Man holding board, approx. 6 ft, Board #7

The First Surf Board in Australia
The board made by Duke Kahanamoku for Freshwater in 1914 was not the first surfboard in Australia.

The first full size board was probably an Hawaiian Alaia imported by C.D. Paterson of Manly, which was not successfully ridden (it was retired to the family home at the Spit to be used as a ironing board).
This board inspired several replica boards.
Made from Californian redwood by Les Hinds, a local builder from North Steyne, they were 8 ft long, 20" wide, 11/2" thick and weighed 35 pounds.
Riding the boards was limited to launching onto broken waves from a standing position and riding white water straight in, either prone or kneeling.
Standing rides on the board for up to 50 yards/metres were considered outstanding.
(Harris page 53-54).

Other full surfboards are said to be in use in Cronulla (see Duke visits Cronulla, 1915) and Coolangatta, Queensland. (Harvey page 8).
The use of small hand boards was common.

While in Australia Duke Kahanamoku shaped at least 3 other boards.
Although the details of the shaping of the Freshwater board are reasonably  known, the details of the other two are obscure.
One went to Cronulla, the other's fate is unknown.

The Board Dimensions Constuction and Design
Matt Warshaw and Sandra Hall (in Longboard magazine April/May 1996) refers to the length of the board as 9 ft.
In Nat Young's Book of Surfing (1979) and his Surfing Fundamentals (1985 and 1993)  the dimensions are 3.6 m x 61 cm x 7.5 cm x 31 kg (11 ft 10" x 24" x 3").
This is possibly a typographical error (twice?) as 2.6 m is close to the correct 8 ft 8".

There is some question whether the timber - Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) - was imported or native to Australia (the former) and the difficulty of  shaping the unfamiliar wood.
In the first case suitable native Hawaiian timbers had been rare since 1900 and most Hawaiian boards used imported timbers, mainly Californian Redwood.
Secondly, whatever the difficulties, the exercise was apparently repeated  several months later  in 1915 when Duke Kahanamoku demonstrated  swimming / surfriding  at Lyall Bay, Wellington New Zealand ( Warwick 1978). Presumably on another 'makeshift' board.

The Date
The most significant day in the history of Australian surfing was Duke Kahanamoku's exhibition of ‘surfriding’ to Australian surfers at Freshwater Beach in the Southern summer of 1914-1915.
Although the event is mentioned in many sources there is some confusion over the actual date.

1. Duke Kahanamoku in his own book (with Joe Brennan) notes it as '1915', page 35.
2. The original board at the Freshwater Surf Lifesaving Club bears a plaque noting the date as '15 February 1915'. This seems possible but unlikely - Duke Kahanamoku was in Melbourne  12 - 13 February and at Goulburn on the 17 February.
3. C. Bede Maxwell, (1949) refers to the date as '1915 ... one Sunday morning', page 235.
4. Walter Forbes (1958) records '1915', page 18.
5. John Bloomfield (1959) notes '1915', page 61.
6. Reg S. Harris (1961) records the date as '15th February, 1915', page Fifty-five.
7. Alf Henderson in Myers (1983) twice notes the date as '(summer of) 1915', page 56.
8. Nat Young (1983) gives '15 January 1915', page 47.
9. Barry Galton (1984), quotes Snowy McAlister as '2 January 1915' page 25.
- Unlikely, as this was the first day of the the Domain Carnival.
10. Nick Carroll (1991) dates the exhibition as 'February 1915', page 25.
11. Marion Stell (1992) records the  date as ' 6 February 1915'  after interviews with Isobel Lathem.
- Certainly Duke Kahanamoku and Isobel Lathem surfed together on this day, but at Dee Why and not for the first time.
12. Sandra Hall and Greg Ambrose (1995) note 'Christmas 1914', pages 39 - 40.
13. Peter Brown at his Mountain Man web site (1996) adopts a similar 'Southern summer of 1915'.
14. Matt Warshaw  (1997) offers 'December 23, 1914', page 19.
15. The Legendary Surfers web page of Malcom Gault-Williams gives the date as '23 December 1914'.
16. Drew Kampion (1997) also gives the date as '23 December 1914', page 40.
17. Albie Thoms (2000) records the date as '11.00 am Wednesday 23 December 1914', and gives extensive details on subsequent exhibitions.
18. Australian beach cultures: the history of sun, sand, and surf By Douglas Booth (2001) page 38-  '23 December 1914'

Unfortunately all of the above are incorrect.

