Blake style hollow paddle board made in the 1940s

Blake style hollow paddle board made in the 1940s

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Description (Brief)
This hollow paddle board was made during the 1940s, and represents Tom Blake’s patented design. When Tom Blake was 18, he met Duke Kahanamoku in a movie theatre lobby in Detroit, Michigan. A year later he moved to Los Angeles and became a competitive swimmer, competing against Kahanamoku in 1922 and beating him. At 19, Blake became a lifeguard at the Santa Monica Swim Club but it wasn’t until 1924 that he began surfing regularly. Blake visited Hawaii that year and was soon surfing alongside Island regulars and studying the boards of the ancient Hawaiians at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. It was then that he began to experiment with board construction becoming one of the greatest innovators of the sport to date. He introduced the patented hollow paddleboard in 1931 which cut the board weight in half and fueled the first boom in surfing as the lighter boards made surfing more accessible to the masses. This board would become a standard piece of equipment as a life saving device used by lifeguards throughout the globe. In 1935, his second innovation was the stabilizing fin and although it did not catch on in Hawaii for another five years this design advance is what almost all future board advances were built and became standard in 1940. In 1932, The Thomas Rogers Company of Venice, California carried a line of ‘Tom Blake Hawaiian Paddle Boards’ making Blake one of the first board builders to have his creations mass produced. Blake also became one of the first surf photographers and in 1929 made an underwater housing for a camera he bought from Kahanamoku and proceeded to take photographs of surfers in action, in and under the water. Some of his photographs were published in a 1935 issue of The National Geographic along with his book “Hawaiian Surfboard”, the first book featuring a history of surfing.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 150 in x 24 in x 4 1/2 in; 381 cm x 60.96 cm x 11.43 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Snow & Surf
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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