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polynesian surfriding : 8 
chapter 8 : hawaii, 1891-1930

8.1 In 1892 William Brigham, an early curator of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu prepared a catalogue of cultural artefacts (1). His notes on surfboards read:

"... surfboards were usually made of koa, flat with slightly convex surface, rounded at one end, slightly narrowing towards the stern, where it was cut square.
Sometimes the 'pa-pa' (surfboard) was made of very light wi-Ii wi-Ii as were narrow, o-lo.
In size they varied from three to eighteen feet in length and from eight to ten inches in breadth, but some of the ancient boards are said to have been 4 fathoms long." (A fathom is 6 ft)
"the largest in the museum are so heavy that they require two men to move them." (2)

Brigham reports the  standard design having the tail as "cut square" which has not previously been specified in the written descriptions but is indicated by some illustrations.
The other attributes of the koa board are consistant with previous reports and number of boards in the museum's collection would have confirmed Brigham's description. (3)???
On the other hand, the remainder of the quotation is likely to be compiled from earlier sources, probably Malo.
"Sometimes the 'pa-pa' (surfboard) made of very light wi-Ii wi-Ii" appears to imply that willi willi was not restricted to the olo design.
The context implies the "narrow, o-lo" is a less common design.
The dimensions, "three to eighteen feet in length and from eight to ten inches in breadth", appear to generally apply to all boards.
The reported width (8 to 10 inches) is the narrowest of any report.

The contention that lengths "are said to have been 4 fathoms long" is clearly a reference to David Malo's report (see 7.1) and Brigham appears to have similar reservations to Alexander by indicating the extreme weight of examples held by the museum- "so heavy that they require two men to move them."
Note however that Blake (3) subsequently identified these examples as being  koa wood, much heavier than willi willi.
There are no known existing examples of any boards built from willi wili, possibly the light weight and porous grain of the timber were not condusive to an extended life.
Although  Chester S Lyman (1846, 5.7?) was probably refering to willi willi boards when he reported "Some of these have been handed down in the royal family for years" (4),  this may be a case of decades rather than centuries.
Furthermore, the age of the boards may indicate that new boards by this time were unavailable, the required craftsman and timber resources in rapid decline.

8.2 An account published in 1896, usually credited as Thrum (5), is reputedly the recollections of a native boardrider from Kona coast of Hawai'i.
The account was translated by another experienced rider, N. K. Nakuina, and edited by Thomas Thrum. (6)
The authors are hereafter refered to collectively as Thrum*.

The article describes three, previously recorded, suitable timbers for surfboard construction.

"There were only three kinds of trees known to be used for making boards for surf riding, viz.: the
wiliwili (Erythrina monosperma), ulu or breadfruit (Artocarpus incisa), and koa (Acacia koa)." (7)

Two distinct surfboard designs, as previously defined by Malo (3.7) are identified.

"There are two kinds of boards for surf riding, one called the 'olo' and the other the 'a-la-ia', known also as 'omo'. (8)

The Olo is described in significant detail.

"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". (9)

While Thrum* notes the olo is made of williwilli, other commentators have identified the timber for similar boards as ulu (breadfruit) (10) and the only known examples are made from koa. (11)
The maximum length ("three fathoms" or 18 feet) is more realistic than the 4 fathoms as reported by David Malo. (3.7)
However the width and thickness are in the extreme compared to most other reports and modern experience.
Certainly a width of "three feet" is impractical, as previously noted.
"Since maximum board width is essentially determined by the width of the paddler's shoulders, these boards
probably fell in the range of 20 to 24 inches." (2.11)
The convex cross section and the chamfered rail, "rounding toward the edges on both upper and lower sides", is consistent with earlier reports.

