Source Documents
beaurepaire : riding waves at hawaii, 1921 

Frank Beaurepaire : Riding Waves at Hawaii, 1921.

Frank Beaurepaire : Riding Waves at Hawaii.
(Australia) 01-08-1921.
Frank Beaurepaire: National Sporting Museum Archive, MCG, Melbourne.
Collated by Craig Baird, Australian National Surfing Museum,Torquay, Victoria.

Redwood Boards at Lorne 1920.
Film discovered and preserved by Barry Langan.

The following material was kindly forwarded by Craig Baird of the Australian National Surfing Museum at Torquay, Victoria.
Along with the 1921 article from Life (Australia), he also include a host of fascinating newspaper clippings and photographs
archived by the National Sporting Museum at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Life (Australia) magazine was published
under various titles from 1904 to 1938 by Fitchett Bros in Melbourne, Victoria, .
Probably with national distribution, titles included Life (1904), Life for Men and Women (1907-1908), Life Magazine (1913-1919),
Life Digest and Life : A Record for Busy Folk.

The title preceded the  US based
Life, published weekly from 1936 until 1972.
A wide-ranging weekly magazine of general interest,
later with international editions, it was well known for the quality of its photography.

Following  Beaurepaire's article for Life (Australia), in August 1921 he had a similar article on Hawaii, with a strong focus on surfing, published in Sydney's sporting paper, The Referee, below.

Page 124

Riding Waves at Hawaii.
The Land Where Everyday is a Swimming Day.
By Frank E. Beaurepaire.

[Messrs. Frank K. Beaurepaire and Ivan Steadman, the well known swimming champions, recently accepted, on behalf of the Australian Swimming Association, the invitation of the Amateur Athletic Union of Hawaii to attend the May Meetings at Honolulu.
They have just returned looking brown and fit; full of enthusiasm over a joyous holiday in an island group where Sport Is King.
Steadman won the only championship on the programme—the 200 Yards Breast Stroke Championship— in the (Hawaiian) record time of two minutes fifty three seconds, and also established a new local record of one minute seventeen seconds for the 100 Yards' Breast Stroke.
Beaurepalre in a one mile swim, under ideal conditions, broke three world's records, i.e.. 1000 meters (14.54 and four-fifths), 1500 metres (31.4 and four fifths), and the mile itself (23.30 and four-fifths).
In the following article the famous swimmer reviews not only the swimming but the all round sporting activities of Hawaii.
—Ed. "Life"]

To one who has lived in a part of Australia where the weather Is liable to swing from midsummer to midwinter in forty-eight hours, the climate of Hawaii is a revelation.
Here the glass may rise and fall by inches during a single circuit of the sun; but there variation in temperature on the first morning of the month and sunset on the last evening of the month is not more than twenty degrees.
The yearly thermometry range is only about thirty degrees from the highest to the lowest.
Is it any wonder that Hawaii is the land of outdoors, or that round Honolulu the capital, sport-clubs flourish vigorously the year round.
Probably no other city in the world has so many clubs and leagues, unions and associations, as Honolulu boasts.

A Land of Sports

It was our own particular pastime that drew us to Hawaii, but to rest in Honolulu for however brief a period.
makes one a cosmopolitan in sport, and Uie opportunity was taken to obtain at least a nodding acquaintance with the varied forms of athletic exercise in vogue.
A brief review is offered here in the hope that it will interest the sport-loving section of "Life's" readers.

Aquatic sport is, of course, pre eminent— how could it fail to be in a land where the night temperature of the water is only four degrees lower than the day temperature, where every day is a swimming day, and where every one bathes!

