Pip Staffieri -biography
Papino Staffieri (known as Pip to his family and friends) was born in 1918, August the 3rd in Cornwall, where his mother had moved to escape the war. Interestingly, his father was an Italian war soldier in the Great War (known as the first war-WW1). His family visited Cornwall in 1900, and started a family tradition: ice cream selling. Pip never actually got to live in their family home in Italy.
As a child he had polio- a disease that disables you from moving your leg. Queerly, he was a stable swimmer.
When Pip reached his twenties, he took over the family business: ice cream selling. After one long day of ice cream selling, Pip had a dentist appointment; but this was no regular appointment, this was the start of something big… In the dentist’s waiting room, he saw an encyclopedia and inside he saw a black and white photograph of Hawaiian surfers surfing standing up. This inspired him.
Another day he had been selling ice creams when he met an old chap called Jimmy Dix, another surfing pioneer. Jimmy asked Pip for a “99” and Pip agreed, and asked why Mr Dix had such a long board. Jimmy answered: “Watch and learn, ” and at that moment he took to the seas. Leaving his 99 cone, he paddled out to the waves that were so big that Pip lost sight of him. Pip expected to see him prone surf in, but to his surprise, he saw him stand up surfing, the same way as those pro Hawaiians surfing in his dentist’s encyclopedia. When Jimmy ran back to the gypsy like ice cream van, he took his cone, and said: “Cheereo” and sprinted back into his sports car.
Soon, it was time to go home for Pip, but while he was closing the rusty aluminium shutters on his van, he realised a dormant shape of a slim and long board. He took it and rode it into the water. He tried to surf it and succeeded. He decided to go back home and make a clone of Jimmy’s board.
After lovingly applying the final coat of varnish to his 13.5 foot hollow wooden surfboard, he tested it on Towan Beach. But only when he tested his board he found it didn’t perform well. His board floated, but did not move swiftly with the waves and he found it impossible to turn. He checked again and realised it did not have a fin. Once he had made a fin, he tested it again, this time, hoping his board would succeed. It did
In the coming months and years, Pip surfed as a daily thing. Every lunch break of his career, he spent practicing surfing. After a long break of surfing, he saw Roger Mansfield surf the *Cribber. This inspired him to surf bigger waves in Hawaii. Sooner or later in the 1960s, he took a trip to Hawaii. He surfed massive waves there, and became the worlds first British person to surf on a fibre glass board.
Papino Staffieri died in 2005, June 28th. He will be remembered as the godfather of cornish surfing, and if without him, cornish surfing world not be a sport. I hope you enjoyed this biography, and without Pip, this biography wouldn’t be a thing.
Oddly, Him and Jimmy Dix had the same inspiration from the same place, from the same thing: a dentist encyclopedia
A peculiar word for a special type of ice cream.
Prone surfing is a type of surfing: you don’t stand up, but instead you stay laying across you board. Some people still do it, and funnily enough, thats what I did on my first day of surf club!
The ‘Cribber’ is a type of massive wave, close to a tsunami, only that you can surf it. In England, you hardly ever get: about once every ten years! This is because it is caused by MASSIVE sea storms.