The account gives extended instruction on the use, and dangers, of the olo board.
"In riding with the olo or thick board, ...
... great care had to be exercised in its management, lest from the height of the wave - if coming in direct - the board would be forced into the base of the breaker, instead of floating lightly and
riding on the surface of the water, in which case, the wave force being spent, reaction throws both
rider and board into the air." (12)

Note the distinction identified by Malo and I'i between the designs based on thickness is adopted by Thrum: "the olo or thick board".
Although a more detailed explanation, it closely echoes the danger as perceived by John Papa I'i. (4.5)

"If it is not moved sideways when the wave rises high, it is tossed upward as it moves shoreward." (13)

Apart from recording an alternate term for the alaia ("omo"), the alaia is simply described as:

"made of koa, or ulu.
Its length and width were similar to the olo, except in thickness, it being but of one and a half or two inches thick along the center." (14)

Note that most commentators imply the alaia is usually shorter and wider than the olo.
As noted above, a width "similar to the olo" would be impractical.
The (relative) thinness was established as a defining characteristic of the alaia by David Malo, a distinction also, by implication, adopted by Thrum*: "the olo or thick board".
Thrum reports the alaia was suitable for a wide range of surfing conditions, but does not indicate those suitable for the olo.

"These latter are good for riding all kinds of surf, and are much easier to handle than the olo." (15)

8.3 Thrum* attempts to establish several other distinctive characteristics between the two designs.

"In the use of the olo the rider had to swim out 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." (16)

While the relative ease of use of the alaia in comparison with the thicker olo is possibly inferred by I'i (4.5), Thrum's assertion that to "swim out through the surf with such a buoyant bulk was not possible" appears to defy reason.
All previous accounts clearly indicate, the boards were paddled substantially faster than swimming speed.

"they would fairly go round the best going Boats we had in the two Ships,
in spight of every Exertion of the Crew, in the space of a very few minutes."(17)

From a modern perspective, the large volume and lightweight of a willi willi olo board would produce a highly efficient paddling craft that would circumvent the difficulty related by Thrum*.
Indeed, the efficient paddling performance would appear to be a substantial advantage in achieving take-off on large, fast moving waves.
This characteristic was consciously exploited by Tom Blake's development of the Hollow board from 1926 in his attempts to reproduce the ancient olo boards held by the Bishop Museum. (18)

5.4 A further distinction established by Thrum* has left an indelible mark on many subsequent commentators.

"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 ..." (19)

The claim of royal exclusivity of the olo design has no precedent in any other report.
In an early report circa 1825, the Rev. Ellis (3.5) indicated that surfriding was enjoyed by all classes.

"All ranks and ages appear equally fond of it." (20)

Furthermore, Ellis records elderly chiefs participating in the activity, from context, apparently in the presence of commoners.

"Sometimes the greater part of the inhabitants of a village go out to this sport, when the wind blows
fresh toward the shore, and spend the greater part of the day in the water. 
All ranks and ages appear equally fond of it.
We have seen Karaimoku and Kakioeva, some of the highest chiefs in the island, both between fifty
and sixty years of age, and large corpulent men, balancing themselves on their narrow board, or
splashing about in the foam, with as much satisfaction as youths of sixteen." (21)

Walter  Colton recorded royal surfriding at Honolulu, circa 1846 (4.1), but probably not on olo boards ('some eight feet in length"). (22)
Perhaps the closest precedent is Chester S. Lyman's account of surfriding at Waikiki, circa 1846 (4.2), which focuses on the activities of members of royalty using olo type designs, but in this report there is no specific implication of exclusivity. (23)
Alternatively, Thomas W. Knox's account from Hilo circa 1888 (4.10)  records boards that appear to describe the olo or thick design yet, given the riders' negotiated payment to demonstrate their skill, it is probably unlikely the surfers were of royal blood.

"There were five or six of the natives to whom we had
promised half a dollar each for the performance." (24)

Significantly, David Malo (3.7) and John Papa I'i (4.5) describe the olo board but do not note its use was restricted to royalty.
Both are native commentators who experienced life under the ancient kapu system and whose recollections substantially pre-date those of Thrum's native source.
Malo writes extensively of the extreme taboos that required commoners to avoid even minimal contact with the ali'i and their property. (25)
While not specifally identifying royal surfriding activity as a potential taboo to other surfriders, the restrictions are so severe that it is highly possible this was the case.
Rev. Ellis (3.5) reports an occassion where commoners were prohibited from entering the surf when the chiefs were surfriding::

"... when the king or queen, or any high chiefs, are playing (surfriding), none of the common people are allowed to approach these places, lest they spoil their sport." (26)

While these reports indicate that royal surfriders had exclusive use of the prevailing conditions, and may have had exclusive rights to individual locations, Thrum* remains the only account to specify the olo as restricted to royal riders.

