Mega Tsunamis, Middle Names, And Missing Fingers: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Surfing

Did you know the shaka sign came from Hawaiian fisherman who lost three fingers in an accident?

Think you know everything there is to know about surfing? Bet some of these tit bits of info slipped past you…. Number six blew our minds!

1. Surfers only spend 8 per cent of their time actually surfing

The Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand tested 12 nationally recognised surfers and compared the results. Apparently we spend 58 per cent paddling and 28 per cent of time waiting for waves. How depressing is that?


2. The biggest wave ever recorded was a whopping 524 metres

It took place in 1958 after a 8.3 magnitude earthquake triggered a landslide in Lituya Bay, Alaska. It caused a megatsunami (yep, that’s a technical term!) to travell across the bay, wiping out vegetation at 524m above sea level.

That’s nearly double the height of London’s Shard and well over the height of the Empire State Building in New York.


3. Surf wax was invented after a Californian surfer observed his mum’s waxed floors at home

Alfred Gallant Jr. noticed how the wax floors in his home gave the surface a grippy texture. He melted the wax over the deck of his balsa wood surfboard. You can just imagine him sliding around the floor in his socks to test it out. The rest is history.


4. The Beach Boys couldn’t surf

I was truly heartbroken when I learnt this fact aged 14. Surfin’ Safari never had the same meaning again. In fact, Brian Wilson was once “arrested” for failing to surf on a surfable beach in California…


5. Only six goofy footers have ever won the ASP World Championship Tour

The ASP World Tour has been running since 1976. So, that’s 31 regular footer winners of all time. Unlucky guys…


6. Two of surfing’s greatest surfers use their middle names as first names

Photo via.

Kelly Slater was actually christened Robert Kelly Slater and Andy Irons was originally Phillip Andy Irons. Mind blown.


7. The shaka sign originates from a Hawaiian fisherman that lost three fingers

There are many theories about where the shaka sign originated. However, according to modern legend, it stems from a Hawaiian fisherman called Hamana Kalili who lost three middle fingers on his right hand while working at a sugar mill.

Because he couldn’t work at the sugar mill anymore, he got a job as a security guard on the sugar train between Sunset Beach and Kaaawa, booting off stowaway kids.

His “all clear” signal was supposedly waving his thumb and remaining finger in the air. So the kids started copying him and spreading the gesture around the islands.


8. Agatha Christie is thought to be the first British female surfer

Yep, the famed British crime writer set off on a round-the-world trip in 1924, stopping off at Canada, America, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Hawaii.

It was in Cape Town and Honolulu that Agatha learned to surf. “It was occasionally painful as you took a nosedive down into the sand,” she wrote in her autobiography, “but on the whole it was an easy sport and great fun!”


9. You can do a degree in surfing at the University of Plymouth

It might sound like doing a degree in David Beckham or beer drinking, but you can actually gain a degree in Surf Science and Technology from the University of Plymouth. Tick two boxes in one: keeping the parents happy and spending your days thinking about surfing. What could be better?


The longest wave in the world is 2km long

Chicama in Peru is considered the longest wave in the world. Back in 2012, surfer Cristobal de Col pulled off a crazy 34 manoeuvres on a single, making a new world record. It would take you about 20 minutes to walk the length of it – how crazy is that?


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