#MySanDiego: The story behind the Wooden Warrior

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CORONADO -- Lifeguards know him well. They call Coronado-native Mike Shourds the “Wooden Warrior.”

Every morning you’ll see Shourds ride to the beach on his bicycle, a small wooden Paipo board in tow.

He shoots through the waves no matter the conditions -- rain or shine, stingrays or jellyfish. He may be one of the last “original surfers,” hand-carving these historic Paipos at his house and keeping this centuries-old art alive.

Shourds has developed a reputation on the island in his more than six decades. He says he’s been causing trouble since he was about five-years old.

He was eight when Marilyn Monroe came to the Hotel Del Coronado to film “Some Like it Hot.” Shourds remembers pilfering sodas and sandwiches from craft services every day.

“We didn’t care about Marilyn Monroe, we were too young. What we cared about was all that food in the food line,” exclaims Shourds.

When “The Birds” premiered at Coronado’s Village Theater, Shourds and his friend stuffed pigeons in their jackets and released them during that famous attack scene.

“They stopped the movie, they kicked everybody out,” said Shourds, shaking with laughter.

His troublemaking days behind him, Shourds grew up and served in Vietnam. But he eventually found his way back to Coronado Beach.

His love of the Paipo board stemmed from his childhood. One summer, he asked his father for a surfboard. His dad said, “Make it yourself.”

So Shourds did, and he hasn’t stopped since. Shourds has now made “too many Paipos to count” at his Coronado home, and buyers seek him out for his impeccable workmanship. A far cry from his original rough-hewn Paipo made of plywood, his boards are now constructed from precious woods like mahogany, and feature designs with pearl-inlay.

The Paipos date back hundreds of years and Shourds is one of the few with the dedication and passion to keep the tradition alive. We can tell you the Paipo board is heavier than it looks even though it is smaller than a surfboard. It does not float like foam does. Shourds says you have to work harder, but the payoff is a great cut through a wave.

We witnessed it through the GoPro on Shourd’s Paipo. He caught the shoulder of the wave with incredible speed.

Shourds says if you ever want to talk, you know where to find him. He’ll be on the beach every morning, as long as he’s able.

“’Till I can’t stand up anymore.”

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