found this Nep like story thru google... there are some pics if you go here... http://www.thehandboardcompany.com/history.htm
A Brief History of the Handboard
by John Hazen, Jr.
The waves were breaking with an inviting precision. After the third ride I was having a ball. If my take-off was early, I’d fade into the curl, then change direction with a smooth carving turn. The wave would form ahead of me and I’d charge to the shallow spot in the reef to position myself inside the inevitable pitch-out of the wave over my head. Later take-offs required a more intentional drive down the wall, putting the skegs and inside rail to work. Pursued. Then escaping...time after time.
I began to chuckle aloud, reveling in the solitary pleasure of riding water crystal walls of speed and fun, all by myself, on a warm windless morning.
“Wave after wave...tube after impossible tube...He was invincible,” I narrated myself and laughed as I recalled the lines from an old surfing movie.
Summertime. Oahu’s North Shore. The waves were no more than two feet high.
A lone passer-by, letting his large dog run on the long empty beach, turned into a fascinated onlooker. He approached me when I took my last wave all the way in. Standing on one leg, I peeled the green-and-yellow Churchill fin off my right foot.
“What is that board thing you’re using? You were getting fun rides on those small waves out there,” he inquired.
“It’s a handboard,” I stated as I stuffed the sock into the empty fin. I handed him the board to look at and then began to remove the fin and sock off my other foot.
He held the handboard with both hands and inspected it with curiosity. He nodded in approval of the three Koa wood stringers in the board. He ran his hand on the glossy bottom and gave each skeg a tentative wiggle.
“This is really cool!” he finally burst. “I’ve never seen one of these before. Where do you buy these?”
“I design and make them myself. About a half-dozen of us in Kailua have been using them for years,” I told him as I patted his big dog.
“I wanted to market this,” I stated as I put a handboard, skegs up, on the small square table in the coffee shop.
Ana looked at it. Looked at me quizzically, looked at the board again.
“Ohhh-kay,” she offered slowly as she pondered the object just placed before her.
“What is it?”
“It’s a handboard,” I informed her.
She looked at it again.
Outside it was a chilly December afternoon in Redmond, Washington. It wasn’t even five o’clock and it was dark out. Ana worked at an architectural firm and had a CAD computer at home. I’d asked her to meet me here after work, hoping she would be willing to help me produce a really good drawing of a handboard.
I took the handboard off the tabletop and placed it on the floor near my chair. I dug out of my green backpack a handful of old photographs and began to display them in front of her.
“You bodysurf with it,” I said, putting my finger on a photo of Don Weir taking off on a nice wave at Makapuu.
“We kind of invented these back in the late Sixties, early Seventies.”
“We?” she looked up.
“Let me start at the beginning,” I offered.
“Please do. This is kind of interesting. These photos are twenty-five years old.” she said as she continued examining the photographs before her.
A waitress came by and Ana ordered a cup of tea. After the waitress walked off, Ana folded her arms on the table and I began telling about my brother and I growing up in Hawaii.
As teenagers we were avid surfers. Down at the shorebreak in Kailua, my brother and I were part of a group of regulars who surfed at a break at the end of a right-of-way from the street to the breach.
During the summer, huge swells arrived from hurricanes far east of the Islands. When the surf got too big and closed out for board surfing, the gang would be in the water, nonetheless, bodysurfing into huge, sand-filled, seaweed-filled barrels that would crash and collapse in waist deep water.
One of us showed up with a colored, foam kickboard that his mom used in the pool at the “Y.” His kickboard career was short-lived, however. He broke the board in half on his second ride and then got grounded for the rest of the weekend.
During a flat spell one weekend, I pedaled over to David Robinson’s house to hang out. As I parked my bicycle I spotted David intently pounding on a screwdriver into the bottom of a piece of plywood on his dad’s workbench.
“What in the world are you doing?” I asked as I walked up to the workbench.
“Check this out,” he proudly handed me the piece of plywood that he was working on.
A foot and a half cut off the end of a wooden ironing board was my first impression. Two short grooves had been dug out on the bottom.
“It’s a handboard. These fins go into the grooves,” he explained as he handed me two small crude skegs made out of thin plywood. “Bill’s is done already.” David showed me another board with the skegs glued in with purple waterproof glue.
