History of Surfing
(The main source of facts is Stoked: A History of Surf
Culture by Drew Kampion)
• Origin and development
– No one knows who caught first wave
– Evidence of surfing in South Pacific prior to
contact with Europeans
– Significant part of Hawaiian life in early 1800s
– “Surf riding was one of the favorite Hawaiian
sports,” wrote Thomas G. Thrum in his 1896
Hawaiian Almanac and Annual
Who Surfed What?
• Chiefs, men, women, and youth surfed in
Polynesian society in Hawaii
• Chiefs rode a long, narrow, wood board
called olo (18 feet)
• Common people rode short, wide, thin
wood board called alaia (6-8 feet) or small
belly board called paipo
• Best surf spots were reserved for chiefs
• Violators could be put to death in
unpleasant ways
• Wagering was common in Hawaiian society and
accompanied surfing
• “Canoes, nets, lines, kapas, swine, poultry, and
all other property were staked,” wrote Thrum.
“In some instances . . . Personal liberty, or even
life itself, sacrificed according to the outcome of
the match, the winners carrying off their riches
and the losers and their families passing to a life
of poverty or servitude.”
Early Rituals
• Royal surfboards
– Kahuna (priest) placed a red kumu fish at tree
– Tree was cut down
– Prayers were offered
– Kumu was placed in a hole in roots
– Tree cut with adzes (bone tools) to rough
– In canoe shed final shaping with coral and
rough stone
Early Rituals (2)
• During long flat spells, natives would
ritually beat the ocean’s surface with kelp
and chant in order to “coax up” swells
Hawaiian Surfing Diction (1)
• Aloha: commonly used to mean hello,
• Haole: foreigner, white man
• He’e nalu: to surf, surf rider
• Kai emi, nalu miki: receding wave
• Kai pi’i, nalu pú: high wave
• Kai po’l, nalu ha’l: breaking wave
Hawaiian Surfing Diction (2)
Nalu: surf, ocean, wave
Nalu h’i lala: wave that breaks diagonally
Nalunalu: rough wave
Pae: to mount or catch wave
Pae I ka nalu: to ride wave into shore
Papa he nalu: surboard
Wahine: woman, female surfer
Captain James Cook (1)
• 1728-1779
• British Navigator and Explorer
• In 1776, on third voyage he sought
northern sea route between Europe and
Asia for British Royal Navy
• In 1778, Cook became first known
European to reach Hawaiian Islands
Captain James Cook (2)
• Impressed with Hawaiians riding waves on
boards and canoes
• Noticed Hawaiians’s penchant for theivery due to
curiosity and unfamiliarity with ownership
• Cook and his men occasionally shot Hawaiian
• Hawaiians stabbed cook to death in self-defense
at Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779
The Dark Years (1)
• Cook and early European arrivals brought
the following: metal (1 nail was traded for
1 pig), guns, cannons, uniforms, venereal
disease, other diseases, alcohol, and new
• Hawaiian cultural disintegrated
• Between Cook’s arrival (1778) and 1890,
estimated population decreased from
400,000 to 40,000 from European viruses
and bacteria
The Dark Years (2)
• Protestant paradigm: modest attire; new
language; discouraged casual sex,
gambling, and playing in ocean
• Drew Kampion writes, “Sufing’s
association with nakedness, sexuality,
wagering, shameless exuberance,
informality, ignorant joy, and freedom
were counterproductive to the designs of
the church fathers, who, curiously, wound
up owning most of the land in the islands.”
The Dark Years (3)
• Mark Twain visited Sandwich Islands in the
mid-1860s as a reporter for Sacramento
Daily Union
• Twain claimed that the missionaries were
“ignorant of all white human nature and
natural ways of men,” and Twain
introduced “surf bathing” to world
audience through a book of his travels,
Roughing It (1872)
The Dark Years (4)
• As the Hawaiian culture disintegrated, the
surfing culture also disintegrated
• One Maui resident noted the decline in
surfing in 1853, “Lahaina is the only place
were surfriding is practiced with any
degree of enthusiasm, and even there it is
rapidly passing out of existence.”
