All you need to know about surfing
3000 - 1000 BC - Pre-Inca origins.
Contrary to popular belief, surfing did not start in Hawaii but in Peru, during the pre-Inca period, under the Mochica culture.
Caballitos de Totora
Drawings were found on pottery of this period, showing Inca fishermen riding ocean waves on wooden planks and boats made of reeds called the “caballitos de totora”. Thus surfing was really born on the northern coast of Peru. Caballitos de totora are still popular with fishermen and tourists today.
900 BC- Hawaii origins
Surfing history, as most people know it, started in the Pacific.
James Cook Voyages
The earliest records of the Hawaiian origin of surfing date back to 1769. During the first James Cook’s voyage on the HMS Endeavour, the botanist Joseph Banksfirst wrote about wave riding at Matavay Bay, Tahiti
Later, in 1778, on the 2nd trip Captain James Cook saw surfers at the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). He started to write about surfing in his travel diary. But then he was killed by the inhabitants in Kealakekua Bay, who thought he wanted to kidnap their high chief.
North America origins - 19th century
In 1885 three young Hawaiian princes escaped from their boarding school and came to Santa Cruz in California. There, they surfed the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on surfboards crafted from redwood.
The First Man to Surf in the USA
Following the annexation of Hawaii in 1898, the lost tribal tradition of surfing was revived in California. Joined efforts of writer Jack London and Alexander Hume Ford led to the invitation of Waikiki beach boy George Freeth in 1907. Freeth earned the title “First Man to Surf California”, when he came to promote the Redonodo Los Angekes Railway. The three men later opened the first surfing club in Waikiki, the Outrigger Canoe Club in 1911.
The Father of Modern Surfing
It was Duke Kahanamoku who made the sport really come out on stage in 1912.The Duke was a pioneer among the many key personalities in surfing history. As a passionate Hawaiian surfer and Olympic record swimmer, his demonstrations in California caused a much greater frenzy than Freeth’s. Along with his Hollywood fame and surfing skills, he popularized the sport universally. Today, “The Duke” is the father of modern surfing. His appearances marked the begin of the American surfing era.
Australia origins: 20th century
The surfing history in Australia is quite different from American.
Rescue Surf Clubs
During colonialism, a law prevented Australians to bathe and enjoy the sea and beaches. This law was revoked in 1903. As a result, Australians began enjoying the beaches. However, the sea remained a dangerous environment therefore, sea rescue organisations developed. The rescue training techniques quickly evolved into a sport in its own right.
It was at Manly Beach that everything started. First rescue demonstrations followed at the beach in 1903. The surf bathing association resulted from the foundation of the Bondy Surf Club in 1906 and nine rescue clubs in 1907. Then, in 1909 the first documentary film called “Surf Sports at Manly” was screened around the country. One year later, the Manly Surf Carnival attracted hundreds of spectators with surf and rescue drills by men and women.
Modern surfing : 20th century
Post-war pioneers Woodbridge Parker “Woody” Brown, Rabbit Kekai and John Kelly were the initiators of a new wave of surfing history in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Materials used to make surfboards began to change, making them lighter, finer and more maneuverable.
The 1950s marked the launch of the modern history of surfing, with surfers increasingly flocking to Hawaii. Characters such as Fred van Dyke, Peter Coleand John Kelly started surfing giant waves on the Makaha spots, Sunset beach and later Waimea bay with local surfers like Eddie Aikau and Buffalo Keaulana. Surfing was becoming more and more mainstream in the 50s and 60s, as many artists and musicians learnt about surf culture, associating it with “flower power“. Surfing began to gradually move away from its macho roots thanks to the adventures of pioneering surfers like Eve Fletcher or Anona Napoleon.
Modern Surfboard Design
With the usage of plastic and composite materials and industrial manufacturing, surfboard design changed. This replaced the hand-cut wooden boards of the old times. The invention of neoprene suits (by legendary Jack O’Neil) and leashes further contributed to wider spread of the sport. Surfboards have evolved considerably, with the appearance of the thruster fins, and new surfboards designs that allowed for ever more impressive maneuvers.
Finally, over the past 50 years, surfing has taken an unprecedented turn. Culture and style have changed. Great surfers like Tom Carroll with his ressive style, Tom Curren with his ability to surf big barrels began taking the sport to ever new heights.
Today, further growth of popularity of surfing is driven by world competitions between famous surfers like the 12 time world champion Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Gabriel Medina and many others.
Yet, despite the globalization, the newest technology, the growth of multiple surf clothing brands and other factors leading to commercialisation of surfing, it has been able to preserve a part of the spirit of the pioneers of surfing. Surfing is a state of mind, with no borders and no limitations.
Wherever there are waves, there are communities of surfers, who live its spirit and enjoy being close to the nature and harmony with the ocean.
