the act of riding – not white water! Put in Blake & Finney references re 'sliding' XXX
Includes natural and mechanical standing waves, wave pools, boat wakes, tidal bores, and wind generated waves on lakes, seas and oceans.
– body surfing, incorporating arm and leg power, occasionally utilizing
Similar behavior is also exhibited by other mammals, specifically seals and dolphins.
Although usually for pleasure, efficient body surfing technique was a valuable skill for retrieving lost surfcraft in the era preceding the general adoption of the leg rope (US – surf leash), circa 1977.
is possible that body surfing and Polynesian swimming were developed from
See Appendix A.
extensions – small appendages designed to improve body surfing performance, usually handboards and/or flippers (US – swim fins).
In the Modern era (circa 1950 - 1956), surfboard stability and performance was significantly enhanced with the addition of a structual extension - the fin.
– most designs have a single rider (personal craft), but some
have multiple riders.
Surfcraft design must always considered relative to the available materials and construction techniques.
when not riding the wave, the craft is either physically powered by the
rider/s (generally – ‘paddling’) or with an outside power source.
The methods are Arm and Leg power, Arm power only, Bladed Paddle power, Oar power, Sail power and Motorized.
Propulsion is necessary
to advance the craft through the wave zone (‘getting out’).
In general surf-riding activity, most time is devoted to paddling relative to the time actually spent riding the wave.
Getting out is a variable function of the surf conditions and the rider’s skill, and some craft are designed to excel at this aspect, particularly those focused on rescue, competitive racing or commercial applications.
Propulsion is also
necessary to achieve ‘take-off’.
The rider ‘takes off’ by positioning the board where the angle of the wave face is steep enough for the board to achieve planning velocity (= wave velocity).
Since personal surf-craft cannot normally paddle faster than wave speed, this is a critical calculation.
In this case, the rider does not ‘catch’ the wave – rather the wave ‘catches’ the rider.
If there is a sense in which the rider 'catches' the wave, then it is not as in 'catching a ball' and more like 'catching a (moving) train'.
As well as paddling into position, by the rider maximising their paddling velocity, the radical acceleration to wave velocity is reduced.
For stand-up surf-riders, the take-off is further complicated by the radical change in position from prone to standing.
Finney and Houston (1966) Plate 23.
Since we have no historical data on Ancient surf-riding performance, any comments on the early developments of surf-riding technique must be purely speculative.
appears to be a progressive development from the prone to the standing
position, accompanied by an increase in board size..
These developments can be classified as ...
Primitive surf-riding - riding prone.
Traditional surf-riding - riding in a variety of positions, occassionally standing.
Classical surf-riding - riding in a standing position.
The prone position, by virtue of the proximity to the craft, allows maximum control in extreme situations.
This reduces the chance of separation from the craft and substantially improves safety.
This was critical before the universal adoption of the leg rope (US: surf leash) circa 1974.
Prone boards are basic tools for acquiring surf skills, particularly for juvenile surfers.
have enhanced the safety aspect of prone boards by producing their designs
in a “soft” format, for example inflatable mats and the Boogie board.
Since the 1950’s many prone riders use extensions (flippers) to increase paddle power and riding control.
The prone position
has the advantage of applying extra power by paddling and/or kicking (the
most effective) when the wave face becomes less critical.
This option is not readily available to standup riders.
When riding the wave
in the prone position the rider controls direction by “loading up” either
the left or the right leg.
Trim control is achieved by reducing or increasing the leg drag.
Prone boards were
undoubtedly an essential evolutionary step in the development of surf-riding
and their use possibly pre-dates body surfing.
See Appendix A.
The alternative possibility (McInnes, in conversation, 2001), that surf-riding was an extension from canoe surfing, seems unlikely given the use of bladed paddles, the seated riding position and considerable differences in riding technique and skills.
For successful prone
riding , the minimum board width probably has to be at least six inches
(hand-width) and the board shorter than body length for the effective use
of arm and leg power.
Wave riding at this fundamental level of technique in this formulative period may be descibed as Primitive surf-riding.
As previously noted,
surfcraft design must always considered relative to the available materials
and construction techniques.
Initially, primitive board construction would be limited to the locally available timber resources and construction was by hand tools.
These tools were fashioned of stone, sometimes shell and often mounted in a timber handle and secured wirh coconut sennit or olona.
