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[Source: From Polynesia, With Love -- The History of Surfing From Captain Cook to the Present, By Ben Marcus] While paipo boarding continued its evolution in Hawaii it is not the only place where the paipo was ridden in ancient times.Research suggests that paipo boards of one form or another were used by people in New Zealand (Maori), Peru and Africa.
Certainly, Oceania, if not Polynesia, was the center of wave riding since ancient times and into the present.
In ancient Hawaiian times "the construction of the few remaining papa he'e nalu (pa-pa HAY-ay NA-lu) -- the wave sliding boards of ancient Hawaiians -- still show sophisticated parabolic contours, demonstrating a high degree of development.
SI was born on September 15, 1905, and I'm a cousin of Bill Sproat... They're two small concave boards about 1/4-inch by 1 foot by 3 feet made of wiliwili, and they were used for spying.
The spies selected a night with rough seas and then surfed in to gather information about various activities. I heard this from the old people and they said that's why the boards were called paepō, "night landing." - Alfred Solomon, June 25, 1982Source: page 302 in Hawai'i Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites, By John R. Clark, published by University of Hawaii Press, 2002. Turns out that John Clark rides what appears to be a paipo board as pictured in a Q&A with him on the blog, Literary Lotus (author, Christine Thomas). Clark's research he traced some of the possible transition to the modern day usage (at least sometime in the 1950s through the present) of the word, paipo, to describe the method of riding waves on a board prone style:"In the days of old, Hawaiians referred to bodysurfing as kaha (or kaha nalu) and pae (or paepo'o).
He re-designed it early in 1956 and applied for a patent on it on May 9, 1956.
The decal was used only on his paipo boards, not on his surfboards.
The Men sometimes 20 or 30 go without the Swell of the Surf, & lay themselves flat upon an oval piece of plank about their size and breadth, they keep their legs close on top of it, & their arms are us'd to guide the plank, they wait the time for the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity, & the great art is to guide the plank so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direction.
If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much praised."Source: Lt.
For more information, visit the Surfing Heritage & Culture Center.
Features: EPS epoxy 6'3" x 29" x 3-3/8" with huge double concaves, and a Futures quad system.
The pronunciation of the original word, paepo'o, was altered, and now even the spelling is changed to paipo. Published by Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1977. He notes that while it's true that "paepo" can be translated as "night landing" (as noted in the mo‘olelo by Alfred Solomon), Clark has since learned that the original word was actually "pae po'o".