The date of Duke Kahanamoku's first exhibition in Australia was at Freshwater Beach on Thursday 24th December 1914.
See ...
Wonderful Surf Riding : Kahanamoku on the Board The Sun, Thursday 24th December 1914 page 6.
Surf-board Riding : Kahanamoku's Display   SMH, Friday 25th December 1914 page 7
Acrobatics in the Surf   The Daily Telegraph Friday 25th December 1914 page 7.

Note that the exhibition was promoted in advance and it is possible that the board was test ridden before the advertised day.

Newspaper Reports.
9 December 1914 - Kahanamoku party in transit,
                                   SMH  9 December 1914 p6
14 December 1914 - Arrival,
                                     SMH 16 December 1914 p6
23 or 24 December 1914 - Freshwater Surfing Demonstration,
                                  SMH 25 December 1914 p7,
                                   Daily Telegraph, 25     December 1914, p 7 - included photograph.
29 December 1914 - Schoolboy's Demonstration, Domain,
                                    SMH 23 December 1914 p ?,
                                    Daily Telegraph, 29  December 1914, p 3
30 December 1914 - Letter suggesting lanes be roped,
                                    Daily Telegraph, 30 December 1914, p 14
2 January 1915 - Domain Carnival,
                            SMH 4 January 1914 p 11
6  January 1915 - Domain Carnival,
                              SMH 6 January 1914 p 6,
                              SMH 8 January 1914 p 10
9 January 1915 -  Domain Carnival,
                              SMH 9 January 1914 p 16

13 January 1915 - Article : Kahanamoku's Methods,
                                 SMH 13 January 1914 p 6
16 January 1915 - First Brisbane Carnival (one of three),
                               SMH 18 January 1914 p 5

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Friday 15 January 1915 p 3 Article ... SWIMMING. DUKE KAHANAMOKU. V ARRIVAL IN BRISBANE. Duke Kahanamoku, the celebrated swimmer from the Hawaiian Islands, and his swimming companion, George Cunha, and the manager of the tour arrived in Brisbane last night by the Sydney mail tram fiom Allora, -»hero the two swimmers took part m a ... 211 words 
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Saturday 16 January 1915 p 11 Article ... DUKE KAHANAMOKU. .1 ? > AN OFFICIAL RECEPTION. In the Town Hall yesterday an official reception was tendered by the mayor (Alderman C. M Jenkinson) to Duke Kahanamoku, the famous swimmer, anti lim ... Carter) sat on the left of the mayor, and Duke Kahanamoku on the right Amongst others present were ... 360 words