And of the aquatic pastimes —indeed of all the island sports— surf-riding leads the way.
Many writers at world wide fame have described its joys.
Jack London, himself an expert "rider,' called it the King of sports.
It is a distinctively Hawaiian sport, its records running back many years into Island history.
There are three ways of riding the surf.
First, there is the ordinary body surfing in which the swimmer, waiting for the curl of a breaking comber, plunges forward, makes a few quick paddling strokes and then extends his arms rigidly in front of him.
If he has chosen the exact moment he is caught by the curling wave and swept forward on the crest till he finds himself on the beach.
This method has, of recent years, had  a considerable vogue around Australian shores, particularly on the Sydney beaches, and at Lorne in Victoria, where conditions are suitable; but it is considered rather "mild sport" at Honolulu.
Here the second method is the fashion, i.e.. that of the surfing-board.
The principle is the same, but the supporting board enables the sort rider to rise to greater heights of exhilarstlon, and Indulge in much more extended rides


Frank Beaurepaire, with Duke Kahanamoku and Pua Kealoha, of Hawaii.

The Duke is twelve years older than his rival, but Beaurepaire predicts that there will be a keen struggle for supremacy at the Island championships in October.

Photograph: National Sporting Museum Archive, MCG.

Joy Riding in the Breakers.
To the newcomer surf-boarding looks both difficult and dangerous.
To see a line of bathers racing shoreward in the white smother of the surf, some with heads and shoulders emerging- others standing erect with lithe bodies gracefully poised, is wonderfully intertaing.
But when he learns to handle the board himself and finds its possible to manipulate it in the breaking waves, he finds that it is neither difficult nor dangerous, but is positively fascinating — though he is perfectly satisfied to "take his fun lying down," and leave the standing position to the adepts, it might be added that both men and women, boys and girls, acquire the triek of standing erect on the boards and some of them come in standing on their heads.
Skill and practice are, of course, necessary for a finished exposition of this game.

The boards are usually from eight to ten feet long and two feet across at the widest point.
The novice finds it hard to handle such a piece of timber in a succession of breakers; but though a direct collision would be a rather serious matter, accidents of even a minor nature are almost unknown.

The outrigger canoe is the medium of the third form of surf-sport.
This form of craft— with which all are familiar in picture— is common to the islands of the South Seas and the Pacific generally.
It is a mere shell, balanced on the water by its outrigger.
It represents the third stage of the surf-riding game, and is simply an elaboration of it.
Several paddlers, including an expert steerer in the stern.

Riding inshore on the surf-boards, Honolulu.
This exhilarating sport requires swimming ability, skill and nerve,
but it has a fascination all its own.

The Trick Rider
One of the
expert surf-board riders coming in "on his head,"
with a companion balancing the board.

Page 125

(In) the craft, and watching their (pace), dart in and place their canoe in the grip, as it were, of a shore-going wave on which it is borne swiftly forward without any exertion on the part of the oarsmen, except, perhaps, the guiding hand of the stern paddle.
This, by the way, is very necessary for the whole art of outrigger-canoeing lies in keeping at right angles to the breakers.
Failure to do so means instant capsize or swamping.

As evidence of the antiquity of surf board riding, there are in the Museum at Honolulu some ancient Hawaiian surf-boards, upwards of eighteen feet long: but, curiously enough, there was a period not to long ago when it threatened to become extinct.
Some enthusiastic white resident, however, formed a club known as the Outrigger Club, and a revival followed which grew into a perfect rage for the old sport.

Swimming de Luxe.

In all branches of swimming »h* Hawaiian Islanders are adept: but it is in sprint swimming that they lead the world with the famous Duke Kahanamoku in the van, and Pua Kealoha close up.
This pair of great swimmers, both of whom have visited Australia, will meet in the Island Championships in October, and the rsult is by no means certain.
Duke Kahanamoku is magnificent; but his younger rival— there is a difference of twelve years in their ages— will make him go to retain his title.
Conditions for sprint swimming should be said are ideal.
Just as Waikiki Beach at Honolulu is claimed as the finest bathing ground in the world, so the racing course would be hard to equal anywhere.
The space of water between two of the big piers is enclosed by mooring barges across the entrance; and in the warm, crystal clear sea-water, thirty feet deep at its shallowest end, one can do his best.


Mr. and Mrs. Frank Beaurepaire in front of the Moana Hotel, Waikiki,

the most famous bathing beach in the world.

Yachting and Rowing.

Yachting is another popular sport.
The Club at Honolulu has a strong membership, and conducts many races, for which entrants are secured sometimes from the American mainland, over 2000 miles away.