The Renaissance (1)
• By 1900, the Islands had become U.S. territory
• Growing number of haoles (white people or
foreigners) came to Islands to visit or live
• Three men got together to surf in Hawaii and
resurrect surfing in 1907
– Alexander Hume Ford (businessman, writer)
– Jack London (famous author of adventure literature)
– George David Freeth (best surfer at Waikiki and
The Renaissance (2)
• In 1907 in “A Royal Sport: Surfing at Waikiki” in
A Woman’s Home Companion, London published
a description of Freeth on a wave, “I saw him
tearing in on the back of it, standing upright on
his board, carelessly poised, a young god
bronzed with sunburn.”
• Ford created the Outrigger Canoe and Surfboard
Club (haole organization)
• Three years later predominantly native
Hawaiians created Hui Nalu
• Two clubs competed often
• By 1911 Outrigger Club had 1200 members
• Surboard riding was the local craze
Surfing in California
• In 1907, Henry E. Huntington hired IrishHawaiian Freeth to give surfing demonstrations
at Redondo and Venice Beaches to promote
Huntington’s Los Angeles-Redondo Beach rail
• Thousands watched in awe
• The introduction of trains and cars made
California’s coast an accessible playground
• Freeth is credited with introducing surfing to CA
Duke Kahanamoku (1)
• Freeth enlisted “beach boys” to teach tourists
how to surf in Hawaii, including Duke
Kahanamoku (born in 1890), not royalty
• Duke was a phenomenal waterman and athlete
and remembered as the father of modern
• Duke won 100-meter freestyle at Olympic games
in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912
• No Olympiad in 1916 due to WWI
• Duke won 100-meter freestyle in Olympic games
in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920 (age 30) in 60.4
Duke Kahanamoku (2)
• Revealed surfing to crowds in Atlantic City and
Nassau (NY) and Corona Del Mar and other
beaches in CA
• Introduced surfing to Australians in 1914 at
Freshwater (now Harbord) near Sydney
– Demonstrated headstand and tandem surfing
– Victorian values: knee-to-neck costumes
• Duke played minor roles in 7 films and 2002
stamp commemorates him
• Contribution: Ambassador for the sport of
Hawaiian kings through exhibitions
Duke Kahanamoku (3)
Tom Blake: 1902-1994 (1)
• Pre-Blake surboards were heavy slabs of
timber (usually California redwood):
– Hard to manuever
– Poor flotation
– No fin
Tom Blake (2)
• 1922 - set the world swimming record in the ten
mile open.
• 1926 - first person to surf Malibu, along with
Sam Reid.
• 1926 - invented the hollow surfboard (adopted
by American Red Cross Lifesaving Division)
• 1928 - won the first Pacific Coast Surfriding
• 1928 - invented the hollow paddleboard.
• 1929 - invented the water-proof camera
• 1931 - invented the sailboard.
• 1931 - patented & manufactured the first
production surfboard.
Tom Blake (3)
• 1932 - won the Catalina Paddleboard Race.
• 1935 - invented the surfboard fin, a.k.a. skeg, or
• 1935 - published the first book solely devoted to
surfing, Hawaiian Surfboard.
• 1937 - produced & patented the first torpedo
buoy and rescue ring, both made of "duaaluminum"
• 1940s - first production sailboards.
• Leader in physical fitness, natural foods and
healthy diet.