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Saturday 16 January 1915 p 5 Article ... [ To-day's Kahanamoku Carnival. The first st opportunity of seeing the world's 01 Id s fastest swimmer—Duke Kahanamoku—and his ls.ahana« moku-ind lm speedy swimming companion—George Cunha—will be he afforded Btisbane le-dents this afternoon, it the Uoek, South Trisb mt Both saiinimera will he seen ... 270 words 
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Saturday 17 December 1932 p 6 Article ... AMERICAN SWIMMERS. DISPLAYS AT ROCKHAMPTON. ROCKHAMPTON. December 16. A large crowd saw the American swimmers, Kalin and Kurtz, compete In handicap exhibition swims at the city baths to-night. The ... covered the 100 yards In 56sec" which equals thhe record for the baths, established by Duke Kahanamoku. ... 215 words 
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Monday 18 January 1915 p 4 Article ... KAHANAMOKU CARNIVALS. a i THE FIRST STAGE. A FINE ATTENDANCE. SOME ATTRACTIVE SWIMMING. Saturday was w as a gala day for swimmers and supportas of swimming. The occasion occa sion was the first of ... to spare. Kahanamoku and S. Springfield appeared to dead, heal, bul the officials decided in favour ... 1481 words 
Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909-1954) Monday 18 January 1915 p 8 Detailed lists, results, guides ... Uhe attendance was large. -Kahanamoku and Cunha, took part in the 100 yards -> first class invita- tion handice.p, which was won by B. ï»ierce.» o£ the Valley club, on the 12 seconds nar^. Kahanamoku ... Duke and Cunha I were only a couple of yards behind i the rest. Kahanamoku came with a great rush at ... 187 words 
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Tuesday 19 January 1915 p 7 Article ... Kahanamoku Carnivals. The second of the Kahanamoku carnivals vals will be held in the Dock, South Br[?]bane, to-morrow to-morroxv evening. Another attractive tractive programme has been prepared, and Duke Kahannmoku and George Cunha will again he seen In competition with the local cracks. Special ... 80 words

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Wednesday 20 January 1915 p 8 Article ... To-night's Kahariamoku Carnival. The second of the carnivals at which the worlds' oildl s champion swimmer. Duke Kahanamoku, and his companion, GUeorge Ueorge Cunha, will appear will take place in the Dock, South linsbane, this evening, commencing at S o'clock The events m which the vi-itois will ... 100 words 
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Thursday 21 January 1915 p 3 Article ... KAHANAMOKU CARNIVALS. THE SECOND STAGE. INTERESTING SPORT. Interest in the visit to Brisbane tahune of Duke Kahanamok[?] the wonderful swimmer from the Hawa[?] Island, and ind his swimming companion, George Cunha, was fullv biislamcd last night when the sei omi «tage of the Kali inamokii carni ... 860 words

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Friday 22 January 1915 p 3 Article ... I THE SWIMMING CARNIVAL. | I TO THE EDITOR. Sir-A Tinrtv rvf W.nJ. ~~A _.T1C I 21. travelled 17 miles to see the great swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku, but it was a very disappointed and disgusted party, that left the Docks, for, with the excep tion of one race, the great swmimer was con«picuous by his ... 197 words

Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909-1954) Thursday 22 January 1920 p 8 Article ... SWIMMING. '?' » _ ? More New Records. BRISBANE, Jan. 21. The , American swimmer, -Norman Ross, established a new Australian record cord at Maryborough to-night for the 100 yards back stroke, ... attempted, but failed, to lower the world's record of 6:3-5secs., put up in Germany b3' Duke Kahanamoku. ... 105 words

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Saturday 23 January 1915 p 6 Article ... To-day's Kahanamoku Carnival. Owing mt to the clock not being available the third and last of the Kahanamoku carnivals u tin v ils will be held in the South Brisbane Baths bane Bitbs this afternoon, com iiicncing it 2 30 \n uttnitive ]>io gi anime will he piescntod J he manage i ot Dill e Kali ... 152 words

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) Friday 29 January 1915 p 6 Article ... SWIMMING CARNIVAL. HAWAIIANS AT ROCKHAMPTON. ROCKHAMPTON, January 28. A, successful swimming carn[?]va[?] was concluded to-night, Duke Kahanamoku, ' Cunha, Eric Pearce, and Seweli participating. T. T V. Dowzer retained the title of Centitol Queensland Champion,, ¡nid won lue 100} ds. champions' ... 81 words

4 February 1915 - Return to Sydney from Brisbane,
                                 SMH 23 January 1915 p13

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954) Saturday 6 February 1915 p 18 Article ... KAHANAMOKU RETURNS. SUCCESSFUL TOUR IN QUEENSLAND. Messrs. D. P. Kahanamoku, ... Maryborough, and Mount Morgan. Owing to the Queensland rules not allow- ... Kahanamoku and Cunha had to concede long starts. However, the majority of the events were won, and ... 117 words.

