pods for primates : a catatogue of surfboards in australia since 1900
home catalogue history references appendix

sibley : surfboard battle, 1942 
Hi Sibley : Battle of the Surfboards, 1942.

Extract from
Sibley, Hi: Battle of the Surfboards.
Mechanix Illustrated, June, 1942, page 120.

Article located and contributed by Howard Fink, October 2010, with many thanks.

One of several surfboard related articles by the prolific Hi Sibley.
Sibley,dubbed "the dean of do-it-yourself", produced hundreds of articles on a vast range of mechanical and do-it-yourself projects between 1918 and the 1960s.

Howard Fink wrote:
"Thought you'd get a kick out of this.
Mechanix Illustrated June, 1942.
Tennis-Ball Cannons mounted on paddleboards."

Howard Fink's Hi Sibley blog is at:

Page 120
Battle of the Surfboards.
Alot of fun may be had with two or more of these little naval craft which shoot balls made of cork, or discarded tennis or rubber balls and which are aimed by maneuvering the paddle board into position.
The guns being fixed, there is more sport in being able to get a bead on the "enemy."
The gun can be made from cast-off material and is designed to be mounted on an existing
paddleboard without damage to latter.
A wide plank of white pine redwood can also be used, or if you wish to make a paddleboard anyway the plans are given herewith -a rather broad model, shorter than standard, for economy in waterproof plywood.
One panel 4 ft. by 8 it. win suffice, with enough waste for the gun shield.
Note that the rain-spout gun barrel has an opening in the top, forward of the shield into which the tennis ball is placed, and a small tin strip in the form of a hump is soldered in to keep the ball from rolling back against the plunger.
No harm if it does, of course, but the force will be greater if the ball is struck after the plunger has attained full velocity.
A notch in the plunger permits it to slide over the hump.
Screen door springs may be substituted for the rubber band fire power.
-Hi Sibley.

Sibley, Hi: Battle of the Surfboards.
Mechanix Illustrated, June, 1942, page 120.

Return to Surfer Bio menu
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2010) : Hi Sibley : Battle of the Surfboards, 1942.



Shooting the waves at Vah Beach
I've been meaning to post this for awhile but haven't for various reasons. A few years back, I came across an article by Tony Lillis in Eastern Surf Magazine mentioning an article from 1912 about "wave shooting" in Virginia Beach. It appears that Mr. Lillis had been doing some research on east coast surfing history and had several articles published on the topic. After utilizing an age-old yet still wonderful service called Interlibrary Loan, I was able to obtain the microfilm for the newspaper that published it and after some time going through it I finally found the article in question. It's a really fascinating article and represents the earliest article from an east coast publication (that I have found to date) that not only mentions surfing but also acknowledges that east coasters knew about surfing. The first sentence reads,

"The fame of the Hawaiian wave shooters has spread around the world and thousands of tourists who have visited the beautiful Pacific Islands have returned home with wonderful tales of the skill the natives show in riding a giant comber to shore on a plank."

Not to be outdone by the "natives," the article goes on, "There is something of the same sort of feat done here every summer day after day that is equally as thrilling to see and far more dangerous and difficult to perform but there is little heard about it. This is shooting the waves in dories and canoes by young men of the cottage colony at Virginia Beach." The article further describes some of the differences in these canoes which along with "wave shooting contests" to be held using these canoes at the beach. I've also read and seen other accounts describing canoe surfing and it seems like this was perhaps popular on the east coast around this time period. I'd certainly like to explore this more when I have the time.
I couldn't help but wonder if the author was writing this to help promote resorts and activities at the beach (why go to Hawaii when you can have all this fun and more much closer to home!) along with suggesting a little bit of neocolonial ideology that folks at home could do things equal to or better than the "natives" and that the skill required to surf a canoe is much more rigorous than riding a plank to shore. Anyway, that's all speculation on my part. If you're interested in reading the article here is the citation:

"Planning Regatta at the Va. Beach Casino; Dory and Canoe Races and Wave Shooting Contests to be on Program." Virginian-Pilot and the Norfolk Landmark. Friday, June 21, 1912, pg.4.