Rowing has numerous devotees, and many regattas are held each year throughout the islands.
Two of the rowing clubs at Honolulu were formed more than thirty years ago and, today, have commodious club rooms.

Duke Kabanamoku is a powerful oarsman, and generally conceded to be the premier sculler of the Islands.
He is as keen on rowing as on swimming and we may yet see him on the Parramatta or the Yarra course.

With so large a proportion of Americans in the white population, baseball is naturally the most popular of the land games.
The mixed population, which now calls the Islands home, have learned the game well, and races like the Japanese and Chinese have strung teams In all grades— senior, Junior, commercial, collegiate, and so on.
Many of the teams are mixed - very much so - in race and colour.
It reads rather strangely to a visitor to see Ah Kee on the batting list, next Abe Williams, with Akana and Olivera close up.

Mixed Baseball

One of the most interesting episodes of our visit was the meeting of the Chinese and Japanese major teams.
The Chinese won by a run, after extra time, and great was the babel and the misuse of the English language.
It was only a language riot, however, not a race riot, for the lessons that healtay
(sic, healthy?) sport should provide have been well learned by these Orientals.

The good old game of cricket gets a "look-in," since there are Britishers in the Islands.
A pitch is kept by one ot the oldest sporting organisations of Honolulu, and a match is always arranged when any English vessel makes anything like a "stopover."

Golf is played under the best of conditions .
The Country Club has a gem of a golf-house, and the links are ideal.
There are other courses around the Islands, and they all offer a game amid picturesque surroundings.

Football is mostly played in the American "gridiron" or college fashion, but "Soccer" has its following
Those games are played In the so-called winter season; a short two months.

Polo is popular; teams from both the army and the populace competing.
A movement is on foot to invite an Australian team of horsemen up next year to play a series of games.

Motoring is an all the-year round pleasure, and the percentage of cars to the population is very large.

In the matter of small game the Islands offer very (sir sport, and the hunter of big game can go after wild goats and, in parts, deer.

Mountaineering can be indulged in to the heart's delight, as many trails or tracks exist for the majority who follow set trips; and for the ardent climber there are peaks and summits seldom visited.
During June this year ladies, for the first time, ascended Manua Kea, nearly 14,000 feet high.

Of fishing as a pastime it is perhaps enough to quote the U.S.A. Fish Commissioner's report that there are no fewer than 942 species of fish.

Tennis has its devotees, and so have half a dozen minor pastimes; but sufficient has been written to establish the plea that Hawaii is indeed the world's sporting ground de luxe.

Following  Beaurepaire's article for Life (Australia) in August, he had a similar article on Hawaii, with a strong focus on surfing, published in Sydney's sporting paper, The Referee, below.

The Referee
Sydney, Wednesday 14 September 1921 page 20.

Ancient Island Sport : 'Nickel Hunters' All Champions in the Making
(By FRANK BEAUREPAIRE, for The Referee)

Honolulu is the surfers' paradise.
Lots of people have said so, and I was prepared almost to believe them.
But now, after having seen the place and it's glories on my recent visit, I am convinced.
On our recent trip we sighted Oahu, on which is Honolulu, at daybreak, and by 7.15 a.m. had entered the harbor proper, the domain of the nickel-hunters or coin diving boys of Hawaii.
The scores of colored imps, ranging from, say, 8 or 9 to about 17, who follow the slowly-moving steamer, are artists to the fingertips, at cajoling the nickel from the pocket, or ditck-diving for the gradually sinking coin, and the trick of making the coin disappear into the mouth.
It is a matter of wonderment to me as to the exact limit to the number of coins a boy can hold in his mouth, for some of the quicker gatherers of wealth are passing money to the jaw constantly for half an-hour or more. 
This nickel-hunting business is a source of great entertainment to the passengers, but a majority wonder at the possibility of catching a coin under water, for getting, or, perhaps, never realising at all, that a coin sinks very slowly and with a reversible diagonal motion.
Other passengers- a big minority, unfortunately - are entertained most of all by the uniformly good stroke and speed shown by these boys.
They are all good sprinters and swim independent or trudgeon crawl, with, the exception of one or two trudgeon swimmers, and one boy I noticed doing a perfect double trudgeon with no crawl leg actions whatever.
Perhaps this youngster will develop into the Hawaiian long-distance champion, as he seemed to have conquered or mastered all the disabilities of a double trudgeon stroke, and swam with great ease and rhythm.