8.5 Thrum's* account of ancient surfboard construction has been similarly influential.
Since this has been largely ignored in previous reports many commentators, beginning with Blake (27),  have vigorously quoted the account.
Thrum* introduced two elemental concepts.
The surfboard was shaped from an individually selected tree.
Secondly, the selection, shaping and finishing were accompanied by a series of religious ceremonies.
It is important to note at the outset that Thrum* does not maintain that such religious ceremonies were consistently followed by all ancient surfboard builders.

"The uninitiated were naturally careless, or indifferent as to the method of cutting the chosen tree; but
among those who desired success upon their labors the following rites were carefully observed." (28)

There is no way of knowing how widespread (or limited) was the application of such religious rites, whether they were only ahered to by a certain class ("the initiated") or how consistently they were practised across the island chain.
While Thrum's* account of religious ceremony for surfboard construction has no precedent, David Malo extensively records the ceremonies employed by the builders of ancient Hawaiian canoes. (29)
Thrum* reports:

"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." (30)

In canoe building ceremonies, Malo notes:

"They took with them, as offerings, a pig, cocoanuts, red fish (kumu), and awa.
Having come to the place they camped down for the night, sacrificing these things to the gods with
incantations (hoomana) and prayers, and there they slept." (31)

Thrum* then records the shaping process:

"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" (32)

Malo reports a similar process in canoe construction:

"Now began the work of hewing out the canoe, the first thing being to taper the tree at each end,
that the canoe might be sharp at stem and stern.
Then the sides and bottom (kua.-moo) were hewn down and the top was flattened (hola)." (33)

Following the rough shaping, Thrum* records the board is removed from the forest to the canoe house for final finishing.

" it was pulled down to the beach and placed in the halau (canoe house) or other suitable place convenient for its finishing work." (34)

Malo has a similar, although a more detailed, account of canoe hauling.

"A makuu or neck, was wrought at the stern of the canoe, to which the lines for hauling the canoe
were to be attached.

When the time had come for hauling the canoe down to the ocean, again came the kahuna, to
perform the ceremony called 'pu i ka woo', which consisted in attaching the hauling lines to the canoe
They were fastened to the makuu.
Great care had to be taken in hauling the canoe.
Where the country was precipitous and the canoe would tend to rush down violently, some of the men
must hold it back lest it be broken; and when it got lodged some of them must clear it.
This care had to be kept up until the canoe had reached the halau, or canoe house.
In the halau, the fashioning of the canoe was resumed." (35)

David Malo's account emphasizes the difficulty of succesfully transporting the half-finished canoe from the forest to the coast, even for smaller craft the exercise was no doubt a considerable effort.
Hauling the hulls for a large sailing canoe must have been a major event requiring a large workforce.
In the case of transporting "a board approximately of the dimensions desired ", Thrum's account appears excessive.
Surely the need for the board to be "pulled down to the beach" would only be necessary for surfboards of extreme dimensions.
Futhermore, ancient canoe builders recognised the difficulty of canoe hauling by the shaping of the makuu, a shaped knob at the bow/stern? to attach the pulling ropes. (36)
Thrum* fails to note any similar system for surfboard hauling.

The board now located on the coast, Thrum details an extensive finishing process.

"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 commonly used articles for reducing and
smoothing the rough surfaces of the board until all marks of the stone adze were obliterated." (37)

Although less detailed, Malo reports a similar process for canoes.

 "The outside was then finished and rubbed smooth ('anai ia'). (38)

The final process in surfboard construction reported by Thrum* is the application of "a finishing stain".

"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 soot of
burned kukui nuts.
This furnished a durable, glossy black finish, far preferable to that made with the ashes of burned
crane leaves, or amau fern, which had neither body nor gloss." (39)

Malo offers an abbreviated account of a similar process for canoe building:

The outside of the canoe was next painted black ('paele ia')." (40)

However, in notes by Malo's translator (N.B. Emerson) or his editor (W.D. Alexander) the compostion of the paint  is specified, and personally endorsed.
A basic combination of "juice" or "pounded bark of the kukui" mixed with "soot" or "charcoal" is common to both accounts.