• Virtually began the surfing lifestyle as we know
• San Onofre (Hawaiian roots, palm shack left by
Hollywood movie studio, relaxed)
• Malibu (creative edge of the sport, territorial)
• First California surfing clubs
– Palos Verdes Surfing Club
– Carona Del Mar Surfing Club
• “Hot curl” boards (tapered to v-shaped tail on
bottom, pre-fin board)
• Robert Wilson Simmons developed
“hydrodynamic planing hulls”: fiberglass skin,
plywood deck and bottom, balsa rails, Styrofoam
1940-1960 (1)
• Haitus during WWII
• Lifeguards and surfing
– Lifeguards are among best surfers
– Lifeguards began “surfwear” with trunks
– Lifeguards promote positive image of surfing
– Bill Butz designed first tower in 1933 (no top)
– Butz designed first tower with cover and ramp
in 1944
1940-1960 (2)
• Balsa boards
– Easier for constructing boards than redwood
– Lighter (9’6’’ and 25-30 lbs)
– Looked like potato chips (Malibu chips)
– Fiberglass fins
– Rounded outline shape
– Rocker (lift in nose and tail)
– Reduced time to learn to surf (2 yrs to 4 wks)
– Maneuverability promoted “hotdog” surfing
– Magnified surfable terrain (beach break)
1940-1960 (3)
• Makaha (west side of Oahu)
– Big waves
– Mix of hawiian-born and haole surfers
– 1954 first Makaha International Surfing
Championships (George Downing: champ)
• Surfing
• Bellyboarding
• Paddling
• Tandem surfing
1940-1960 (4)
• Growth spurt of surfing in 1950s came
from balsa boards, “surf film,” and photo
– Bud Browne was first surf cinematographer
– Hawiian Surfing Movie by Bud Browne in 1953
– Cat on a Hot Foam Board by Bud Browne in
– One-man show: filmed, edited, publicized,
took tickets, narrated, and swept up
– Films show small-wave hotdogging, big-wave
thrills, surfaris, gag scenes
1940-1960 (5)
– Tom Blake created first waterproof camera
housing and took shots of surfers at Waikiki
from paddleboard in 1929
– Blake’s shots were published in National
Geographic in 1935
– Dr. John H. “Doc” Ball, Don James (Ansel
Adams of surf photo), and many other
photograhers followed
1940-1960 (6)
• Waimea Bay
– 1943: Woddy Brown and Dickie Cross paddled
out at Sunset, swell increased, they paddled 5
miles to deep water of Waimea, giant set
killed cross
– Ancient Hawaiian heiau (place of worship) on
– Rumors of haunted house below
– Greg Knoll and friends surfed it on November
7, 1957 (18-20 ft)
– Qualified surfing as “extreme sport”
1940-1960 (7)
• Australia
– Surf-lifesaving clubs sponsored competitions
and boards were clones of Dukes pine board
– 1956 Olympics were in Melbourne
• About that time, U.S. sponsored a team of
California lifeguards to compete in paddling in
• U.S. lifeguards surfed Malibu chips between
• Introduced Malibu-style hotdogging on
maneuverable boards
• Circulating surf movies and importing balsa wood
cross-pollinated Hawaii, California, and Australia
1940-1960 (8)
• The Foam Revolution
– Hobie Alter made balsa boards in yard ($20
per board, 20 boards per summer)
– Alter set up shop in Dana Point: February
• Occasionally sent a board to east coast (surfing
was just starting there)
• Balsa availability was declining
• Plastics salesman introduced foam to Alter
• Alter set up foam board shop in Laguna Canyon
– With release of film Gidget (1959) based on
novel by Kohner, interest in surfing exploded
1960-1970 (1)
• Surfing increases in Florida and Texas due to
foam-and-fiberglass technology
• Jack O’Neil in San Francisco pioneers first
wetsuits of neoprene
– Vests, jackets, and pants
– Transformed surfing into a year-round sport
– Broadens range of surfers: Northeastern Atlantic
states, England, France, South Australia
• 3 Ms promote surfing: movies, music, magazines
1960-1970 (2)
• Beach movies spawn interest in surfing,
but they were not real surfing movies
– Gidget 1959
– Gidget Goes Hawaiian 1961
– Beach Party 1963
– Muscle Beach Party 1964
– Ride the Wild Surf 1964
– Beach Ball 1965
– Beach Blanket Bingo 1965
– Don’t Make Waves 1967
1960-1970 (3)
• Surf music
– Hawaiian music (pre-1960): soft, romantic,
island tunes
– Surf music attempted to capture the emotion
of riding waves on a surfboard
– First music to grow out of and focus on one
– Surf bands emerged in southern California
– Surf music camps: instrumentals (maximum
