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Surfing – A Short History

You don’t call surfing really as a competitive sport, though there are competitions among surfers in a locality. But surfers certainly don’t surf to beat each other. It is rather a sport that is played for the sheer enjoyment of it. Spending hours together trying to beat nature by riding on the waves, is probably the best form of spending time with oneself.

Surfing is not popular all over the world, considering that many countries don’t have a coastline at all. Having said that, it is also equally true that surfing as a sport is gaining in popularity wherever it can be experienced. Let us see where it all began and how the sport has gained popularity.

The Beginning

Surfing is believed to originated in Hawaii. In ancient Polynesia, it was common for fishermen to ride on a wooden plank to reach the shore with their catch. They never stood on the planks but only laid down on their stomachs. It was not a sport either. It was a means of earning to be more precise.

When they arrived in Hawaii in the 5th century AD, they brought this method of riding the waves. But it was in 1778 when Captain Cook arrived in Hawaii that this activity was first recorded. His lieutenant James King wrote about this method of Hawaiian surfing. The sports grew in Hawaii and became a competition to settle disputes between the men.

The Death And Revival

Surfing almost reached the end of its life in the 19th century when Europeans settled in Hawaii. They considered the sport to be an activity that made men lazy. They thought the surfers wasted their time in the water without doing any work. The sport almost died during this period.

As an Olympic gold medal winner for swimming Duke Kahanamoku was able to popularize the sport worldwide. He grew up surfing in the Hawaiian waters and he did a lot to revive the sport and bring it to popularity again. In the early nineties, he introduced the sport to the US, Australia, and New Zealand.

Best-selling author Agatha Christie, the famous crime writer could well one of the first Europeans to try and enjoy surfing. During her tour to South Africa and Hawaii, she took to the sport and never looked back.

Novelist Jack London took surfing lessons from George Freeth who popularized the sport in Southern California. The lessons were latest published as an essay called The Royal Sport. This helped a lot in spreading the sport in the US.

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Written by Pakaloa

PAKALOA is a surfing and lifestyle brand. Live to Surf, Surf to Live.

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