The nickel-hunters are all potential champions.

This business provides a nursery for swimming that at the present time is second to none in the island.
Some Hawaiian champions have graduated from this 'course of instruction.'
The amateur bodies are, of course, ignorant of the past misdemeanors of youth, but certainly keep the boys away from the game once graduated; that is to say, one they enter the ranks of competing swimmers.

After a little disembarkation delay numerous friends are located, among them Dad, president of the Hawaiian swimmers, and Duke, whose first words almost are, 'The surf is good, hurry on.'
Duke is certainly a fine chap and an ornament to any sport, but what an easy-going character he is!
The day before our arrival the edict went forth on the invisible wings of rumor that the surf was better than it had been for some time.
Duke thereupon left his billet at the 'Q.M.'s' office and took the half-day off.


Next day, on which we arrived, the whole day is taken off, and the extremely useful telephone plays. the part of excusing Duke, who is, in his own words, busy welcoming the Australian swimmers.
From now on Duke will truly be welcoming- folks, for after this month he takes over the new position of 'official' greeter, under the Governor's Department.
The term is surely wide and elastic, but the idea is to use Duke as an official at the arrival of steamers and at various tourist functions. : The salary will be 200 dol per month, and is but a small return for the fame he has brought and the publicity he has given to his beloved Hawaiian Island.
Duke, too, will still be an amateur swimmer. 
The surf is good, all right. Waikiki Beach is justly famous.
As a good Australian, one is proud of his own surfing beaches, but Waikiki is just as good and in some respects unique.
Surfing and swimming, bathing and sun-bathing, can be indulged in any month of the year.
Climate is uniformly good throughout the year, and tne most equable known.
There is no intense heat and no cold.
Oh! ye swimmers!
The surf is not strong, there are no dumpers, and the waves are of a type that gradually curl or break, and continue, on good surfing days, to curl for hundreds of yards.
Of course, there are off days, and many of them at times.
The undertow is so weak as to be almost negligible.
The breakers or waves come gently in a kind of swell towards the shore at more or less regular intervals or spaces, in some cases of a couple of minutes, and almost calm water prevails between waves.
That is the one great reason why surfing does not spoil these Hawaiians for bath racing, and right here at Wai kiki a goodly potion of training for championship races can be done, and is done, by Hawaiians.

Surfing is an ancient sport of the Hawaiians, and it is said that in days of old the various chiefs of the Islands used to bet heavily with their lands and minor titles upon the results.

It is quite evident from folk-lore and legends that it was the chief sport, and that many points of dissension were settled by competition at surf-board riding, in much the same spirit as the modern boys or youths would box on to settle an argument.

The island is rich in old surf legends, and it goes to show that from time im memorial, these Islanders have been swimmers.
It is fitting then that swim ming champions should come from these parts, and what is more, use a stroke which is Hawaiian- developed there and first brought to fame by Duke Kahanamoku.
Duke's stroke, is essentially a local production or development, and all the sprinters there have based their stroke on his.
Not that these strokes are exactly alike in each instance where a man has become successful.
Swimming and surfing are properly catered for at Waikiki.
There are five clubs and dressing rooms with every convenience.
Every accessory for bathing and surfing is on hire - surfboards at about 50 cents, per hour; outrigger canoes, with- a pilot at a dollar per person per hour; bathing suits, towels, lockers, refreshments, and instructors are available, the latter on the hire system.


The modern Hawaiian surf board, exact duplicates of which are to be seen around Sydney beaches, are somewhat different from the old Hawaiian boards, which where longer, narrower, .and thicker.
The boards used to-day measure 8 to 9 feet in length, are about 2 feet across at widest part and from 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches thick.
There are old Hawaiian boards in the Museum here up to 18 feet in length, and I am informed that they were used in big surf.
Possibly bigger boards would go well, on our Sydney beaches, where the surf is generally much stronger and heavier than at Honolulu.

