Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

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Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:53 am

The following posts roughly detail the daily agenda of Duke during his Australian tour in the summer of 1914-1915.
i will try to post a each day's entry on the evening before.
Yes, I am a day late- the Duke arrived in Sydney 100 years ago, yesterday.

Monday 14th December 1914: Arrival in Sydney.
Duke Kahanamoku , accompanied by 19 year old surfer/swimmer George Cunha and manager Francis Evans, arrived in Sydney on RMS Ventura.
Despite a delay due to rough seas outside the Heads, a large number of officials, press and public were at the wharf when the steamer docked after a two week voyage from Honolulu.

The officials included E.S. Marks and W.W. Hill, who as the secretary of the Australian Swimming Union and had met with Duke twelve months earlier in Honolulu to advance preparations for the tour.

Sydney's premier athletic track is named after former Lord Mayor of Sydney, E.S. Marks who won over forty trophies as an athlete between 1888 and 1890. He was a founding member of the North and East Sydney Amateur Swimming clubs, Manly Surf Club; and the New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association, and a touring manager for the Australian team at the 1912 Olympics.

The touring party was transported to their accommodation at the Oxford Hotel, inspected facilities at the Domain Pool, and then attended an official reception at the Hotel Australia.
Cecil Healy, now a journalist for The Referee, Sydney’s premier sporting publication, missed the ship’s arrival but attended the evening reception. At the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, Healy had placed second to Duke in the 100 metres sprint.
See postcard:To Mr. E.S. Marks, Aloha Nui
Duke P. Kahanamoku, 'Hui Nala' Swimmer, Honolulu, Hawaii
Sydney N.S.W. Australia, Feb 11, 1915.
From a private collection, posted on wikipedia:

Tuesday 15th December 1914: Tour schedule to include surf board riding?

The Sydney Morning Herald detailed Duke’s tour schedule, beginning with a series of swimming carnivals at The Domain Pool in Sydney on 2nd, 6th and 9th January and followed by carnivals in several towns in Queensland.
On returning to Sydney “the Swimming Union will probably in arrange for a surf display, when the champion will be seen on the surf-board.
Matters in this direction have not yet been finally arranged."

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:32 pm

Wednesday 16th December 1914:
Coogee Carnival, Surfboard Ban? A Board to be Shaped?

Duke Kahanamoku attended the annual Randwick versus Coogee Club carnival at the Coogee Aquarium Baths.
The competitors included Cecil Healy, A. W. Barry, L. Boardman, T. Adrian, and W. Longworth and “Miss Fanny Durack gave an exhibition swim of 200 yards.”
Fanny Durack was another competitor at Stockholm in 1912, the first Australian woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a swimming event.

In the press, the front page of The Referee featured Cecil Healy’s report of Duke’s arrival and the “magnificent reception (where he) managed to get a chance to shake hands and have a chat with him.”

Of course, the outbreak of the war in Europe, with the first contingent of ANZAC troops already embarked, tended to overshadow the celebrations. One of the speakers, H. Y. Braddon, noted that while there ”seemed to a desire to put off carnivals and similar events, owing to the war, ... it was a good thing to hold them, as they meant work for someone.”

Healy questioned Duke on his visit to the Domain Pool (“just fine, and the water's great") and asked:
" ‘Did you bring your surf board with you?'’, to which he replied:
'Why no, we were told the use of boards was not permitted in Australia.'
Evidently noticing the look of keen disappointment on my face, he quickly added:
'But I can easily make one here.'
This information, I am sure, both swimmers and surfers will be delighted to be acquainted with, as holding out prospects of the acquirement of the knack of manipulating them."

The supposed ban on surfboards in Sydney was reported by American journalist and enthusiastic (self) promoter, Alexander Hume Ford, a principal character, along with George Freeth, in Jack London's celebrated account of surf riding at Waikiki, A Royal Sport, in 1907.

Following a visit to Australia in the summer of 1907-1908, Ford published an article in The Red Funnel, an early tourist magazine, where he claimed that at Manly Beach he “wanted to try riding the waves on a surf-board, but it was forbidden.”
While surfboard use had been regulated for the safety of body-surfers on Sydney’s beaches since March 1912, it was not prohibited.

On returning to Honolulu in 1908, Ford was integral in the founding of the famous Outrigger Canoe Club at Waikiki on prime of beach front property, an idea possibly influenced by observing the beginnings of the first surf life saving clubs while in Sydney.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by Kunji » Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:49 pm

BA (on Realsurf) wrote: It's the wild west with a bit more homo-eroticism.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:37 pm

Thursday 17th December 1914:
Competition, Beaches, and the Needs of a Waikiki Beachboy.

By the end of the week, the arrival of Duke Kahanamoku in Sydney had been noted by newspapers from Townsville to Perth, including The Farmer and Settler, The Australian Worker, and The Catholic Press.

While Duke had few official engagements in the weeks leading up to his first swimming carnival scheduled for 2nd January, there were a number of important developments.

Firstly, Francis Evans and NSW Swimming officials were busy conducting negotiations for Duke‘s appearance at a number of carnivals in Melbourne. Whereas the Victorian Association had previously declined involvement in the tour, with the wide-spread publicity, it was now seriously reconsidering its position.

Secondly, given the results, it is likely that Duke and George Cunha did some training to prepare for the swimming competitions. However, any sessions were probably in the early morning, to avoid onlookers, and could have been at any one of a number of suitable local pools.

Also, at some point Duke crossed the harbour, presumably on one of the ferries of the Manly and Port Jackson Company, and became acquainted with the beaches of Sydney’s north shore, in particular Freshwater and the Boomerang camp.