Coral was available as an abrasive.
Despite the stone-age
tools, board builders were able to access the skills and tecniques of the
The canoe builders were the prime technological achievers of an expanding maritime culture.
In a resource conscious community, it is possible that some boards were fashioned from discarded sections from damaged canoes, larger boards, outrigger floats or paddles (the blades).
See Appendix B: Ancient Surf Board Construction
As a communal activity, there would a 'communal
quiver' of prone boards that would allow for their performance to be critically
assessed by different riders.
With a progression in riding performance and construction techniques, and critically assessment by community feedback, there were significant incentives to build wider boards.
quiver - a collection of surfcraft, usually of one surf-rider, designed to be ridden in a range of surf-riding conditions.
Building wider boards requires only a marginal
adjustment in selecting from the available timber resources.
Although a larger board is potentially more dangerous, an increase in board width substantially improves floatation and paddling.
Furthermore, on the wave face the board planes earlier and the larger planning area reduces body drag resulting in a longer and/or faster ride.
A wider board was also more stable, and would encourage future experimentation in alternative riding positions.
Note that for personal
surfcraft, width is limited to a maximum of about 24''.
Widths above 24'' would be detrimental to efficient paddling technique.
See Blake (1935) in response toThrum's (1896) reported widths of "two or three feet wide", page 47.
The kneeling position maintains a close proximity to the board, and has moderate control in extreme situations.
Compared to the prone position, there is some increased difficulty at take-off because of the adjustment to the ridding position.
However, kneeling improves the rider’s field of vision and allows the rider alter the board’s centre of gravity significantly.
In an upright position, board direction and trim is controlled essentially by adjustments in body position, in considerable contrast to the trailing legs of the prone rider.
upright rider can initiate a “third point of stability” (McTavish,1966)
to adjust direction or trim, in the later case usually to stall.
This can variously be a hand drag (think Lopez), an arm drag (Reno), up the extreme of the full body drag (Simon).
The 1960s highly valued head dip may also qualify.
While many writers
report a technique of solid and hollow board riders turning their boards
by dragging their rear foot over the inside rail, this was more likely
a rare exhibition of great skill.
A visualization of doing this “backhand” approaches an athletic miracle.
Technically, a board
for successful knee riding must probably be at least fourteen inches wide
for an adult rider.
Boards 14 inches and wider invite the prospect of (limited) riding in the standing position.
midshipman George Gilbert (circa 1788), in the first report of Hawiian
surfboard dimensions gave the estimation of 6ft x 16'' with a 9'' tail
and 4 1/2'' thick ...
"about six feet in length, 16 inches in breadth at one end and about nine at the other; and is four or five inches thick, in the middle tapering down.'"
De Vaga (ed, 2004) Page 15.
Regular success at riding in the kneeling position, would confirm the benefits of wider boards and tentative attempts at standing could have encouraged the production of longer boards and further increases in width.
Following the Primitive
era, the Traditional surf-riding period is characterised
by successfully riding in the kneeling position, with the option
to vary the riding position depending on skill and the wave conditions.
For example late prone take-off might be followed by kneeling through a bumpy section, and then standing on the smaller smoother wave that is closer to shore.
This possibly equates with the state of surf-riding expertise around Polynesian settlement of the Hawaiian Islands, circa 400 - 600 C.E.
In the modern era
short and wide Kneeboards have been specifically designed to be ridden
in the kneeling position.
While kneeboarders regularly use flippers to propel the board and assist in take-off, when riding they are tucked under the rider and play no role in maneuvering the board, apart to severely restrict the rider to subsequently adjust their position.
Occasionally, Rescue or Paddle Boards are ridden in the kneeling position.
These riders can, like prone and surf ski riders, increase propulsion if the wave face flattens by using extra paddling strokes and the technique can be critical in a competitive event.
Extra paddling strokes, when riding, are used sometimes by kneeboarders, but this is considered by surfriding aesthetes to be somewhat lacking in style.
Although a specific riding position itself, the Drop-knee is an essentially a transition positon that allows easy adjustment from kneeling to either the standing or sitting positions.
It was probably a common technique in the period of boards without fins and some early commentators imply the rider should initiate wave direction in a prone or kneeling position before standing.
Hawaiian, ... , caught the breaker he wanted , and paddling along for a
rose to one knee first, then became gradually erect."