The next sizeable day at the shorebreak, David Robinson and Bill Haglund showed up, not with their surfboards, but were equipped with Churchill bodysurfing fins and plywood handboards. We all watched as they stroked into waves with the one free hand, joined it with the other hand gripping the nose of the handboard, and dropped into waves, carved bottom turns, hung on vertical walls, and rode deep inside the small tubes.
It looked like such a blast. Man! I had to build me one!
My first handboard was out of pine shelving with a redwood stringer laminated in the middle. I used lots of waxed paper so the bricks wouldn’t glue the wood to the garage floor. The grooves for the skegs were created by rows of shallow holes drilled with an electric drill. I cleaned them up with a small chisel. The skegs were made out of layers of scrap fiberglass. After cutting them out and shaping them a bit I glassed them to the bottom of the board. I could hardly wait to try the thing out as I brushed on the three coats of Varathane varnish.
It was big and windy. There were only two of us out. We lined up in front of the big picture window of the white two-story house on the beach. The other guy I was out with was a body surfer. Don Weir was visiting relatives who lived just a few blocks from the beach. He was from San Diego. We got to be buddies after we’d seen each other out in the water a few times.
The next summer, after I’d finished summer school classes, I flew to San Diego, and Don was going to show me the surf spots that I’d only read about in magazines. I packed my surfboard in cardboard and my handboard went in my suitcase.
One morning we went to check out a spot called Boomers. Don was going to bodysurf. I went out with my pine-and-redwood handboard. I got looks and hoots from Don’s buddies in the water because I was doing far more maneuvering on the waves than anybody in the water.
Don wanted to try the board. I showed him how both hands go on the nose of the board, and let him take off. His first ride took him way in by the rocks. When he returned back outside he was stoked.
“Man! I dropped down, carved a bottom turn, then just screamed across the wall—all the way to the rocks!”
I had a hard time getting the handboard away from him. Just before returning to Hawaii, I gave him my handboard for showing me such a great time in California.
During the next couple of years, most of the gang at the beach had a handboard. Makapuu almost always had waves and we’d pile into somebody’s VW Bug and go surf there after work. We’d perch on the rocks and wait for the lifeguards to go home. Then we’d jump in and enjoy the long rides from the point or the peaks of the shorebreak that offered huge cavernous tubes.
Jay Dowsett made a beautiful foam-and-fiberglass model. It lasted one day. It got away from him and the waves washed it all the way into the rocks. By the time he could retrieve it, it was trashed.
From then on we stuck to making handboards out of wood. A wooden board has enough buoyancy to float, but not enough to get washed all the way into shore.
I enjoyed experiencing with different design considerations trying to improve the handboard’s performance. I made a round tail model, then a fish tail. I liked Steve Panfiglio’s board with a concave under the nose. The diamond tail was my favorite. The board turned with a snap and generally worked really well.
The biggest improvement came when I increased the size of the skegs. The earlier models, with their twin skegs of modest size, seemed to lack a good bite on the face of a steep wave. Around the late Eighties I made a diamond tail with much larger skegs. The board turned with more authority and tracked as though it was pulling me across the face of the wave. Really steep, vertical walls were more manageable and fun. The board had bite and just ripped!
During the early Nineties, I made handboards downstairs in the storeroom after work. I even sold a few of them.
When I wasn’t making handboards, I’d stop by Point Panic on my way home and surf with my favorite board: a diamond tail, with triple Koa stringers and a concave under the nose. The waves were small and fun, and it was a treat watching a sunset. You don’t see sunsets living in Kailua.
Ana was finishing her tea. I was finishing my story.
“So what do you want me to do? What kind of picture do you want?” she queried over her empty teacup.
I groped around the inside of my backpack and produced a sketch that I had worked on the night before.
“The office will be closed for a week during the holidays, so I’ll have time to try something at home for you,” she said as she studied the sketch.
I began to pack up photographs. Ana told me she’d call me after a week or so. I stuffed the handboard back into my backpack. The backpack had some weight to it as I picked it up as we departed the coffee shop...weighed not only by the varnished handboard inside, but with a treasure of memories.
The waitress removed the solitary teacup and saucer from the empty table. She gave the tabletop a quick wipe with a damp rag. The table was wiped clean...as clean as the sand after a wave has returned home.