Measuring as high as 22 feet and weighing over 200 pounds, olo boards were reserved exclusively for Hawaiian royalty, chiefs and warriors of the highest class and status. The boards were incredibly difficult to carry, let alone maneuever through the waves. Fittingly, the creation of olo boards was surrounded by eleborate tradition and ceremony. A priest would lead a series of chants, sacrifices and fires to mark the occassion when a tree was selected to create an olo board. The intensive shaping process took up to two years, completed without the aid of any metal tools.
Tom Blake on the beach of Waikiki in 1929 with a selection of traditional Olo boards behind him.
On the left, Greg Noll's recreation of an olo board, and on the right, a replica created in the late 1930s by Pacific Systems Homes.
Duke Kahanamoku's most memorable rides took place on wooden boards fashioned in the ancient tradition.