The History of Surfing

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    Surfing In the Kingdom

    The Kingdom of Hawaii was separated as a class system with little mobility. Some of the most wealthy and royal Hawaiians had the best beaches to surf on and those who were not welcomed were punished. Surfing was viewed as less recreational when it was first adopted. However, the beauty of surfing culture even prior allowed surfers from lower classes to climb the latter and gain access to better beaches through the superiority of their skills.
  • Religion Behind surfing

    Religion Behind surfing
    Building a surfboard was sacred. After chopping down a tree for material, the surfer would bury a fish by where the tree was and pray. After each riding session, a surfboard would be dried and rubbed down with coconut oil to preserve its finish.
  • Cook's First Sighting

    Cook's First Sighting
    While providing one of the earliest and most accurate maps of the Pacific, Captain James Cook made several historic discoveries along the way. Most notably, the first written documentation of surfing. Although history stretches further back to Polynesia, Cook's diaries described when he saw a man on his board: "I could not help concluding this man had the most supreme pleasure while he was driven so fast and so smoothly by the sea."
  • The First image of surfing

    The First image of surfing
    John Webber was an English artist, he wrote and depicted what he saw during his voyage with Captain Cook's arrival in Kealakekua Bay and described the natives to be using "another mode of conveying themselves in the water which we call sharkboards". In addition to this moment was provided a depiction of what the view looked like during the time he saw the surfer.
  • The Word Is Spread

    In 1884, much success came from Cook's journals once they were published years after, encouraging quests to the Pacific.
  • Surfer's Begin to Dwindle

    Surfer's Begin to Dwindle
    After Europeans arrived the Kapu system, which was a set of rules to preserve Hawaii's natural resources was abolished. This reduced the ability of native Hawaiians to use their resources freely now that Europeans disrupted their system.
  • French Naval Officer Observes Technique

    French Naval Officer Observes Technique
    While Surveying the islands with the french navy, Louis Claude Freycinet recorded his account of what we would recognize as normal surfriding:
    "When using the board, he holds it in his hands and lies down flat on his stomach, heads toward the rounded end, or else he uses his hands like paddles and with his feet direct this sort of a float with astonishing skill and swiftness."
  • Surfing Outlawed

    As Hawaii turned from a destination for explorers, missionaries with charters began to occupy the islands. Scottish and German missionaries arrived and discouraged many Hawaiian religious and cultural traditions similar to Polynesian, which included surfing. According to them, surfing was a sin. For the lifestyle was too frivolous.
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    No Surfing

    Rarely would you see a surfer in Hawaii anymore, the religious aspect and lifestyle had completely vanished with the influence of people who had settled in Hawaii.
  • First Photograph of Surfing

    First Photograph of Surfing
    Captured at Hilo Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii, to natives are seen carrying their boards on the beach. This captures a key point where outside cultures begin to share their differences, as Hawaiians with their surfboards were unfamiliar with cameras as Europeans and Americans might've viewed surfboards
  • The Revival of Surfing

    The Revival of Surfing
    When King Kalakaua took power before the turn of the century, he made great efforts to revive many Hawaiian traditions such as hula and surfing. If it wasn't for his actions, surfing would've gone extinct.
  • Duke is Born

    Duke is Born
    A boy named Duke Kahanamoku is born just years before the overthrowing of the Hawaiian Kingdom. He would go on to be a competitive swimmer which allowed him to promote his true passion for surfing.
  • US Troops Invade Hawaii

    US Troops Invade Hawaii
    Soldiers from the United States invaded the Hawaiian Kingdom with no just reasoning, which led to a conditional surrender by the Hawaiian Kingdom’s executive monarch, Her Majesty Queen Lili‘uokalani, the following day.
  • The Waikiki Beach Boys

    The Waikiki Beach Boys
    As a young teen, Duke Kahanamoku and his friends would frequent Waikiki beach to ride the surf. They used their redwood and balsa wood boards to ride the small surf here. Here, they formed the group "Hui Nalu" or the Club of Waves aka. the Waikiki Beach Boys.
  • George Freeth's Showcase

    George Freeth's Showcase
    Freeth was an Irish-Hawaiian who was approached by Henry Huntington to demonstrate the sport of surfing to the audience at Redondo Beach, in California for Huntington's railroad opening. This was the first spark of interest for Coastal Americans. This location would be later known to be Huntington Beach
  • Duke Wins

    Duke Wins
    Duke's remarkable swimming abilities gains traction in Hawaii and he travels with the USA team to compete in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. He wins sets an Olympic record for the 100m.
  • Duke Visits California

