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History of Surfing

Hawaii - birthplace of surfing

Many years before the word "sport" has become known in European world, Hawaiian islanders used surfing as a recreational activity. He'enalu (that means wave sliding in Hawaiian) achieved a specila status and respectability in ancient Hawaii.

Renowned surfers were celebrated in songs and dances. They got respect of all Hawaiians and often enjoyed special privilegies. For royal family to be a good surfer was a must. Members of the royal family and chiefly class has their own board shapers and beaches for surfing.

Ancient Hawaiian surfers used three types of surf boards: the olo, the kiko'o, and the alaia. The olo is thick in the middle and grows thinner toward the edges. It is a good board for a wave that swells and rushes shoreward but not for a wave that rises up high and curls over.

The kiko'o reaches a length of 12 to 18 feet and is good for a surf that breaks roughly. This board is good for surfing, but is hard to handle. The alaia board, which is 9 feet long, is thin and wide in front, tapering toward the back. Because it tends to go downward and cut through a wave it does not rise up with the wave as it begins to curl over.

Another remarkable fact about surfing on Hawaii is that Hawaiians used surf prayers. If conditions were not good for surfing and distant storms didn't generate suitable waves, Hawaiian surfers would invite a kahuna (Hawaiian priest) and literally pray for surf.

Surfing boom in the 1950s

In the 1950s, using of new materials - fiberglass and foam - made surfboards more maneuverable, lighter and cheaper. It leaded to enormous popularity of surfing and surfing culture. Now in most places, where waves of sufficient size and shape appear, surfing is number one activity.