Most importantly, Duke was without a surfboard, a ukulele and some poi.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by huie » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:47 pm

good stuff geoff

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Thu Dec 18, 2014 12:49 am

Friday 17th - Tuesday 21st December 1914: Duke’s Freshwater Board
Duke shaped his famous Freshwater board during the first week of his arrival in Sydney, at some time between 17th and 21st December.

In many contemporary articles the width and length are often reported incorrectly, and errors appear in many subsequent accounts. For example, Nat Young (1979-2003) records the length as 3.6 m (or 11 ft 10’’). Also note that some have asserted that Duke shaped a concave section in the bottom, a feature that is not, however, evident.

The actual dimensions are 8 foot 6.5 inches long, 23 inches wide and 2.75 inches thick, with a weight of 78 pounds.

All the reports indicate the timber as sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), a substitute for the significantly lighter Californian redwood as “a properly seasoned piece of that particular timber, sufficiently long, could not be procured in Sydney,” at short notice. As a result the board was considerably heavier than normal, which Duke suggested was a disadvantage as his Waikiki board “as a rule weighs less than 25lb.”

The weight was not the only distinctive feature; in particular, the nose template is unusual and it was not replicated on the boards shaped in Australia following Duke’s departure.

The template was probably not cut by Duke, Reg Harris (1961) suggesting that the billet was donated by a timber firm, George Hudson’s, who “did the rough cutting to Duke’s instructions then he finished off the finer designing of the bottom of the board.”

Although Hudson's apparently had several timber yards in Sydney, the principle premises were at Blackwattle Bay, Glebe, and it is the most likely source of the billet and the initial cutting of the template by an experienced tradesman.

In the haste to produce a board, the template may not have been cut exactly to Duke’s instructions. However, whatever its deficiencies, the board’s status is assured as Duke generously accepted it in the spirit of aloha and was happy to use it, apparently, at all his surf riding exhibitions in Sydney.

Either at Hudson’s or, more likely, after the board was transported across the harbour, Duke rough-shaped the bottom and rails with the tools at hand, ideally a small adze and a draw knife. He then would have finished it with various grades of sandpaper and sealed the board with a coat of a natural oil or marine varnish.

Although by this time a number of surfboards had been built in Sydney, notably by Les Hinds of North Steyne, this was the first by a professional shaper. Given his impeccable credentials, any who witnessed the craftsman at work were accorded a rare honour.

The board was finished, and even perhaps test ridden at Freshwater, by the 21st December 1914. This is simply based on the assumption that whoever placed an advertisement with the Sydney Morning Herald on that day did so only with the certain knowledge that the board, and rider, were ready. The next morning the Herald announced:

“The New South Wales Swimming Association has arranged for a display by Duke Paoa Kahanamoku at Freshwater on Wednesday morning, at 11 o'clock.
The famous swimmer will give an exhibition of breaker shooting and board shooting.“

My sincere thanks Eric Middledorp, the custodian of Duke's board at the Freshwater SLSC, for his dedication and invaluable assistance.
Eric has overseen the recent excellent restoration and enhanced presentation of the board, in addition to supervising the shaping of an active replica.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by Bobby Dazzler » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:59 pm

im really enjoying hearing these stories.
it all seems so long ago, but made so close by the links in the chain that connect us back to then.
i'll be going for a paddle out at freshwater on the 21st.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:10 pm

Saturday 19th December 1914: The Sydney vs. Melbourne Carnival
Duke, probably accompanied by George Cunha and Francis Evans, attended his second Australian carnival at the Domain Pool on Saturday 19th as a spectator. His attendance at the carnival does not eliminate this day for the shaping of the Freshwater board, but makes it very unlikely.

The carnival was the annual swimming competition between the “crack” swimmers from Sydney and Melbourne, with the honours going to Sydney on this occasion. On show were Boardman, A. W. Barry, and Tommy Adrian from Sydney, all potential Duke rivals in the pool.

The performance of Ivan Stedman from Melbourne was impressive and he was seeded into the heats for the first Kahanamoku carnival on the 2nd January 1915. This further increased the interest of Victorians in the tour, and gave Francis Evans and the NSW Association additional leverage in the negotiations with Melbourne’s swimming officials, now keen to secure dates for Duke’s appearance in their city.

The word “carnival’ was very apt, swimming races were only the central feature of a program that regularly included diving competitions and displays, novelty events, and, occasionally, musical entertainment . In the springboard diving at this carnival, Barry was second to Melbourne’s L. Grieve.

Very popular with the public, the carnivals were a significant source of income for the amateur Associations, and in this instance, the cost of the Kahanamoku tour was to be covered by the gate receipts.

The cost was considerable: steamship from and return, via New Zealand, to Honolulu, two months first-class hotel accommodation, transport and all incidentals, for three. In making the bookings the negotiations could be protracted, the managers seeking suitable discounts or extras in respect of the fame of their client, or quickly and amicably arranged by swimming or surfing enthusiasts or through an “old-boy-network.”

The expenditure incurred by the NSW Swimming Association, or the income generated by the Kahanamoku tour has never been, even vaguely, estimated.

In this era, swimming races could be chaotic, with large numbers of swimmers and often causing interference. Concerned that such problems may detract from the importance of the upcoming Kahanamoku carnivals, in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Swimmer” proposed a novel solution:
“A new scheme might also be tried by roping the course as in foot running, where each competitor has his own track.”

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:18 am

Sunday 20 December 1914.
Not Manly (but Freshwater?) and the ukulele.

During the first week in Sydney, Duke shaped his board and visited north of the harbour, in particular, Boomerang, one of several basic shacks built on the frontal sand dune at Freshwater Beach shortly after the turn of the century. It was now owned by Donald McIntyre, a founding member Freshwater Life Saving Club, who had served as club secretary, and now held that office for the New South Wales Surf Bathing Association.

