pods for primates : a catalogue of surfboards in australia since 1900
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glossary : surf-riding 
Surf-riding - a technical and historical definition.- residulal

The  long white board above was the first reproduction of the ancient Hawaiian OLO chiefs board, however it was hollow to lighten it. Duke Kahanamoku also rode this board. Thos. Blake"

Uncredited photograph and hand written notes by Tom Blake from a copy of Hawaiian Surfboard, 1935.
Hawaiian Historical Society.
reproduced in Lueras,  page 83.

1930 Tom Blake Hollow Paddleboard
Encouraged by his initial experiments, Tom Blake's second proto-type was a major advance...

"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

 "a light, hollow 16 footer, broke all paddle-race records at Waikiki."
Tom Blake's  Hollow Paddle board, 16 ft  60 pounds1929
Image cropped from a photograph by Thomas Edward Blake,  1930
"Waves and Thrills at Waikiki "
National Geograghic Magazine
May 1935 Volume 47 Number 5  page 597
The construction of this board is unclear, in Blake's notes does "English racing shell " refer to the template, the ribbed construction or both?
It may have used...
- the drilled hole technique
- laminated with chambered strips, or
- built form a timber frame and covered with a layer of the newly developed marine grade ply- wood, in the manner of racing shells or canoes of the period.
or some combination of these methods.
Given the reported weight of only 60 pounds, one of the latter methods seems most likely.

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.

1930 Laminated Alaia : Wakiki Model

1930 Laminated Alaia : Swastika Model

1935 Tom Blake Hollow : Production Model

1935 Hot Curl

1942 Bob Simmons' Scarfed Swastika
1946 Fibreglassed Board
1948 Bob Simmons' Laminate

1952 George Downing's Balsa Wood Finned Gun
1953 Bob Simmons' Spoon

1956 Balsa Wood Malibu : Hobie Surfboards #317

1958 Velzy Pig : Surfboards by Velzy and Jacobs

1964 Phil Edwards Model : Hobie Surfboards 

1964 Hawaiian Gun by Dick Brewer : Hobie Surfboards 
1966 Sam by Nat Young : Gordon Woods Surfboards 
1966 da Cat by Mickey Dora : Greg Noll Surfboards

1966 Velo I by George Greenough

1967 Surfboard La Jolla Twin-Pin & Twin Fin
1967 Pipeliner by Richard Brewer : Bing Surfboards

1967 Performer : Weber Surfboards 

1967 Vee Bottom by Midget Farrelly : Farrelly Surfboards 
1967 Vee Bottom Gun by Bob McTavish : Keyo Surfboards
1968 Tracker by Bob McTavish : Morey-Pope Surfboards
1967 Little Red by Ted Spencer : Shane Surfboards
1968 Double-Ender by Wayne Lynch : John Arnold Surfboards
1. Origins
2. Swimming
3. Floatboards and Rafts
4. Surf Riding

On the Origin of Surfboards
One of hominids ealiest wooden tools was the log when used as a swimming float, the first solid watercraft and the basis for subsequent maritime developments.

A simple log, buoyant enough to support the rider, the swimming float was used initially in crossing deep or rapidly flowing water courses, usually freshwater rivers and lakes, or occasionally, coastal lagoons.
The log was held by one or both arms, horizontal to the swimmer's body, the beam of the craft far wider than the length.and propelled by a frog-like kick of the legs, commonly identified as one component of the breast stroke swimming style..
Occasionally, the one free arm may be used either cross-arm, as in the breast stroke, or with an over-arm stroke.
The application of these skills formed the basis for  the development of basic swimming, independent of a buoyant support..

At this point, it must be noted that there is a possibility that these early experiments with timber were paralleled with the use of composite craft, rudely, or even naturally, formed from dry branches or reeds.
While these craft, in the form of reed rafts and boats, reached a high degree of sophistication in the hands of ancient shipwrights, their use was largely confined to inland waters.
This study focuses primarily on developments in the intertidal tropical coastal zone.
Intertidal, in its broadest meaning, ensures regular access to freshwater and altenative bio-cultures; tropical denotes a rich biodiveristy, not to mention benign air and water temperatures; and, certainly, the early use of watercrat in the coastal zone,
"the most exciting part of the ocean" (Bascom, 1964), was with structurally superior timber, the dominant material for shipbuilding until the 19th century.

The first swimming floats were possibly obtained by serendipity, suitable sized logs selected from a horde of fallen timber following a flood or an extreme wind storm.
To manufacture small craft, after identifying suitable buoyant timbers from the local forest, harvesting and shaping could be carried out with basic labour and basic skills- suitable branches, broken off a tree trunk, with any protuberances removed and the irregular ends trimmed over a hearth.

At some point, in what was possibly the first application of naval architecture, a relatively wide and long wooden swimming float was turned 90 degrees and paddled longitudinally,
the float board.
Whereas the swimming float was usually propelled with one arm, with support under the chest, now both arms were free to use in the over-arm stroke, and importantly, the rider could also use either the frog-kick or the high speed scissors-kick
The fastest style of swimming, the crawl, is characterised by the combination of the over-arm stroke and scissors-kick.
Furthermore, with this vertical orientation, the (now) float board could be paddled even faster than when swimming the crawl.
When managed by a skilled rider, the float board vastly expanded access to remote hunting and foraging grounds..
With familiarity, the use of the float board was a pleasant and invigorating experience in, as yet, an unexplored environment.
In pre-history, the wooden block swimming float achieved its highest level of sophistication in design and application in the alaia surfboard of the Hawai'ian islands. (Hornell, 1946) 

The accquisition of aquatic and technological skills saw the float board employed as a platform for fishing, at the most simple level, serving to support the catch collected when diving for marine species.
It could be also used to stalk fish and birds with a spear (or harpoon); to set nets or basket-traps; when dragging nets (possibly in tandem); or with a line and hook.
At some point, the float board was integral in the rescue of a tribal member in distress, the saving of a life significantly cementing social
bonds or obligations.

Given the importance of buoyancy, for the ancient float board shapers, the identification of suitable timbers from the local forest was primary.
With time, the available technology for harvesting and construction included fire and an expanding variety of bone, shell, and/or stone tools, as well as such wooden poles or ropes required to remove the log from the forest and transport it to water.
At the most simple level, selected trees or branches were harvested, and the bark and any prominent protuberances removed.

