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Surfing – A Short History

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Surfing was first recorded as being means of fishermen travelling over coral reefs in to the shore in Hawaii and Polynesia. Surfing pioneers such as Duke Kahanamoku, introduced surfing to Australia, not for this purpose though, just for the love of the waves. Surfing rapidly spread to everywhere in the world that waves broke.

The first unofficial Surfing World Championship was held in 1962 and won by Midget Farrely. By the early 1980’s, sponsorship by surfing merchandise corporations elevated surfing to a professional level.

Some people may argue that surfing is more of an art form than a sport. With many different competitions becoming increasingly popular at the end of the twentieth century, it was perhaps perceived that surfing was a sport.

The extremities of the ‘surfer’s bug’ is depicted in the film ‘Point Break’, a film based on a true story. The desire to achieve thrills in surfing results in a surfer losing his life to the sea in a ‘once in a lifetime’ fifty-year storm. It could be argued that this behaviour is of insanity only. However, an increasing number of people are participating in surfing to more and more extremities, to the point at which surfers are being taken out to the biggest waves in the world by jet-ski because it’s not possible to surf them without.

With most groups of people who share a specific interest of any sort, there is almost always some sort of ‘cult’ undertone attached. Surfing is of no exception and is invariably associated with ‘cool dudes’ who think everything is ‘awesome’ and ‘rad’. This is a widely seen stereotype and surfing continues to be seen as a very ‘cool’ activity. This view has been created over the twentieth century and subsequently affected the cult status of surfers and their culture. For example, the surf culture is sometimes associated with the ‘surf language. Some people would argue that it is hard to speak to a surfer due to their ‘acquired language’.

The influence of merchandise companies has aided this development of ‘surf culture’. It could be argued that surfers can be easily identified just by the clothes they wear. Companies such as Animal, Gul, Kuta Lines, and Quiksilver all aim their products at surfers and the ‘surf culture’. Their interaction has been increased by the sponsorship of environmental groups such as ‘Surfers Against Sewage’, and the ‘Surfrider Foundation’, as well as events such as ‘Newquay Surf Festival’.

In 1990, an environmental pressure group was formed in St. Agnes, Cornwall, to campaign against dirty beaches and unclean sea. Using their own experiences of illnesses from the water whilst surfing, a group of surfers managed to spread their message to the public, the UK Water Industry and the Government. Today, the group have worldwide-sponsors such as Animal and Gul. These companies have contributed to public awareness of the ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ and their issues, dramatically. S.A.S. is a worldwide organisation which has over fifteen thousand members dedicated to keeping beaches clean and to stop sewage being pumped into the sea in the United Kingdom. They help to enforce actions for the solutions of this problem. They are fighting for the treatment of any waste before it is pumped into the sea.

Organisations like ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ and the ‘Surfrider Foundation’ (an organisation with much the same motives and support) have indeed influenced the state of beaches and seas in the United Kingdom as well as the rest of the world. These pressure groups are constantly increasing public awareness on these matters, and is still fighting for the application of water quality monitoring for all recreational waters.

Surfing in the United Kingdom has become increasingly popular during the last few decades and more people are using it as a means of adventure travel. However, so has the desire to seek new destinations to surf other than the United Kingdom. Surfing has been enjoyed for centuries upon centuries. It has played a large part in watersports and related issues. It has led onto the birth of new sports such as snowboarding, skate boarding, wake-boarding, wind-surfing, and body-boarding