I came across an article outlining the history of surfing and learned something i did not originally know about this great sport, our “Sport of Kings.”, that it may have all started in Peru! From Peru the Polynesians took it to Hawaii and that’s where most people think the sport began, but have we all been fooled? History of Surfing There are very few sports, [...]
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Surfing origins are generally believed to derive from areas such as Polynesia and Peru, with popularity soon spreading to Australia and North America, although we know this it is a general consensus that the very first surfing practice has been lost in history due to the lack of written records.
Polynesia: The earliest known written documentation referring to the art of surfing came from the narrative of Captain James Cook’s Journals. The Journals detailed the HMS Discovery and resolutions trip across the pacific in search of a corridor from the north pacific into the Atlantic. In 1778 after a disappointing year cook guided the expedition back to Hawaii, stopping fatally at big island where a disagreement with locals resulted in his death. Lt James King was appointed first lieutenant and finished the journals in Cooks absence. Before the return of Discovery to Britain in 1979 King detailed the “surf riding” by the locals at Keakakekua Bay on the Kona coast.
The importance of surfing within Polynesian culture is reflected in their mythology and beliefs, which place emphasis on natural world specifically marine and oceanic environments, the sea was especially seen as a sacred and powerful place.
The importance, preparation and elitism attached to surfing within these cultures are exemplified in descriptions made king in the discoveries journals. This includes emphasis on the spiritual importance of the human connection with the ocean, as well as construction techniques of the surfboards themselves. When the discovery reached Hawaii in 1778 surfing was already deeply rooted within the cultural fabric of the Island. Even the construction of the boards required a blessing from a Kahuna (priest) to encourage development of good surf and protection, only then would the selection of board start. This was initiated with the selection of one of three potential tree types; Koa, WiliWili or ‘Ulu, once chosen the surfer would offer sacrifices of fish, placed at the roots of the chosen tree. From then on specially selected craftsmen would work on the construction of the boards. The finished products were often very heavy and very difficult to manoeuvre thus requiring expert skill and technique. They tended to follow three primary shapes the alaia, ‘olo, kiko’o o, these varied in shape thickness and size. Due to the spiritual and technical expense required for surfboard manufacture and the levels of skill involved in riding, it is no surprise that the elite chiefs and warriors were often the most skilled surfers, with elite access to the best beaches and best surf.
Modern Surfing: Although when King wrote his dairies surfing was at a sophisticated peak in Hawaii and Tahiti, the continued interference of European ships and missionaries resulted in a decline in surfing for more than 150 years. By the beginning of the 20th century surfing had all but disappeared in the Hawaiian Islands, with a solitary few still taking to the legendary surf spots. However a re-birth was afoot with the arrival of a man called Jack London, a successful writer who on arrival in Hawaii in 1907 was seen a celebrity. He took to surfing very quickly with the encouragement of a friend and eccentric journalist Alexander Hulme Ford, and although few and far between he noticed local surfers such and George Freeth, who was later invited to surf in California by Henry Huntington a railroad and estate magnate. Between these three men Surfing became more widely popularised, with Ford and London publishing surfing articles and books across the globe and Freeth demonstrating the art of surfing in southern California to promote Redondo-los Angles railway. Surfing soon became a sensation and by 1915 Australia was exposed to surfing by the Hawaiian Olympic medallist Duke Kahanamoku. Throughout the 60s popularisation of surfing was centred in three main areas; Hawaii, California and Australia. Although popular the sport was still underground until the release of the film Gidget and development of ‘surf music’ like the beach boys.
Many people get together to celebrate surfing day which takes place on or around the summer solstice, it is a day when surfers give back to the ocean and environment, clean up beaches as well as enjoy surf contest, music and movies.
Sarah Hughen fights to catch a wave every day for a year for breast cancer Sarah Hughen, the now 30 something mother of 2, has always been the outdoors type and adventuresome, but having been submitted to numerous washing machine effects paddling out with Tyler (her husband) in ambitious conditions over the years, was reluctant to call herself a surfer, but hailing from California it’s [...]