Given his appearances at carnivals and social events, Duke’s visits may have been short, but as with the construction of the board, there was certainly at least one fleeting visit between the 17th and 21st December 1914. As discussed above, the Sydney Morning Herald announcement of the 22nd could only have been made once the board was finished and Duke had tested the waves at Freshwater, with or without the board, but probably both. The most likely scenario is one visit to shape, varnish and body surf, with a return a couple of days later to test-ride the board.

While Freshwater was a surfboard riding beach, it was clearly second to Manly. As clearly stated in the official 1910-1911 NSW Surf Bather's Guide, Manly is “the original home of the surf bather.”

Whereas Freshwater had one surf life saving club, by 1914 Manly had four. Most had some connections back to the harbour side Manly Swimming Club, formed in 1905, whose objectives included “proficiency in life-saving on the Ocean Beach.”

The first club on the beach-front was the the Manly Surf Club, with its star Olympic swimmer, current journalist and soon-to-be Duke competitor, Cecil Healy.
This was followed by North Steyne Life Saving Club with the first local surfboard shaper, Les Hinds, and C. D. Paterson, serving as president of both North Steyne and the Surf Bathing Association of New South Wales.

Claims that Paterson brought, or procured, or was gifted, a full-size surfboard from Hawaii, sometime between 1908 and 1912, have never been substantiated. Several accounts note that the board was unable to be mastered by the locals; which, in light of other evidence, appears highly unlikely; and it was then retired to the family home as an ironing board, which appears to be a fable.

Next was the Manly Life Saving Club with Fred Notting, a pioneer of canoe surfing, which was later to influence, and be eclipsed by, Harry McLaren’s surf-ski, first tested in the surf at Port Macquarie in the mid-1920s.

The most recent club was the South Steyne Life Saving Club, with William H. Walker as the honorable secretary, a position he had held in the now defunct Manly Seagull Surf and Life Saving Club, who had their “membership restricted to residents of Manly.” The Seagulls had started at the same time as Manly L.S.C., both recruiting disaffected members from Manly Surf, which refused to register with the newly formed state body.

Besides William H., the Walkers (some of the connections are unclear) were a prominent force in the surf along Manly Beach. As well as George and Monty Walker, of Manly, there was Tommy Walker of the Seagulls and Yamba. Tommy did travel to Waikiki, did buy a surfboard there, did bring it back to Australia, and by 1912 was able to ride it upright like the Hawaiians, both on his feet and on his head.

In early 1912, Tommy Walker, on his “Hawaiian surfboard” and Fred Notting, “in his frail canoe, The Big Risk" gave demonstrations at carnivals at Freshwater and Manly. They repeated these the following summer, however, this time Fred was “accompanied his dog, Stinker.” In the early 1920's, Russell Henry 'Busty' Walker, following in the wake of Fred Notting, was invaluable as a judge at the buoys at Manly Surf Carnivals and around the same time, W. H. Walker’s son, Ainslie "Sprint" Walker, introduced board riding to Torquay.

Tommy Walker was an inspiration to other locals and in early 1913, while enacting an (ultimately ineffective) ban, one Manly Councillor claimed to have “seen no fewer than 10 surfboards in the thick of bathers.” Subsequently, in a letter to the press, “Dumper, an old hand on the board,” suggested this was a considerable exaggeration.

The next summer records the first surfboard injury in Australia, not surprisingly at Tommy Walker’s, second home, Yamba, and later in the same year Harald Baker nominated “young Walker the surf board king." With board riding “a practice at Manly for some years past ... Young McCracken is (Walker’s) closest rival,” followed by G. H. Wyld of Manly and “Champion Sprinter Albert Barry.” In the new year both Wyld and Barry were to compete against Duke in the pool. Baker, an outstanding swimmer and a captain of the Maroubra Surf Club, considered “Miss (Isma) Amor is the best lady exponent so far,” a view supported by other accounts.
As well as Manly and Freshwater, by the winter of 1914, surfboards were known to be in use at Coogee, Maroubra and Cronulla.

With the status of Manly as Surfboard-City, why did Duke go to Freshwater?

Donald McIntyre accommodated Duke in a simple shack at Freshwater, while he could have done so, in considerably more comfort, at his family home of the same name in Manly. And if not the McIntyre residence, there were undoubtedly several other families in the village who would have warmly welcomed their visitor.

In the lead-up to the tour, Manly’s Cecil Healy was an enthusiastic champion of Duke, devoting considerable column space to his achievements in the pool and strongly encouraged the staging of surf-riding exhibitions. At the end of November, three weeks before Duke’s arrival, Healy wrote that the North Steyne Surf Club had initiated negotiations with the NSW Swimming Association for Duke to “give a display of surf-board shooting at its carnival, to take place about the middle of December.”

A precedent was set, and a brisk exchange of opinions and options between managers, officials and other interested parties would play out over the following weeks.

By the 21st Duke had his surfboard, and by the 19th he had a ukulele.
It arrived just in time for him to perform several warmly received songs, with Cunha and Evans, at the dinner party following the Sydney-Melbourne Carnival. “The three visitors were delighted when the instrument was produced ... procured in Sydney through the courtesy of George Walker, Manly.”

This was not the first exchange of important gifts between the Walkers and Duke Kahanamoku.

In notes prepared for, but not used by, C. Bede Maxwell in her Australians Against the Sea (1949), the talented Palm Beach board rider and the president of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia from 1933 to 1974, Adrian Curlewis, recalled that Duke’s Freshwater board was handed over to George and Monty Walker of Manly. Later, “because of the fine work Claude West had done in popularising surfboard riding, (they) eventually gave it to Claude West, and he still has it, a prized possession.”