Well over 50,000 years ago, the float board was the basic watercraft of the early tropical coastal fishermen.
Initial exploration and foraging in the coastal zone (beachcombing) would have uncovered many food sources similar to freshwater varieties, however, there would have been a large number previously unencounted species.
As well as some edible plant species and  sea birds and their eggs, on examination of the intertidal zone, a number of shellfish, crustaceans, and echinoderms.were available for ready harvest.
For beachcombers, the variety of open ocean species was illustrated by the stranding of  mammals, fish, and cephalopods on shore,  the result of extreme tide, swell, flood.or wind events, and, in the case of the larger mammals or fish, particually if affected by illness or injury.
Recognising the potential of the off-shore fishing grounds, and after generations of familiarity with flat and fresh water conditions, the ancient coastal fisherman went down to the sea on boards.

Any enthusiasm for launching upon the open ocean was tempered by an accute awareness acquired from extensive coastal foraging and intensive contemplation of the nature of the surf-zone.
The collective understanding of the effect of the tides, the daily change in swell conditions, and the short-term variation in the surf-beat, no doubt emphasised the potential danger of the surf, possibly instigating the first commandment, to be applied both on and off shore - Do not turn your back on the sea.
While the Law of the Jungle was already in operation, the codification of Law of the Sea was just beginning.

This essential knowledge is applied before launching and negotiating the surf-zone, that is the paddle-out.
Based on the local conditions, launching is preferably from an advantageous location, such as in a rip, inside a bay or river entrance, or from behind reefs or points that provide a shadow from the prevailing swell direction..
In the more rigorous conditions of the open ocean, the timbers selected for float boards now also required some strength,.and it is likely that shapers developed a  preference for easily worked.grains, and were perhaps becoming aware of the benefits of seasoned timber and experimenting with water-proofing pastes.
In a transition from freshwater rivers and lakes to the ocean, swimmers and float board riders would have experienced an improvement in performance, due to the higher specific density of the salt water.

A float board is, by defintion, wider than it is thick or deep.
Generally, a larger float  board supports a larger weight, and a smaller board is easier to control, with an ideal standard size probably approximating a rider's surface area.
When there was a neccessity to transport large loads or band members, such as the elderly or pregnant, long-term familiarity with the float board readily presented the possiblity of a composite craft, the raft.

The float boards (mpadua), and their associated rafts (mpata), of Lake Botsumtwi in West Africa effectively  illustrate how float boards could fully provide all the transport and fishing needs of early tropical coastal dwellers.
These boards would have been particularly effective in launching through the surf zone to access off-shore fishing grounds and islands, and as surfboards.

In the return to the beach, it was obvious that the incoming waves offered an assisted, but potentially problematic, ride to the shore.
For a successful return, the rider not only had to ensure their own safety, but also secure the harvest, probably stored in nets or woven baskets.
No doubt, the those who first ventured out to sea did so after considerable contemplation and in the most benign conditions, and the encounter with sizable swells was only attempted with substantial experience.
Whereas the fishing techniques and skills developed in the flatwater rivers and lakes were largely transferable to the open ocean, fishing from a float board with a line and hook took on another dimension..
If a large fish was snared, the "hook and hold" method is relatively simple and highly effective, the prey secured finally after it submits to exhaustion.
However, the range of "large fish" in the open ocean is considerable, and the method is potentially highly dangerous and and act of considerable bravado.
A variation of the method was ruthlessly applied in the commericial extraction of whale oil in the 19th century.

In paddling out, various methods are applied to avoid the incoming waves and there is considerable inconvienience, if not danger, in losing control of the board.
To retrieve a lost board, often the rider can be forced to swim all the way to the beach, which in itself, suggests that before launching in the surf, they already have some confidence in their swimming skills.
It also points to  the origins of basic body surfing.
More seriously, there is the possiblity that the loose board may impact with its rider, and the remote chance that the board may be irretrievably lost.
These dangers are also present, of course, in the return to shore, however, here they are magnified by the  possibly of the loss of the catch.
Collective experience indicated two rules- always hold on to the board, and, if the board is lost, don't panic.
On the return, the incentive to "make the wave" was all powerful.

For a successful return to shore, wave selection can be critical..
Generally, the largest waves break furtherest out, and usually provide the shortest and direct ride all the way to the beach.
Once committed, expert control is required as the board rapidly accelerates at the take-off, and, ideally, board speed is maintained for the length of the ride.
This usually requires the rider to adjust their balance to successfully negotiate the complex vagueries of the breaking wave.

Note that the float board, used either in a rapidly flowing river or on a wave, was homonid's earliest encounter with the concept of speed, travelling considerably faster, and without physical effort, than ever previously experienced.
The only other comparable available thrill was probably cliff-jumping, an activitity with some similarities to wave riding.

While a successful return to the shore was principally assessed by the securing of the harvest, it was demonstrably an exciting activity requiring daring, experience, and skill.
Cliff-jumping, from the highest available point, was an ancient test of bravado, and a similar status is attributed to riding the largest available waves.
Note that the jump could be said to be a measure both height and the length of the ride, and also the comparable rapid accelleration experienced at the take-off by both participants.
Experience is to the fore in wave selection and in aligning the take-off position.
When riding, experience plays some part in "reading the wave" to make suitable adjustments in balance, however athletic skill can significantly effect performance.
Less obvious, less quantifiable, and uniquely human, is the element of style, and another feature common to wave riding and cliff-jumping.
On land, performance and style are integral elements in the appreciation of the art of dancing.
Wave selection, wave size, length of ride, athletic performance, and style are basic elements regularly considered by surfriders in assessing wave riding skills.

While in the general maritime world, the float board would continue its role as the self-rescue craft of last resort, across the tropical coastal zone it developed into the surfboard,
and in the hands of the Polynesians, a watercraft like no other in the ancient world.

Extended experience with the float board offered two options for creating larger sea-going craft, first by combing several float boards to make a raft, a composite craft whose construction and components could have wide variation.
The raft provided the first regular application of poles and timber paddles, and probably the first use of sails, the steering oar, and centreboards.
The alternative option, which was certainly a later development, was for a float board builder to harvest a very large log,
and by shaping the hull and hollowing out the centre, create a dugout canoe.
It is likely that a cross-fertilisation from raft builders contributed to the addition of the outrigger to the dugout canoe.
Similarly, it is
probable that raft construction suggested the addition of side panels to the dugout canoe; the basis for the future construction of enormous timber vessels, where the dugout canoe, or the float board, retained its primal role as the keel.

The endnotes comprise reference citations, definitions, and expanded comments on the text.
Also, some obscure and/or obtuse digressions, these sometimes may be said to be philosophical.

One of
This paper's first conditional; the writing of history is impossible without resorting to a healthy compendium of conditionals.


"Hominin – the group consisting of modern humans, extinct human species and all our immediate ancestors (including members of the genera Homo, Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Ardipithecus)."