Corbett, W. F. :
Surf Riding : Kahanamoku on the Board - A Thrilling Spectacle"
The Sun , Sydney: 24 th December 1914 . Page 6.
Some of Tom Blake’s water shots from the 1930’s show this technique.
The earliest illustration
of drop-knee is probably the cover illustration, probably by Wallis McKay,
of William Charles Stoddard’s Summer Cruising in the South Seas
The work also includes possibly one of the best early illustrations of surfriding, a highly detailed image denoting several riding positions, (sitting, drop-knee and standing, but not prone) stance, duck-diving, waves in sets, off-shore winds and significant wave height.
This image is reprinted in Lueras, Leonard: Surfing - The Ultimate Pleasure (1984) and the cover on page 50.
surfers demonstrate an individual preference for the raised leg, regardless
of the riding direction, which is replicated in the alternate standing
positions of natural (left-foot forward) and goofy (right foot forward).
The forward positioning of the foot aligns the body along the board’s longitudinal axis, whereas when prone the rider’s weight (mass?) is distributed squarely across the board.
The dropped rear
leg (knee to toe) provides greater stability on the board, compared to
standing on both feet, and was sometimes employed by 1960s board riders
when negotiating a critical section.
See Nat Young at Collaroy photograph in Farrelly, Midget: This Surfing Life (1965) page 37.
It is a recognised riding position by contemporary (finless) Boogie-board riders.
The sitting position is usually determined by the propulsion method.
These are paddles (canoes, surfskis, kayaks), oars (surfboats, dorys) or an motorised power source.
While affording the
same visual field as kneeling, adjustment of the centre of gravity is limited.
Sitting is the most restictve position from which to adjust or change the riding position.
For boards and surf-skis,
the position is intrinsically unstable in extreme conditions.
Surfskis, from the 1930's, improved control by the use of footstraps and in circa 1969, Merv Larson in California added a seat belt to the wave-ski.
On occasion, the
sitting position was used by traditional Hawaiian surf-riders, see Wallis
McKay's illustrations noted above, and was occassionally used by
longboard riders up to the mid 1960s, its successful application considered
a demonstration of nonchalant skill.
Similar, but more obscure, is the "Coffin ride".
Also from the early1960s, it is initiated from the sitting position, whereby the rider lays on their back with the head towards the tail.
Ideally, the palms should be held on the chest, mimicking funereal ritual.
Standing maximizes the rider’s field of vision and allows the rider extreme body adjustment to the board’s centre of gravity.
The standing position also entails the greatest risk of separation from the board and an increase in danger.
This risk was was vitually eliminated with the general adoption of the leg rope (US – surf leash), circa 1977.
Stand-up surfing may have already been a recognised skill by Traditional surf-riders the time of Hawaiian settlement, but the subsequent developments led to a period where riding in the standing position was the dominant feature, Classic surf-riding.
On very rare occassions,
the rider can invert their position and firmly gripping the rails, stand
on their head.
Highly valued as an example of skill in the early years of the twentith century, the head stand is now considered an unfunctional trick.
See photograph Adrian Curlewis at Palm Beach circa 1935 in Maxwell (1949) page ?
The biggest determining
factor in surfing performance appears to be the rider’s skill, and although
‘designed’ to be ridden prone, the earliest experiments at stand up surfing
were probably on what contemporary surf-riders would recognise as ‘prone
or knee boards'.
It is even possible that the first experiments at stand-up surfing were attempted as early as 2000 B.C.E., around the time of the initial migrations into the Pacific.
Kuhio Pier, Waikiki, circa 1962
Photograph by Val Valentine
Kelly, facing page 192.
For Classic surf-riders,
the risk is greatest at take-off, complicated by a radical change
in position from prone to standing.
This was usually completed by a two stage process - first onto the knees and then standing.
An alternative method, placing one foot forward and balancing on the other knee (in the Comtemporary era :'drop-knee style") was first reported in 1912.
Hawaiian, ... , caught the breaker he wanted , and paddling along for a
rose to one knee first, then became gradually erect."
Corbett, W. F. :
Surf Riding : Kahanamoku on the Board - A Thrilling Spectacle"
The Sun , Sydney: 24 th December 1914 . Page 6.
This alternative may be illustrated in some early Waikiki photographs.
