To Surf Headfirst

12 . 07 . 13

The name paipo (pronounced pipe-oh) is derived from the Hawaiian “Pae Po’o” which means to surf headfirst.  Essentially these surfboards are simply thin wooden bellyboards surfed prone in exactly the same manner they were when Captain James Cook dropped anchor in a Hawaiian bay in 1778, when he described the locals riding waves prone on boards that were between 3′ and 6′ in length.  These boards were popular in Hawaii and elsewhere were adapted and became known as “bellyboards” until Tom Morey introduced the boogie board in the 1970’s when, in bellyboarding as in stand-up surfing, foam became the dominant material choice.

We recently built a paipo for Dan Crockett, the man behind the excellent Kook surfing newspaper and an understated lynch-pin in British wave-riding culture.  We built Dan a 4’2″ paipo using Western Red Cedar with Poplar accent strips, cross laminating the timber over a jig in an enlarged version of our handplane production process.  The board has a lifted nose with a hull-style entry which runs through to a concave through the tail of the board.  Dan managed to splash the board briefly this Easter, albeit in small and far from ideal conditions, but kicked into some good little waves and was stoked on it, writing “The board went really, really well and I was reminded of Wegener’s old adage ‘Wood is Good” on his blog recently.  We’re still undertaking some research and development on these wonderful little wooden boards before finalising a production model, however if you’re interested in an Otter paipo then please do get in touch with us.

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