At the end of the1930s, Harry McLaren’s surf ski made its first excursion outside Australia when “the Walker Brothers sent a surf ski to Duke Kahanamoku at Honolulu and members of the Australian Pacific Games Team which visited Honolulu in 1939 say Duke was often seen paddling around on his ‘ski from Australia’.” Brief footage from around this time of Duke riding his surf-ski at Waikiki, while standing with two women passengers and a beach-boy steering at the tail, is remarkable.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Sun Dec 21, 2014 12:27 am

Monday 21st December 1914:
A tour of the South Coast, meanwhile, Freshwater contacts the SMH.

The highlight of the day for the Kahanamoku party was intended to be a motor-tour of the South Coast. However, while they were in transit, a brief conversation with Sydney Morning Herald by someone from the Freshwater club would prove to have significant ramifications.

The touring party consisted of Duke, George Cunha and Francis Evans with representatives of the Association and friends including swimmers Freddie Williams, Jack Longworth, Redmond Barry, and Miss Fanny Durack. The “South Coast” was probably the road from Stanwell Park, possibly going as far as Bulli and the cars were provided “by Messrs. Phiffer, M’Lachlan, Sam Smith, and F. Stroud.”

The day served as trial-run for Mr. Stroud, a member of the Cronulla Club where some were known to have experimented with surfboards. Stroud was one of the drivers who transported the Hawaiian's from Sutherland station to Audley on 7th February, from where they proceeded to Cronulla by ferry for their last appearance in the Australian surf.

While Manly had a long history as a tourist attraction, ideally arriving by the ferry from Circular Quay, the northern beaches were slower to develop. In the early days Freshwater was just far enough away from Manly to avoid the scrutiny of the officials who were charged with enforcing bathing restrictions. Other attractions were the cheap real-estate, protection from the prevalent summer Nor-Easter, and an sanctuary from the “suburbanites.” (For east coast surfers, such diminutives invariably indicate residents of any suburb located to the west of their own; invert this for west coast surfers). Fred Notting, in an early example of “surf rage,” recalled the days of his youth:

"We used to abuse the living daylights out of those we brought in (rescued). Put them off coming back to 'Freshie' pretty often. Suited us!"

Freshwater demonstrated its support for surfboard riding as early as 1911, the club secretary, W. R. Waddington, wrote to the local council to protest against the imposition of a ban and applied “for authority to regulate the use of surf boards on Freshwater Beach.” Although a ban “would deprive many of the members and visitors of the full enjoyment of the exhilarating surf,” the council “unanimously agreed not to permit the use of the boards at Freshwater.” As in many cases of prohibition, the ban was impossible to rigorously enforce, and complaints about surfboards to the press and the passing of council motions continued.

Boomerang was owned by Donald McIntyre, a founding member Freshwater Life Saving Club, who had served as club secretary, and now held that office for the New South Wales Surf Bathing Association. Recall that the current president of that body was C. D. Paterson, also the president at North Steyne.

For Duke, staying at Boomerang provided relatively secluded access to the sea to become familiar with Australian conditions. It was probably also a respite from the consistent attention of fans and the press. While the rudimentary facilities of the shack were perhaps reminiscent of his early days at Waikiki, this may, or may not, have been an attraction. Over the past two years Duke had travelled extensively, visiting the largest cities of North America and Europe. In comparison, the facilities on the tour of Australia were probably fairly average, but probably slightly more sophisticated than those of New Zealand, the next to country to be visited.

As North Steyne had already made an approach about hosting a surfboard riding exhibition by Duke well before his arrival, the prospect such an event was likely to be raised with some of the other Sydney clubs. Of course any appearance would have to be with the consent of the Swimming Association and at a suitable time in the schedule.

Don McIntye, distinctive in a white suit, is prominent in many of the photographs, indicative of his central role in organising the exhibitions and over-seeing Duke’s needs at Freshwater. These duties may have included contacting the Sydney Morning Herald on this day announcing an exhibition by Duke to be held in two days time. However, regardless of who made the call, the situation was only made possible courtesy of W. H. Hill, undoubtedly the prime conduit in securing Duke’s appearance at Freshwater.

As the secretary of the Australian Swimming Association, Hill was privy to all the plans and deals in organising the tour, beginning twelve months earlier when he meet with Duke, and negotiated and his management, in Honolulu. Secondly, he was a founding member of the Freshwater club, serving as the “starter” at the inaugural carnival in 1909, and familiar with the aims and available resources of the club. Aware that an exhibition on one of Sydney’s beaches was a realistic possibility, Hill was keen to secure the event for his club, and the prospect of shading their rivals over the hill, North Steyne, was a further encouragement. If any more incentive were necessary, the fact that North Steyne was the club of C. D. Paterson, who was also Don McIntyre's president at the NSW Surf Bathers Association, possibly added a personal element.

Recognising that the club which first presented Duke in Australia would achieve an incontestable prominence in surfboard riding, W. W. Hill's insight has proved to be remarkably accurate.

Within the first days of Duke being in the country, Freshwater a club had probably already made an arrangement directly with Francis Evans, possibly at his suggestion and in the belief that this would be independent of any contract with the Swimming Association. However, as it was likely that the date of the surfing exhibition was initially unspecified; as it would, at the least, depend on procuring a suitable board; the speed in which the first exhibition was arranged may have surprised Hill, along with many others.

The Hawaiian managers were familiar with such difficulties, and the income generated by Duke’s surfing, initially surfboard shaping but also exhibitions, was a consistent threat to his amateur status as an Olympic swimmer in the eyes of US authorities. In 1922, his endorsement for Velspar marine varnish saw the amateur issue raised once more by some American administrators.

