October 30, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

What The Battle Of The Paddle Would Have Looked Like In 1949


(video © Australian National Film and Sound Archive)


Ever wondered what SUP racing would look like in black & white? Well look no further than this vintage clip from 1949, which shows a bunch of Australian surfers charging in and out of the waves on plywood paddleboards.

This footage is eerily similar to what we saw at the Battle of the Paddle Salt Creek earlier this month. I guess paddleboarding hasn’t changed so much in 65 years…

I love the oldschool voice over guy, can we please hire him to commentate the BOP next year? There’s a shout out to Waikiki in there (which apparently has nothing on Bondi), though the remarks about the boards being “light, maneuverable and sturdy” may be a little ambitious.

This demonstration event, held at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, is an early version of the prone paddleboard races that are now famous at Australian surf life saving carnivals. Amazingly, some of the guys in this clip are even using paddles to catch the waves and then stand up, kinda like a hybrid surf-ski/SUP.

This archival film is also a good argument for why traditional paddleboarding deserves its place in major events such as the ISA Worlds and now the Battle of the Paddle (which introduced prone racing for the first time this year). Apart from Laird, we seriously have to thank prone paddleboarding for helping create modern day stand up paddle racing.

Oh and on a side note, listen carefully to the commentary at the 0:08 mark – sounds like they settled the whole 12’6 vs 14′ board class debate over half a century ago 😉

Spotted by the always-on-it David John over on Seabreeze, this 1949 newsreel, titled Thrill of the Surf, comes from Australian Screen Online, a government database of oldschool films.

Watch above and enjoy a bit of paddling history.

stand up paddle race in black and white