- Australian Museum, , viewed 1 July 2013.

"Homo erectus, incidentally, conceivably made boats as well as fire; we should not underestimate them."

- Dawkins, Richard: Unwearing the Rainbow - Science, Delusion and The Appetite for Wonder, Penguin, London,.1988, page 296.

wooden tools

The appearance of ancient wooden tools in the archaeological record is exceptionally rare, and, consequently, their importance has possibly been underestimated.
For example, the first spear was, not doubt, the proto-type for Odysseus's burnt stick, sharpened in hot coals and impaled in the eye of the Cyclops.

Furthermore, "It may be that the idea [of working in stone] comes, in the first place, from splitting wood, because wood is a material with a visible structure  which easily opens along the grain, but it difficult to shear actross the grain."

- Bronoski, J.: The Ascent of Man, BBC (1973) page 95.

In speculating on the development of ancient coastal cultures, any potential archaeological sites have surely, by now, been severely disrupted by major changes in sea level.

swimming (and riding) floats.

James Hornell (1946), in his definitive study of ancient watercraft, differentiates between two types of floats.
"Swimming Floats: accessory devices designed to assist in supporting the body while swimming."
"Riding Floats: a simple means of transport which are bestridden by fishermen and travellers who propel the rude craft paddlewise, with their hands," page 1.

Swimming floats are subequenty sub-divided, based on construction, into Wooden Blocks, Inflated Skins, and Earthen-Pot Floats, pages 2-.17.
The division, based on the position of the paddler, either prone or sitting, is unfortunately less than rigorous, for example he classifies the mpadu of Lake Botsumtwi as riding floats, when they could also be classified as swimming floats.

- Hornell, James: Water Transport- Origins and Early Evolution, Cambridge,1946.

James Hornell's work is rigorous, perceptive, defintive, and the early chapters are unique in the literature.
Hornell's defininition is reconfigured here, to read:
"Swimming Floats: wide and short accessory devices designed to assist in supporting the body while swimming."

the first solid watercraft

Some historians suggest that the earliest watercraft may have been a naturally occuring bundle of reeds and/or branches that was used as a floatation device.
Such materials were used in the construction of composite craft, classically the reed boats of the Nile and South America.

float board

As this study's focus is Hornell's "Wooden Block Swimming Floats," if only for simplicity, the prefered term is "float board."
This craft had the greastest potential for furthering maritme skills and a basis on which to develop larger sea-going craft.
Also note that "rider" is prefered to "paddler," the latter best applied to rafts or canoes.
The term "float board" was first used to describe Hawai'ian surfboards by Lord Byron in 1825,

- Byron, the Rt. Hon. Lord: Voyage of the H.M.S. Blonde to the Sandwich Islands in the Years 1825-26, London,1826, page 97.
"Riding Floats: a simple means of transport which are bestridden by fishermen and travellers who propel the rude craft paddlewise, with their hands," page 1.

"Riding Floats: a simple means of transport which are bestridden by fishermen and travellers who propel the rude craft paddlewise, with their hands," page 1.

- Hornell, James: Water Transport- Origins and Early Evolution, Cambridge,1946.

one of the first watercraft

Hornell is somewhat ambilivent in nominating the "first watercraft."
In the first chapter he notes:

"It is doubtful if early man became acquainted with the, art of swimming prior to the utilisation or invention of some form of buoyant appliance"

In Chapter, he writes of the bark canoe;

- Hornell, James: Water Transport- Origins and Early Evolution, Cambridge,1946.

he also considers woven craft:

reed rafts and boats, reached a high degree of sophistication in the hands of ancient shipwrights, their use was largely confined to inland waters.

The Egyptians famously constructed huge ships from papyrus reed for use on the Nile and in 197 Thor Hyderdayl crossed the in a replica reed vessel.
Sea-going reed rafts or boats were reported in Peru, Calfornia, Tasmania, and Rapinui (Easter Island), however these appear to be relatively later developments and were certainly constructed in reponse to limitations in resources or technology.

Intertidal, in its broadest meaning

While the inter-tidal (WRONG WORD) zone is often located several kilometers upstream from the head of a large river, in some cases, small creeks and lakes can be directly adjacent to the foreshoe.

Bascom, 1964

Bascom, Willard : Waves and Beaches, Anchor Books, New York 1964, page .


the crawl

Often, and clearly erroneously, referred to as the Australian Crawl or the American Crawl, the various and numerous anecdotal histories
in both cases invariably source the earliest influences as native swimmers.

a pleasant and invigorating experience

Throughout his novel, The Wind in the Willows (1908), Kenneth Graham, primarily in the voice of a water-rat, is fulsome in his praise of a life on water.
In Chapter 1,
Ratty contemplates the pleasures of simply messing about in boats, "one of the most-quoted lines from ...  all of English literature."
The full quote reads, following Mole's statement:

"Do you know, I've never been in a boat before in all my life."
'What?" cried the Rat, open-mouthed:
 "Never been in a -- you never—well I—what have you been doing, then?"
"Is it so nice as all that?" asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

"Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly, as he lent forward for his stroke.
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Simply messing," he went on dreamily: "messing—about—in—boats; messing----------- "

- Gauger, Anne (editor): The Annotated Wind in the Willows, W. M. Norton, New York, 2009, page 13.

Ratty and Mole "simply messing about in boats."
Ernest Shepard: Toad Hall from the water, 1931 (detail)
Gauger: The Annotated Wind in the Willows (2009) page 33.


A wide and thin surfboard shaped from a billet (plank) split from the koa, or a similar, tree.
The most advanced design of Polynesia, it was common in Tahitian and Hawai'ian Islands, however it was on the later that surfriding was most advanced and culturally entrenched.
This is not suprising; within tropical Poylnesia (excluding New Zealand), the Hawai'ian islands had the largest land mass, the greatest natural resources, the largest population,
exposure to all swell directions, and, largely due to the relative youth of the archipeligo's coral reefs, many of the planet's best surfing breaks (locations).
While the breaks on Ohau's North Shore are righty famed, Waikiki remains the ultimate surfriding "nursery."


A float board, used or designed to negotiate the surf-zone.
Surf board design tends to either maximise performance when paddling out (the paddle board, race board, rescue board), or to maximize performance when riding a wave in the return to the beach (the surfriding board).
Originally built from a timber block, the modern fibreglass and polyurethane foam surfboard retains a longitudinal wooden core, the stringer

Hornell (1946) observed (slightly inaccurately):

"There is good reason to believe that the Hawaiian surf board, now used only for sport, is derived from a true swimming float originally of direct material advantage to the islanders in fishing and in swimming from place to place along the coast," page 4.