"This Hawaiian paint had almost the quality of a lacquer.
Its ingredients were the juice of a certain 'Euphorbia', the juice of the inner bark of the root of the kukui tree, the juice of the bud of the banana tree, together with charcoal made from the leaf of the pandanus.
A dressing of oil from the nut of the kukui was finally added to give a finish.
I can vouch for it as an excellent covering for wood." (41)

Before use, Thrum* writes that additional ceremonies were necessary; but once again he indicates that these were not universally adhered to.

"Before using the board there were other rites or ceremonies to be performed, for its dedication.
As before, these were disregarded by the common people, but among those who followed the making
of surf boards as a trade, they were religiously observed." (42)

Note that Thrum's* identification of "the making of surboards as a trade" does not appear to be confirmed by any other commentator on ancient Hawaiian culture.
Alternatively, the status of the canoe builder is extensively documented. (43)

David Malo reports a major religious ceremony followed the successful launching of a new canoe.
There was occassionally ceremonial variation depending on the canoe's future use.

"The ceremony of lolo-u'aa, consecrating the canoe, was the next thing to be performed in which the
deity was again approached with prayer.
This was done after the canoe had returned from an excursion out to sea.
If the canoe was to be rigged as part of a double canoe the ceremony and incantations to be
performed by the kahuna were different." (44)

Comparison between Thrum* on surfboard building and Malo on canoe construction indicates a number of similarities.
While religious ceremony probably had some role in ancient surfboard building, there is a sense that Thrum, N. K. Nakuina (the translator), and/or the native source have transposed some of the religious elements of canoe contruction onto their account of surfboard building.
Given such ceremonies had probably not been performed since the turn of the century, Thrum's reporter is unlikely to have personally witnessed them.
The report is probably based on a communal memory, it is possibly tainted by the more extensive formal ceremonies associated with the canoe builders.

8.6 Percieved difficulties with Thrum's* description of surfboard shaping invite further examination.

"The tree trunk was chipped away from each side until reduced to a board approximately of the
dimensions desired ". (45)

While this corresponds with most similar construction notes of the period, some technical considerations
may have insight.
Rough shaping a board from a round log would require considerable effort, although this was probably not  a major impediment to a skilled adzeman.
However, such a method would result in a massive loss potentially valuable timber, producing a large pile of woodchips or shavings.

While such a process may be required to build boards from soft timbers such as ulu or willi willi, an alternative method may have been possible for the fine grained koa.
After feeling a koa tree, splitting the log down the grain with wedges and hammers on site would greatly assist transport from inland forests to the coast and maximise the timber available.

Although I am currently unable to confirm that Hawaiians used split timber in any other form of construction, it appears highly likely that a technology that was able to split stone to construct fine edged tools was also able to successfully split timber.
For ancient Tahitian carpenters, the skill was well known.
Joseph Banks, accompanying Cook to the Pacific, reported 1769:

"If it is to be made into boards they put wedges into it, and drive them with such dexterity (as they have told me- for I never saw it) that they divide it into slabs of 3 or 4 inches in thickness, seldom meeting with an accident if the tree is good.
These slabs they very soon dubb down with their axes to any given thinness." (46)

Note that if this process was also practised by ancient Hawaiians, then "slabs of 3 or 4 inches in thickess" cut from the centre of a large tree would be effective billets for the shaping of reported and known examples of ancient surfboards.

Minimal rocker, the curve in the bottom from nose to tail, appears a common design feature of these boards.
Either this characteristic was established as a prefered design feature or a result of structural limitations.

Modern experience indicates that rocker substantially improves performance.
Critically, nose lift certainly assists in achieving a successful take off.
This was demonstrated in the mid-1940s by Californian designer Bob Simmons' introduction of a technigue known as 'scarfing' whereby the nose section was removed and inverted allowing the bottom to be re-shapped with increased nose lift. (47)
It was the first of Simmons' contributions to the development of the modern surfboard. (48)

Canoe designers were aware of the benefit of rocker which was particularly effective in the surf zone.
They selected trees that best replicated their intended designs, those with bends or curves that allowed for the shaping of significant rocker into the craft. (49)

If surfboards were built along the similar principles to canoes, then similar design features would be possible in surfboard design.
Assuming that minimal rocker was not simply a design preference, if the board was shaped from an individual log, there is no technical reason why the design could not have pronounced rocker.
Indeed, at an extreme approaching fantasy, it could have incorporated a keel or fin. (50)

Note that some pre-contact paddle blades have small extensions on their tips (their pupose is unclear), illustrating that such design features were possible.(51)
If surfboard design and construction can be related to another Hawaiian maritime products, then possibly they more closely resemble the production of paddles, rather than canoes.

