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baker : ride 'em beach boy, 1933 
Charles Baker Jr. : Ride 'Em Beach Boy, 1933.

Extract from
 Baker, Charles Jr.: Ride 'Em Beach Boy.
Boys' Life
Published by the Boy Scouts of America
July 1933, Vol. 23, No. 7, pages 21 and 44.


A less than entirely accurate or practical introduction to surfboard riding.
Page 21

A few helpful hints on the fascinating
sport of Surf-riding, by one 
who has been through the mill 
at Honolulu and Waikiki Beach.

The first requirement for this thrilling, red-blooded, sport is is to be able to swim well with waves bereaking ; the second is perseverence.
Surf-riding is an art.
It can be mastered, but takes time - like skating or learning to pilot a glider.
So before to handle a board it is a good plan to get a clear idea of just hwhat the waves do to this board to make such speed-riding possible.

The clearest illustration is for the surf-riding beginner to picture a low mountain-ridge of water with a flat board sliding downhill on the forward slope.
Next, he must picture this ridge of water as being set in motion tward shore.
Of course when the ocean wave moves it is not the same collection of water racing along all the time, but a driving force which travels under the surface, and which is constantly raising up a new ridge with new water.
When a piece of rope is given a flip at one end a wave travels to the other end, and exactly the same principle applies to ocean waves.

Such a wave is always rebuilding itself as it travels in to the beach; a new wave every foot of the way until it finally flattens out and dies on the shore.
A surf-board actually does two things at once:
It slides down the shoreward slope of the wave, and as this wave is constantly re-forming, it at the same time is being swept in to shore, still sliding down a slope which literally has no end.
As it slides down the hill, the hill itself moves so fast that the board never stops sliding until the hill flattens out.

Thus until the board loses momentum at that point where it capsizes, the surf rider is in the miraculous position of dashing along at express train speed with the crest of a big wave roaring at his heels - and take my word for it, this can be plenty fast enough to give a real impression of flying!
He is all by himself just as in an air glider; there is no mechanical speeding over the water which can compare to it for quick action and excitement.

Another thing a surf rider fixes clearly in his mind is that a real riding surf-board must not be confused with those highly painted, light, toy boards usually sold in sporting goods stores.
These contraptions are only intended for lazy folk, poor swimmers, or children to paddle aroiund on.
They are neither long enough enough nor stable enough for real surf-riding.

For boys up to twelve or fourteen, a riding surf-board should be around seven feet long, two and a half or so inches thick, and around twenty inches wide.
For older boys and young men it will be close to ten feet long, the same thickness, and slightly wider.
Nearly every swimming location has a local man who can make a good board for you, and redwood is the best American material available..
Originally, Hawaiian koa wood, or native mahogany, was used, and a board weighed a hundred pounds.
Redwood is now generally used in Hawaii, being thirty or forty pounds lighter per board, buoyant, and easier to handle.
The front end of the board is rounded a good deal like an ironing board, and slightly rounded underneath like the shallow underbelly of a boat, tapered slightly streamline towards the back end.
The upper part of the front end is also rounded up to a ...
(Continued on page 44)

Page 44

... fairly thin edge, on a fairly long slant, so that it will rise up and skim the surface when paddling, or riding waves, and prevent "diving."

The first thing Aa surf rider learns is to handle the board in fairly smooth water before he tries to paddle it out through breaking waves, particually if the breakers are running high.
To navigate it, he lies on his face with feet  together straight out behind him on the board; weight enough behind the balance center so so it will not dive when paddling along.
he drives it ahead by using both hands at the same time, just as the blades of canoe paddles would work if if he and another paddler were sitting side by side, both nstriking at once.
He can use his right foot or left foot to steer.
It is like steering a sled with his foot; only this time he has water and not snow to drag the toe in.

After he learns to handle the board easily, and can steer it well, then he can head out where the largest waves are breaking.
The best kind of beach for surf-riding is naturally one where where the waves start to break some distance offshore, in order to give as long a ride as possible.
If he gets tangled with a breaking wave on the way out, and finds he cannot hang onto the hucking board, the only thing for him to do  is to let it go and dive clear, calling a courtesy warning to  anyone dangerously close between him and the beach, just as he would call "Fore" when playing golf.
If some swimmer is to close to dodge, he may get a hard rap on the head.

Once he has reached a spot just inshore of where the wave crests first begin to curl, then comes the real test.
He lies waiting for a big fellow, looking back over his shoulder, until all ready to go.
When he sees the right one coming, which will break just back of him, he paddles shoreward with all his might.
Just as a standing man cannot catch a passing train without a shock, if he has no momentum the wave will break right over him.
And the board, instead of being a docile plank of wood will thrash like a windmill, besides tiring out the rider.
A fellow needs plenty of wind to stick with the boards for very long, anyway!

But with his board skimming fast enough ahead of the curling wave, he must give a last burst of of paddling speed just as it catches up to him, then, all of a sudden, he will feel  a great surge upward and forward.
It is right here that he gets the thrill which only surf riders know, and if he really has "caught" his wave he will start on a mad dash for the beach.
Perhaps if the boardwas not going fast enough when the wave lifted it, he will lose the wave after a run of only a few yards, but it is a beginning, and he won't rest until he's mastered the trick!

The Waikiki expert usually turns his board at a slight angle to the wave slope the the second it picks him up, to gain speed at the start of the ride, but this knack comes withlater pracice.
The next thing for the rider  to learn is to come in kneeling, and as soon as possible after really catching the wave, to straighten up to his knees, still grasping the sides of the board.
he must be very careful to keep just back of the balance center still (?), for a diving board is always a problem in rough water.
Once this is mastered, he then learns to come in on one knee, or crouching on his heels.
The final and finishing step is to be able to rise to his feetfromthis kneeling or crouching position, and ride in standing up.
Hawkshaw, champion trick rider of Hawaii, comes inon his head, carrying someone on his shoulders , on one foot, but why is it not one boy in a hundred here in the states can ride a board standing up?
It is simply because they have been unwilling to to learn these first few principles of the sport before trying to ride!

The finest riding surf in the world is off Waikiki, with its long Pacific rollers breaking far offshore on the reef.
But shorter thrills are possible all along the Atlantic and Gulf of mexico Seaboard, on the Great lakes - in fact wherever there is a sand beach with fairly large waves breaking fairly well out.
Bemuda, Nassau, havanna - and especially california - have good surf and temperate water all year round.
These shorter, choppier waves may take more care to catch mand ride, but they are quite fast.

Like skating, the surf rider takes many an exciting spill, the, before he realizes the good news, he's got it!
That first ride  is a thrill he will remember all his life.
The beginner must remember that no one ever learned to ride the boards in a day or two.
It takes practice.
The tale goes that Jack London mastered the the big Pacific combers in three weeks, but plugged at it day in and day out in spite of continual spills and painful sunburn.
To this day the kahunna (?) - or old-timer in Hawaii - will boast of London's dogged persistance, as a andhihiui (?), or newcomer.
His record still stands there, the best of all time.

Boys' Life 
Published by the Boy Scouts of America
July 1933, Vol. 23, No. 7.

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Geoff Cater (2010) : Charles Baker Jr. : Ride 'Em Beach Boy, 1933.