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Surfing

A Brief History of Surfing

From ancient Polynesians to the super-pros of today

A sketch of the Polynesians wave riding when Cook arrived on the scene

In 1779, the HMS Endeavour arrived on the scene, and with it a group of British explorers led by the legendary Captain James Cook. As well as mapping out New Zealand and Newfoundland for the first time, Cook should go down in history as the man who discovered more world-class surf spots than anyone since (he also discovered Australia remember).

“Captain Cook should go down in history as the man who discovered more world-class surf spots than anyone else.”

One of his crewman Joseph Banks was the first to describe surfing, writing that is was an essential part of Polynesian culture. He added that it was the higher classes that surfed best, and that they restricted access to the best breaks (the first ever localism?). However he noted that lower classes could rise through social ranks by proving their prowess in the surf. Much like groms do today.

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