Surfing: All About the Board

It seems modern and new –– not to mention totally cool –– but in fact, it’s quite old. It started over 3,000 years ago in Polynesia as a way to get the day’s catch (think fish) back to shore.  What are we talking about?  Surfing, of course.

Over time, catching waves went from being simply part of a day’s work to being simply fun –– and surfing as a sport was born. Surfing made its way from Polynesia to Hawaii and from there, to the rest of the world.

Changes that revolutionized surfing over time had everything to do with the the surfboard. The first boards were made from trees and were truly big fat logs, measuring between 10 to16 feet long and weighing up to 150 pounds.  A new approach was taken in 1926 when Tom Blake created a hollow board made from redwood with a fin added for maneuverability; that board was 15 feet long and weighed 100 pounds (still long, still heavy). Next came balsa wood boards; at just 30-40 pounds, they were less than half the weight of redwood. The 1950s brought fiberglass and polyurethane foam boards to the scene which were lighter and more maneuverable and led to the surfing craze of the 1960s and the huge growth of the sport.

Today’s surfboards come in all shapes and sizes, short boards, long boards, single fins, five fins, thrusters and even no fins. They’re faster, lighter, and more maneuverable than ever before.  Which leaves us wondering –– where will the surfboard go from here?  Whatever the surfboard of the future might look like, one thing is certain: the heart of this soul-feeding, blissed out, wave-riding sport with a culture and language all its own, will remain the same.

[Our brief history of surfing is an uber-quick look at the sport. To delve deeper, check into why Captain Cook is often mentioned in its history, who Duke Kahanomoko was, and why surfing is called the sport of kings.]  


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