reverb on guitar) and vocals
1960-1970 (4)
• Surf bands
– Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
– Surfaris: “Wipeout”
– Chantays: “Pipeline”
– Ventures:
– Beach Boys:
– Jan & Dean: “Surf City”
• Surf bands promote sport of surfing
1960-1970 (5)
• Surf media
– Promotes surfing
– Everyone wants to be in a movie or magazine
– Magazine demographics: 12-15-year-olds
• surf movies
Slippery When Wet by Bruce Brown 1958
Surf Fever by John Severson 1960
Sacrifice Surf by Bob Bagley 1960
Surf Trek to Hawaii by Bob Evans 1960
The Endless Summer by Bruce Brown 1964
• $50,000 investment has made millions
• Interest: adventure travel
1960-1970 (6)
• Evolution of Surfer (magazine)
– Book: The Surfer by John Severson to accompany his
– The Surfer Quarterly
– Surfer Bi-Monthly
– Surfer
• Other surfing magazines came and went
• Plexiglas water housing for cameras made the
– Phil Edwards is first surfer to surf Banzai Pipeline in
1961 (photos and recognition not available to Knoll
for riding Waimea in 1957)
1960-1970 (7)
• Contests between clubs had gone on for
• First significant contests begin
– World Surfing Championship (Australia, 1964)
– First official World Contest (Peru, 1965)
– Tom Morey (Boogie Board) Invitational (Ventura,
• 25 noseriders
• Compete for $1500
• Style: focus on how surfer looked on board through hotdog
manuevers and noserides (David Nuuhiwa had been the best
noserider of this period)
1960-1970 (8)
– World Contest (San Diego, 1966)
• Style: focus on full involvement with wave
(aggression as seen in victory by Australian Nat
• Short board revolution (biggest change)
– George Greenough rode a kneeboard (4’ 10’’
and 6 lbs, inspiration for short board)
– By 1968, most surfers rode short boards (7-8
feet or less)
– Board design change: mass production and
pop-outs from a few designers ends
– Short, radical, creative new shapes dominate
1970-1980 (1)
• Man-made wave machines (first one was
in 1969 in Arizona)
• Surfing takes a dive
– Many surfers are disinterested in contests
(Mickey Dora of Malibu loathed contests)
– Surf music almost dies with Beatles and
British invasion of 1964
– Drug use increases
• Some prominent surfers are institutionalized
• Some prominent surfers lose their lives to drugs
1970-1980 (2)
• Inventions
– The leash in 1971
• Initial resistance (kook cord)
• Reduced swimming for board
• Reduced collisions with crowds
• Opened doors for experimentation
• Allowed for focus on “tube ride”
1970-1980 (3)
• Inventions
– The Boogie Board in 1971
• Tom Morey shaped polyethylene into rectangle
– Cut out 4’ 6” shape with electric carving knife
– Shaped edges with iron
• Soft, light, small, ding-proof
• Body stays in contact with water
• Almost no learning curve
• Opens wave-riding to almost everyone
1970-1980 (3)
• Surfing grows again
– Benefits from growth in related sports
• Skateboarding (urethane wheels)
• Windsurfing (grows most in Europe)
• Snowboarding
– Successful surf films
• Big Wednesday 1978
• Five Summer Stories
• Free Ride
1970-1980 (4)
• Surfing grows again
– Surf travel
• Baja, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, Morocco
• South Arica, West Africa, France, Japan, Australia
• South Pacific, Bali, Spain, Ireland, Fiji
• The word has more surf than most expected
– Surf-related industry skyrockets
• Hang Ten (started earlier)
• Quicksilver
• Instinct (later Solitude)
• Gotcha
1970-1980 (4)
• Gerry Lopez masters Pipeline
– No addiction
– Cuban, German, Japanese descent
– Undisputed master of the barrel
– Started Lightning Bolt surfing company
– Featured in three of best films of decade
• Five Summer Stories (1976)
• Hot Lips and Inner Tubes (1976)
• Free Ride (1978)
1980-1990 (1)
• The 3-Fin Thruster
– Australian Simon Anderson invents in 1980
– Purpose: maneuver higher and deeper
through positive traction
– Duck dive
– Ridden like skateboard (back foot above fins)
– Surfing shifts from tube to air
1980-1990 (2)
• Modern Surfing Contests
– Focus only on surfing (paddling is not the
main activity as in 1930s)
– Divided into divisions by age, sex, and
activity: menehunes (small children), boys,
juniors, men, masters, seniors, girls, women,
tandem, paddle race, professionals.