8.7 Importantly, Thrum's* analysis fails to record a drying or seasoning period between harvesting and shaping.
Ancient canoe builders were accutely aware of the necessity of seasoning their craft during construction.(52)
They importance of a well cured surfboard was noted Captain Byron (3.6) in 1825:

 "...to have a neat floatboard, well-kept, and dried, is to a Sandwich Islander what a tilbury or cabriolet,
or whatever light carriage may be in fashion is to a young English man." (53)

Modern timber craftsmen would consider seasoning an essential process to produce a suitable product.
Split timber would have a faster seasoning process and allow a more regulated loss of moisture.
This would produce a lighter and structurally stronger board and limit the tendency for future splits or cracks, significantly extending board life.

Undoubtedly light weight was considered a valuable asset to surfboard performance, hence the use of willi willi.
Thrum* appears to suggest (confirmed by others) the boards were sealed with paint and/or oil:

"This furnished a durable, glossy black finish " (54)

This outer layer would effectively maintain the water content of the board, adding substantial weight if the board had not been sufficiently cured.

This analysis indicates that ancient surfboards (and paddles?), particually if made from koa, were probably shaped from seasoned timber beams, split from logs using  wedges and hammers then progressively finished with adzes, coral and rubbing stones.

This construction method was (unknowingly) replicated by post-contact surfboard builders using timber milled into regular beams with a metal saw, a western technological development that replaced splitting. (55)

8.8 Unfortuanately, despite an apparent wealth of detail, Thrum* appears to be an unreliable source. (56)
The account does not distinguish between the length and, importantly, the width of the olo and alaia designs as reported by several previous commentators.
The maximum width for both designs is extreme.
The percieved difficulties of paddling the olo appear without basis in the available literature and practical experience.
The claim that the olo board was for exclusive royal use is apparently not supported by any other account and the religious rites said to accompany the board building process are possibly derived from previously recorded accounts pertaining to canoe construction. (57)
Thrum* report of a surfboard cut from an individual tree, given the reported minimal rocker, appears contentious.
Critically, there is no record a required period of seasoning.
The finishing proccess is probably essentially correct, however the hauling of the board to the coast is probably not.
Both have parrallels in reports of canoe building, the former was possibly used for all maritime equipment but surely hauling would be required for only the very largest of surfboards.

8.9 Thomas Thrum  was also the translator of the Fornander collection of memoirs held by the Bishop Museum and published 1916 to 1920. (58)
Apparently there are numerous surfriding references scatted across three volumes (59), one specifically noting surfboard design is quoted by Tom Blake.

"Here is an interesting comment on surf riding to be found in 'Hawaiian Folk Lore' by Fornander :
'Here are the names of that board and the surfs.
The board is alaia, three yards long.
The surf is kakala, a curling wave, terrible, death dealing.
The board is Olo, six yards long.
The surf is opuu, a non-breaking wave, something like calmness.' " (60)

The text basically confirms earlier commentators- a general distinction between board length and suitable wave condtions for the two identified designs, alaia and olo.
Unfortunately, without access to the original publication it is impossible to estimate the date when this account was added to the Fornander collection or to determine if the entry has further material relevant to this discussion.

In summary:
1. After feeling a tree splitting the timber on site would greatly assist transport to the coast.
2. Splitting the timber would maximise the timber available from a log.
3. Pre-contact boards feature a minimal rocker (contrast canoes) that would appear to fall within the parameters
of a split beam.
4. Although I can not confirm that Hawaiians used split timber in any other form of construction, I am assuming
that a technology that was able to split stone to construct fine edged tools was also able to successfully split
5. Split timber would have a faster seasoning process, which may and allow a more regulated loss of moisture
producing a lighter board and a reduction in the tendency for future splits or cracks.
6.Split timber would be structurally stronger, improving potential board life.