"Sliding" is the most, popular way of shooting there.
By sliding diagonally along the front of a wave too, three and four times the speed (according to the angle taken across the wave) is made above that speed which would be obtained by coming straight in with a wave.
This sliding is usually done before a wave has broken, but not always so with the very expert.
The speed obtained by some is tremendous, and the resulting sensation must be wonderful.
Sliding was not the vogue there always.
It is a development of the past ten or twelve years, and the result of experiment and practice.

Surf-boarders around Sydney should try this phase of the game and try-out longer and perhaps narrower boards.
A board certainly costs money;- but the N.S. Wales type of surf board requires experimenting with and new features of surfing discovered, if at all possible.
Surely something worthy by adoption as Australian could be evolved with experimenting.


It is remarked and written in Honolulu that, the sport of swimming, with the allied pastimes of surfing, surf-boarding and canoeing, threatened to become extinct about 15. years ago.
The organisation of clubs followed and the sport took on a new lease of life.
Just how definite was the revival is quite apparent to all Australians.
It also put Hawaii 'on the map,' and, in addition, boosted the sport in the United States.
Thus was U.S.A. assisted in obtaining the swimming laurels at the 1920 Olympic Games and, in so doing, displace our swimmers.
We are glad, however, that the art was not lost to Hawaii, for by the success of representatives from that spot we have been induced to look into strokes and methods of training, coaching, etc.; and, in addition, it has enabled us to see such world-renowned performers at Kahanamoku, Kealoha and Langer. In Honolulu, surf-bathing is the feature of every-day life, and there is a simple explanation.
For this fascinating pastime ideal natural conditions exist, and what man has added in the way of accessories has rendered the pastime desirable in every way.


1921 'Honolulu's Surf Paradise.', Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939), 14 September, p. 20, viewed 15 August, 2013,
Frank Beaurepaire: Newspaper clips and photographs held by the National Sporting Museum archive at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Collated by Craig Baird, Australian National Surfing Museum,Torquay, Victoria.

The Sporting Judge
Melbourne, Monday 6 February 1915 page 1.

Duke Kahanamoku
World's Greatest Swimmer
St Kilda Baths ... Saturday, February 13th
City Baths ... Monday, February 15th

? Melbourne, Friday  12 February 1915 page ?

The Herald
Melbourne, Monday 15 February 1915 page 1.



Noted competitors at Melbourne Swimming Club's annual ???

Duke Kahanamoku, H. M. Hay and George Cunha.

Studio portrait, c 1919.

Frank Beaurepaire,
Waikiki, 1921.

Louis Whyte and Keoni,
Waikiki 1919.

Frank Beaurepaire and friends,
Waikiki, 1921.

Bill Hale, Alam McGillivray, ‘Blue’ Harper
and Lois Whyte, Lorne 1920.

The Star-Bulletin
Honolulu, 14th May, 1932.
On the Beach at Waikiki!
Beach Boy - Sun Tan - Malihini

Old timers were glad to welcome back to Waikiki beach Frank Beaurepaire of Australia, recognized as champion swimmer of the world in 1910, who, accompanied by Mrs. Beaurepaire is staying at the Moana hotel for a week before making a combined business and pleasure trip through Canada, the United States and Europe.

Mr. and Mrs. Beaurepaire came to Honolulu on the Acrangi which arrived Thursday evening.
It was too late for a swim on the day of their arrival, but Friday they were in their bathing suits out on the beach.

"Dad" Center, their old friend, was with them, and took them out for a ride in an outrigger.
It was Mr. Beaurepaire's birthday, and he was very happy to be able to celebrate it in a manner so agreeable to him.

Frank Beaurepaire is one of the great pioneers of the sport which during his lifetime rose to eminence in the world of sports.
Frank Beaurepaire is the veteran of four Olympics, and was at one time the holder of 14 world records.
His first appearance in a great international contest was in the 1908 Olympic Games which was held in London.
At that time he used the two-beat crawl, later called the Australian crawl, which was the fore-runner of the six-beat American crawl used by Johnny Weissmuller.