A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO SURFING ETIQUETTE
THE SURFER’S CODE
A Set of Universal Surfing Safety Rules that apply to Everyone who enters the Surf
If you want to learn surfing properly, it is essential you learn the rules of the sport. Surfing etiquette is a list of the unwritten laws of surfing. Every surfer should follow the rules while in the water. If surfers don’t respect the rules, accidents and injuries are bound to happen, especially in crowded lineups where the confusion is big.
Surfing Etiquette is a guide that applies to all surfers whether beginner, intermediate or advanced. It applies to all lineups and is important so that everyone in the water can enjoy the waves.
One of the most influential surfers of all time, Shaun Tomson, wrote down 12 lessons for surfing and business and shared them with the world. In his book, Shaun elaborates on the Surfer’s Code that guided his career and life.
Right of Way
The surfer who is closest to the peak has the right of way. Every other surfer must yield if he or she paddles to catch the wave. This is a fundamental rule of surfing etiquette.
Don’t Drop In
This is another very important rule of surfing etiquette. By dropping in, you take off on a wave that is already being surfed or in front of the surfer that is closest to the peak, therefore having right of way. Dropping in on someone will ruin the wave for them because you are essentially stealing the wave. Dropping in is not only annoying but also dangerous, because collisions could arise.
If you drop in by accident, kick-out immediately and apologize if possible.
By Snaking, you paddle around a surfer to get closer to the peak and therefore gain right of way. Again, this is also stealing the wave. You will make enemies quickly by snaking. Be patient, there are waves for everyone.
Don’t Hog the Waves
Now that you have positioned yourself perfectly and are able to catch all the waves, it still doesn’t mean that you should. The best lineups are made up of respectful surfers who share the waves. Remember, sharing is caring, the others in the lineup also came to surf so share the waves and the stoke.
Communication is essential, especially when it’s crowded. When you paddle for a wave and feel that you probably won’t get it, you should give a shout to the surfers sitting lower, so the wave doesn’t stay unridden. Also, if two surfers surf an a-frame, communication is essential.
When paddling out to the lineup, remember to paddle wide. Do not attempt to paddle through the break but around it. This will take more time but this way you will not risk ruining someone’s wave.
If you are stuck in the impact zone, try your best to avoid getting in the way of someone riding the wave. If a surfer is riding the wave towards you, and you cannot avoid the surfer, always paddle towards the whitewater.
Respect the Locals
Always respect the locals when you are visiting a break. Remember you are a guest and act accordingly. Don’t paddle on the inside of locals and wait your turn to catch waves. With the proper surfing etiquette in mind, you should not have problems.
Know Your Limits
If you just started out on your wonderful journey of surfing, and still have a long way to go, by all means, avoid surf spots beyond your abilities. Stay away from crowded line-ups when conditions are pumping. Remember if in doubt, stay out. Surfing at spots beyond your abilities not only endangers you but the other surfers in the water as well.
Don’t Ditch Your Board
Surfboards can turn into weapons and literally kill or heavily injure someone. Remember this and do not ditch your board. If you kick-out or fall, try to control your board and make sure you are not endangering others around you. Ditching your board thoughtlessly, when others are around, is a very kook thing to do and another fundamental rule of surfing etiquette.
Help other surfers
Always stay friendly in the line-up, and help other surfers when they need your help. Especially important in bigger waves.
Mistakes are part of being human. If you break one of these rules by accident, remember to apologize respectfully, and try to understand how to avoid it in the future.
Respect the Beach
Do not litter! Respect the ocean and the beach. Pick up trash you see lying around and by doing so add good karma for your surfing skills.
Don’t forget that surfing is about having fun! Stick to these guidelines, be mindful and share the stoke!
SURFING TERMS & SURF SLANG
If you want to learn how to surf, it’s essential to know the surfing terms. The sooner you learn about surfing etiquette and the surf slang, the better. Surfing is a lifestyle, not just a sport and every sub-culture has its lingo. Surf slang is probably one of the most recognizable slangs and can be found around the world, wherever waves are close.
Most countries that have an established surf culture usually also have a few surfing terms in their own language. However, most of the commonly used surfing terms were first invented by US-American, Hawaiian, South African and Australian surfers thus, they remain untranslated and are usually used in English.
Check out our surf slang glossary to learn some common terms used by most surfers around the globe.
A wave breaking both left and right.
A trick by which you jump off the surface of the wave.
Taking a wave from behind the peak of a hollow wave and surfing through the barrel to the other side of the peak.
The position when surfing with your back facing the wave.
Jumping off the board to avoid a wipe-out.
The hollow curling part of the wave aka the dream of every surfer.
A surf spot where the waves break over sandy bottom; more beginner friendly because of reduced risk of injury but also harder to read the waves.
Famara beach, best Europe’s beach break for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers –
The turn that is made at the bottom of the wave.
Bad surf conditions due to wind.
The part of the swell that breaks creating surfable waves.
A sharp turn on the face of the wave whereby one of the rails of the board are submerged in the water.