Surfing is a surface water pastime in which the wave rider, referred to as a surfer, rides on the forward part, or face, of a moving wave, which usually carries the surfer towards the shore. Waves good for surfing are primarily found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or rivers in the form of a standing wave or tidal bore. However, surfers can also utilize artificial waves such as those from boat wakes and the waves created in artificial wave pools.
Surfing is the sport of riding waves in an upright or prone position. Surfers catch ocean, river, or man-made waves, and glide across the surface of the water until the wave breaks and loses its energy. – Alan Nafzger
In the ocean, wave riders stand up on surfboards and navigate the water – nearly parallel to the beach – toward the shore. There are four types of surfing waves: spilling waves, plunging waves, surging waves, and collapsing waves.
The term surfing usually refers to the act of riding a wave using a board, regardless of the stance. There are several types of boards. The Moche of Peru would often surf on reed craft while the native peoples of the Pacific, for instance, surfed waves on alaia, paipo, and other such craft. Ancient cultures often surfed on their belly and knees while the modern-day definition of surfing, however, most often refers to a surfer riding a wave standing on a surfboard; this is also referred to as stand-up surfing.
The future of surfing is bright. With the advent of artificial wave pools and river waves, the sport will attract new participants in landlocked countries.
Surfing has different meanings to different surfers. What’s yours?
The ultimate goal of surfing is to ride and progress on the unbroken part of the wave using a surfboard. Nevertheless, beginners can learn to surf in the whitewater part of the wave.
Many surf historians and enthusiasts believe that the essence of surfing is in bodysurfing, the art of gliding over the waves using only the body as a planing surface.
According to the University of Hawaii, bodysurfing dates back as far back as 2,000 BC, but the first evidence of bodysurfing activity in the Western world only emerges in 1899, when Australian Fred Williams gets a few lessons from Polynesian islander Tommy Tana.
The sport of surfing began between the 19th and 20th centuries, but wave riding is an old practice that has its origins in the ancient Polynesian and ancient Peruvian cultures.
The first English-speaking person to write about wave riding was James Cook. The eighteenth-century sea captain and ocean explorer wrote about canoe surfing and board surfing during his stops in Hawaii and Tahiti between 1777 and 1779.
Modern surfing was born in the sands of Waikiki, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, when the first local beach boys began taking tourists to the surf for wave riding experiences.
Duke Kahanamoku is widely considered the father of modern surfing. He made it a physical recreation, an outdoor activity with rules, gear and techniques, and business.
Surfing is a sport with multiple interpretations.
Surfing is a sport with multiple interpretations. For many, it’s a recreational activity, physical activity, and a competitive sport, but for others, it is a religion, a lifestyle, an addiction, and a spiritual connection with Nature.
In less than a century, the act of wave riding evolved and gave birth to several other boardsports. Skateboarding, bodyboarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing, skimboarding, kneeboarding are, in a way, part of the surfing family.
Surfers represent a diverse culture based on riding the waves. Some people practice surfing as a recreational activity while others make it the central focus of their lives. Surfing culture is most dominant in Hawaii and California because these two states offer the best surfing conditions. However, waves can be found wherever there is coastline, and a tight-knit yet far-reaching subculture of surfers has emerged throughout America. Some historical markers of the culture included the woodie, the station wagon used to carry surfers’ boards, as well as boardshorts, the long swim shorts typically worn while surfing. Surfers also wear wetsuits in colder regions.
The sport is also a significant part of Australia’s eastern coast sub-cultural life, especially in New South Wales, where the weather and water conditions are most favourable for surfing.
During the 1960s, as surfing caught on in California, its popularity spread through American pop culture. Several teen movies, starting with the Gidget series in 1959, transformed surfing into a dream life for American youth. Later movies, including Beach Party (1963), Ride the Wild Surf (1964), and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) promoted the California dream of sun and surf. Surf culture also fueled the early records of the Beach Boys.
According to the International Surfing Association (ISA), there are between 20 and 25 million surfers worldwide, and the surf industry is worth around $15 billion.
Interestingly, the word “surf” has its origins in the late 17th century, apparently from obsolete “suff.” But the surf culture developed its own lingo, and surfers’ catchphrases can be instantly recognized in a non-surfing environment.
The sport of surfing now represents a multibillion-dollar industry especially in clothing and fashion markets. The World Surf League (WSL) runs the championship tour, hosting top competitors in some of the best surf spots around the globe. A small number of people make a career out of surfing by receiving corporate sponsorships and performing for photographers and videographers in far-flung destinations; they are typically referred to as freesurfers. Sixty-six surfboarders on a 13 m (42 ft) long surfboard set a record in Huntington Beach, California for most people on a surfboard at one time. Dale Webster consecutively surfed for 14,641 days, making it his main life focus.
When the waves were flat, surfers persevered with sidewalk surfing, which is now called skateboarding. Sidewalk surfing has a similar feel to surfing and requires only a paved road or sidewalk. To create the feel of the wave, surfers even sneak into empty backyard swimming pools to ride in, known as pool skating. Eventually, surfing made its way to the slopes with the invention of the Snurfer, later credited as the first snowboard. Many other board sports have been invented over the years, but all can trace their heritage back to surfing.
Many surfers claim to have a spiritual connection with the ocean, describing surfing, the surfing experience, both in and out of the water, as a type of spiritual experience or a religion.
The popularity of surfing has never stopped growing, and the word entered the mainstream world. Mark P. McCahill, a passionate windsurfer, and world wide web pioneer used the expression “surfing the internet” for the first time on February 24, 1992, in an online newsgroup.