Pip the Ice Cream Man

The 60s likes to think it invented surfing, along with music, fashion and recreational you-know-what.

But take yourself back to the 30s, to Great Western beach in Newquay, with hankies on heads and monkeys on organ grinders dancing in their dungarees.

This is 1938, my friends, the time of the great surfing breakthrough – when Pip Staffieri took one small step up for mankind in Europe and you see it all.

So, you buy an ice cream from this unassuming guy in his ice cream van. 

As the day ends, he parks up his retro-mobile and reappears at the water’s edge wearing a wooly tank-top stretched over his swimming cossie and a 13ft plank that’s as heavy as him, so he wheels it down on a trolley.  

He wades in, climbs on, paddles out and disappears as the waves grow. 

You’re about to say a prayer for him when up Pip pops, standing on his board, riding the waves like a dolphin on its birthday.   

The next day, he’s back at his ice cream stall selling cones and tubs.

You ask him how the hell he did that.

He tells you all about the Pathe newsreels at the cinema above Towan beach, trying a canoe but getting bored, then pro-surfer Jimmy Dix buying his ice cream one day and showing him the ropes but says they never shared a wave.  

We said he was modest.

Saying that, once the war dies down and the economy picks up, he travels to Hawaii in 1960 and becomes the first Briton to ride a fiberglass board.     

Pip Staffieri, godfather of surfing and the ‘99.