XXX With the arrival in Hawaii, surf-riding development of suitable surf skills and the production of suitable boards, standing became a common riding position.XXXX
Experiments in stand-up surfing led to the development to two techniques, the early adoption of the Stance and a later refinement, the Spring.
The Stance requires
the rider to balance along, and not across, the centre of the board.
Stance is indicated by most of the earliest recognised images that attempt to illustrate surf-riding.
It is not reported in any of the early written accounts.
are usually either Natural (left foot forward) or Goofy (right foot forward).
Stance is not determined by hand preference.
Personal observation (no empicial data) indicates a ratio of approximately 60/40 in favour of the Natural stance surf-riders.
Early surf-riding images illustrate both Natural and Goofy stances.
Goofy - adj.
1. foolish or stupid. Macquarie Dictionary
Blake (1935) does not use the term and indicates simply "left or right foot forward" - page 89
Muirhead (1962) uses the term, page 51..
In the weakest sense, the term has some implication of "not normal".
Also, perhaps a stronger implication was mitigated by the character of a popular cultural idenity, Goofy (Mickey Mouse's companion), who appears in Walt Disney cartoons from circa 1936 to the present.
There are probaby cartoon images of Goofy surf-riding - I have no idea if Goofy is a Goofy.
Stance is the defining characteristic of all the derivative board sports, (Skimboard?), Skateboard, Snowboard, Sailboard, Wakeboard and Kiteboard ; that trace their genesis to Classical surf-riding.
Illustration (etching) : F. Howard.
The first reported
Western image of surf-riding,
This technique is
not reported by the earliest recognised commentators on surf-riding.
They all seem to indicate that standing followed an adjustment to the kneeling position.
(1935) is possibly the earliest report of the spring as an technique, page
Note however that in Blake's wave-story he recommends standing up after turning the board and establishing the slide.
wave story - a descriptive tale of the dynamics an individual wave and the rider's technique, usually an idealised case for instructional purposes.
Blake adds ...
"Some prefer to stand up as soon as the wave is caught and steer the board into that position. "
Given that Blake is descibing riding boards without fins, this 'preference' would appear to require considerable skill and was probably only empolyed by experienced riders.
Photograph : Tom Blake
First printed in
National Geographic Magazine
May 1935, page 598.
with alternative caption.
between pages 32 and 33.
The fin stabntially incresed stability of the new lightweight construction
Other features of Modern surfing include a significant increase in the angle that a board can transverse the wave face.
This was of particular annoyance to Bob Simmons, whose early designs were constantly runnining over the, soon to be obsolete, solid and hollow boards, that drew a much less radical angle.
It was possibly even more annoying to those riders that the Simmons' crew ran over.
Despite the lightweight
of the Malibu board, the significantly large amount of drag provided by
the fin made the board extremely stable.
This ability not only facilitated extreme adjustments to the centre of gravity, but also allowed the rider to transverse the length of the board.
usually for pleasure - mostly surf-riding is essentially for pleasure, but some craft and techniques have special rescue, competitive or commercial application.
By the end of the 20th century, surf-riding
and it's derivative board sports had global significance.
a board and in a canoe must have started further back than body shooting”.
- Duke Kahanamoku, Interview by W. F. Corbett,
The Sun, Sydney, Australia, Friday 8th January 1914.
Tom Blake, citing conversations with Duke Kahanamoku, confirms that the 'Crawl' style was an integral part of successful body surfing technique and that it predates recorded history, Hawaiian Surfboard (1935), page 43.
calls attention to the fact that to catch a wave for "body surfing," in
the true Hawaiian manner, it is necessary to swim before the breaker using
the modern crawl stroke, with a flutter kick.
As a boy, Duke "body-surfed" and swam the crawl stroke before the world had a name for it.
Also the ancient Hawaiians, adapt at "body surfing," swam the crawl stroke as part of the sport; therefore, the origin of the so-called new crawl swimming stroke dates back to antiquity."
In the following paragraph, Blake comes close to presenting a lineal connection between board paddling as a precursor for independent swimming based on a 'Crawl' technique.
"The crawl kick was also used in conjunction with the short three-foot surfboards used at Waikiki beach around the 1903 period."
At the start of the
20th century, the Polynesian or Native style (often mis-labeled the Australian
Crawl) became the dominant competitive swimming style, superceding the
European horizontally based Breast stroke and the developing Trudgeon stroke.