As noted above, any appearance by Duke would depend on the consent of the NSW Swimming Association and at a suitable time in the schedule, and the will of the board would prevail. However, they were prepared to quickly initiate a suitable compromise.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Sun Dec 21, 2014 8:37 pm

Tuesday 22nd December: Surfboard Exhibitions Announced.
This morning the Sydney Morning Herald announced :
“The New South Wales Swimming Association has arranged for a display by Duke Paoa Kahanamoku at Freshwater on Wednesday morning, at 11 o'clock.
The famous swimmer will give an exhibition of breaker shooting and board shooting."

As discussed above, this information could only have been passed to the Herald for publication on the previous day (Monday, 21st) and once Duke had shaped his board and assessed the Freshwater surf as suitable.The notice undoubtedly originated from Don McIntyre, secretary of the Freshwater L.S.C., however a proxy may have made the contact with the Herald.

At the Freshwater club on Tuesday morning, the members would have been busy preparing, in eager anticipation, for the next day’s events, and with realistic expectations of a considerable crowd. However, when the officials of the NSW Swimming Association became aware of the event, there was consternation. In their view, the announcement clearly contravened their contract with Duke, specifying his first public appearance in Sydney as 2nd January. To add to their difficulties, all the officials had to deal with numerous inquiries from the press and public, as well as a barrage of advice from anyone who thought their opinion was, at the least, very important.

While the managers and officials were under considerable pressure, the swimmers were probably shielded from most of the contractual intricacies, and Duke could have been relatively relaxed. In respect of the upcoming exhibition, by now he had several years of experience in appearing before the public, both at swimming and board riding events. On the surfboard he had competed and given exhibitions many times in Hawaii and had demonstrated his skills on both coasts of the United States. While the waves of Freshwater were definitely different from those of Waikiki, Duke had undoubtedly encountered similar conditions, and perhaps worse, at some of the beaches of North America.

Of all the officials, it is to be expected that the pressure on W. H. Hill was extreme. While he was likely the initial contact between Duke’s management and the Freshwater club, as secretary of the Swimming Association he was now required to protect, and enforce if necessary, the terms covering their considerable investment. The accusations, condemnations, and negotiations continued all day, and only on the following morning was the difficulty finally resolved. To his credit, Hill probably had a major role in negotiating the alternative proposal that was accepted, if somewhat reluctantly, by all the interested parties. That is, except a hugely disappointed public.

It appears that Duke Kahanamoku did not meet with Australia’s best board rider, Tommy Walker, in the summer of 1914-1915. Before Duke had arrived in the country, it appears that Tommy had already steamed north to work at Yamba. In a remarkable case of coincidence, on the very day the Duke notice was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Clarence and Richmond Examiner reported that the program for the Yamba Surf Life-saving Brigade Carnival, scheduled for New Year's Day, was to include:

“An exhibition of shooting the breakers with the aid of a board is to be given by Mr. T. Walker, who has had considerable experience on other well-known beaches.”

Fortunately for the Yamba club, the announcement of Tommy’s exhibition did not embroil it in a series of complex machinations between managers and officials, ably advised by anyone who thought their opinion was important, such as was now taking place in Sydney.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:32 am

Wednesday 23nd December: The Exhibition that Wasn’t.
Having read or heard of the Herald’s announcement published yesterday, the vast majority of the spectators making their way to Freshwater on this morning were completely unaware of the general consternation behind the scenes. Even most of the locals and club members were probably only aware of rumours of certain difficulties.

Although only two sentences, the announcement built on a swell of anticipation as Duke’s surfing skills had been highlighted in many of the articles appearing in the lead-up to the tour. Furthermore, it is possible that some copies of posters, prepared by the Swimming Association to promote Duke’s appearance at the Domain Pool in January, were already in limited circulation. These featured an impressive illustration of Duke riding his surfboard at Waikiki. It is reasonable to assume that these were highly collectable, and may have often disappeared mysteriously when posted in a public place.

The design was lifted directly from the poster for the Mid-Pacific Carnival at Honolulu in early 1914. However, for the Domain poster the illustration had been hand-coloured. It was based on a photograph by A. R. Gurrey Jr., taken in 1910 and, thereafter, it was extensively reprinted or referenced. Its first commercial appearance was on a large bill board advertising “CYKO, The Modern Photographic Paper,” available from Gurrey's Developing and Printing, Honolulu. In 1911, the photograph was on the front cover of the first edition of Alexander Hume Ford’s The Mid-Pacific Magazine. That is, the Alexander Hume Ford who surfed with Jack London in1906, was told surfboard riding was banned in Sydney in 1907, and then returned to Waikiki to help found the Outrigger Canoe Club in 1908.

Sydney’s response of to the announcement was swift and one journalist suggested that the crowd that morning at Freshwater numbered almost 3000. (To this day, well-meaning and enthusiastic journalists regularly over-estimate the number of spectators at a surfboard riding events) The crowd was to be severely disappointed and by 11 o’clock it was clear that the there would be no surfboard riding to be seen today.

By the evening, the news of the cancelled exhibition was all over the Sydney, as reported by W. F. Corbett in the later editions of The Sun. Corbett noted that the Swimming Association confirmed that Duke's" first appearance in public will take place at the Domain” and it was “controlling his visit to this country.” Furthermore, “the announcement of any other arrangement with Kahanamoku as the central figure has not that body's authority."