6 February 1915 - Dee Why Carnival (Cunha at Ladies Carnival),
                                     SMH 3 February 1915 p 8,
                                     SMH 6 February 1915 p 18,
                                     SMH 10 February 1915 p 6
7 February 1915 - Cronulla Picnic,
                               St George Call, 13 February 1915
8 February 1915 - Drummoyne Carnival,
                               SMH 9 February 1915 p 12
10 February 1915 - Newcasle Gala
12 - 13  February 1915 - Melboune Visit
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954) Tuesday 2 February 1915 p 8 Article ... KAHANAMOKU'S VISIT. Kahanamoku, the famous Hawafian champion, , will arrive by the Sydney express on Fruday, February ruary 12. He will be met at the station by, the committee of the Melbourne ... swimmer,. Kahanamoku will attack his KW-yimln world's record, made in Sydney on January 2, at Hie City ... 137 words 
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954) Friday 12 February 1915 p 9 Article ... CHAMPION SWIMMER. KAHANAMOKU'S VISIT. Duke Kahanamoku, in .mol ii, the famous Hawaiian champion, and G. C Cunha, who will arrive by the Sydney express to-day, will be welcomed by the Lord Mayor of ot Melbourne (Alderinan ¡MI Di«id Iliiini.s}) nt the lown Hall this aftiinoon It wus de- cided b} ... 207 words 
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954) Saturday 13 February 1915 p 9 Article ... CHAMPION SWIMMER. ?" ARRIVAL OF KAHANAMOKU. Duke Kabanamoku, the famous Hawaiian champion, G Cunha (Hawaii), and members bers of the Manly Life-saving Club, who are to take part in the competitions ... compete in other events, and 1 Adrian, the Ne»v bomb Wales champion, who beat Kahanamoku in Sydney, ... 347 words

17 February 1915 - Goulburn Carnival
19 February 1915  - Patriotic Carnival and Surfboard Auction
                                  - Mooted but cancelled, SMH 26 January 1915 p13
19 February 1915 - Leave for New Zealand
New Zealand Program (Provisional), SMH  4 February 1915 p 12,
SWIMMING. HAWA[?]AN BREAKS RECORD. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954) Thursday 25 February 1915 p 8 Article ... SWIMMING. HAWA[?]AN BREAKS RECORD. WELLINGTON (N.Z Wednesday.—Duke Kahanamoku, - J>ake Kabananioku, at Christchurch, won the 100 yards race in 57 sec., [?] 4-5sec[?] better than the previous New Zealand record ... 30 words 
KAHANAMOKU'S RECORD. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954) Monday 1 March 1915 p 13 Article ... KAHANAMOKU'S RECORD. WELLINGTON, Sunday.-Duke Kahanamoku established a fresh New Zealand record for 100 yards at Dunedin on Saturday. He swam the distance In 55sec. ... 24 words

Evening Post, Volume LXXXIX, Issue 45, 23 February 1915, Page 8

Date: July 25, 1913
Location: California
Paper: Evening News
Article type: Advertisement
Kahanamoku + surf
Date: July 26, 1913
Location: California
Paper: Evening News
Article type: Advertisement

KAHANAMOKU. Hawaiian Swimmer. ARRIVES IN SYDNEY. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954) Wednesday 31 December 1924 p 9 Article


