Tag Archives: Surfing history

See who attended the Waikiki Surf Club’s first Christmas party in 1948

Dec 22, 1948 Here’s another bit of Waikiki history from December 1948, as the Waikiki Surf Club, a relative newcomer in the small world of organized surfing and paddling at the time, was making a big splash.

On Christmas day, the club sponsored what it dubbed the 1st Annual Diamond Head Race, and the competition was fierce as competitors paddled surfboards or long paddle boards from Waikiki to Diamond Head and back. The list of winners from that first race reads like a Who’s Who in the history of surfing. They appear in the photo from left to right.

Rabbit Kekai (#1), George Downing (#2), Robert Krewson (#3), Herbert Bessa (#4), Edward Whaley (#5), Wally Froiseth (#6), Dorian Paskowitz (#7), Frank Freitas (#8), Blue Makua (#9), Russ Takaki (#10).

But there was more going on.

[text]Three days before, on December 22, the club held its first Christmas Party. Earlier, I found a few photographs taken at the party in my dad’s collection of papers and photos. I’ve previously posted a batch of these pictures, including the ones here.

Then this week I ran across the handwritten sign-in sheets for the party. I love finding these remnants that make bring the past to life.

There were 102 men and 51 women on the list.

There are some who became legends. Blue Makua. Wally Froiseth. Bobbie Krewson. Rabbit. Dorian Paskowitz. Others were less well known outside of the community of watermen. Some you wonder about, signing in with names like Twinkle, or Brother. Some names are illegible. I noticed Francis Kennedy Jr., who went on to become chief negotiator for the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association and died in 2001 at the age of just 59. He must have been one of the kids at the party in 1948.

I hope some of you will look through the list and fill us in on those you recognize.

Just click on the page below to look through the whole list, which is divided into kane and wahine.

December 1948

Note from a Paris surf researcher

I received a comment overnight from a Ph.D. student at Paris West University who had run across the old Waikiki Surf Club newsletters from the 1950s that I found among my dad’s papers.

His comment introduced me to the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University. It’s interesting to see how this California campus is leveraging the international interest in surfing.

From the program description:

The Center for Surf Research is THE international hub for research on surf tourism and issues of sustainability as they relate to surf tourism and the broader surfing industry and community. We aim to provide links to and between the global community of researchers and academics working in this field, the political decision makers and industries who need this research to make informed resource management decisions and improve sustainable practices, and communities and surf consumers to support their needs and facilitate informed consumer decisions.

It’s interesting to see the kinds of research that’s being done. Summaries are available on the center’s website.

For example:

This research analyzes a strategic approach to managing surf tourism in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Surf tourists travel to often remote destinations for the purpose of riding surfboards, and earlier research suggests the mismanagement of surf tourism in some destinations has resulted in significant deleterious impacts on host communities. The research question in this study addresses how surf tourism can be managed to achieve sustainable host community benefits in the context of a developing country. Primary data came from semistructured interviews and participant observation. The findings demonstrate how sport governing bodies can engage host communities in a collaborative framework for the sustainable utilization of sport tourism resources.

The center has an occasionally-updated blog.

Shouldn’t Hawaii be in a good position to be a leader in such research, with it’s well-known programs in Travel Industry Management, Planning, and links to the Asia-Pacific region. Opportunities lost, I’m afraid.

Letter from legendary paddler/surfer Tom Zahn, c. 1950

I found this fragment of a letter from the legendary paddler and surfer, Tom Zahn, among my dad’s papers. It’s the final page of a longer letter. I believe it was addressed to my dad, then president of the Waikiki Surf Club.

[text]Zahn mentions in the letter that he was 26 years old at the time, which would have been in 1950 (Zahn was born in 1924).

In the letter, Zahn mentions surfing great Tom Blake, who was Zahn’s mentor, along with surf figures like Joe Quigg (“constructed about 50 surfboards this summer”), and Gene Smith.

Zahn, a Marine veteran, also talks about his draft status (the draft had been reinstated in 1948).

“Please don’t think me yellow, but I feel one war is enough,” Zahn writes about his efforts to avoid a draft call by lining up a defense job.

ClippingZahn moved to Hawaii in 1953, and in October of that year paddled the Molokai Channel during Aloha Week’s Molokai-Oahu canoe race. He finished the successful solo crossing of the channel in 9 hours and 20 minutes.

Waikiki Surf Club’s Pupule Ball, April 2, 1949

[text]Just click on this notice to see several photos and news clippings from the Waikiki Surf Club dance held at the Waialae Country Club.

Master of Ceremonies–J. Akuhead Pupule, who, it seems, was a charter member of the WSC.

It appears these folks knew how to throw a party. Check it out!