In the 21st cetury, the Polynesian or Native style is used globally.
The report suggests further consideration.
Firstly, although detailed and explicit, Thrum's often quoted account of the required religious ceremony closely resembles those also given for canoe construction. (Holmes, 1991).
Where such reported ceremonial actives reserved only for craft that had specific cultural significance?
Certainly the report by "a native of the Kona district of Hawaii" is of a long past era.
Thrum's, perhaps, more realistic
comments are usually given less weight by modern commentators ...
"The uninitiated were naturally careless, or indifferent as to the method of cutting the chosen tree."
Were the "uninitiated" those not of the royal caste, were they a majority?
2. Thrum a also infer that the board was
carved from a single log.
"The tree trunk was chipped away from each side until reduced to a board approximately of the dimensions desired (a billet), when it was pulled down to the beach and placed in in the 'halau' (canoe house) or other suitable place for its finishing work. "
billet - Crude timber or polyurethane foam block from which a board is shaped. Common usage ‘blank’.
Thrum's account of the finishing
process that follows does not indicate a curing period.
While cutting and shaping the board from freshly cut green timber would be easier work, the result would probably be a board prone to splitting and warping, as well as being significanlty heavier than a cured board.
No available surfboard building reference accounts for the need for a curing time.
For canoe construction, Holmes (1993) notes...
"Menzies observes that rough hewn canoes, 'after laying some time ... to season, were dragged down in that state to the seaside to be finished ' ". Page 38.
One would expect that successful surfboard
construction would require an intial felling and rough shaping into a billet,
followed by an extended curing period.
Iron Age Observations
"perhaps oak to a desired width and then making an even plank by using a tool such as a side axe to remove excess timber would have achieved this. Split timber is far stronger than sawn wood and would have been more desirable as a structural material."
Phil Bennett : Bringing Archaeology
to Life: Reconstructing Iron Age Buildings
"The clencher method of construction
makes a hull very stiff for its weight and requiring only the simplest
tools to build it. An Axe, wedges for splitting logs, a hammer for clenching
nails and a primitive bow drill are all that are necessary to construct
even the most advanced of the type, the Viking Longship."
Michael Webb : Clinker Boat History & Building
Wiliwili is an extremely upright growing nitrogen-fixing tree that is easily planted from leafless-and-rootless cuttings. Cuttings can be as small as one inch in diameter and one foot tall or as big as one foot in diameter and thirty feet tall or anywhere in between. Depending on what you're wanting to make out of wiliwili will determine what size cutting you choose.
So what can be made out of wiliwili? Here's an abridged list: living fences; fence posts for mounting metal fence or electic fence on; windbreak; posts for holding ridge poles for tarp structures; pin markers; mulch plants for fertilizing orchards and making compost; fodder for four-legged animals; famine food; bead making; etc.
Unlike most branching trees, wiliwili doesn't branch outward, it branches upward, so it maintains a clean compact shape no matter how old it gets. This makes it ideal for so many situations where a horizontally branching tree would get in the way - growing into paths, growing into structures, shading gardens or trees, etc.
Of course one of the best things about wiliwili is how easy it is to plant. Just cut a pencil point on the lower/fatter end of the cutting, shove it in the ground so it stands up and walk away! Over the next months it will start rooting and leafing out, and in less than a year you will have a fully-rooted fertility-factory. It can even be planted in 3 foot tall California Grass with almost no weeding or clearing and then eventually shade the area out, reducing/eliminating the California Grass.
So if you're designing a sustainable orchard and need mulch plants, or need a fast initial windbreak or hedge while your long-term, slower-growing plants mature, or want to build an eco-dwelling, or want to make a pasture and save money on fence posts, or, or, or then wiliwili is probably the plant for you. For hedges and windbreaks and mulch intercropping we recommend planting them on 2 - 3 foot centers in double rows on staggered spacing.
A final note: Wiliwili has very small thorns growing on it's bark. They're not big enough to cut, nor do they form slivers, but if you are handling them a lot or planting them you'll probably want to wear gloves. Otherwise you'll end up with scratches all over your hands. The scratches aren't deep enough to draw blood generally speaking, but they can be annoying for the next few days while they heal.
