Essay on history of surfing

Submitted By ethanhaswell
Words: 1900
Pages: 8

History of surfing
Ethan Haswell, year 9.

In this report I will talk about things like the history of surfing around the world, the history of surfing in Australia, the history of body boarding and how surfing has evolved over time and other things in the surf industry.

History of surfing in the world

The riding of waves has likely existed since humans began swimming in the ocean. In this sense, bodysurfing is the oldest type of wave-catching. Standing up on what is now called a surfboard is a relatively recent innovation developed by the Polynesians. The influences for modern surfing can be directly traced to the surfers of pre-contact Hawaii.

It is thought that Captain James Cook first observed this pastime in the early 1770s. It was around the same time that missionaries suppressed the sport, outlawing it as being an 'unchristian' activity. It is believed that it was gambling that actually caused its demise when they removed sport from the activities of the noblemen who used to bet on the size of waves and length of ride. Surfing is said to have disappeared to most of the world for a couple of hundred of years. Previous to that Polynesians used to stand proud on wooden surfboards crafted from the timber of sacred trees. Fifteenth century 'Meles' (Hawaiian chants sung by elders and passed down generation to generation) record the surfing activities of the great Royal families and other dignitaries of even earlier times.

Hawaii, specifically Waikiki, is known as the birthplace of modern surfing. It depends on who you talk to, but surfing in Hawaii dates back to between 500 and 1000 years. Some of the history is recorded from the Hawaiian tradition of using chants to share knowledge. Although it is undeniable that Hawaii is to thank for the development of surfing, Hawaiians weren’t the first to surf. Polynesians originally used surfing over 2,000 years ago as a means to get to shore. When Polynesians settled in Hawaii in the fourth century A.D. they began to use surfing as play, not work. The first recorded accounts of recreational surfing dates back to the late 1700’s. After a decline in surfing and an actual ban in Hawaii, surfing didn’t become popular worldwide until the early to mid 1900’s when Duke Kahanamoku, born August 24, 1890, elevated surfing to an international sport. As a three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer, a world-class surfer and a well travelled actor, Duke succeeded in spreading the sport to mainland U.S. and Australia. In the 50’s and 60’s, surfing took off in the U.S., Hawaii, and Australia. By the time the 70’s rolled around, surfing was an industry. Today the surfing industry is strong and surfers are continuously pushing the sport to new levels.

The first surfboards were shaped from the trees of Koa, Wili Wili, and the Ula. The gods blessed the people of Hawaii with fine woods for making high quality surfboards. A sacrificial Redfish (Kumu) was buried at the foot of the tree that was chosen as pa-ha. The boards were sanded with coral (pokaku puna) and rough stones (oahi). Kulkui bark juice, Ti plant root, banana bud juice, burnt Pandanus and Kukui nut oil were used to treat, colour and preserved the board. Some of the first surfboards were up to 15’ -18’ long and weighed over 100 lbs. Surfboards originally did not have fins (or skegs) in them, therefore manoeuvrability was limited. The skeg was not introduced until the 1930’s and gained popularity in the 50’s and 60’s with the rapid advancement of surfboard technology. Surfboards are as unique as surfers themselves. Today, there are many varieties of shapes, styles, materials and designs. Each board is made for a particular purpose such as big waves, speed, advanced moves and tricks on the waves and many more. Many times a surfboard is even designed for a specific surf break and/or surfer. Although every board has its own story, several types of boards have been invented and reinvented throughout the surfing history that…