A week later in The Referee, Cecil Healy suggested that, rather than an uncomfortable conflict between the Swimming Association and Freshwater, the postponement of the event was the result of a simple miscommunication. Healy seemed to imply that the event had been organised jointly by the Association and Freshwater, and their intention was to present a strictly “private exhibition” for the press. The announcement forwarded to the Herald, and presumably to the other newspapers, was meant to encourage it to send a reporter, and not intended for publication.

This is highly plausible, the only difficulty being that as it appeared several days after the crisis had passed. As such, Healy had the benefit of hind-sight and this explanation may have served to dispel any residual ill-feelings, at least between the officials and managers. Whatever the facts, this was of little consolation for an inconvenienced and disappointed public.

The use of the word “postponement” by Healy was critical. Corbett’s article had strongly implied that the situation was emphatically resolved, and any appearance by Duke before the swimming carnivals was virtually impossible.
The negotiations probably continued well into the morning. As the announcement had appeared in Tuesday’s Herald, the option of submitting a retraction that afternoon, to be published on the Wednesday morning, does not appear to have been considered. The compromise position was to first, cancel today’s event. Secondly, without any public announcement, another exhibition was scheduled for the following day. And finally, a public exhibition at Freshwater was to be held on the morning of 10th January, with possibly a visit to Manly in the afternoon. As this day was immediately after the last carnival at the Domain, the prominence of the NSW Swimming Association was confirmed.

The negotiations, claims and counter-claims over the surf riding exhibitions strongly imply that at some stage that there was an exchange of money. The tendency of US administrators to see Duke’s income from surfing as impinging on his amateur status as a swimmer has been noted above. On this day, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that:

“The Australian Swimming Union received a cable message from the secretary-treasurer of the Amateur Athletic Union of United States, through the Hawaiian Athletic Association, vouching for the amateur standing of George Cunha and the Duke Kahamamoku, and granting them permission to compete in Australia.
A similar statement asked for by the United States Athletic Union regarding the understanding of the Australian swimmers, was cabled.”

To look slightly ahead- over the following days the surf riding performance at Freshwater was lauded by those reporters who were lucky enough to attend. For any members of the public who had followed Duke’s story in the papers and had traveled to Freshwater on the Wednesday to see the exhibition, the knowledge that they had missed out the next day probably induced a wide range of responses and opinions.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by bgreen » Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:33 am


A massive effort. Well done.



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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by Slobadan Madicubich » Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:51 am

If The Duke was white I wonder if this would still read like he was an owned commodity, being used for the benefit of his hosts capital return/ financial gain & ego.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Wed Dec 24, 2014 7:54 pm

Thursday 24th December: Duke’s First Exhibition.
Some of Sydney’s surfing enthusiasts became aware that they had missed out on Thursday afternoon when The Sun published W. F. Corbett’s account of the morning’s events under the title:
“Wonderful Surf Riding - Kahanamoku on the Board – A Thrilling Spectacle.”

Corbett, who the previous day had had broke the story of the aborted exhibition, noted that the small number of spectators with “only a few pressmen, some members of the New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association, and the casual Freshwater bathers present.” Had it been held on the previous day, “the roars of applause (of) thousands of Australians might have greeted Kahanamoku 's display at Freshwater.

Clearly based on interviews, probably before and after, as well as observing the surf riding, Corbett notes the antiquity of surfboards and surf-riding, although throughout the article the term surf board is not used. It is variously referred to as a board, a surf riding board, a canoe, and a raft. Boards were to be found in “the Honolulu (Bishop) Museum - narrow ones, 20ft. in length, and hoary with age” having been ”used in his (Duke’s) native islands from time immemorial.” Such information should have readily come to hand; surfing’s ancient history covered in Riding the Surfboard, attributed to Duke Kahanamoku and published over the first two editions of A. H. Ford’s The Mid-Pacific Magazine in 1911.

The shape of the board was “almost that of a coffin lid, with one end cut to very nearly a point,” and Corbett gave a good approximation of the dimensions, “about eight or nine feet long, 2ft. across.” He was the first to note that sugar pine was substituted for redwood, preferred for its light weight, because a suitably sized blank “could not be procured in Sydney.” Whereas, at Waikiki boards were about 68lb., “the board used by Kahanamoku weighed 78lb.”

The difference in weight was later noted by others, however the discrepancy between the two timbers could vary considerably, with one reporter suggesting Hawaiian boards could be “less than 25lb,” certainly an exaggeration. As some sort of guide, one 10-foot board shaped of Californian redwood board is said by its Newcastle owner to weight about 80 pounds. Duke’s board, at 8.5 feet and, a close 78 pounds, suggests the sugar pine is approximately 20% heavier.

Although surfboards in Hawaii were occasionally built of sugar pine, in this case, its use was clearly a function of the haste in which the board was constructed, and, undoubtedly, the success of the exhibitions initiated an intensive search to obtain supplies of suitably sized redwood blanks or billets.

Upon launching, Duke paddled the board with amazing speed, easily out-pacing swimmers W. W. Hill and Harry Hay, who attempted to accompany him. Up to this point, W. W. Hill, secretary of the Swimming Association and Freshwater stalwart, had played an integral role in the tour, and it was unlikely that he would stop now. (For a digression on Harry Hay, and some bloke called Kenneth Slessor, see below.)

All the reports, and photographs of the day, indicate the surf was a least four to five foot (Bascom, 1964), perhaps larger, choppy, and certainly with no hint of an off-shore breeze. The waves tended to break quickly without form, and not with “long roll (of) 300 and 400 yards” of Waikiki that “Kahanamoku would have preferred.”

Duke seems to have paddled , with little difficulty, to the outside break, “fully a quarter of a mile,” and proceeded to ride green faces; in itself something that only the most skilled Australians may have attempted, or even contemplated, on waves of this size. In this era it is probable that most local riders, particularly in waves of this size and breaking a considerable distance from the beach, would launch on the already broken wave and mostly ride the white-water (technically, a wave of translation) shoreward.