Although the float board  had developed into the surfboard principally for sport, it always retained it potential as a rescue craft.
1946, when Hornell was writing, the hollow timber surfboard was an established rescue craft in Hawai'i, California, and Australia.

benthic species

spear, or dragging or setttting nets or baskets

"Spearfishing with barbed poles (harpoons) was widespread in palaeolithic times.[8]

- Wikipedia: History of Fishing, viewed 1 July 2013.

to set nets or basket-traps

Robert Rattray (1923) studied the the mpadua on Lake Botsumtwi, West Africa; a unique case of a ancient float board still in use in the 20th century, and which will be further examined.

He illustrates four simple types of nets used by the mpadua riders, and notes:

"another way of catching fish which is even more primitive.
It is called abontuo.
The fisherman dives under the water, remains under from thirty to forty seconds, and comes up holding a fish between his teeth - to leave the hands free for swimming."

- Rattray, R.S.: Ashanti, Negro Universities Press, New York,1923. page 66.

line [thread, twine, rope]

"Ropes and lines are made of fibre lengths, twisted or braided together to provide tensile strength.
Fossilised fragments of "probably two-ply laid rope of about 7 mm diameter" have been found in one of the caves at Lascaux, dated about 15,000 BC.[31] "

- Wikipedia: Traditional fishing boat, viewed 1 July 2013.

The jaw of Mungo Man, excavated at Lake Mungo, Australia, and dated to 43,000 years ago, shows severe wear to the rear lower molars on one side, with the strong implication that this was the result of preparing large amounts of thread or twine, to be woven into fishing nets.

-ABC: First Footprints, 14 July 2013.


Current archeology dates the earliest known shell fish hook as up to 23,000 years ago, with a strong implication that they were used for off-shore (pelagic) fishing around 20,000 years earlier.
Fish bones of in-shore species found at the Blombos Cave in South Africa date from 140,000–50,000 years ago.

"The world's oldest fish hook has been unearthed at a site in East Timor, alongside evidence that modern humans were catching fish from the open ocean as far back as 42,000 years ago.

Sue O'Connor, an archaeologist at the Australian National University in Canberra, and her colleagues found two broken fish hooks made from shells.
They dated one to approximately 11,000 years old and the other to between 23,000 and 16,000 years old — the earliest known example of fish-hook manufacture.

The team also found more than 38,000 fish bones at the site, dating the oldest back to 42,000 years ago.
Some were from inshore species, but almost half were from 'pelagic species' — fish that dwell in the open ocean, providing the oldest known evidence of humans fishing far from shore.
The most commonly found pelagic species at the site were Tuna, but there was also evidence of humans eating sharks and rays, among others.

How the pelagic fish were caught isn't known, but the researchers speculate that it was done from boats or rafts using either nets or fibre lines with hooks.

Far older fish bones have been found at sites in southern Africa – those at the Blombos Cave in South Africa, for example, date from 140,000–50,000 years ago – but they have generally been from inshore species whose capture would require less complex technology."

- Nature.com
Zoë Corbyn: Archaeologists land world's oldest fish hook, 24 November 2011, viewed 1 July 2013.

transport (the log) to water

In describing the timber-cutters of Seafon, on the west coast of Africa, John Atkins noted they took an annual expedition up-river, where:

"They cut it into large pieces, and leave it on the ground till the land-flood favours their bringing it into the river, and then canoes are laden away with it, to lay in store at Barcaderas, where the Chief are still left residing."

- Atkins, John: A Voyage to Guinea, Brasil and the West Indies, C. Ward and R. Chandler, London, 1735, page 227.

the development of swimming

In 1560, Johann von Lubelfing observed:of the "Moors" of the Gold Coast, West Africa:

"In the second and third year they tie the children to boards and throw them into the water, and so they learn to swim.
Thus they are brought up with little trouble.

- Lubelfing, Johann, von: Voyage of 1599 to 1600, UIm, 1612,  in
Jones., Adam: German Sources for West Afican History 1599-1699, Wiesbaden, 1983, page 109.

Well over 50,000 years ago

Given that the development of the swimming float to the sea-going raft was a extremely long-term process, the earliest experimentation must
seriously predate  the sea-crossings by the aborigines of Austrlian on wooden rafts, currently estimated as 50 thousand years ago.

early tropical coastal fishermen

Although no location is suggested, the coast of tropical Africa is one obvious candidate.

In 1962, Ben Finney examined several reports of surfriding in West Africa, and concluded that surfboarding in West Africa and Oceania was invented, and evolved, independently.

- Finney, Ben: Surfboarding in West Africa, Wiener Volerkundliche Mitteeilungen, Wein, 1962., Volume 5, pages 41-42.

While the earliest occupation of the islands of the Pacific is currently dated around 2000 BC, the coasts of Africa were occupied considerably earlier.
it is likely that successful eastward expansion across the Pacific required considerable sized craft, considerable experience in their navigation,.and a high level of fishing, foraging and surf skills.

larger mamals or fish, particually if affected by illness or injury.

In July 1790, a large spermaceti whale was noticed inside Sydney Harbour.
Several unsuccesful attempts were made by the new settlers to harpoon it, and when it later capsized a punt, the crew of three was drowned.
In September, probably affected by illness or injury, the whale beached at Manly Cove, where it was killed the Kay-ye-my, the local aborigines, and in the words of David Collins, " the cause of numbers (approximately 200) of them being at this time assembled to partake of the repasts which it afforded them.”

- Collins, David: An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales
edited by B H Fletcher. Terrey Hills, NSW; Reed, 1975. (Originally published 1798), page ?
- Tench, Watkin: Sydney’s First Four Years
Sydney; Library of Australian History in association with the Royal Australian Historical Society, 1979. (Originally published 1789 and 1793), page ?.

sea bird(s) ... eggs

The most famous example of the harvesting of sea-bird eggs is the bird-man ritual of Easter Island (Rapanui).
With the return of the migratory sooty-tern, contestants vied to be the first to return with an egg from an offshore island hatchery, success assuring  power and prestige for their clan for the upcoming year.
The competitors paddled to sea on woven reed float rafts, pora.

Hyerdahl, Thor: Easter Island, Souvenier Press, London, 1989, pages 21, 144-145.

edible plant species ...  primarily found in the coastal zone,

The most significant example, in the Pacific is the coconut (Cocos nucifera), but also note that there is considerable world-wide variation in samphires.

"Samphire is a name given to a number of distinct edible plants that grow in some coastal areas."

- Wikipedia: Samphire, viewed 7 July 2013.


