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The Polynesians who made it to Hawai'i also brought their customs with them, including playing in the surf on paipo (belly) boards.Although Tahitians are said to have occasionally stood on their boards, the art of surfing upright on long boards was certainly perfected, if not invented, in Hawai'i.The term appears to have been coined by Hawaiian surfers in Waikiki circa 1900, where it was commonly used to mean bodysurfing or bodysurfing with a small wooden bodyboard.The literal translation of pae po`o is "ride [a wave] head-first", or in other words, bodysurf, and a papa pae po`o was a bodysurfing board, or what surfers today call a bodyboard.From 1956 to 1986, Froiseth made approximately 150 paipo boards, which he sold to friends and other surfers, putting a decal on each board to identify it as his product. by Froiseth." Froiseth sold some of his boards to surfers from California, which helped to introduce the word and its spelling outside of Hawai`i, and today paipo is the accepted term for wooden bodyboards.
Reprinted in "The Voyage of the Resolution and Discovery," by John C.
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).
[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.