The History of Surfing
How did surfing become what it is today?
The history of the modern sport of surfing — riding ocean waves while standing on a board — traces back to the Polynesian culture in Hawaii. The easy going waves lured Polynesians into the ocean on reed boats called “Caballitos de Totora”. The Polynesians thought the gods had given them the gift of surfing. Surfing was their religion and culture. They prayed for good surfing conditions, for protection, and for good waves. Surfing was their life.
In ancient times, even they had a first class. It was a rule that the Chief and his tribe always got the best beaches. Also, when a warrior turned 20 years old, he was to be sent to the village shaman, who made a spiritual surfboard just right for each individual. The better the surfboard, the higher the rank.
David Kawananakoa, Edward Kealiiahonui, and Jonah Kuhio kalaniana’ole were the first ever Americans to surf. They wanted to bring their favorite sport to their new home. So, they thought to surf in America. They started the sport ‘surfing’ and now millions of people surf around the world. It has become so popular that people who used to surf started again. Lots of people did not know how to ride the waves. So who was going to teach them? A man named George Freeth, a Hawaiian-American, started teaching kids to surf. As his teachings got more popular, more people joined.
Surfing got so popular that America finally started the first World Cup. The Cup consisted of 12 surfers. As you can guess, all of the Americans stunk. But, that match started and made surfing a sport in the U.S. People in the film industry saw this as an open opportunity. They started paying for guys to travel the world and surf. Most of the popular ones were filmed in Hawaii. With the big waves and crystal clear water, it was a perfect money maker.
As surfing got more popular, a free patch of sand on the beach became impossible to find. Beaches were so crowded that you had to sit down in the water. So many people took up surfing that soon conversations turned from “Hey, did you see Dodgers game?” to “Hey, when are you going surfing next?” One of the people who made this happen was a man with the name of Duke Kahanamoku. He was the first to make a real modern surfboard. He came up with the curved top and the 3 fins. His very own board is now on display in Sydney, Australia.
Songs such as “Surfin’ Safari” and others became top hits. Beaches were raided. Waves were crowded. This was no Beetle Mania. This was no Babe Ruth. This was surfing. It was put in a league above all others. And it never faded.