Hawaiian Swimmer.
"Since the day my brothor, Duke Kabana- moku, arrived home I have been looking for- ward to ' a visit to Sydney," remarked Sam Kabanamoku, of tile Hul Nalu Club, Hawaii, on his arrival yestorday morning by the
Sonoma. '
Ho resembles his brother In features. Liko most Hawalians, Kabanamoku Is modest, and be has a broad, gonlal smile, which will mako him popular in Australia.
Twenty years of age, ho bas had a meteoric swimming career, and he is the moBt versatile overseas champion that has vlsltod Sydney. He holds tbo 100 yardB, 220 yards, 440 yards freestyle, 100 yards breantstroke, and 60 yards backstroko titles of Hawaii. In addition to prossiug closely his brother and J. Weiss mullor In the 100 metres world's championship at the recent Olympic Games, at Parts, ho was also one of the six selected to compoto In the American team lu tho 800 metres teams ohamplonship, in which they beat Australia. His crowning performance was 100 metres lu GOs, at Honolulu, in April this year. That time has only been bettered by Welssmullor.
Those who travollod on the boat with Kah anamoku stated that he has a fine volco, and
is a clever musician.
Kabanamoku was met on the wharf by Mr. O. G. II. Merrett, manugor of the Australian Olympic toam, and chairman of tho New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association« MT. L. Duff, lion, secretary; and Mr. H. R. Kelly, hon. secretary of the Amateur Swim- ming Union of Australia.
In the afternoon ho visited the Domain Baths, and had his first swim, declaring that
the water was cold.
Last night he said that Sydney was "groat," and ho was not sorry that he had postponed for a year his visit to Stanford University, where he will study medicine.
The Lord Mayor-elect (Alderman Stokes) has decldod to extend a civic welcome to the famous Hawaiian swimmer, Miss Wehselau, on January 14. Miss Wehselau performed with distinction at the Olympic Games.

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 12 January 1925 page 13

I San» Kobanainokii, the Hawaiian champion swimmer, was .the guest yesterday of the North Steyne Surf Life Saving Club, and a large number of meinlicrj of Hie club' and ' their friends were present lo welcome bim. Kahnnumoku ima'received by Mr. D. Love (pic-fdeiit) on behalf of the club". The Mayor of Manly (Alder- man Samuels) extended a welcome lo the municipality, and Mr. 0. G. II. Merrett spoke on behalf of the Manly
District Sporting Union.
During the morning n first-class surf race took place, there being about !» competitor«. Kakuliamoku won easily,. swimming leisurely the whole distance. A. Morton (Manly) was second. There was also a surf boat race,, in which North Steyne, Freshwater (two crews), Manly, and Curl Curl competed, the event being won by Freshwater A team. Tho boats also gave a dis- play of surf-shooting, and Knliununioku gave an exhibí
Hon willi « surf board,

PRINCE AT HONOLULU POPULAR PASTIME. AFTERNOON SURF BATHING. (FROM MR. JOHN SANDES, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN PRESS ASSOCIATION, ABOARD H.M.S. RENOWN.) HONOLULU, April 15. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954) Saturday 17 April 1920 p 13 Article ... Kahanamoku, tho famous Hawaiian swimmer, attended with a native outrigger canoe. Admid an enthusi- ... 657 words 
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954) Saturday 31 May 1924 p 16 Article

News has been received by cable that Miss Isabel Ramsay Letham, of Manly, has received the appointment of director of swimming to the city of San Francisco.
Miss Letham will be well remembered .by surfers as the first to exploit the "big" surf board at Manly and Deewhy.
Last season she acted as assistant director of swimming at the Californian University.
Miss Letham is a daughter of Mrs. Jean Letham, of Chatswood.

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931-1954) Friday 20 January 1933 p 21 Article ... Dangers Surf shooting is a sport that 3ms thousands of devotees on Sydney beaches, but there are ... 720 words
Manly surf zones.
SUPREME COURT. IN EQUITY. (Before Mr. Justice Davidson.) SURFOPLANES. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954) Saturday 2 February 1935 p 10 Article ... of inflated rubber floats for swimming, surf bathing, and surf shooting, and from passing off goods, ... 164 words

Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896-1916) Tuesday 3 June 1913 p 21 Article Illustrated
Tuesday 3 June 1913 page 21
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