Olo, paipo, alaia, Duke. . . what's in a name ?

Regarding Olo boards I just use the term to refer to very large wooden surfboards. Some people object to this on emotional grounds, feeling that it is disrespectful to the ancient hawaiians. On that score I disagree with them as I use the term out of respect for those who pioneered big wooden boards, and I feel strongly that the ancients approve of what we are doing.  If by chance they didn't ( which I very much doubt ) then we'd be sticking to our guns anyway.

Modern Olo. . . Gloria in excelsis deo

The other objection is based on historical accuracy.  Some people are concerned that if the term 'olo' is widened to include modern designs then people will be misled regarding ancient olo designs  and that we are thus spreading misinformation. I think that anyone who is interested in olo surfboards wil be able to discover the difference between our modern designs and the ancient ones within a few minutes on the net. The word 'olo' is lovely and deserves to be used.  I also think that the word olo is unlikely to have meant 'finless' or rockerless' rather it was a term for the biggest boards.

An important part of the olo surfboard tradition was that these longest of all super boards were reserved for royalty. In that respect we are following the tradition. Roy Stewart's olo boards are very rare, time consuming to build and extremely expensive.   Those factors will ensure that riding and owning them is an exclusive experience.

There's also a precedent for reviving hawaiian surfboard terms in a modern context.  If we take a look at the word 'paipo' for example it's now the accepted term for body boards which are not made of soft closed cell foam. There are hawaiian body board builders using plywood, rocker, glue, and non traditional shapes marketing their boards as paipos, and worldwide there's a large group of makers using everything including the kitchen sink ( literally ) to make what they call paipos.  My feeling is that one can only sit back and enjoy it, trying to stop the word being used for a bodyboard made of plywood or junk found in a dumpster is a waste of time as it's not going to happen.


 Traditional Paipo or modern paipo?

Words change their meaning over time, in these cases they are not losing their original meaning, which is still there, but widening their meaning. As mentioned above a simple qualification is all that is needed in order to clarify what is meant by the term. For example we can have 'plywood paipo' or 'traditional paipo', or simply paipos identified by the builder i.e.' Poohbah's paipo'  ( Poohbah is a paipo builder from Rodntube's paipo forum ).   On that basis my boards can be identified without ambiguity as 'Roy Stewart Olo's ' It can be painful to see words change in meaning, but there's little which can be done about it apart from exercising our right to use them as we choose.

Alaia or not? Roy with a nearly rockerless 1.5" thick flexible  8'1"  built  1996

Now regarding the word 'Duke'.  I defend the use of that one vigorously. I have not named my board  'Duke Kahanamoku'  or said that the board is a copy of one of his boards. Furthermore there are dozens of  actual Dukes ( both past and present)  in this world and I'm descended from many of them. Also Duke Kahanamoku was not actually a Duke he was merely named 'Duke' . . . so I suppose I could object to his use of the term for a similar reason to that which people  have used to complain about  my use of the term 'olo'. . . . that it's not historically accurate.  Of course I have no such objection.   If  you look at our other surfboard models you will see that we use other European terms including 'Baron'  and 'Chieftain'. We'll also be using the word 'Laird' and will not be asking Mr Hamilton's permission as there have been many real Lairds in my family.  Of course there's an allusion to the great Duke Kahanamoku when using the term as a surfboard name, and I'm standing by it as a compliment to Mr Kahanamoku.

To anyone who still doesn't get it, I can only say that olo is what one sees when looking up my nostrils !

Celtic Olo builder