Gaia Yoga Nursery
Last updated Wed, 12 Apr 2006 04:47:45 GMT
Latex: Breadfruit latex has been used in the past as birdlime on the tips of posts to catch birds. The early Hawaiians plucked the feathers for their ceremonial cloaks, then removed the gummy substance from the birds' feet with oil from the candlenut, Aleurites moluccana Willd., or with sugarcane juice, and released them.
After boiling with coconut oil, the latex serves for caulking boats and, mixed with colored earth, is used as a paint for boats.
Wood: The wood is yellowish or yellow-gray
with dark markings or orange speckles; light in weight; not very hard but
strong, elastic and termite resistant (except for drywood termites) and
is used for construction and furniture. In Samoa, it is the standard material
for house-posts and for the rounded roof-ends of native houses. The wood
of the Samoan variety 'Aveloloa' which has deeply cut leaves, is most preferred
for house-building, but that of 'Puou', an ancient variety, is also utilized.
In Guam and Puerto Rico the wood is used for interior partitions. Because
of its lightness, the wood is in demand for surfboards. Traditional Hawaiian
drums are made from sections of breadfruit trunks 2 ft (60 cm) long and
1 ft (30 cm) in width, and these are played with the palms of the hands
during Hula dances. After seasoning by burying in mud, the wood is valued
for making household articles. These are rough-sanded by coral and lava,
but the final smoothing is accomplished with the dried stipules of the
breadfruit tree itself.
Purdue University : Center for
New Crops & Plant Products
Morton, J. 1987. Breadfruit. p. 50–58. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
The origin of these boards is speculative, but broken sections from discarded canoes, outrigger floats or paddles (the blades) are possible sources.
|Image right :
Hawaiian paddles, circa 1800.
Bishop Museum Collection. Holmes (1993) page 59.
The paddles (hoe) held by the Bishop
Museum have an average blade (laulau) length of 23 inches
and a width of 12 inches.
Note that the paddles were shaped from
on piece of timber and a broken shaft would render the paddle unusable.
See Holmes Chapter 7 : Paddles.
With the development of an adult surfing
culture, prone boards became essential in acquiring basic surf skills.
In the 20th century, the Paipo has been re-invented several times
- the Surf-o-plane,
- the Bellyboard,
- the Kneeboard,
- the Spoon,
- the Coolite
- the Mat, and the most successful (in sales, performance and safety) Tom Morey's
Booggie Board, 1971.
Further principles were established...
6. Width is limited to the width of the ridder's shoulders.
8. The longer the board, the greater the paddling speed.
9. The lighter the board the greater the floatation
10. The nose is rounded and turned up - for cutting and take off
11. The tail is wide and square.- for maximum planning area and maximum safety.
12. Don't let go of the board.
Dimensions vary between 6 feet and 12 feet in length, average 18 inches in width, and between half an inch and an inch and a half thick. The nose is round and turned up, the tail square. The deck and the bottom are convex, tapering to thin rounded rails. This cross-section would maintain maximum strength along the centre of the board and the rounded bottom gave directional stability, a crucial factor as the boards did not have fins.
Any discussion of the performance capabilities is largely speculation. Contemporary accounts definitely confirm that Alaia were ridden prone, kneeling and standing; and that the riders cut diagonally across the wave. Details of wave size, wave shape, stance and/or manouvres are, as would be expected, overlooked by most non-surfing observers. Most early illustrations of surfing simply fail to represent any understanding of the mechanics of wave riding. Modern surfing experience would suggest that high performance surfing is limited more by skill than equipment. It is a distinct probablity that ancient surfers rode large hollow waves deep in the curl - certainly prone, and on occassions standing.
By 1000 A.D these principles were confirmed...
13. Large waves are faster than small waves.- a larger board is easier to achieve take off.
14. Steep waves are faster than flat waves.- a smaller board is easier to control at take off.
15. Control is more important than speed
16. Surfboards are precious.
There are no contemporary accounts of how the boards were ridden, but it is most likely that the design was specifically for riding large swells on outside reefs, rather than on breaking or curling waves. In 1961, Tom Blake suggested that the Olo may have been ridden prone.
In the 1920's, Tom Blake and Duke Kahanamoku
reproduced the design in a hollowed version to radically reduce the
weight. See #5xx, below
Surfing's international status was boosted in October 1907 with publication in A Woman's Home Companion (of "A Royal Sport : Surfing at Waikiki" by Jack London. Jack London was a noted travel writer and the article was reprinted as a chapter in his book The Cruise of the Snark, 1911, His enthusistic instuctor was Alexander Hume Ford.