Today, riding the white-water is often disparaged today as a rudimentary skill, however, over millennia this part of the surf-zone has served as a relatively safe arena for the development surf skills. Also note, that in some instances, the white-water can “reform” and present the rider with a new, though smaller, clean wave face.

Paddling for “the breaker he wanted, (Duke) rose to one knee first, then became gradually erect, and reached the crest to shoot foreword with astonishing speed and marvellous balance considering the troubled condition of the motive power.”

Several times he rode facing backwards and while balanced on his head, and, what might have been described as a “360.” While riding prone, Duke the rotated the board, from nose-to-tail-to nose, underneath him.

Corbett noted that “Kahanamoku does not profess to be a champion when in his island home, but he is, he says as good as the very best there.” At Waikiki, Duke had plenty of competition. When Duke and Curtis Hustace appeared at an exhibition at California’s Venice Beach in 1912, "Hustace came in on the surf -board standing on his head about twenty times, and twenty thousand people went wild." This was, surely, another example of a journalist over-estimating the number of spectators at a surfboard riding event.

A digression, or an aside, or a footnote, or simply thinking too much:
Harry Hay and Kenneth Slessor, 1931.
According to Corbett, Harry Hay was an accomplished swimmer, able to “throw a100 yards behind in little more than a minute.” In 1920 he represented Australia at the Olympic Games in Antwerp and later became a recognised swimming coach. Hay’s Swimming and Surfing, published in Sydney by Jantzen, the swimsuit company, in1931 is probably the first book with specific instructions for surfboard riding, unless one wants to count Jack London’s flamboyant account, A Royal Sport. Initially a magazine article in 1906, it was re-published in book form as a chapter of The Voyage of the Snark in 1911.

The other candidate for “the first book with specific instructions for surfboard riding” was also published in Sydney and around the same time, Surf- All About It.

The book has no indication of the date of publication; furthermore it lacks any acknowledgement of the author, editor, publisher, or printer. However, the copy held by the Mitchell Library, Sydney, has a pencil annotation on page seven which appears to attribute copyright or contribution to "Slessor 26.2.31."

This was Kenneth Slessor, a noted Australian poet of the period, and a copy is included in Slessor’s papers held by the National Library of Australia. It is likely Slessor had the book published through the printer of Smith's Weekly, where he worked, with illustrator Virgil Reilly, from 1927 until 1940. Reilly is the artist likely to be responsible for the book’s numerous black and white illustrations. The elegy Five Bells, prompted by the drowning of Joe Lynch in Sydney Harbour in 1927, is generally regarded as Slessor’s finest poem.

It is perhaps not surprising that, compared with Slessor, the surf-riding instructions Harry Hay are far more basic, concise and effective.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Thu Dec 25, 2014 11:03 am

Friday 25th December: The Day after Duke’s First Exhibition.
If any of Sydney’s surfing enthusiasts were unaware W. F. Corbett’s article in Thursday’s Sun, by Christmas morning Duke’s appearance at Freshwater was widely known with articles in both morning papers. And by now, along the northern beaches, the message went out from the Freshwater locals- “you really missed it, you should have been here yesterday.”

The Sydney Morning Herald carried an unaccredited account on page 4 and The Daily Telegraph had a brief and concise report on page 7, also unaccredited. Note that the standard practice at this time was to print the bulk of the advertising over the front pages, with the news starting inside. As such, these articles were “front page news.”

The piece in the Herald could have been, to be kind, “summarised” from Corbett’s piece in The Sun of the day before. As the Herald had, perhaps inadvertently, made the first exhibition public, they may not have been effectively notified of its postponement to the following day. On the other hand, the article did indicate that a public exhibition was already scheduled (for the 10th January):
“If the condition of the water is favourable when Kahanamoku makes his public appearance in surfboard riding in Sydney it is sure to be keenly appreciated.”

The Telegraph’s journalist reported only one head-stand, but added that:
“Several enthusiastic surfers amoungst the spectators endeavored to emulate the feats of the Hawaiian, but mostly the board either shot from under them or turned over.” Despite the brevity of The Telegraph article, under the header Acrobatics in the Surf, the dramatic photograph of Duke cutting hard-left on his board was worth a thousand words. Only the newsprint copy of the photograph has ever been reproduced, the original negative and/or print appears to have been lost.

On the weekend, further photographs were published in the Sunday Times, one carrying the board on his right shoulder and another riding in the shore break, where at the end of a ride Duke poses for the camera with his hands-on-hips. Both have been reprinted widely, with the latter occasionally accredited as Cronulla.

The Sunday Times reporter began “there is one man only in Australia at the present time who can get aboard a breaker,” which would have been news to Tommy Walker and his mates at Manly and Yamba.

Indicating that the advertising poster, based on Gurrey’s photograph of 1910, was in already in wide circulation across Sydney, the reporter suggested that “the man on the poster is the Duke all right, but the picture errs on the side of modesty. It should have shown him balancing himself on his head on the board.”

The article notes the dimensions of the board, reasonably accurate at “8ft. 6in. long, 2ft. wide, and three inches (thick), the “coffin lid” shape, and that it was “made locally from sugar pine.” While “Kahanamouku's (Waikiki) board is made of redwood, about 10lb. lighter, he is immensely pleased with the local production.” The board is said to be sealed with “shellac, (the) surface as slippery as a dancing floor,” but before surfing, Duke “rubbed sand into its surface liberally that it will be equal to his own.”