Echinoderms (Phylum Echinodermata) are a phylum of marine animals.
The adults are recognizable by their (usually five-point) radial symmetry, and include such well-known animals as starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers.
Echinoderms are found at every ocean depth, from the intertidal zone to the abyssal zone.

- Wikipedia: Echinoderms, viewed 7 July 2013.

down to the sea on boards

"They that goe down to the Sea in Ships, and employ their labour in the great waters, they see the Workes of the Lord, and his wonders in the depe"

- The Bible, Psalm 107.

"There is no more fascinating subject than the history of man's going down to the sea in ships and then out across it.
It is the story of maritmime peoples everywhere."

-Sharpe, Andrew: Ancient Voyages in the Pacific, London, 1957. page ?

Do not turn your back on the sea.

At Waikiki, Ohau, a statue commemorating famed surfrider and Olympic swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku, has received some local criticism.
Suitably aligned for visiting photograghers, his back is towards the ocean.
This, it is said, something that Duke would never do.

The Law of the Jungle - the Law of the Sea.

"The Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, The Law of the Jungle, and the Law of the Sea, are your only teachers."

- Dylan, Bob: Jokerman, Infidels, Columbia, 1985.

mpadua and mpata

The padua (mpadua, plural) is a simple float board, resembling the ancient olo surfboard of ancient Hawai'i, paddled on Lake Botsumtwi in West Africa.
Strict local taboos prevent the use of any more sophisticated craft, except when transporting goods or passengers.
Then several padua are tied together to form a raft, the pata.(mpata, plural), which is pushed or towed by the mpadua riders..

- Rattray, Robert: Ashanti, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1923, pages 54-66..

In 1842, one of H.M.S. Beagle's longboats encountered a party of aboriginies using a similar method in Port Darwin ("Patterson Bay").
Mid-way in crossing between the heads of the East Arm, a distance of approximately three miles, the raft was described as "quite a rude affair, formed of small bundles of wood lashed together, without any shape or form, quite different from any we had seen before."
Two women and several children were aboard, the raft propelled "by four or five men supporting themselves by means of a log of wood across their chests."

- Stoke, J. Lort: Discoveries in Australia, T. and W. Boone, London, 1846. Volume 2, pages 15-16.

"hook and hold"

The physical and psychological stresses of the "hook and hold" method are examined by Ernest Hemmingway in his Nobel prize winning short story, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

Of the old man's dreams, Hemmingway writes:

"He was asleep in a short time and he dreamed of Africa when he was a boy and the long, golden beaches and the white beaches, so white they hurt your eyes, and the high capes and the great brown mountains.
He lived along that coast now every night and in his dreams he heard the surf roar and saw the native boats come riding through it.
He smelled the tar and oakum of the deck as he slept and he smelled the smell of Africa that the land breeze brought at morning."

- Hemminway, Ernest: The Old Man and the Sea, Arrow Books , London, 1993, page 18.

act of considerable bravado

In 197x8x, the Australian surfing press noted that the "hook and hold" method was currently being used by noted-surf rider, George Greenough.
Noting the potential dangers, tinged with a touch of humour, it was suggested that such "excentric" behaviour by Greenough was not unknown.

commercial extraction of whale oil

Literature's outstanding account of the whaling industry is Herman Melville's Moby Dick, published in 1851.
At the novel's conclusion, the narrator, Ismael, is saved after the destruction of the Pequod by supporting himself on a coffin, constructed
onboard in response to a vision of impending death, by his Polynesian companion, xxxQuequenue??.
While fiction, it is the first account of a hollow timber float board.

dugout canoe

A dugout canoe is a small narrow boat, usually pointed at both bow and stern, hollowed from a tree trunk.
The oldest known canoe is the dugout Pesse canoe found in the Netherland which,.according to C14 dating, was constructed  between 8200 and 7600 BC.[25]
The oldest known canoe found in Africa, the Dufuna canoe, was constructed about 6000 BC. [27]

- Wikipedia: Traditional fishing boat, viewed 1 July 2013 (edited).

boats [planking]

"Building boats from planks meant boats could be more precisely constructed along the line of large canoes than hollowing tree trucks allowed.
It is possible that planked canoes were developed as early as 8,500 years ago in Southern California.[33]"

- Wikipedia: Traditional fishing boat, viewed 1 July 2013.

the incentive to "make the wave" was all powerful.

"This [detailed analysis of wave riding performance] is of course a supplement direction to the all powerful 'make the wave' motive."

- McTavish, Bob: Bob McTavish is in this wave. He probably had a plan to get out of it.
Surfing World, Volume 8 Number 4, January 1967, page 16.

large boats and ships

The largest rowed ships were trimerrienes of imperial Rome, however in the 18th centurury, even small ships used oars and sweep oars for manourveing inside harbours, for example George Bass and Matthew Flinder's Norfolk, circa 1807..

The combination of several float boards to form the raft was a relatively simple advance that greatly increased the potential load, however as they became wider, control was more diffficult..
At the most basic level, the raft could be paddled by hand or pushed or pulled by swimmers or float boarders, as on Lake Botsumtwi.
In shallow water, it could be propelled by poles, the rider generally facing the bow; either kneeling, sitting, or standing.
On narrow rafts, a single rider could maintain a course by alternating their strokes from side to side, but a wider raft required at least a crew of two, one polling on each beam.
On large rafts and barges, polling was most effective when two crew members, one standing forward on each beam, fixed their pole in the bottom and, by walking to the stern, propell the craft forward.

In deep water, a pole could provide substantial thrust if inserted deep enough.
An alternative was a paddle, intially a small hand-held blade, and, as with polling, with the paddler facing towards the front of the raft.
On narrow rafts, a single rider maintains a course by alternate strokes, as practised by the padu surf riders of Madras.
A wider raft requires, at least, a crew of two, with one paddling on each beam.
Propulsion was improved with the development of the paddle, combining the pole and the blade, and considerably increasing thrust through mechanical advantage.
Importantly, control of large rafts was significantly improved with a crew of three, two paddlers on the beams and a third operating a trailing paddle at the stern.
When braced, or fixed, against the superstructure, it operated as a sweep oar, with the further mechanical advantage of the fulcum.
The sweep oar eventually became the (standard) oar, where the rower faces the stern.
Alwatys used in pairs to maintain a course, in large boats and ships ultimate control was in the hands of the sweep oar at the stern

The use of the sweep oar on the raft must have been familiar before the first experiments with the sail; its effective control necessary to, in any sense, successfully navigate under sail.
Requiring considerable advancements in the production of threads and in weaving, the first effective sails probably resmbled wovem mats.
The log raft was taken to its most advanced form in pre-history in the balsa, used to transport of freight along the coast of ancient  Peru
Built of large balsa wood logs with a crew of paddlers, a sweep oar, and sails, they also were known to have lee boards inserted between the logs to significantly improve navigation.
In the 1930s, surfboard shapers began to experiment with balsa wood, but its light-weight and buoyancy would be fully exploited in the 1950s when laminated together with fibreglass and resin.