In California the exposure was more direct - George Freeth, considered one of the top riders, was commissioned to demonstate surfriding as a promotion for a land sale at Renaldo Beach in 1907. His enthusiasm and ability encouraged locals to take up the sport, and this was given further impetus with demonstations by Duke Kahanamoku in 1912, both on the West and East coasts. Duke Kahanamoku extended surfing's influence with visits to Australia and New Zealand in 1914-1915.
Surfing was limited to a very small number of native Hawaiians, but increasingly some Europeans became board riding enthusiasts. This was typified by the formation of the Outrigger Canoe Club by Alexander Hume Ford in 1908 at Waikiki. Ford enthusuiastically supported the traditional skills of surfboard riding and paddling outrigger canoes, and was Jack London's instructor.
To encourage young surfer's, entry fees were set at a minimum and boards were supplied for use or purchase ($2.00 in 1909). Developments continued with the appointment of Dad Center as Club Captain and the membership of Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku in 1917.
The formation of the Outrigger Canoe
Club encouraged other surfing clubs, most noteably the Hui Nui whose members
included the Kahanamoku Brothers. Duke Kanhanmoku is credited with taking
the sport to new levels of performance and with developing the 10 ft board.
Using imported Californian redwood or sugar pine, he made thicker, wider
and longer boards to compensate for the lighter native timbers of traditional
boards. His basic design would be used around the world for the next 35
This board successfully performed to Blake's expectactions, however the extreme weight was a major difficulty. His first experiment, hollowing out a solid board, had been attempted previously -
"As early as as 1918 Claude West
had experimented to make a hollow board, chippig and gouging out a solid
redwood slab and fitting a small sealed and screwed deck.
The experiment was not a success; plywoods were not yet, nor plastic glues, timbers were sun dried intead of kiln dried as now, and sun-cracks quickly gaped to let in water.
'Snowy' McAllister of Manly...also experimented with chipped out boards.
He, too, was unsuccessful, though he improved on the West model, also steamling the tail in the hope of gaining more speed."
Maxwell , pages 239-240.
Probably similar attempts at hollowing
boards had been made by other surfers before Tom Blake...
however a combination of drilled holes and extended curing made a noticable difference in weight
was sixteen feet long and weight 120 pounds." Blake,
Blake also reported the length of this board as 14 ft 6 inches in 1935, see above.
Nat Young personally interviewed Tom Blake for his recollections of this period, published in 1983's The History of Surfing, and although the length varies from Blake's 1935 notes, the account is detailed...
" He purchased a solid slab of redwood
16' long, 2' wide and 4" thick.
It weighed around 150 pounds - too heavy to be of service as a surfboard, even when shaped.
So to lighten it he drilled hundreds of holes in it from top to bottom, each hole removing a cylinder of wood four inches long.
Then he left the holey board season for a month.
After the wood had fully dried he covered the top and bottom surfaces with a thin layer of wood, sealing the holes. I
t finished up 15' long, 19" wide and 4" thick, looking like a cigar.
It's weight was only 100 lbs, because it was partly hollow."
Nat History page 49
The second edition of History of Surfing (1994) is dedicated to Tom Blake who died May 5, 1994, aged 92.
The complete photograph, see below,
notes a third length for this board of 14 ft 6 inches.
There is some confusion as to these board's actual lengths.
It is possible that the board's length was reduced between 1926 and 1930, due to modifications or repairs - it certainly reduced in weight..
The board's paddling performance was demonstrated in 1928 when, after a slow start, Tom Blake emphatically won the 880 yards paddling race at the Pacific Coast Surfing Contest, Balboa, California. Blake, page 59.
"In the later part of 1929, after
three years of experimenting, I introduced at Waikiki a new type
of surfboard;...but in reality the design was taken from the ancient Hawaiian
type of board, also from the English racing shell."
Blake, page 51
The template of this board was radically streamlined compared to it's predecessor.
The application of a light skin over a ridgid frame for boats dates back to the Irish chonicle or the Innuit kayak.
"It was called a 'cigar board', because
a newspaper reporter thought it was shaped like a giant cigar. This board
was really graceful and beautiful to look at, and in performance so so
good that officials of the Annual surfboard Paddling Championship immediately..."
Blake, pages 51 - 52.