Not sure if this book has been covered in some of the national forums, such as SurferMag, but I have not seen it mentioned on the Swell Info forums.
Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions from the Past was waiting in my box of mail upon returning home from a trip overseas. It looks to be a real gem. At nearly 500 pages it is safe to say that I have not read it yet -- but expect my free moments over the next couple of weeks trying to make my way through this epic tome. If you are interested in surf culture, ancient surfing history or old Hawaiian surfing, you will probably want to add this one to your collection, or at least demand your local library obtain a copy.
Ben Finney, who wrote the forward below, is acknowledged as the first true researcher of surfing history, having published scholarly works and books in the late-1950s and early-1960s. Finney was also part of the demonstration proving the ancient Polynesians could chart and sail to Hawaii on their canoes. So, in a sense, his graceful words are akin to Babe Ruth introducing Hank Aaron's new book.
Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions from the Past
by John R. K. Clark
“John Clark, a Hawaiian surfer, lifeguard, firefighter, and historian, has studied Hawaiian, read Hawaiian sources on surfing, and built up a massive file of these texts for analysis and translation. More recently, he has tapped into the growing online database of Hawaiian-language articles on native history and culture that were published from the 1830s to the 1940s. By searching out practically every known reference to Hawaiian surfing, Clark has produced an amazing study of the sport, one that far surpasses any previous work. Furthermore, because he has included so much rich source material here, presented in both Hawaiian and English translation, this compilation will long serve as a treasury of traditional surfing lore—one that allows readers to delve deep and come up with their own understanding of Hawaiian surfing.” —Ben Finney, emeritus professor of anthropology, University of Hawai‘i
Hawaiian Surfing is a history of the traditional sport narrated primarily by native Hawaiians who wrote for the Hawaiian-language newspapers of the 1800s. An introductory section covers traditional surfing, including descriptions of the six Hawaiian surf-riding sports (surfing, bodysurfing, canoe surfing, body boarding, skimming, and river surfing). This is followed by an exhaustive Hawaiian-English dictionary of surfing terms and references from Hawaiian-language publications and a special section of Waikiki place names related to traditional surfing. The information in each of these sections is supported by passages in Hawaiian, followed by English translations. The work concludes with a glossary of English-Hawaiian surfing terms and an index of proper names, place names, and surf spots.
John R. K. Clark, a former lifeguard and retired deputy fire chief of the Honolulu Fire Department, is the author of seven books on Hawai‘i’s beaches published by University of Hawai‘i Press.
The U of HI Press released another significant surfing-related book this year, Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in Twentieth-Century Hawaii, by Isaiah Helekunihi Walker (February 2011).