The concept of the raft as a composite construction was not confined to timber logs.
The advancements in the production of threads and in weaving needed to produce sails also facilitated the weaving of reeds into buoyant craft - the reed float or raft.
Such craft were used on the River Nile, in a vast range of sizes, and in Peru on Lake Titicaca  and on the coast, where the cabilitto was used for off-shore fishing and regulary ridden in the surf.
It is likely that this technique originally derived from replicating wooden vessels with a readily availble local alternative, in a response to a diminished availablity of suitable timber.
Such a senario is illustrated by Easter Island (Rapanui), where the inhabitants had decimated the island's considerable native forests, and, unable to build dug-out canoes, resorted to constructing thepora, a woven reed float raft.

Considerable advances in techonology and experience were required before ancient float board shapers transformed the simple log into the dug-out canoe.
This radical design concept may have been suggested by contemplating the shape of large floating leaves or seed pods.
Alternatively, serendipity may have produced a recognisable vessel - a large tree hollowed by insects (termites?), and split in half by lightning or when felled by flood or wind storm.
Retaing the volume, and buoyancy, of the original log, when hollowed it was substantially lighter and handling and control was vastly improved.
The first canoes were probably hollowed with adzes, in time, the craftsmen reducing the thickness of the hull and refining its shape.
Later, some canoe builers would use controlled fire, burning the log to reduce the labour required in hollowing-out by adze.
Previously employed on rafts, the canoe was propelled by paddles and, initially with caution, by sails.
Facing forward and either sitting or kneeling, the single paddler maintains a course by  strokes on alternate sides, while a crew of two is significantly more efficient, with one paddling on each beam.
When required, the rear paddler can brace the shaft of the paddle against the hull to act as a sweep oar, their role designated as the steersman.

As the float board was the base for the dug-out canoe, the canoe was the base for the boat, and ultimately, the ship.
Initially, developing the component concept of the raft, extra boards were added to extend and raise the sides of the hull and internal cross-struts provided reinforcement and seating.
This saw further improvements in wood-working skills, thread manufacture and weaving techiques, and the use of caulking pastes and paints.
The size of the vessel was now no longer confined to the dimensions of the parent tree.
Eventually, this process evolved into the fully ribbed and panelled timber boat, best illustrated by the Viking long-ship, were the dug-out canoe survived as merely as a distant remnant in the keel.
Even with the development of sophisticated wooden boat or ship,in the case of shipwreck, the float board was always the option of last resort for self-rescue (Homer, 400 BC).

The raft had another, rather different, influence on the dug-out canoe.
Recognising the inherant stability of the raft,
or sall onboard gear transferable from singlr, familiarity with performance.
out-rigger canoe

the Polynsians, if not their ancestors, produced the double canoe.
These were capable of carrying a large load, the twin hulls presented a small water line, and were effective sailing craft.
With no wind, or even with head winds, the double canoe was albe to paddled but a fit and skilled crew.

Colonise polynesia,
hobie cat, modern power recreational and commuting craft, the fastest competitive sailing  boats are the America's cup tri-marans.

se would be fixed with twinewith the use of a small hand-held blade.
Possibly propelled by hand-paddling,

Aboriginal Technology: Watercraft, Alex Barlow,

Worora youth on a mangrove tree raft (or 'kaloa'), George Water, Western Australia, 1916

Australian Aboriginal Canoes- Sydney
Compiled by Michael Organ

Aboriginal bark canoe, NSW
Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum -
This is a bark canoe made in a traditional style from a sheet of bark folded and tied at both ends with plant-fibre string.
The bow (the front) is folded tightly to a point; the stern (the rear) has looser folds.
The canoe was made in 1938 by Albert Woodlands, an Aboriginal man from the northern coast of New South Wales.
It measures 310 cm in length and 45 cm in width. E045964

- http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Aboriginal-bark-canoe-NSW/

15. Dugong Hunting as Changing Practice: Economic engagement and an Aboriginal ranger program on Mornington Island, southern Gulf of Carpentaria
Cameo Dalley


 2001, The role of the physical environment in ancient Greek seafaring / by Jamie Morton. Morton, Jamie.
Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2001.

2010, The global origins and development of seafaring / edited by Atholl Anderson, James H. Barrett & Katherine V. Boyle.
Cambridge : McDonald Institute of Archeological Research, University of Cambridge ; Oakville, CT : David Brown Book Co. [distributor], c2010.

2007, The history of seafaring : navigating the world's oceans / Donald S. Johnson, Juha Nurminen.
London : Conway, 2007

2003, The archaeology of seafaring in ancient South Asia / Himanshu Prabha Ray. Ray, Himanshu Prabha.

1. On several occasions in the body of modern surfriding literature, commentators have questioned the origins of surfriding, and by extension the origins of the surfboard.
Usually posed as 'who were the first surfers?' or 'where did surfing begin?', the reponse usually employs tenuous definitions and unclear terminology.

[To make a start I continue in the most general of terms but specification of clear terms and definitions will be necessary (fairly soon).]
Many popular works often assert that surfriding was invented by the Hawaiian's, which in the narrow sense of "modern surfing," is true.
However, there are reports of indigenous surfriding on the coasts of Africa and India, with ample evidence across the islands of the Pacific and it was common to Polynesia.
This suggests surfriding predates the Polynesian arrival in Hawaii.
Futhermore, advance surfing skills may have been one of the pre-requisites of exploration and colonisation of Polynesia.
The questions 'where' and 'when' are of interest; the answers are, most probably, obscured in antiquity.

Many commentators acknowledge the similarities between body surfing, canoe surfing, and surfboard surfing, and then attempt to nominate the 'winner'.
Body surfing is usually relegated, with canoes or surfboards vying for priority.
This may appear initially as classic example of 'which came first, the dinosaur or the egg?'
In 1946, maritime historian. James Hornell provided a clear and insightful answer- the first water craft was the log, or float board, and the surfboard a very advanced development of this most basic of vessels.
Hornell argues that the floatboard precedes its larger derivations, the dug-out canoe and the raft, and was essential in the development of swimming, the
By implication, it is probable that surfboard riding preceeded canoe and body surfing.
Part One expands Hornell's thesis in examining the development of the floatboard, swimming, dug-out canoes, and rafts from a surfriding perspective.

