Move aside surfers and paddleboarders; paipo (pronounced ‘pie-po’) is the next water-sport craze. Paipo Stokefest, an event that showcased the design and use of the ancient Hawaiian surfboard, the paipo, drew dozens of attendees to La Jolla Sunday morning. The event gave experienced and newbie paipo riders the chance to try out different paipo boards and experience a new kind of fun in the sun.
A paipo is a flat, wooden belly board that has its roots in Hawaii in the 1700s. While these finless boards may look just like bodyboards, their minimal-float material and unique shapes allow for a completely different ride. Riders can gain invigorating speed and even get inside the barrel of the wave. The Paipo Society, founded by local paipo enthusiast Glenn Sakamoto, is an organization that seeks to spread the word about Paipo and encourage surfers and other water-borne athletes to add paipo to their repertoire. Anyone is welcome to join the group, including beginners and lifetime paipo riders.
“The paipo for me is the pure essence of wave riding,” Sakamoto said. “When I first tried paipo, I was blown away by how a simple flat piece of wood could bring so much stoke, make a small day fun, and get you inside an overhead barrel.”
At Sunday’s event, which took place from 7 a.m. to noon, Paipo Society members brought their boards, as well as handplanes and alaias (a longer version of the paipo) to share with other attendees. Participants were encouraged to try out paipos of different sizes and shapes to get a feel for the multitude of ways the watercraft can be used.
“Events like the Paipo Stokefest are exciting because you get to see a really fun energy in the water,” surfboard shaper and Paipo Society member, Jon Wegener said. “People are discovering how fun it is to ride these boards in a group.”
The tides were on the Paipo Society’s side, as large, consistent surf made the event fun for attendees of all ages. And there was fun to be had for those who didn’t get in the water, too. Observers admired the skill of paipo riders, as well as the beauty of the boards themselves. Hand-crafted by board shapers, many of the boards featured unique shapes and designs. Over the years, the Paipo Society has aligned itself with local board companies, like Wegener Surfboards, to spread the word about paipo. And so far, it seems to be working.
“I was very happy with the turnout of the event, it exceeded our expectations,” Sakamoto said. “San Diego County is the perfect place to have our first gathering. It has always been a place of surf craft open-mindedness.”