1980-1990 (3)
• Rise in prize money
– 1962 Bells Beach Classic (best ride): $28
– 1966 Morey’s Contest (best noseride): $2000
– 1970 Makaha Smirnoff Pro-Am (first place):
– 1970 Coke Surfabout (first place): $3000
– 1996 Pipeline Masters (first place): $20000
1980-1990 (4)
• After a few unsuccessful attempts to
create a world surfing organization
(starting in 1968), the Association of
Surfing Professionals emerged in 1982
• Tom Curren
– Christian, boycotted surfing events in South
Africa during apartheid, surfed board without
sponsor logos, preferred guitar to interviews
– World Champion: 1982, 1986, and 1990.
1990-Present (1)
• Wahines: surfing women
– Surfing had been male-dominated since early
Hawaiian culture
• Men’s club mindset
• Size and weight of the equipment
– Women surfers
Mary Ann Hawkins (pre-WWII)
Vicky Flaxman in 1050s
Robyn, Marge, and Candy Calhoun in 1960s
Linda Benson (first woman to surf Wiamea—age 16) in 1963
Mary Godfrey (later Mary Godfrey Oberg) won World
Championships in 1968, ’77, ’80, and ‘81
1990-Present (2)
– Women surfers (continued)
• Lisa Anderson
– Ran away from home (Florida) to California at age 16
– Left note saying she would become number 1 surfer in
– Slept under table at Huntington Beach
– Begged for entrance into NSSA contest (lacked parental
consent and student ID)
– Won that contest and 4 straight World Titles in 1994, ’95,
’96, and ’97
– Prefers man-style surf trunks
– Inspired many women and girls to pursue surfing
1990-Present (3)
• Layne Beachley (best female surfer ever)
– Born in 1972, Australia
– Adoptee
– Competed as a girl in soccer and tennis
– Pro surfer at 16 (skipping amateur contests)
– Inconsistency plagued her until 1998
– Boyfriend: Ken Bradshaw (big-wave rider)
– World Champion: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001,
2002, 2003 (only 6-time consecutive world
champion for men or women!)
1990-Present (4)
– Women surfers (continued)
– Prize money has been low by comparison to
men but has grown at a faster pace than for
men since 1980
– Surfing Girl is one of several magazines aimed
at female surfers
1990-Present (5)
• Kelly Slater (best male surfer ever)
– Born in Cocoa Beach, Floriday
– Torrid amateur surfing career in high school
– Costar of TV show Baywatch for two years
– Featured in People magazine’s “50 Most
Beautiful People”
– Won 7 word titles: ’92, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98,
1990-Present (6)
• Kelly Slater (best male surfer ever)
– World record for youngest world champion in
1992 (20)
– World record for oldest world champion in
2005 (33)
– Highest prize money winner in history of
sport: $U.S. 1,303,105.
– Slater seeks last record of most competition
victories held by Tom Curren (33). Slater (31)
– Had lengthy relationship with Baywatch star
Pamela Anderson
1990-Present (6)
• Surfrider Foundation: first non-profit
environmental organization (1984)
• Fights over issues like beach access, oil spills,
proposed harbors, coastal development, water
• Sponsors have grown to include Pearl Jam, The
Doors, Rolling Stone magazine, MTV, Surf
Industries Manufacturing Association, Surfdog
Records, The Beach Boys, Dick Dale, etc.
• By 2002, more than 30,000 members and 50
chapters in U.S. alone
1990-Present (7)
• Tow-in Surfing
– 25-30 ft waves were biggest without tow-in
– 40 ft waves with tow-in
– Jet-assisted take-off (JATO): Jet-ski pulls surfing into
building swell
– Footstraps allow for balance in chop
– Laird Hamilton, Gerry Lopez and others
– Locations: Mavericks, Cortes Bank, Jaws
– Deaths: Mark Foo in 1994 (Mavericks), Donnie
Solomon in 1995 (Waimea), and Todd Chesser in
1997 (Outside Alligators near Waimea).
1990-Present (8)
• Current world trend
– Return to longboarding
– Shift from ball sports to board sports:
• Snowboarding
• Skateboarding
• Windsurfing
• Kite surfing
• Strap surfing
• Wakeboarding
• Sky surfing
The End
• Return to KPEA 109

History of Surfing - College of the Canyons