2. The first recognised contribution to the history of surf riding is Tom Blake' Hawaiian Surfboard (1935), but the definitive work is Ben Finney's master's thesis, completed at the University of Hawaii? in 1958?, which was published, in conjunction with James Houston, as Surfing - The Sport of Hawaiian Kings (1966).
The numerous historical sources identified by Finney have been substantially expanded since 1966, and an intensive analysis of these further broadens the subject.
Similarly, continuing developments in archelogy, anthropology and genetics, also expand Finney's work.
Parts Two to Four examine Finney's three major elements of wave, surfboard and surfrider.

Surfing - The Sport of Hawaiian Kings (1966).
The book wased based on , with two articles in the Journal of Polynesia and one, in French, in the Journal?, 1959-1961?
The book was writen in conjunction with fellow surfer and professional writer, James Huston, and published with a selection of illustrations and photographs.
It was reprinted in 1966, with a new introduction, some different photographs, and additional appendices.
A substantial portion of this paper is deeply indebted to Finney's work, its scope and and content provide an established base from which to analyse, criticise, and expand.

Part One
Some reflections on the nature of water.
Water is a bipolar molecule composed of hyrogen and oxygen that is a liquid between 0 - 100 degress centigrade, and is essential for the existance of carbon based life.
Psychologically,. still water presented humanoids with their intial conception of their own image, albiet a "mirrored" version.
A true representation only became possible at the end of the 19th century with the development of photography.
The word narcissm is often deemed applicable.

Part Two - The Wave.
Waves by Bascom

Part Three - The Surfboard

Finney on Surfboards
In several major aspects, this paper diverges from Finney's (implied) assumptions.
Firstly, he states that "stand up surfing ... is the pinnacle of the sport," and throughout the book, unless otherwise qualified, surfing is riding upright on a surfboard.
This was not an unreasonable assumption in 1966, riding standing on a 9-10 ft foam or balsa fibreglassed board with a fin was the dominant form of the sport.
Since then ,the form and variety of surf-craft has vastly expanded, currently the 9-10 ft board occupies only one significant, but not dominant, segment of the craft that are commonly called surfboards.
For example, Finney could not have seen the popularity of prone surfing after the introduction of Tom Morey's Boogie board in the 1980s.

By overstating the significance of stand-up riding, Finney devalues the skill and performance of prone surfing and limits an appreciation of the potential of ancient Polynesian surf riders.

Hydronamic planning hulls by Lindsay Lord

Part Four - The Surfrider

surf-riding, wave-riding, surf-shooting, wave-sliding, he'e nalu – n; v. the act of riding a hydrous wave, often utilizing a variety of craft, employing a variety of methods of propulsion and riding positions, usually for pleasure. (Geoff Cater, 2006)

The earliest recognition of the concept of surf-riding in a formal definition is probably is in the Hawaiian language.
Andrews, Lorrin (1795-1868) : A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language, to which is appended an English-Hawaiian Vocabulary and a Chronological Table of Remarkable Events
H. M.Whitney, Honolulu. 1865
Pages l00, 107, 112, 155, and 411.
Numerous translations relating to surfing and the ancient ways.
The first Hawaiian-English dictionary, done when Hawaiian was the language of Hawaii.
"Hee-Na-Lu, s. Hee and nalu, the surf. A playing on the surf, a pastime  among the ancients; the name of their play on the surf."
- Dela Vega, Tim (editor) : 200 Years of Surfing Literature, page 10.

 the act of riding not white water! Put in Blake & Finney references re 'sliding' XXX

hydrous containing water
Includes natural and mechanical standing waves, wave pools, boat wakes, tidal bores, and wind generated waves on lakes, seas and oceans.

without craft – body surfing, incorporating arm and leg power, occasionally utilizing body extensions.
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.

Historically, it is possible that body surfing and Polynesian swimming were developed from board surfing
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.

various craft –  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.

propulsion – 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.

Paddling and waiting : common surfing activity, Wakiki, circa 1940.

Finney and Houston (1966) Plate 23.

riding positions – there are five basic riding positions : Prone, Kneeling, Drop-knee, Sitting and Standing.
For some craft the riding position is determined by the propulsion method, others allow for variations in the riding position.

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.

Historically, there 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.

Several designers 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.

"The board is worked on the same principle (as the canoe),
but its control  calls for  much greater skill."
- Duke Kahanamoku, Interview by W. F. Corbett,
The Sun, Sydney, Australia, Friday 8th January 1914.

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 canoe builders.
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.

Kneeling (“Double Kneeling”)
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.

Occasionally the 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.

'Resolution' 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.

"This finely-built  Hawaiian, ... , caught the breaker he wanted , and paddling along for a while
rose to one knee first, then became gradually erect."

Corbett, W. F. : "Wonderful 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 (1874).
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.

Critically drop-knee 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.

Standing Rider on Paipo/Belly board, 
Kuhio Pier, Waikiki, circa 1962
Photograph by Val Valentine
Kelly, facing page 192.

Undoubtedly the early Hawaiian settlers had an intensive and progressive maritime culture, otherwise such feats of navigation would, simply, not have been possible.
It possibly also included a similar intensive and  progressive surf-riding culture.
Arrival in the Hawwaiian Islands provided a wealth of natural resources, for the canoe builder this meant access to the largest and finest natural boat building materials yet encountered.
This situation also applied to the surfboard builder.
For the surf-rider, Hawaii (specifically at Waikiki and Hilo) provided surfing conditions that were not merely ideal, but supreme.

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.

"This finely-built  Hawaiian, ... , caught the breaker he wanted , and paddling along for a while
rose to one knee first, then became gradually erect."

Corbett, W. F. : "Wonderful 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.

Classic surf-riders 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(1991).
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.

Sandwich Island Surf-riders, circa 1830.
Illustration (etching) : F. Howard.

The first reported Western image of surf-riding, 
it correctly identifies Stance.
It is not reported in any of the early written accounts.

First published  in 
William Ellis : Polynesian Researches, During a Residence of Nearly Eighty Years in the Society and Sandwich Islands, Volumes I to IV..
Fisher, Son and Jackson, London, 1831.
Title page to Volume  IV (?)
The image has been extensively reproduced.

The Spring ( Hop, Jump) is the elimination of the kneeling stage in progressing in one movement from the prone to the standing position at take-off.
This is not an intuitive action and marks a dramatic increase in performance by radically simplifying the take-off.

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.

Blake (1935) is possibly the earliest report of the spring as an technique, page 89.
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.

