A Brief History of Surfing

From ancient Polynesians to the super-pros of today

Pipeline as good now as it was 1000 years ago

Although the whole world is seemingly suffering from financial ruin, surfing is still booming. Sure the big companies are on their knees but participation rates are apparently through the roof. As far as we’re concerned the fact that more people more people than ever are getting out there and surfing means the sport has never been in a better place.

However, we’d be stupid if we pretended that the surf industry’s woes had had no effect on the sport, and the ASP pro tour in particular. In recent years there have been rumours of rebel tours starting, or the whole thing just capitulating altogether. The problem was that the big brands who owned and fund the individual events could no longer afford the spiralling costs. Enter Zosea.

“Of course through all of this change, the basic art of wave riding has always remained the same from the ancient Polynesians to the ordinary folk in the water today.”

Zosea took over the ASP in 2013, and now own the men’s and women’s world tour, the Big Wave World Tour. In 2014 they’ll also take on the XXL Big Wave Awards. Some people were critical, but the move brings a lot of positives. They’ve taken the pressure off struggling surf companies, helped professionalise the whole set up, and when their stewardship comes into full affect this year they’ll also bring in a blanket sponsor who can help fund the whole tour in Samsung.

In terms of pros, Kelly Slater is still at the top, but now the young crew of groms like Gabriel Medina from Brazil, Julian Wilson from Australia and John John Florence from Hawaii are ready to take over. After some dark years for competitive surfing it is now probably in the strongest place it has ever been.

Of course through all of this change, the basic art of wave riding has always remained the same. From the ancient Polynesians and Hawaiians to the ordinary folk in the water today, surfers everywhere have spent thousands of years enjoying the same incredible feeling. And while it’s been an interesting ride, the rest of surfing history is just background noise really.

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