Surfing is, surprisingly, recognized as one of the oldest sports people have known. Riding along the wave has turned into a form of art, and those who participate in the sport appreciate both the athletic and natural aspects of it. Surfing requires reverence for the power of mother nature, and an appreciation towards for culture and lifestyle associated with the sport.
Surfing was born in Western Polynesia when people would ride along the waves on large boards made out of straight wood over three thousand years ago. Lazy fisherman who found that they could use the waves as a faster means of bringing their catch of the day to shore were actually known to be the first people to experience the sport of surfing. After others saw this as a faster means of transportation, they started trying it out for themselves until it eventually became a way of passing time in a relaxed way. Surfing was revolutionized into a form of sport, once it became associated with relaxation rather than work.
Although no concrete records or material evidence exist as to when stand-up surfing turned into a sport, it is said that the 15th century royalties were known for enjoying “he’e nalu,” or wave-sliding. The earliest records that confirm the existence of surfing date back to the 1700s when the Europeans first discovered Tahiti. As mentioned by Captain James Cook, the Tahitian natives would be seen surfing as leisurely activity, a confusing concept of the times. The first Polynesians to settle in Hawaii had basic surfing skills, but only the high class were well skilled in the sport. The upper class was able to develop their skills by watching and learning from the triumph and failure of others who attempted to ride along the waves. At these times surfboards had to go through a sacred ritual prior to production whereby the board maker would make an offering to the gods before shaping the board.
There even was a time when, for some reason, surfing had to started to die down. But surfing started getting revived at the beginning of the 20th century by the Hawaiians living near Waikiki. The evolution of the sport mainly took place in Hawaii, Australia, and California.
The release of the film Gidget in 1959 was one of the reasons that surfing started entering the mainstream as it increased the sport’s popularity and turned it into hobby rather than an underground culture. Surfing was further popularized by the Beach Boys through their album in the 1960s that gave a new definition to surfing. By the 80s surfing had really hit the mainstream through portrayals of surfers such as Jeff Spicoli from the ever-popular Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Once the 60s, during which surfing was seen more of a hobby than a sport, were over, the surfing boards became shorter and more custom tailored to be used by professional athletes in competitions that began in the 1970s. Surfing continues to have a fairly low profile even after it has hit the mainstream. Many surfers take pride in surfing on top of waves in remote locations unknown to many people. Due to the increasing popularity of surfing in certain areas, there are restrictions in place that do not allow non-locals in those places.
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