8.10 The specifications collated from the detailed reports above are summarized in the following tables.
1896 c
General a
Kona coast 
of Hawai'i
a-la-ia (omo)
3 to 18 feet
feet d
 8 to 10 inches
2 to 3
2.5 inches
6 to 8 inches
heavy b
very light
slightly narrowing
slightly convex 
Convex e
koa or ulu
a. Possibly from several sources and /or locations.
b. the largest in the museum are so heavy that they require two men to move them
These examples are koa, not willi willi.
c. Reputedly the recollections of a native boardrider from Kona coast of Hawai'i, translated by another experienced rider, N. K. Nakuina, and edited by Thomas Thrum.
d.  some three fathoms long
e. rounding toward the edges on both upper and lower sides

polynesian surfriding : conclusions
1. Brigham, William Tufts (1841-1926): Preliminary Catalogue of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum :
Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 1892.

Noted in Dela Vega, Timothy T. (editor):  200 Years of Surfing Literature - An Annoted Bibliography
Published by Timothy T. Dela Vega.  Produced in Hanapepe, Kaui, Hawaii. 2004 page 13.

2.Brigham (1892): Op.Cit., page 55 in DelaVega (ed, 2004): Op. cit., page 13.

3. Blake, Tom:  Hawaiian Surfboard
Paradise of the Pacific Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 1935.

Reprinted in 1983 by Bank Wright as
Blake, Tom: Hawaiian Surfriders 1935
Mountain and Sea Publishing, Box 126 Redondo Beach California 90277 1983
DeLa Vega (2004) notes "Joel Smith's edition was used to create these plates.", page 38.

4.3. Lyman, Chester S. (1814-1890):
Around The Horn To The Sandwich Islands And California 1845-1850.
New Haven: Yale University Press 1924) Chapter II, page 73.
Travel diary in 1846 notes.
Quoted in DelaVega (ed, 2004): Op. cit., page 22

5. Thrum, Thomas G (editor): Thrum's Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1896.
Honolulu, 1896. pages 106 - 113.
Introduction and translation by Thomas G. Thrum,
Reproduced in
Finney, Ben and Houston, James D. : Surfing A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport. 1996.
Appendix E. pages 102 to 105.

6. ThomasThrum notes the article was "prepared for the Annual by a  native of the Kona district of Hawaii, familiar with the sport,"  and the translation assisted  by "N. K. Nakuina, himself no stranger to the sport in earlier days".
Finney and Houston (1966): Op. Cit.,  page 102.

7. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

8. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

9. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

10. Ulu

11. Koa

12. Thrum in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

13. I'i, John Papa:  Fragments of Hawaiian History.
Bernice P. Bishop Museum,
1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, Hawaii. 968117
First printed 1959. Second printing 1963, Third printing 1973.
Revised edition 1983 as Special publication 70. Second revised edition 1993. Sixth printing 1995.

14. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

15. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

16. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

17. Charles Clerke, Captain 'Resolution': Surfboard Paddling
Waimea, Kauai or Kamalino, Ni'ihau
19th January to 2nd February, 1778.
Quotation provided by Patrick Moser, July 2006.
Thanks to Patrick Moser for his substantial contribution to this subject.

18. Blake (1935): Op. Cit., Page ?

19. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996):Op. Cit.,  page 102.

20. Ellis, Rev. William : Polynesian Researches, During a Residence of Nearly Eight Years in the Society and Sandwich Islands, Volumes I to IV.
Fisher, Son and Jackson, London, 1831. Pages 368 to 372.
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

21. Ellis (1831) in Finney and Houston (1996): Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

22. Walter  Colton (1797-1851): Deck and port; Incidents of a cruise in the United States Frigate
Congress to California.. with sketches of Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, Lima, Honolulu, and San
NY: A.S. Barnes & Co.; Cincinnati: H.W. Derby & Co., 1850)
Notes of 6/19/1846, pages 352-353.
Quoted in DelaVega (ed, 2004): Op. cit., page 19?

23. Lyman (1824)  in DelaVega (ed, 2004): Op. cit., page 22

24. Knox, Thomas W. (1835-1896):The Boy Travellers in Australasia.
Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey to the Sandwich, Marquesas, Sociey, Samoan and Feejee
Islands and Through the Colonies of New Zealand, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria,
Tasmania and South Australia.
New York Harper & Brothers 1889.
Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1902.
Charles Tuttle Co, Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan. reprinted1971.
Paul Flesch & Company, Melbourne.1971. Page?31-33?