The conditions were inferior to those of Waikiki, where Duke was famed for taking “a boy out to sea, and mounting his board allows the youngster to climb on to his back.” The extreme difficulty of this was obvious and “of course, it would be a rare occasion when he would be able to perform this feat round the Australian coast.” This feat would be demonstrated at the Dee Why exhibition in February.

There were several advantages in surfboard riding and “once one has become expert ... he forsakes body surfing for ever.” The article claimed that “it is faster in every respect, is not nearly so tiresome, and as for exhilaration, well there is the same difference as between cycling and motoring.” Noting that “ there is a good deal of danger in the sport, the solution suggested by the Sunday Times journalist has proved to be an practical, effective and prophetic:
“(if) various portions of the beaches round Sydney are set apart for the express purpose of surf- board riding, there is no reason why it should not become popular locally."

The exhibition saw the demand for surfboards sky-rocket. Whereas serious enthusiasts were searching Sydney’s timber yards for slabs of redwood, the article quoted one of the local swimming enthusiasts, who referenced the traditional canoes of the Australian Aborigines: "I'm giving up (body) surfing; I'm going to duck into the bush right now to search for a piece of bark;" Undoubtedly, “he wasn't the only one in the vicinity filled with the same ambitions.”

On Christmas morning, the Hawaiians, Freshwater L.S.C. and the Swimming Association should have all been delighted with the impressive press coverage. Duke now had time to relax from the frantic activity of his first week in Sydney, his next appearance was an exhibition for school children on the 30th, with the first Domain Carnival two days later. Although limited by a re-occurrence of “swimmers ear,” he probably completed a number of training sessions and there may have been some time for recreational surf-riding. For Duke, these may have equated to the same thing. When touring California in 1912, it is recorded that Duke gave an exhibition at the beach during the day, and then competed successfully in the pool that evening.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:52 pm

Saturday 26th December: Boxing Day.
As noted earlier, Duke’s next appearance was an exhibition for school children in six days time, followed by the first Domain Carnival on the 2nd January. This week was likely to be spent relaxing, some training, and a round of social occasions with officials, press and fans. There was also possibly time for some surfing, and in far better conditions than those dictated by the late-morning exhibitions.

Given the demand, the search for redwood billets continued and by the end of the week Duke may have had time to shape a surfboard, or two. The importance of the surfboards cannot be underestimated.

With respect to the question of Duke’s amateur status, it was easy for Francis Evans to arrange, and disguise, the sale of boards, probably via a proxy, to the direct benefit of Duke. The significance of these boards to Australian shapers will be discussed later.

On Boxing Day, the Yamba Surf Life Saving Brigade advertised their fourth annual carnival, with the seventh event on the program:
“Shooting the Breakers, with and without surf boards, by members of Yamba Surf Life Saving Brigade.” One member of the Yamba Surf Life Saving Brigade, with a surfboard, was definitely the Manly’s Tommy Walker, with a slight implication that there may have been, at least, one other.

“Shooting the Breakers” was on the program the first inter-club surf carnival at Manly in 1908, but this strictly referred to, what is now termed, body-surfing. Introduced at Manly in the 1890s by Tommy Tana, from the Pacific island of Tana, it was later popularised by Fred Williams, who was invited to give demonstrations at beaches north and south of the harbour.

Williams appeared, along with Tommy Walker, at the North Styene Carnival in 1911, in a body-surfing demonstration, or what may have been a competition. Other shooters included C.D. Bell, E. Notting and R. Bowden, all later to be known board riders. Following the board riding exhibitions of Duke Kahanamoku, these events gradually faded out from the surf carnival programs.
The carnival also included a surf-boat race, and the significance of surf-boats will be considered later.

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Re: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Centennial, 1914-2014

Post by surfresearch » Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:27 am

Sunday 27th – Wednesday 29th December: Kahanamoku School Day.
In the days leading up to Kahanamoku School Day, the press maintained a consistent flow of stories about Duke.

On the 27th, the Sunday Times published a long account of the surf-riding at Freshwater, with the details very familiar to the previous accounts. Titled “The Human Motor Boat,” importantly, it also included several photographs, previously discussed.

The school exhibition was scheduled for the Domain Pool at 3 o'clock on the 29th, with the +5000 invitations apparently only “issued to schoolboys.”
It was planned that “Duke and George Cunha (Hawaii) will demonstrate the kick, and local champions will show the Australian crawl.” This was intended to illustrate “the points in which the two methods of propulsion differ will clearly be shown.” It is unlikely these distinctions were easily identified or appreciated by the schoolboys.

The history of development of the, so-called, Australian and/or the American Crawl is complex, and many swimmers, coaches and theorists are claimed to have a contributed in some manner; eventually leading to its domination over the widely-used breast-stoke.

In reality, the combination of the alternate over-arm stroke and scissors-kick, commonly known as the “crawl”, had been used by native swimmers for millennia, directly replicating the mechanics of propelling a surfboard, or float-board, by paddling and kicking. It’s antiquity and superiority to other strokes was confirmed by the untrained “native swimmer,” Duke Paoa Kahanamoku at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.

An article published in The Evening News that day noted Duke’s preference to swim in open water, ideally at Waikiki, and he was not happy “in the short baths of America.” As such he was looking forward to “the straight course for the hundred provided at the Domain Baths.” On the other hand, George Cunha, “is purely a tank swimmer, as those who shine best in a small bath are called in America, and visits the bath every day for his tryout.”

Cunha, Longworth and Stedman, appeared at the Schools exhibition, but Duke failed to show. The Herald reported that ”since his exhibition at Curl Curl (sic), he has developed what is known as ‘swimmer's ear’.'' While, as of “yesterday his medical advisor was against him taking to the water,” this “will not interfere with his subsequent engagements.”

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