    Duke Visits California
    After a successful performance at the Olympics, Duke would then go on to tour the world giving swimming exhibitions. One stop he made was in Califonia, bringing his board of course to explore the surf.
  • Duke Meets Blake

    Duke Meets Blake
    Duke finds himself in Detroit, MI at a movie theatre during his tour there. This is where he would meet a soon-to-be lifelong friend Tom Blake, a Californian and soon-to-be surfer. Duke Invited Tom to Hawaii to which he hesitated.
  • Kicking-off the Californian Revolution

    Kicking-off the Californian Revolution
    Tom would take this new skill home to introduce at his work, The Santa Monica Swim Club. However, the sport was too difficult to learn for beginners and Tom wasn't skilled enough just yet to instruct a new generation of surfers.
  • Blake Visits Hawaii

    Blake Visits Hawaii
    Tom Blake eventually accepted Duke's invitation to Hawaii and became one of the first American Mainlanders to adopt the ancient sport of surfing. Here he learned the ways of surfing as Duke once did. This would give him the tools he needed to pass it on to coastal Americans. Blake and Duke became close along with the entire Kahanamoku family.
  • The Hollow Surfboard

    The Hollow Surfboard
    Unless you were Hawaiian, Surfing was very exclusive not only by culture but trying to acquire a board was a feat in itself. Blake's trip to Hawaii inspired him to make the world's first Hollow surfboard. This would improve the technology of surfing and the 'barrier to entry' for surf culture.
  • 1st Annual Pacific Coast Surfing Const

    1st Annual Pacific Coast Surfing Const
    Duke and Blake began and took part in surfing competitions that started on the west coast, most notably their 1st annual contest in Balboa California. This would be a showcase that drew new riders and boards.
  • Blake Receives Patent

    Blake Receives Patent
    After Blake was able to successfully design the hollow surfboard. He received a patent for it which allowed him to introduce light surfboards to thousands of people along coastal communities.
  • Surfing Gets the Endorsement

    Surfing Gets the Endorsement
    As the beauty and curiosity of surfing gained traction, the first ones to get involved were celebrities. Early Hawaiian tourism attracted celebrities and the wealthy who could afford to travel to such destinations. This would not uproot the underground culture of surfing but it helped show the attractiveness of the outdoor pursuit to get more people interested. The legendary status of the Waikiki Boys added to the exclusivity that hawaiian influence brought.
  • Modern Surfboards

    Modern Surfboards
    Blake's role in the history of Surfing was the innovation he brought to the ancient culture Duke had shared with him. His addition to his boards such as the first fin or 'nub' would be recognized as one of the first modern surfboards.
  • Surfing in the Media

    Surfing in the Media
    The publicity stunts from the few worked, as many watched surfing begin to grow on the west coast. Outlets like National Geographic would then feature Tom Blake in their magazine release helping the culture get noticed.
  • Bob Simmons Reinvents the Board

    Bob Simmons Reinvents the Board
    Earning a scholarship from Caltech with only two years of high school, Bob Simmons was truly a genius amongst all surfers. He experimented with hollowing our surfboards and combining materials such as foam, and different types of wood. This would allow for shorter boards, truly allowing the pursuit of surfing to be more achievable than ever.
  • California Becomes the Spot

    California Becomes the Spot
    With contributions from Californians thanks to Tom Blake and Bob Simmons, Malibu because the West Coast epicenter for surfing in the 50s. The innovation of the Surfboard truly allowed more accessibility for Americans opening up the culture to those willing.
  • Surfing Controversies

    Surfing Controversies
    Miki Dora, known as the King of Malibu became probably one of history's first controversial faces. Slowly as surfing became popular, more white people began to dominate the sport on the west coast. Dora was known as a fantastic surfer but was a bigot and a racist. Beyond his charm and skills, Dora's most defining controversy was drawing a swastika on his surfboard. This was something that divided the surfing culture in some ways that tie into localism for certain locations on the coast.
  • Surfing's Mainstream Moment

    Surfing's Mainstream Moment
    As the '60s presented very chaotic times, Bruce Brown set off to make a timeless surfing film that would inspire the stable culture of surfers. The movie followed two surfers traveling around the world with little to nothing in search of the wildest waves. This truly became the Anthem for the surfing community going forward, the 'chill' and carefree surfer.
  • Duke's Passing

    Duke's Passing
    Duke Kahanamoku's death was on January 22nd. It was no secret to the surfing culture how truly legendary his status was. Thousands gathered on Waikiki Beach for his funeral as his remains were brought out to sea. With his death Surfing entered a new era of culture.
  • Surfing Continues

    Surfing Continues
    Although Duke passed, traditions were still held onto. Surfing grew globally through film inspirations such as Endless Summer and as innovation continued.