He visited Waikiki several times, staying there once for six weeks.
Though he enjoys surfing in an outrigger he has never mastered the art of managing a surf board.
Frank Beaurepaire comes from a country where there are many fine beaches, even finer than Waikiki.

The beaches in Australia, however, are too cold for swimming six months of the year nor do they have the long, surf of Waikiki.
It is in their breadth and expanse that they surpass Waikiki, he said.

Mr. Beaurepaire comes from Melbourne, but it is Sydney which has the finest beaches in Australia.
Sydney is ideally situated for bathing and the beaches there stretch out for almost 50 miles.
Mr. Beaurepaire described these beaches as being more similar in nature to the beaches of windward Oahu than Waikiki.

Surfing is a popular sport on the beaches of Australia, body surfing or "body shooting," as is called there, being more popular thau surfing with a board.
On each of the numerous beaches, however, there are about 40 or 50 surf boards.

Surfing was introduced in Australia by Duke Kahanamoku when he visited Sydney in 1915.
Its popularity was increased as the result of visits of Langer.
Plus Kealoha, Bill Harris, Norman Ross and Sam Kahanamoku  at later times.

Mr. Beaurepaire plans to see the Olympic Games in Los Angeles during his visit to the United States.
He experts great things from "Boy" Charlton, Australia's great middle distance swimmer, whom he incidentally had a share in developing.
Mr. Beaurepaire ranks "Boy" Charlton as one of the three greatest swimmers of all time.

Latest thing at Waikiki is a new type of surf board.
The board is manufactured by the Swastika Surf Board Co. of Los Angeles.
They are thicker, lighter and more buoyant than the old type of board due to the fact that they are hollow inside.
The new boards come in many patterns.

Ted Water's board, which was the first to appear at Waikiki is made of alternate strips of redwood and white pine.
Mainland manufacturers can sell these boards at Waikiki for less than a surf board can be made in the islands.
Is amusing that these boards are probably superior to the old Hawaiian boards.
Waikiki with her surf boards manufactured in Los Angeles will be like Egypt with her scarabs manufactured in Connecticut.


Mr. Frank
Beaurepaire, who sailed  by the steamer Acrangi from Sydney on Friday, April 29,  en route to Vancouver, celebrated his 41st birthday on his arrival at Honolulu on Friday.
A pile of congratulatory cables from friends and relatives in Australia awaited his arrival.
Mr. Beaurepaire leaves Honolulu by the Empress of Japan on Thursday next, and will arrive in Vancouver on 24th inst.

Duke and Hui Nalu Swim Team, 1920?
Outrigger Canoe Club Courtesy card: Mr. and Mrs Frank Beaurepaire, May 1932.

National Sporting Museum Archive, MCG.

The Advertiser
Honolulu, 17th May, 1932.

Veteran Swim Star Will Be Guest at Luau

Frank Beaurepaire, former world's swimming champion of Australia, is in our midst today enroute to the Mainland.
He will sail Thursday on the Empress of Japan.
Beaurepaire represented the Antipodes in the Olympics about two decades ago and competed against Duke Kahanamoku and other famous stars of that time.
Tonight he win be entertained at a luau given by Duke Kahanamoku, "Dad" Center and othter swimmers and fans.

Photograph: National Sporting Museum Archive, MCG.

Dad Center, Duke, F. Beaurepaire?, Honolulu,1932

To Don Beaurepaire
Malo Aloha

Duke P. Kahanamoku
Honolulu, T.H.

In Melbourne for the Olympic Games
1- 12- 1956

Don was Frank Beaurepaire’s son, Donald.

Frank Beaurepaire : Riding Waves at Hawaii.
Life (Australia)
Frank Beaurepaire: National Sporting Museum Archive, MCG, Melbourne.
Collated by Craig Baird
Australian National Surfing Museum,Torquay, Victoria.


Geoff Cater-Craig Baird (2019) : Frank Beaurepaire : Riding Waves in Hawaii, 1921.