25. Malo, David: Hawaiian Antiquities (Moolelo Hawaii)
 Bernice P. Bishop Museum,
 1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, Hawaii.
 Translated from the Hawaiian by Nathaniel B. Emerson, 1889.
 First published 1901.
 Special Publication 2  Second Edition 1951.
 Reprinted 1971, 1976, 1980, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2005. Page

26. Ellis: Polynesian Researches Volume IV (1831) page 371.

27. Blake: Op. Cit., Page ?

28. Thrum (1896) in Finney and Houston (1996): Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

29. Malo: Op. Cit., Chapter ? Pages 133 and 134.?

30. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

31. Malo: Op. Cit., Pages 133 and 134.?

32. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

33. Malo: Op. Cit., Pages 133 and 134.?

34. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

35. Malo: Op. Cit., Pages 133 and 134.?

36. Holmes: Op. Cit., Pages ?

37. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

38. Malo: Op. Cit., Pages 133 and 134.?

39. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

40. Malo: Op. Cit., Pages 133 and 134.?

41. Malo: Op. Cit., Pages 133 and 134.?

42. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

43. Holmes: Op. Cit., Pages ?

44. Malo: Op. Cit., Pages 133 and 134.

45. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.?

46. Banks, Joseph:  The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768 - 1771
 Edited by J. C. Beaglehole
 The Trustees of the Public Library of New South Wales
 in Association with Angus and Robertson   89 Castlereagh Street, Sydney.
 First published February 1962.  Second Edition 1963.
 Two Volumes.    Volume 1, Page 363.

47. Bob Simmons scarfing method  cut a triangular section form the bottom of the board which was then glued to the deck.
The bottom was then reshaped with considerable more nose lift.
Originally used to improve existing solid or laminated timber boards, the nose section was strengthen with fibreglass and resin.

Image from  Kelly, John  M: Surf and Sea
 A.S. Barnes and Co.Inc., 8 East  36 Street New York  16, New York 1965. Page

48. Simmons is often considered the father of the modern surfboard.
His scarfing technique was originally applied to solid timber boards, and for subsequent shapers rocker was a integral component of surfboard design.
By the late 1940s he had basically defined modern board construction with the introduction of fibreglass covering.
He demonstrated that performance was significantly enhanced with the use of a fin and experimented with multiple fins and various rail profiles.
Fin attachment, previously a structural problem for timber boards,  was also improved with the use of fibreglass.
Bob Simmons died in 1953, shortly before the introduction of the the foam blank that effectively completed the standard construction process for hand shaped surfboards.

49. Holmes: Op. Cit., Pages ?

50. See Young Einstien
In one scene, Young Albert (Yahoo Serious), inspired by his local Tasmanian surf break, shapes a surfboard from a log.
His board is a pointed nose three fin Thruster.

51. Please consider the following diagram.
Tree with rocker and fin profile.

52. Holmes: Op. Cit., Pages ?

53.  Byron, the Rt. Hon. Lord (1789-1868): Voyage of the 'H.M.S. Blonde' to the Sandwich Islands in the
years 1825-26.
London: J. Murray, 1826. pages 97 and 166.
Quoted in DelaVega (ed, 2004): Op. cit.,  Pages 27 to 28.

54. Thrum: Op. Cit.,
Finney and Houston: Op. Cit.,  Page 102.

55. tracks article

56. Blake on one difficulty???

57. Blake quotes Malo

58. Fornander, Abraham: Forlander Collection of Antiquities and Hawaiian Folk Lore : Translations by
Thomas G. Thrum.
Memoirs of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Volumes 4, 5 and 6.
Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1919-1920.

59. According to DeLaVega (2004), the accounts are spread over three volumes, viz. 4, 5 and 6.
They note "Tom Blake considered this collection one of the most comprehensive looks at the
legends and chants of ancient Hawaii. Includes numerous surf-riding stories and chants that show how much surfing was part of Hawaiin life", page 19.

60. Blake: Op.Cit., Page 17.
Blake does not give the volume number, page number/s or the date of publication.

APPENDIX : Cutting Surfboard from a Tree

Cross Section

polynesian surfriding : conclusions

Return to History Menu
home catalogue history references appendix

Schnack,  Ferdinand J. H.   The Aloha Guide : The Standard Handbook of Honolulu and the Hawaiian Islands
 Honolulu, Hawaii, 1915. Flexible Cloth Boards.