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Surf History


Wikipedia states, “The art of surfing, known as heʻe ʻana (heʻe means to surf, and ʻana is the nominilizing particle) in the Hawaiian language, was first discovered by Joseph Banks on the HMS Endeavour during the first voyage of James Cook, during the ship’s stay in Tahiti.”

The oldest type of “wave catching” is called bodysurfing. Bodysurfing is riding a wave without using any type of board to ride the wave. Usually, bodysurfers use swim fins in order to help them propel into the waves.

Hawaiians didn’t just think of surfing as a sport or something to do for fun. In fact, they brought surfing into their culture by making it into an art. They called this art heʻe nalu which means into English as “wave sliding”. They also brought surfing to North America in July 1885 when three teenage Hawaiian prices came to Santa Cruz, California for a school holiday. Surfing became nationally recognized when the Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku had exhibitions throughout Sydney, Australia.  Modern surfing centered primarily around Hawaii, Australia, and California.

Fun Facts About The History of Surfing:

  1. The world’s oldest surfboard is displayed in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is more than 230 years old and has been ridden by Hawaiian royalty.
  2. The first surfing fin was placed on the surfboard by Tom Blake in 1935.
  3. Surfboard leash was developed by Pat O’Neill in 1971.
  4. The wetsuit was invented by Jack O’Neill also in 1971.
  5. Fiberglass was used to make surfboards in the 1940’s.
  6. The first shortboard was used in 1966 in San Diego at the World Contest.

As one can tell, there is a long and detailed history behind surfing! Nowadays, surfers try many different things including different types of boards, fins, and surfing locations. We are thankful for all those whose ideas have transformed into improving and changing our surf world!


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