Various stages of the Spring
Photograph : Tom Blake
First printed in 
National Geographic Magazine
May 1935, page 598.
Blake (1935), 
with alternative caption.
between pages 32 and 33.
A moment of suspense, a whirl of the mounts, and they are off for a joyous ride.
The surfmen rise to their feet the instant the boards have slid down the advancing slope, clear of the foaming break which is about to curl over them.
A blunder now means a ducking in the blinding spray.
Two paddlers in the left background are waiting for the next wave.
Photograph and caption : Tom Blake, National Geographic Magazine May 1935, page 598.

The spring became a standard technique of Modern surf-riding, circa 1950 with the universal adoption of the light weight Malibu board and it's extension - the fin (or skeg).

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.

Appendix A.
The locomotion of prone craft may be a particularly historically significant in the development of aquatic sport.
It is possible that prone board paddling became the basis for Polynesian swimming, incorporating a vertical over-arm stroke of the arms and verticle scissors-like kick by the legs.
An extended cultural history of personal board use may have seen swimming develope as a method of aquatic locomotion 'without the board'.

“Shooting on 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.

"Duke Kahanomoku 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.

Appenix B : Requires future editing...
Some Questions about Ancient Surfboard Construction
1. The earliest report of surfboard construction describes the process as having a cultural/religious significance, see Thrum(1896).
This report has been consistantly quoted by surfing historians , see Blake (1935), Finney (1964),?

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
Published: 01-07-2001

"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

Historically, there was 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
This was followed by ...
Modern surf-riding, 1950 -  fibreglass, fin, foam, walking, increase in angle. Wax. Wetsuits. Specialist films.
Post-Modern surf-riding, 1967 -  adjustment of all the variables : template, length, width,  tails, fins, rails, rocker, bottom contour, flyers, and the leg rope. Vertical performance.
Also the developement of alternative craft - wave ski (Merv  Larson), sailboard (Drake-Schweitzer), Snowboard (note Doyle Single ski) and Boogie board (Morey).
Contemporary surf-riding, 1984 - Thruster.

Geoff Cater, April 2006.

Wiliwili  (Erythrina sandwicensis)
Tropical American balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) is one of the softest and lightest woods with a specific gravity of only 0.17. Although harder than balsa, the native Hawaiian coral tree called wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) also has a very soft, light wood. In fact, it was highly prized by Hawaiians for the outriggers of their traditional canoes. Because of its buoyancy, it was also used for surfboards and fishnet floats.

W.P. Armstrong

Wiliwili:  One day a book will be written called "101 Uses For Wiliwili." It will probably have 101 different people contributing their favorite uses of this most amazing utility tree.

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

Breadfruit Tree (Artocarpus altilis)

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.

Appendix C : Requires future editing...

Whatever it's primitive origins, by 400 A.D. when the first settlers reached Hawaii, five principles had been firmly established...
1. wave riding is fun - the thrill of the ride in is greater than the effort of the paddle out.
2. wave riding can be dangerous
3. the surfer must paddle in the same direction as the wave to achieve take-off.
4. the ride is longer and faster if the surfer rides diagonally across the wave face.
5. a rigid board will improve  planning and paddling - but can also increase the danger factor.

400 A.D.The Paipo
Prone Board - Body Board - Belly Board - Knee Board

A  small wooden prone board used thoughout  the Pacific Islands, primarily as juvenile sport. In Tahiti and Hawaii the boards were ridden prone, kneeling and, occassionally, standing. Other Pacific Islands were restricted to prone riding only.

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.
The large bladed paddle to the left is a steering paddle (hoe uli).
It is 7ft 4'' long with a blade 38 inches x 16 inches.
Most blade shapes "are slightly convex on both sides" however there is some variation.

Note that the paddles were shaped from on piece of timber and a broken shaft would render the paddle unusable.
Any of the illustrated blades would make a suitable paipo board.

See Holmes Chapter 7 : Paddles.

Paipo/prone board dimensions ranged from 3 feet x 12 inches (the smallest example in the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. Catalogue Number :C.5966) to 6 feet x 9 inch boards in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

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.

1000 The Alaia

The Polynesians arrived in Hawaii with an unequalled maritime knowledge and skills to the finest surfing location on the planet. Not only was there consistant swell and a tropical climate, but a previously untapped store of timber. Unihabited for X0000 million years, the Hawiian Islands had produced a massive store of surfboard building materials - trees large enough to build sixty foot canoes.

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.

1300  The Olo

Very large boards whose use was restricted, by tradition, to royalty. This may have been due to a heirachical social structure, but it would also to restrict access to certain surfing locations and to the largest available trees. Although there are reports that wlli willi was the preferred timber, the only two examples from this period are koa. As in the case of the Alaia, it's light weight of made it unlikely that  willi willi  boards would  survive until the 20th century. The only other known example, acquired  from the collection of Prince Kuhio in 18xx, is imported pine.

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

1910 Redwood Alaia

After European settlement of the Hawaiian Islands in 18xx, Hawaiian culture suffered serious decline. Various factors including the development of a cash economy, introduced diseases, and the moral conservatism of Christian missionaries are commonly cited as causes. For surfing, the crucial factors were the massive decline in population (almost 80% between 1778 and 1900) and the ravaging of the native forests by timber merhants.
By 1900, the traditional surfboard woods had virtually disappeared and any new boards were built from imported timbers. These usually were short (seven to eight foot)  boards ridden close to shore and crude in design and construction.

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 years.

1920 Laminated Alaia
1928 Tom Blake Experimental Hollow

Around 1926, Tom Blake attempted to recreate some of the larger ancient Hawaiian solid wood Olo designs that he had restored for the Bishop Museum, Honolulu.
See 1830 Chief Paki's Olo 15ft 7'' #502
"Strange as it may seem, three old-style Hawaiian surfboards of huge dimensions and weight have hung on the walls of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu for twenty years or more without anyone doing more than wonder how in the world these great boards were used, as they were too heavy and long to be practicable."
Blake, page 59.

Tom Blake's First Experimental Hollow  1926 -1928 14 ft. 6 inches
"hollow - length, 14 1/2 feet; width 20 inches; weight 120 pounds"
Image cropped from a photograph by Thomas Edward Blake,  1930
"Waves and Thrills at Waikiki "
National Geograghic Magazine May 1935 Volume 47 Number 5  page 597
 "I too wondered about these boards in the museum, wondered so much that in 1926 I built a duplicate of them as an experiment, my object being to find not a better board, but to find a faster board to use in the annual and popular surfboard paddling races held in California each summer."
Blake, page 59

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

"This surfboard was sixteen feet long and weight 120 pounds."  Blake, page 59
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.

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